University of Denver

Regional Summits Set the Stage for A Wave of Civil Justice Reform

Senior Director

Over the past two years, IAALS has been collaborating with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) on a three-year project to support the modernization and transformation of civil litigation in our state courts. One of the key aspects of this Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan, which focuses on implementing a set of 13 Recommendations for reform, is a series of regional strategic planning Summits devoted to sharing information about the recommendations and providing the opportunity for states to develop an action plan for reform. In October we hosted our final meeting for the Midwest Region in Kansas City, Missouri.  

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The Summits consisted of a dynamic mixture of plenary sessions, workshops, and state team planning sessions. Teams of approximately six members attended from the regional states and left with a specific action plan for reform. While many of the team members work closely on a daily basis, one of the important takeaways from the Summit was the value of having time set aside to discuss the importance of civil justice reform, as well as priorities and next steps. Common themes for reform focused on implementing a pathway approach to ensure the process is right-sized and proportional, meeting the challenges and needs of self-represented litigants in our court system, and integrating case management through technology and new staffing models.

Over 40 states and territories attended the regional summits and left with an action plan for civil justice reform. We are excited to follow these efforts over the next few years as we see these efforts result in rule changes, new technology, and—most importantly—positive impacts for the users of our court system around the country.  

Our efforts do not end with the successful completion of the Summits. We are excited to launch a new series of webinars focused on providing Summit attendees and others additional practical information and guidance on implementing civil justice reform. We kicked off the first of this series in November with a webinar on the essential rules and procedures that need to be put in place to turn the CJI Recommendations into a reality. Stay tuned for additional webinars in the coming year.