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

Rebecca Love KourlisWe are so grateful to those of you who were a part of our 7th Annual Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner last month. Joined by 150 local and national leaders, innovators, and stakeholders in the American legal system, we honored two long-time supporters of our mission: Chief Justice Michael Bender (Ret.) and Chancellor Robert Coombe.

The evening was capped by surprise video introductions for our esteemed honorees, filmed by their wives, who each told the story of their husband’s enduring passion and dedication from a uniquely personal perspective. They were touching moments and made our celebration all the more memorable. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Rebecca Love Kourlis, IAALS Executive Director
May 2014

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Let’s Stop Choosing Law School Like It’s 1999

In the last 15 years, we’ve seen significant advances in technology that have changed the way we make decisions about what we purchase and consume. The New York Times recommends articles based on our usage; Amazon recommends books based on our past purchases; Spotify introduces us to new music based on what we play.

Yet, prospective law students are still left making one of the most important decisions of their lives in almost the exact same way we were doing it in 1999—based on rankings like US News & World Report.

Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers is trying to change that by launching individualized tools for prospective students. Like this one: an employment calculator that walks prospective students through a series of questions and calculates a law school ranking customized to each student.

Judicial Independence on the Brink: Lessons from Oklahoma

IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis penned an Informed Opinion about a recent threat to judicial independence in Oklahoma.

Simply stated, judicial independence means that one branch of government is not subject to the will of the majority. Yet, over the last two weeks in Oklahoma, the executive and legislative branches maneuvered to undermine the state Supreme Court.

If the judiciary can be bullied by the other two branches, is our Constitution effectively safeguarded? Judicial independence is the keel on the boat, Kourlis suggests. Without it, we drift and perhaps even capsize.

IAALS Releases Preliminary Findings on Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project

IAALS has completed its preliminary evaluation report on the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project (CAPP), which tests a new set of pre-trial procedures for business actions in state district court.

Our initial analysis reveals that the CAPP process as a whole has succeeded in achieving many of its intended effects, including a reduced time to disposition, increased court interaction, proportional discovery and costs, and a lower level of motions practice. Much of the positive feedback relates to CAPP’s early, active, and ongoing judicial management of cases, with many calling for this to become a permanent feature of the rules.

Click here for more details about the preliminary evaluation.

“Conscious Uncoupling”: A New Framework For Understanding Divorce


Celebrity couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin recently announced their intent to separate, and asked for privacy during their period of “conscious uncoupling.” Conscious uncoupling refers to a process whereby couples take an intrinsic focus as to the reasons for their divorce, rather than externalizing blame and rancor toward their partner. While introspection is at the root of conscious uncoupling, there is a very real, and beneficial, impact on external players—namely children, who often who find themselves enmeshed in the marital stress against their will and to their detriment.

The importance of recognizing the deleterious impact that divorce and separation can have on children drives the Honoring Families Initiative's out-of-court model for separating and divorcing families.  The model provides a collaborative process for families with children, presenting parents with an alternative to the in-court, adversarial process. As implemented at the University of Denver, the model has seen great success in its first nine months.

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