Our Mission

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, is a national, independent research organization that innovates and advances solutions that make our civil justice system more just.

We believe justice for all must be a reality for everyone.

Every day, IAALS reexamines how the American civil justice system can better serve the needs of us all. Through purposeful collaboration, listening, and research, we jumpstart the groundbreaking and achievable solutions that will clear a path to justice for everyone. Because justice for all will never be a reality if those seeking justice cannot access the system designed to deliver it.

Our vision is a world where everyone has a clear path to justice. 
Our mission is to unlock innovations that make the civil justice system more just.

An Urgent Need

In order to innovate our civil justice system to meet today’s challenges and opportunities, we need to better understand the problems people face.

  • Nearly half of Americans experience legal problems for which they can’t find a solution.
  • More than 70% of civil and family disputes in the United States include at least one side that doesn’t have an attorney.
  • Incomprehensible legalese, limited legal support, and convoluted processes make fair legal resolutions increasingly unattainable.

Our modern society, with modern people and problems, demands the evolution of systems created hundreds of years ago. The status quo is rigid, inaccessible, slow, and costly—and doesn’t account for the complex realities that people face on a daily basis.

Imagine the possibilities if our system was designed for the people moving through it, rather than only those working within it. That is the work of IAALS.  

How We Do It

When innovation is rooted in finding common ground, questioning the status quo, and centering the people, we begin to craft solutions that transform our civil justice system.

IAALS’ unique approach depends on purposeful research, deep collaboration, and diversity of perspective, followed by evidence-based recommendations that take hold in courts and legal institutions across the country.

  • Research  
    We identify and research challenges, pitfalls, and shortcomings in the legal system where innovation can bring about achievable, positive change.
  • Convening  
    We collaborate with stakeholders, experts, and changemakers to amplify our research and inform the conversation with varied perspectives and backgrounds.
  • Solutions  
    We develop innovative recommendations and models designed to have the most positive impact for the most people.
  • Implementation  
    We empower decisionmakers across the country to test our solutions in the real world, through collaboration, consulting, and partnership.
  • Measurement  
    We evaluate the outcomes and impact, seek feedback, and refine the solutions to achieve maximum benefit to all.

These steps are key to advancing a trusted American legal system that is always improving, always accessible, and always serving the people.

As a part of a major research university, we hold our work up to the highest academic and professional standards.

Our Founders

Daniel L. Ritchie
John E. Moye
Charles C. Gates
Rebecca Love Kourlis

IAALS was founded by University of Denver Chancellor Emeritus Daniel L. Ritchie; Denver attorney and bar leader John E. Moye; business leader and philanthropist Charles C. Gates; and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis, our founding executive director. Their stewardship and vision continue to inspire our work.