University of Denver

Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award

The Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award is made in honor of Alli Gerkman, a leader in national legal education and legal profession reform, her local and larger legal community, and at IAALS. Through her work, Alli transformed the way our nation thinks about legal education and the role lawyers play in our society. Her work helped open the door to a fundamental reframing of how lawyers enter the profession of law and how the profession itself is regulated. When she passed away from cancer in 2019, she had much work to do and was loath to give it up. We carry that work on at IAALS, as well as that commitment. We honor Alli Gerkman and her work with this award—and those who follow in her footsteps.

The Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award recognizes an innovator who has made significant impacts early in his or her career toward making the American legal system work better for everyone who needs it and everyone who is a part of it. The purpose is to encourage and showcase innovators, risk takers, visionaries, and emerging leaders who bring a different perspective and a reform-minded approach to the improvement of our legal system. Candidates should be early in their legal careers to be eligible, roughly the first 15 years.

We’re looking for people who have vision for a better justice system and who have worked to make it a reality. How are you rethinking law, reimagining the legal system, rebuilding trust with the public, or reframing the future of the legal profession? We want to hear about it.

Selection Process

  • Nominations are accepted between October 1 and December 1 each year. The nomination window for the 2021 award is now closed.
  • Nominations may be made by others, but self-nomination is also encouraged.
  • IAALS will review the nominations and select the award recipient by the end of March of the award year. The award will be presented each year at IAALS’ Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner.
  • IAALS reserves the right not to present the award in a given year.
  • IAALS looks forward to highlighting the recipient’s contributions and efforts—at the award dinner, on our website, through our communications networks, and through other opportunities over the course of the award year. IAALS’ goal is to elevate the profile and awareness of the innovators in our legal system and their efforts.

Criteria for Selection

Eligibility is open to anyone who is:

  • An innovator who has made significant impacts toward making the American legal system work better for everyone who needs it and everyone who is a part of it.
  • Early in their legal career, roughly the first 15 years.
  • Residing in the United States.

Nomination Guidelines

Nominations should be submitted through the form below, including:

  • The name of the nominee and their contact information
  • The name of the person(s) or organization(s) making the nomination their contact information
  • Résumé or biographical description of nominee
  • Description of the nominee’s innovative work to improve the legal system, including specific contributions and impact (1000 word limit)
  • Letters of support (limit of 3) for the nomination (Optional, but strongly encouraged)

Please direct all questions about the award and nomination process to Zachary Willis, associate director of communications: