University of Denver

Remembering and Honoring the Legacy of Our Teammate, Our Friend, Alli Gerkman

Founding Executive Director

With heavy hearts we share the news of IAALS Senior Director Alli Gerkman’s passing after a long battle with cancer. There are no words that can adequately convey who Alli was—and who she was to us. Alli was a force of nature. She was a captivating presence and was remarkable in her ability to connect with others. Alli knew how to get things done and how to make things work. She knew what it meant to work hard and to laugh harder. She was a teammate and a friend. And she has left an incredible legacy.

Through her work, Alli transformed the way our nation thinks about legal education and the role lawyers play in our society. She was a leader in envisioning a better system where new lawyers could better serve clients and the public had better access to justice. She spent years challenging the status quo—and changing it. Her work has already changed the way countless law professors teach and how law schools devise curricula, and employers are also now changing the way they hire new lawyers. Alli spearheaded efforts to better understand what clients want, and to help lawyers adjust their practices to match. And she’s opened the door to a fundamental reframing of how lawyers enter the profession of law and how the profession itself is regulated.

She had much work left to do—and was loath to give it up. Her work was one of her many passions. But we carry it forward now with even deeper purpose and even deeper resolve. Our mission takes on greater meaning, because we now have to live up to the standard that Alli set for us as well. We can’t take no for an answer. Change is hard, and the fight is tough, but it is possible. Alli never saw obstacles; she only saw opportunities. And she was tireless in their pursuit.

A memorial in Denver is being planned, as well as an IAALS award in Alli's name. We will keep you updated on details as they get finalized, and we invite you to share your memories of Alli below in the comments.

Alli was—and is—at the heart of our IAALS family. We miss her. And we’ll make her proud.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 9: We've heard from many of you over the last week and have been touched by your tributes to Alli. She inspired so many of us, both personally and professionally. Below we've captured some of your sentiments:

Heartbreaking news and an incredible loss for the legal profession.

I met Alli through IAALS too. She stood out as a bright and kind person – glad she is being remembered through tributes like this.

Alli Gerkman, you were simply an incredible person. I’m so glad our paths crossed. I am a better person for having known you.

Alli was a force for good in our community, a difference maker and a genuinely good person. I will miss her.

For the many of you touched and inspired by Alli Gerkman, and there are many of you, I am sad to share that we have lost her. Alli, you have done so much for the law – and people. You left the world a better place.

Wonderful and inspiring person and friend. We need to live up to her example.

Oh no. This is so so sad. I first met Alli a few years ago at the 3rd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference. She was lovely, full of wonderful ideas, and committed to making the legal industry better for every stakeholder. Such a loss. 

A force here in Denver. She will be missed.

I had the pleasure of meeting Alli and was fortunate to attend last year's conference. I am shocked and saddened. Beyond her incredible accomplishments, Alli was a warm human being with an uncanny ability to connect and listen. She will definitely be missed.

A very sad loss of a wonderful soul. It was an honor to have  known Alli and I am sure she will be missed by many.