Meet Randy K. Otto, PhD, ABPP, Co-Author of the Inventory of Legal Knowledge™ (ILK™)

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
Initially, what I found most compelling about the field of psychology was psychopathology—its development and treatment. During my latter years in college, however, I became increasingly interested in society’s formal responses to persons with mental disorders. This, combined with a longstanding interest in the law, led me to enter Florida State University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, since a number of faculty in the psychology department were interested in interactions between the legal and mental health systems.

What made you decide to develop the Inventory of Legal Knowledge?
I decided to develop the ILK because of my longstanding clinical and research interests in two areas—assessment of criminal competencies and assessment of response style. I also had the opportunity to work with a great colleague, Jeff Musick, who I had the pleasure of supervising when he completed his clinical psychology internship at the University of South Florida. Jeff had developed what could be considered an early ILK prototype. After some discussion, we concluded it would be a good project on which to collaborate. The rest, as they say, is history.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
Two things. First, both Jeff and I regularly evaluate defendants whose competence to proceed with the legal process is raised as an issue. I like to think that, as a result, we are sensitive to the many realities facing forensic psychologists, and that we designed and developed a tool that is user-friendly as a result. I would also like to share that we first agreed that the name of the instrument would be the Competence Assessment Tool, or COMPASS, for short. We thought that the idea of a compass providing direction was particularly clever and would make for a great graphic on the test manual cover, to boot.  Unfortunately, an assessment instrument with a similar name was already in existence. Our second choice was the Inventory of Legal Knowledge, the ILK.

How do you spend your free time?
When not at work or with my family, I am most likely to be found on a motorcycle or in a game of No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

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