September 6, 2017
In July, the nonprofit organization Progress Florida sent a letter to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission outlining proposed revisions to Article V, Section 11, of the state's constitution. The revisions add rules for judicial nominating commissions, such as limitations on membership and provisions ensuring impartiality. The Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years, per the state's constitution, to review and recommend constitutional changes to be put on the ballot for voters to consider.
September 5, 2017
Across the nation, states are reforming the civil justice system. They are taking action in response to the Conference of Chief Justices' (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators' (COSCA) endorsement of 13 recommendations focused on ensuring our courts are affordable, efficient, and fair for all. States are creating civil justice reform task forces and committees focused on improving the delivery of civil justice in their own states. To aid that process, IAALS and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) have rolled out several new tools as part of a three-year Implementation Plan to provide states with education and technical assistance. This month we released two new tools.
August 31, 2017
A recent study conducted for Voices for Civil Justice, with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, found that voters strongly favor reform of the civil justice system. Overwhelming majorities of voters believe it is important to “ensure that everyone has access to the civil justice system” and “strongly support a wide range of services to enhance access.” Moreover, voters support increasing state funding to build a more accessible civil justice system. The survey highlights that equal justice under the law in our society is fundamental, with voters considering it a right, not a privilege.
August 30, 2017
A while back, Alli Gerkman wrote about the importance of life experience for new lawyers. But lawyers often don’t discuss these experiences on resumes or in interviews. They try to keep their background “strictly legal.” But the Foundations for Practice survey indicates that employers are looking for new hires that have grit, work ethic, and experience. And if you’re a young lawyer, likely the only place you can draw on past experience is non-legal jobs. Along those lines, I recently asked the people in LawyerSlack.com (the largest, private, lawyers-only Slack community) about their work history and experience.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
August 29, 2017
Bill has been involved with IAALS since 2012, when we launched the Honoring Families Initiative Advisory Committee on which he serves. We have worked together on our original vision-paper, on the Center for Out-of-Court Divorce, the Family Bar Summit, The Modern Family Court Judge, and now our online dispute resolution project called Court Compass. At every turn, every phone call, every email, Bill has been a generous, responsive, and wise partner.
August 24, 2017
This month, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the American Bar Association Judicial Division released Building a Diverse Bench: Selecting Federal Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges, a resource that offers practical steps the federal judiciary can take to promote a more diverse bench. A diverse bench is essential to an effective judiciary. A bench that reflects the diversity of the public it serves enhances public confidence in the role of the courts in our democracy, and provides role models for groups underrepresented in the legal profession. And diversity is more than symbolic—having broader perspectives on the bench produces a richer jurisprudence, incorporating a wider and more representative range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives.
August 23, 2017
The 6th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference is right around the corner! In addition to our fantastic lineup of program speakers, we are excited to have fifteen Ignite presentations from a broad swath of law schools and legal organizations. As you may know, it has become ETL Conference tradition to kick off the first day of the conference with a series of Ignites. Presenters have 6 minutes, 20 slides, and 18 seconds per slide to share their projects, successes, and ideas.
August 17, 2017
At its annual meeting this week in New York City, the ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 116 urging courts to implement plans that provide meaningful courtroom experience to new lawyers. The resolution—recognizing the important role law firms and clients play in the experience, or lackthereof, that young lawyers receive—also urges law firms and clients to take advantage of those plans.
August 15, 2017
In a recent article for Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis and Rule One Initiative Director Brittany Kauffman discuss how state court and bar leaders across the country are gearing up for major civil justice reforms using the recently released Roadmap for Implementation. The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of the State Court Administrators (COSCA) have 13 recommendations for improvements that the Roadmap guides toward implementation, in an effort to ensure that the legal system is serving those who need it.
August 10, 2017
In a time when nearly everyone has an online presence, more and more jurisdictions are having to navigate the extent to which trial lawyers can use a juror's social media to inform jury selection. In 2014, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 466 on this topic. The Committee said that lawyers can review a juror or potential juror’s internet presence before or during a trial so long as they do not communicate with or request access from those jurors.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
August 8, 2017
Last month, in "We Won’t See You in Court: The Era of Tort Lawsuits Is Waning," the Wall Street Journal took a look at the decline in tort lawsuit filings and the reasons fueling the decline, citing “state restrictions on litigation, the increasing cost of bringing suits, improved auto safety, and a long campaign by businesses to turn public opinion against plaintiffs and their lawyers.” At first blush, this may seem like good news: lawsuits are down, people are suing less! However, I caution that it is far from good news and, if this trend continues, the courts may be in danger of becoming irrelevant.
August 7, 2017
In the name of simplicity, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to roll back transparency in employment outcomes for law school graduates in a process that, itself, is under attack for its lack of transparency. Simplicity is a good thing, but not when it risks mischaracterizing important facts. Understanding how law graduates are employed is critical for prospective students, current students, law schools, and the profession—and under this approved proposal, we would know less than we do now.