Careers in Court Administration

In Richard L. Hermann’s forthcoming book Where the Jobs Are, he explains:

The United States is the “court-richest” country in the world by far. In addition to 207 federal tribunals, there are hundreds of federal administrative courts and boards. These are dwarfed by the more than 25,000 state courts. The vast majority of these courts have professional staffs consisting of many different disciplines, including many attorneys working in numerous capacities.

So what kind of work do court administrators do?

The specific job duties depend on which court you are working for and there are a wide variety of court administration positions. The good news is that a JD is extremely advantageous for a court administration position. Many court administration jobs require a JD, require work experience but a JD substitutes for several years of work experience, or prefer a JD. Court administrators manage specific court programs, evaluate and update court rules and procedures, preside over formal evidentiary hearings that don’t go before a judge, assist in jury selection, and do many other things, depending on the position.

Some specific job postings I found that will give you a sense for what a court administrator does include:

  • “Staff Assistant (District)” position in the 18th District Trial Courts in Centennial, Colorado that pays $4,317.00 – $5,786.00 per month. The position is assigned to the Office of Language Access and will be responsible for the management of the Court Interpreter Program in the 18th Judicial District.
  • Appeals Referree in Jefferson City, Missouri that pays $42,7800-$62,556 per year.

Jefferson City, MO 65101. The complete job description is below:

Job Description:

  • Conducts hearings informally with interested parties and their counsel: places witnesses under oath, questions witnesses to ascertain pertinent facts, directs the recording of testimony, admits or excludes evidence, and facilitates the cross-examination of witnesses.
    • Reviews, prior to hearing, pertinent material which has a bearing on scheduled appeals.
    • Evaluates all facts pertinent to a case and prepares a written finding of fact and decision, applying pertinent provisions of the law and following established precedents.
    • Studies precedent decisions in similar cases as a guide for making decisions.
    • Assists in the training of lower level Appeals Referees.
    • Exercises considerable judgment, discretion, and tact in the hearing of controversial matters, and in the preparation of findings and decisions which may be appealed to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission and courts, and must be supported by legally competent evidence in the record of the hearing.
    • Works independently, but is subject to review for conformance with agency policy and precedent decisions by an Appeals Referee III or an administrative supervisor.

Must have an active Missouri Bar License

  • “Program Specialist I (DL) (Legal Counsel Coordinator) in Kapolei, O’ahu, Hawaii that pays $4,316 per month. The job description for this postings says that the position provides “staff assistance to the court administrators in planning, developing, coordinating, evaluating, reviewing and revising policies and procedures, methods and/or techniques for programs, specifically the Legal Counsel services for parents, determined to be qualified, provided by contracted attorneys; evaluates procedural and organizational matters related to the services of legal counsel and makes recommendations regarding alternatives, solutions, or refinements to the process or to the system; and performs other duties as required.” The job posting states that three years of experience is required but “Graduation from an accredited law school may be substituted for two (2) years of Specialized Experience.”

 

  • Case Administrator/Relief Courtroom Deputy in Yakima, Washington that pays $43,840-71,247 a year. The job description states that this position is “responsible for maintaining and processing case information, managing the progression of cases from opening to final disposition and performing general or specialized courtroom functions as a courtroom deputy, to include attending and logging court proceedings and processing orders. In addition, this position provides significantsupport and assistance in the administration of the jury selection process.”

 

  • RA Appeals Officer Administrator in Tallahassee, Florida that pays $52,000 a year. The job description states that the Appeals Office Administrator “supervises the operation of a district appeals office which includes directing a staff of Special Deputies. Ensures that appealed Reemployment Assistance (RA) cases are scheduled, hearings conducted, and decisions rendered by subordinate staff.  Required to have supervisory skills as well as the skills of an Administrative Hearing Officer pursuant to Chapter 120, Florida Statutes.  Directly responsible for training and evaluating Special Deputies and Deputy Clerk Supervisor and effecting or recommending all personnel related matters relating to subordinates.”

The job posting goes into more detail about reemployment assistance hearings, stating that “the hearings are formal evidentiary hearings conducted pursuant to Section 120.57, Florida Statutes.  Among other things, the Appeals Office Administrator is required to:  take all evidence under oath or affirmation, determine the order of testimony, control disruptive parties, rule on objectives to evidence, and rule on all oral or written motions filed with the Appeals Office Administrator during the hearing.  Regardless of whether a party is represented by counsel or duly authorized agent, the incumbent is responsible for ensuring that a complete record is made of the facts and circumstances surrounding the issues involved.  Responsible for ruling on claimant’s representative’s request for a fee for representation at the hearing.

THIS POSITION HAS THE FOLLOWING JOB RELATED REQUIREMENTS

  • A member in good standing of the Florida Bar or be successfully admitted to the Florida Bar within 8 months after employment

How do you find entry-level jobs in this field?

Every year, through the Capital Fellows, Judicial Fellowship Program, ten fellows  begin a career in court administration. Full-time professional staff placements include California Superior Courts and the Judicial Council of California.

The Judicial Fellowship Program is administered by the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) and in partnership with the Judicial Council of California.

Applications for the 2018-2019 Capital Fellows Programs are due in early February. Read more here.

The California Capital Fellows program is the only entry-level program for careers in court administration that I am aware of but as with other jobs, networking goes a really long way.

Get work experience in courts. Take advantage of judicial internships during the summer and through externships. Read job postings closely to see what they are looking for, work backwards, and try to go out and get that experience. Meet as many court administrators as you can and ask for their advice for getting into the field.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in court administration, reach out to the CDO and we can guide you.

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