Q&A with Stacey Marz, Member of IAALS’ Board of Advisors

April 2, 2024

Last year, IAALS welcomed six new members to our board of advisors. One of those new members is Stacey Marz, a visionary who recognizes the potential of technology in democratizing justice. Her previous roles in bridging the access-to-justice gap at the Alaska Court System—including leading remote self-help services, ADR, and language access services—highlight her commitment to making the legal system more approachable and available for everyone. 

The wide breadth of IAALS’ partnerships is integral to our work, and we’re excited to showcase our board members’ dedication and expertise. In this Q&A, Stacey discusses the importance of simplifying processes, IAALS’ people-centered approach, and her love of wild places.  

Why is the work of IAALS important?

IAALS fills a role that no other entity does. It brings together different justice stakeholder perspectives—courts, attorneys, businesses, organizations, and individuals involved in legal disputes to work toward a common goal of advancing excellence in the American legal system.  

What do you see as IAALS’ key strengths? What does IAALS do uniquely well?

I appreciate that IAALS is committed to a people-centered approach to providing justice. I also think the strong research focus sets IAALS apart from other organizations in the legal system improvement space. IAALS is really adept at convening different stakeholder groups to inform innovations and practical solutions in the civil justice system.  

What does access to justice mean to you? 

Access to justice means reducing barriers to meaningfully participate in resolving legal disputes.  I see two main ways to greatly improve access to justice. First, I’m a strong proponent of simplifying processes to make them understandable and accessible to everyone—and don’t think anyone should be disadvantaged because they do not have a lawyer to help them navigate. For example, we’ve been doing informal trials in domestic relations cases for several years. The participants opt in to these types of trials where the rules of evidence are relaxed, litigants can submit any evidence they want, the judge asks all of the questions, no objections are permitted, and lawyers have a defined role. These informal trials are less stressful for litigants and shorter in duration. I think informal trials should be offered in all case types involving “regular people problems” and expanded to include debt and housing disputes. 

Second, judges should be engaged to ask questions to elicit the necessary factual information and desires of the parties in the matters before them to make an appropriate ruling. This may require the judge to adjust procedures such as relaxing the rules of evidence, requiring less formality in the pleadings, and explaining the court’s procedures and relevant law.     

What is a trait you admire in others? 

I most admire creative problem-solving and thinking outside of the box. I also value compassion, and the ability to really listen.  

What is the last book you read? 

The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the Twenty-first Century’s Greatest Dilemma by Mustafa Suleyman and Michael Bhaskar. 

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

I can’t live without the outdoors. I live in Alaska because I love wild places. Anchorage offers amazing access to lead an active lifestyle and I am grateful for the opportunity to ski, bike, and hike from my front door. We live next to a 500,000-acre state park full of mountains, rivers, glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife—and have close access to the ocean for kayaking. These places feed my soul.