University of Denver

IAALS and the Iowa Judicial Branch Partner on Court Compass Project

State Court Administrator, Iowa Judicial Branch
Director of Special Projects

The IAALS Court Compass project is exploring streamlined and simplified solutions that help people through the divorce and separation process. While the project aims to make the process better for all litigants, there is a particular focus on people who go to court without an attorney. 

A substantial body of research and litigant stories confirm that getting through the legal system without legal help is challenging. We also know that in many courts, a majority of divorce and separation cases involve at least one self-represented litigant. Recognizing that a considerable percentage of people seeking a divorce are without an attorney, the Court Compass project is directly incorporating their feedback and insights as part of the process to design solutions that make navigating the courts simpler and easier.   

In partnership with experts from Stanford Law School’s Legal Design Lab, Northeastern School of Law’s NuLawLab, and the University of Maine School of Law, the Court Compass project is employing a number of human-centered design tools, including in-person design sprints and other focus groups to test new processes and solutions in real time and refine them based on user feedback. 

IAALS and the Iowa Judicial Branch are partnering to bring a design sprint workshop to Des Moines later this month. The Iowa Judicial Branch is dedicated to the goal of assuring all Iowans have equal access to justice. Through this partnership with IAALS, the Iowa courts hope to identify barriers to court services that self-represented litigants face and to identify methods to overcome these barriers. IAALS is excited to include Iowa courts and families in our work toward simplifying the divorce and separation process.

To learn more about this project, click here or visit the Iowa Judicial Branch announcement of the partnership.