University of Denver

Rebecca Love Kourlis

Founding Executive Director

Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis believes in the foundations of the American legal system and has dedicated her career, both in and out of the courts, to ensuring that the system provides justice for all. She served Colorado’s judiciary for nearly two decades, first as a trial court judge and then as a justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.

During her time on the bench, Justice Kourlis witnessed a system increasingly under attack from outside forces—one that was often failing to deliver the justice she swore to uphold. So, in January 2006, she resigned from the Supreme Court to do something about it. She established the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), where she served as Executive Director until 2019.

Her work at the helm of IAALS was resolute in its focus on continuous improvement of the American legal system, and a logical off-shoot of her accomplishments on the bench where she spearheaded significant reforms in the judicial system.

Her legal expertise is rich and diverse. She began her career with the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs, and then started a small practice in rural northwest Colorado where she worked in natural resources, water, public lands, oil and gas, and mineral law.

In 1987, she was appointed as a trial court judge with a general jurisdiction docket. She served as Water Judge and later as Chief Judge of the district. In 1994, she returned to Denver and worked as an arbitrator and mediator for the Judicial Arbiter Group. She was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1995.

Justice Kourlis has received numerous individual honors, including the 2016 American College of Trial Lawyers' Samuel E. Gates Award, the American Bar Association (ABA) Justice Center's 2012 John Marshall Award, the ABA Judicial Division’s 2009 Robert B. Yegge Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Judicial Administration, and the 2008 Regis College Civis Princeps citizenship award. She was honored by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as a 2006 Woman of Distinction, and was chosen by the League of Women Voters of Colorado to receive their 2015 Leader of Democracy award. Justice Kourlis and her husband Tom were named the 2010 Citizens of the West by the National Western Stock Show.

Justice Kourlis earned a B.A. in English from Stanford University with distinction and a J.D. from Stanford University Law School. She and her husband, Tom—a businessman and cattle and sheep rancher—have three children. She is a Colorado native and daughter of former Governor John A. Love.

Additional Info 

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Member, National Association for Court Management
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Colorado Bar Association

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, Association of Family Conciliation Courts 54th Annual Conference, June 2017: “The Future of Unbundled Legal Services”
  • Speaker, University of Newcastle Law School, National Symposium (Australia), May 2017: “Reforming the Justice System: the Alchemy of Data, Leadership and Synergy”
  • Speaker, Judicial Commission of New South Wales (Australia), May 2017: “Reforming the Justice System: the Alchemy of Data, Leadership and Synergy”
  • Speaker, Alaska Bar Convention, May 2017: “Civil Justice Reform, Culture Change and Protecting the Rule of Law”
  • Speaker, Appellate Judges Education Institute, November 2016: “Trends in Judicial Selection”


  • J.D., Stanford University School of Law
  • B.A., Stanford University, with distinction
  • Honorary LL.D., University of Denver College of Law