Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tribute to Alli Gerkman

We have just received the sad news that Alli Gerkman has passed away.  Alli was a strong advocate of legal education reform in her roles as Director of Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers and IAALS Senior Director.  I had a chance to talk with Alli at the ETL conference in Denver in 2013, and we have corresponded frequently about legal education and other topics.

Here is a memorial tribute from Rebecca Love Kourlis, Executive Director, IAALS:

"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.

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

(Scott Fruehwald)

Alli retweeted this tweet by Julia Maues in June:

"Thank you all for the nice messages of support. But know that I’m not amazing or strong. I’m just living the cards I have been dealt. And the fact I’m still here is not due to anything I’ve done. It’s luck. My friends who have died were way stronger."  Alli was a remarkable person.

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