University of Denver

How do we ensure that the delivery of justice is accessible, efficient, and accountable?

The American legal system is in crisis, the causes of which are complex and interrelated. A trusted and trustworthy legal system is essential to our democracy, our economy, and our freedom. To earn that trust, the legal system must be accessible, efficient, and accountable. But too often users of the system are overwhelmed by the complexity of the process, the length of time it takes to get justice, and the challenges of navigating the system without a lawyer. Many do not even turn to the courts for resolution of their legal issues, because they don’t recognize that their issues are legal or because the court system fails to meet their needs. Too often companies turn to alternative dispute resolution outside of our court system to avoid the cost and delay they encounter in the system. We are at a crossroads where our courts are facing significant challenges, but also new opportunities to modernize to meet the needs of users in the 21st Century. IAALS is working at this intersection, in the areas of civil justice, family justice, and the judiciary, to ensure that our legal system responds to the changing needs of society.

In many jurisdictions around the country today, the civil justice system takes too long and costs too much. Many deserving cases are not filed, while others settle due to the expense of litigation. Through our work in civil justice, IAALS is dedicated to promoting models that ensure access to justice, an efficient court process where the time and money expended are proportionate to the case at hand, and an accountable system that is fair and reasoned.

Case management is part of every civil justice reform proposal afoot in the nation. Yet, early and active case management by judges is still not the norm. We are working to broaden, re-envision, and...
Much has been done over the past five years to address the cost and delay in the civil justice process, and much of that work has focused on discovery. However, there are equal challenges and...
In partnership with NCSC, we have supported the development of recommendations for transforming our state courts for the 21st Century and are now supporting their implementation nationwide.
The discovery process in civil litigation often generates unwarranted delays and inhibits access to justice, for parties on both sides of the “v.” IAALS has created pattern discovery rules specific...

Divorce, separation, and custody cases are the way in which the vast majority of Americans will be involved with our courts, in one way or another, over the course of their lives. IAALS is dedicated to promoting new ways to handle these issues that ensure better outcomes for children, less-adversarial approaches for spouses/parents, and greater accessibility, efficiency, and fairness for everyone involved in the family court process, including those who navigate the system without a lawyer.

The Family Justice Initiative involves assessing the landscape of and best practices in domestic relations cases, with the objective of improving the way courts handle them.
The family justice system was built on the assumption that litigants would be represented by lawyers. This project explores user-friendly, streamlined, and accessible solutions that help people...
IAALS is dedicated to ensuring that every family has access to an approach for separation or divorce that is best suited to their needs and that empowers them to work together for the benefit of...
Unbundled legal services, also called limited scope representation, is a service delivery model that holds promise for the growing numbers of self-represented litigants. IAALS has taken an advocacy...

How does someone become a judge in the United States? The answer varies from state to state and sometimes court to court. And, some methods for selecting state court judges are more effective than others in choosing judges who are qualified and impartial, and who inspire public trust in our courts. IAALS is dedicated to promoting models for choosing, evaluating, and retaining judges that preserve these qualities, ensure public accountability, and keep politics from undermining the critical role of our judiciary.

Once someone becomes a judge, how do they serve the court system and the public to ensure an accessible, efficient, and accountable system? IAALS is focused on developing and promoting models for the judiciary to achieve these goals.

IAALS and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Ret.) have identified a model for choosing, evaluating, and retaining judges.
The judicial nominating commission is the key to commission-based appointment, or “merit selection,” of state court judges.
We are at the forefront of efforts to improve and expand programs for evaluating the performance of state and federal judges.
Judges in the United States are selected through a variety of methods. We promote models that emphasize qualifications and limit political considerations.