IAALS to Honor the Conference of Chief Justices
Chief Justices have worked to provide complete access to courts and the legal system
In the shadows of the Sturm College of Law building sits a small two-story house whose occupants are working to bring big changes to the American legal system.
“We are a think tank dedicated to improving the American legal system,” says Rebecca Love Kourlis, executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). In addition to collecting empirical information, performing legal research, and conducting surveys and focus groups, IAALS conducts pilot programs to find a better way for the court system in the United States to operate.
For the last 11 years, IAALS has also honored others striving to improve the legal system by hosting the annual Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner. Previous honorees have included judges, chief justices, a state senator, philanthropists and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. This year, IAALS will recognize the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ), a group comprised of chief justices from all 50 states.
Created in 1949, the CCJ meets twice a year to develop best practices and issue policy statements on matters pertaining to the state judiciary. IAALS is recognizing the group for its work this year to provide 100 percent access to justice and to reform civil and family courts.
“Their goal is for everybody and anybody who needs access to the court — for anything as simple as a name change to something as complex as a business litigation with millions of dollars — that everybody has a process that works for them,” Kourlis says. “We really believe they are making a huge difference across the country, and they are capturing this momentum for change. It’s a significant evolution in the process of the courts.”
The Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner on April 19 is open to the public, though registration is required. The evening will provide a perspective on how state courts perceive themselves and the current changes they are pursuing.
Six Chief Justices are expected to attend the dinner — Maureen O’Connor (Ohio), Scott Bales (Arizona), Nancy Rice (Colorado), Chase Rogers (Connecticut), Thomas Balmer (Oregon) and Nathan Hecht (Texas). A subset will participate in a fireside chat with Kourlis on public trust and confidence in the courts.