IAALS Announces 2021 Rebuilding Justice Award Recipients

Kelsey Montague Kelsey Montague
Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
March 5, 2021

Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas and Utah attorney John Lund honored for their innovative leadership in increasing access to justice

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, announced today that Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas and Utah attorney John Lund are the recipients of the organization’s 2021 Rebuilding Justice Award. The annual Rebuilding Justice Award recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of innovation and leadership that IAALS champions as we work toward building a legal system that is accessible, fair, reliable, efficient, and accountable.

“Justice Himonas and Mr. Lund have worked tirelessly to promote access to justice,” said Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. “They are both deeply committed to finding innovative ways to get more legal services to more people. They are extraordinary leaders whose passion is contagious, and I'm deeply grateful for their dedication to this cause.”

The first recipient of the award was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Ret.) in 2007. Over the years, IAALS has given the award to chief justices of state supreme courts, legislators, federal district court judges, legal educators, philanthropists, and others. This year, IAALS is proud to recognize the achievements of Himonas and Lund for their efforts in founding Utah’s Office of Legal Services Innovation. The office provides a safe environment where nontraditional legal service providers can innovate, utilizing Utah’s groundbreaking legal regulatory sandbox. IAALS is conducting the official empirical evaluation of the sandbox.

“I'm really honored to have been named a co-recipient of the Rebuilding Justice Award along with John Lund, my colleague on this adventure,” said Justice Himonas. “But in truth and fairness, the award is shared with my colleagues on the Utah Supreme Court, who have been working so hard at improving access to justice for all Utahns, and to all of the members of the regulatory reform work group, implementation task force, and Office of Legal Services Innovation.”

April, 2021 will mark the first year since the Utah Supreme Court’s passing of Utah’s legal regulatory sandbox reform, and it is already starting to reshape Utah’s legal landscape. One of the first providers approved under the new office is Rocket Lawyer, which offers à la carte legal services at a competitive price.

“Rocket Lawyer has been instrumental in helping me navigate legal documents and other legal issues that come up,” said Jill Parkinson, an independent contractor who engaged Rocket Lawyer for a document review. “I sleep better at night knowing my contracts are sound.”

Another small business owner said being able to access legal help on demand is a great asset. “Knowing there is a team at Rocket Lawyer skilled in areas I'm not familiar with to help me with whatever might come up is invaluable so that I can focus on building my business.”

“It is very humbling to be receiving this award along with Justice Himonas, especially in light of the list of incredible justice leaders who have been honored in prior years,” said John Lund. “Rebuilding justice is exactly what Utah’s sandbox is all about. The real reward has been seeing innovators come forward and construct new ways to deliver affordable and accessible legal services to those who so desperately need them.”

To date, the Office of Legal Services has approved 20 pilot proposals, that offer a wide variety of legal services, including online legal document preparation and criminal expungement assistance, just to name a couple. Even pro-bono nonprofit legal organizations are able to propose new and creative ways to help those in desperate need of legal help.

The Timpanogos Legal Center provides free legal assistance to thousands of self-represented clients. The center submitted an application to the sandbox and was recently approved for a pilot that will allow domestic violence victim advocates to provide legal advice in helping victims fill out court forms for protective orders and stalking injunctions, and prepare victims for court.

“It is a thrilling opportunity to be in the first wave of programs that will open doors for Utahns in need to receive legal assistance,” said Susan Griffith, Executive Director of Timpanogos Legal Center. “I encourage other non-profits to study and strategize ways to use the opportunities created through the Regulatory Sandbox to benefit their communities.”

The 2021 Rebuilding Justice Award, honoring Justice Himonas and John Lund, is slated to be given on October 14, 2021, at IAALS’ annual Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner in Denver. More details on the event, including tickets and sponsorship, will be announced shortly.

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