Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify IAALS’ location.
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, located at the University of Denver, is preparing for a change in leadership this fall.
The organization announced ear- lier this month that executive director Rebecca Love Kourlis, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice, will turn over the role to Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales.
For Bales, a newcomer to Colorado, the role is an opportunity to continue his work in court reform; for Kourlis, the change is simply the right time; and for the organization, it’s the be- ginning of its next phase.
Kourlis was among IAALS’ founders in 2006 alongside Daniel Ritchie, John Moye and Judge Richard Matsch. After sitting on the state Supreme Court, she was dedicated to bring changes to civil courts around the country, not just the state.
The organization has established itself as a source for data-based court research and research-based reform recommendations.
The organization is focused on several key areas: civil justice reform, family justice reform, judicial election reform, legal education and legal practice improvement. And while IAALS makes recommendations in each of those areas, it is not an advocacy organization and does not pursue a specific agenda.
“The people who know us trust us and trust that we are fair, that we’re thoughtful, that we’re thorough, that when we take something on, we do it in a way that is balanced and takes all perspectives into account,” Kourlis said. And regarding the idea that not everyone knows the organization, Kourlis said the next step for IAALS involves expanding that reach.
“IAALS is poised to become even more visible, even more impactful, and it just seemed to me that bringing in a new leader to spur on that next phase made a lot of sense,” she said.
In starting that next phase, the organization launched a search for candidates for the executive director position, and according to Kourlis, Bales’ name came up several times in the search.
Bales, who finishes his five-year term as Arizona Supreme Court chief justice in July, said few justices stay on the court after serving as chief. For him, it was time to move on to something new.