June 8, 2017
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently approved a rule allowing a lawyer-mediator to draft and file settlement documents in family law cases, which can provide a more cost-effective path to divorce for families. In this situation, the lawyer’s role is limited and the he or she would not represent either party to the mediation; therefore, the lawyer may not give legal advice or advocate on behalf of either party. Parties are also encouraged to seek independent legal advice prior to signing the documents prepared by the lawyer-mediator.
June 7, 2017
This week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation to reauthorize and restructure the state’s judicial performance evaluation (JPE) program. Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to establish a JPE program to help judges improve their own performance on the bench and inform voters about that performance for judicial retention elections. The 1988 legislation that created Colorado’s program included a provision scheduling the program for repeal in 30 years—on June 30, 2019. Earlier this year, both the General Assembly and the Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation tackled head-on the challenge of drafting new legislation to keep the program in place, and IAALS applauds their efforts.
Carolyn A. Tyler
June 5, 2017
In three quarters of all civil cases, at least one party is going to court without an attorney and navigating a legal system not designed for the layperson’s use. To help potential litigants, some courts are leveraging technology and developing websites and portals that offer a vast amount of information and resources. However, these offerings vary widely in courthouses across the country. With the goal of helping bridge what has become an access-to-justice gap, IAALS today announced the release of Court Compass: Mapping the Future of User Access Through Technology, a compendium and analysis of court-offered solutions for self-represented litigants (SRLs), along with maturity models to guide the development of integrated solutions in courts nationwide.
Rebecca Love Kourlis
June 1, 2017
Stanton Dodge knocked on the doors at DISH until they hired him. His advice to young lawyers is to figure out what you love, and do that. For his part, he figured out that he was fascinated by the broadcast satellite business. He started in any position DISH would give him, and worked his way to the top. Stanton is now General Counsel. We first met in the elevators at the courthouse, when he was clerking for the Court of Appeals and I was newly on the Colorado Supreme Court. Many years later, he showed up at IAALS and told us he believed in our mission and wanted to support us. In the intervening years, he has helped us envision and execute on convenings, bring together stakeholders, identify key issues, and come up with solutions.
Carolyn A. Tyler
May 30, 2017
The effort to create a 21st Century system of justice is advancing. Today, IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) announced the release of a new Roadmap to guide states as they implement sweeping changes to make state courts more efficient and effective—and that five jurisdictions will serve as demonstration pilots as they follow the roadmap and implement civil justice reform. An additional three states have also received grants to support their efforts to have also been selected as demonstration pilots around the country as they work to reduce cost and delay in the legal system. These efforts are part of three-year $1 million strategic response to the call to action sounded by the Conference of Chief Justices, and supported by the State Justice Institute.
Carolyn A. Tyler
May 22, 2017
Our O’Connor Advisory Committee (OAC) members are sounding the alarm about a growing and concerning pattern: state lawmakers all but declaring war on our courts. In defense of America’s system of checks and balances, the OAC banded together on an op-ed that ran in the Arizona Republic last week. In “If you like checks and balances, these bills to usurp the courts should worry you,” the OAC explains how legislation in Arizona is an example of the 41 bills introduced in 15 states this year that would “control the ways by which judges reach the bench, unseat judges currently on courts, and generally restrict courts’ jurisdiction and power,” should they become law. They argue that these state bills interfere with the independence of the judiciary and threaten our democracy.
May 18, 2017
Washington State’s innovative Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT) program was recently evaluated by the National Center for State Courts and found to be a well-designed program for expanding legal assistance. LLLTs are non-lawyers who are specially trained to provide certain kinds of legal assistance. And, unlike paralegals, LLLTs practice without having to be supervised by a lawyer. Becoming a LLLT requires an associate-level degree of at least 45 credits and an additional 15 credits in family law from an ABA-approved law school. In Washington, the training is provided by the University of Washington School of Law, with Gonzaga University School of Law professors helping to teach the courses.
May 16, 2017
This month, the Virginia Supreme Court begin pilot testing a performance evaluation program for its appellate judges. Among the sources of guidance to which the court looked in developing the pilot program was IAALS’ Recommended Tools for Evaluating Appellate Judges. With the implementation of this program, Virginia joins ten other states that seek input on appellate judges’ job performance from attorneys and other judges. This feedback is used by appellate judges for self-improvement, and it is also shared with the public to ensure trust and confidence in the judiciary.
May 15, 2017
For years, there is one piece of advice I give prospective law students that hasn’t changed: take time off before you go to law school. Work, travel...
May 11, 2017
When Edgar Barraza came to the United States as an 11-year-old undocumented immigrant in 1998 the odds seemed stacked against him. He spoke little...
Rebecca Love Kourlis
May 8, 2017
The Rule of Law is absolutely under attack in the United States of America—from elected officials, state legislative bodies, and groups of...
May 5, 2017
Recently a federal judge in Connecticut laid the "smackdown" on World Wide Wrestling, Inc., (WWE) by denying its motion for summary judgment against...