IAALS Report - A Publication of IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System
Message from Our Executive Director

As Independence Day approaches, we at IAALS remain keenly aware of our mission: to work tirelessly to improve the process and culture of the civil justice system and empower others with the knowledge, models, and will to advance a system that is more accessible, efficient, and accountable. As we said in Rebuilding Justice, Lady Justice, more even than the Statue of Liberty, is the beacon of our freedom, our way of life, and our sustainability as a country. With your support, we continue our work to ensure that our justice system thrives.

Rebecca Love Kourlis, IAALS Executive Director
July 2013

Want to hear more from IAALS? Subscribe to receive daily updates via email or RSS.

Court Finds Judicial Duty to Manage Discovery

Unlimited and unmanaged discovery in civil lawsuits can be extremely expensive—and sometimes wholly out of proportion to the needs of the case. In a landmark decision issued last week, the Colorado Supreme Court put the brakes on discovery run amuk and clarified the duty of the trial court judge to manage the discovery in the case—at a minimum by considering the cost-benefit and proportionality factors. This week, The Wall Street Journal and the ABA Journal also covered the case, quoting IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis' analysis of the impacts.

In our recent publication in the Kansas Law Review, “The American Civil Justice System: From Recommendations to Reform in the 21st Century,” we explore the national momentum that has arisen around reducing the costs and delays associated with civil litigation.

A Credit to the Courts

Last month, Quality Judges released A Credit to the Courts: The Selection, Appointment, and Reappointment Process for Bankruptcy Judges. This study provides the first in-depth examination of the process for selecting U.S. bankruptcy judges, highlighting the similarities and differences among the regional circuits.

Despite the number of cases processed in these high-volume courts, and their significance in the financial lives of individuals and businesses alike, very little was known about how the judges who preside over these courts come to be on the bench, until now.

Collecting Core Competencies for Entry-Level Lawyers

Increasingly, law firms, corporate employers, public interest organizations, government entities, and other organizations that employ lawyers are relying on core competencies when hiring, assessing, and promoting new lawyers. We want to better understand how the legal profession defines entry-level core competencies, so we are compiling a matrix of measurement rubrics and tools that employers use. By collecting, assimilating, and reporting on the competencies used by a broad sample of employers, we believe we can advance the goal of training new lawyers to the highest standards of competence and professionalism.

Do you and your organization use core competencies for entry-level lawyers? Are you willing to share them? Please send us an email:

Honoring Families Initiative Welcomes New Director


Effective July 1, Natalie Knowlton will be Director of our Honoring Families Initiative. Knowlton has been with IAALS since 2006. She joined the staff full time in 2008, working first as a Research Analyst across initiatives and then as Manager of the Quality Judges Initiative. She has made significant contributions to many projects during her time here, including research and editing for the book Rebuilding Justice, published in 2011.

Under Knowlton’s leadership, Honoring Families will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Families' performance during its first three years. The Center opens at the University of Denver on September 3.

Initiative Updates


Selection Snapshots

Subscribe to all Quality Judges Updates

Subscribe to all Rule One Updates
Subscribe to all Honoring Families Updates
Subscribe to all Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Updates