Each year, IAALS recognizes individuals and groups who exemplify the spirit of innovation and leadership that we champion as we work toward building a legal system that is accessible, fair, reliable, and accountable.

For the first time ever, this event was held virtually, and was also free and open to the public—making it more accessible to a national audience than ever before. We were thrilled to recognized our two awardees, Margaret Hagan and the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady. We honored their leadership and innovation in advancing our justice system, including inspiring the movement toward user-centric reforms in family courts—leading to better pathways for families nationwide.

The event included remarks from Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, and featured a special presentation from Margaret on innovation in legal design.

About Margaret's presentation: Current projections estimate that 30–40 million people could be at risk of losing their home in the coming months, as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates what was already a crisis in affordable housing. Many will find themselves engaged in the civil justice system, surrounded by complex processes and without any legal help. Recently, in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Legal Design Lab at the Stanford Law School released Legal Help FAQ on Eviction & Rent Protection—a 50-state resource for local legal information on residential renters’ issues during the pandemic. This project builds on Margaret’s and the Lab’s work through the A Better Legal Internet project to improve people’s experience searching online for legal information.


Margaret Hagan is the Director of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford Institute of Design (the d.school) and leads programs on how design can make legal services and products more usable, useful, and engaging. She also leads workshops to train legal professionals in the design process, to produce client-focused innovation. Hagan was instrumental to the success of our Court Compass project and helping courts and communities work together to build better family courts. 


The late Chief Justice Mark Cady led the Iowa Supreme Court from 2011 until his passing in 2019. He joined the court in 1998, having previously served on the state court of appeals and as a district court judge. As president of the Conference of Chief Justices, Chief Justice Cady championed the Family Justice Initiative—supported by IAALS—and efforts to refocus family courts on problem-solving and facilitating cooperation.


Thank you to our generous event sponsors. Together, we have made a difference. Together, we are rebuilding justice: Colorado Bar Association/DBA/CBA-CLEDISHEl Pomar FoundationGibson Dunn & Crutcher LLPLewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLPMoye White LLPSherman & Howard LLCWheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP