Court Administration and Services Careers
Get involved in the day-to-day business of justice with the Federal Courts through supporting court program services and operations.
Case administrators are the “face” of the court to much of the public and attorneys who practice in the court. Individuals join this staff position and train on the job. They may:
- maintain and process case information;
- manage the progression of civil and criminal cases from opening to final disposition;
- review court documents for conformity with federal and local rules; and
- prepare cases for closing by ensuring that all necessary court orders are entered and proceedings are completed accurately and on time.
Case processing procedures for case administrators are well defined but take some time to learn. Good customer service skills and ease with word processing and automation systems and equipment are important skills for this job.
Courtroom Deputies assist judges in processing and managing court proceedings in an orderly fashion, and manage a judge’s caseload. Efficient court operations help create positive public impressions about our federal courts.
In their varied duties, they may:
- serve as a courtroom manager, making sure court business happens in an efficient and timely manner;
- perform a wide variety of administrative tasks such as calendaring, distributing and monitoring deadlines, preparing minutes of proceedings, processing orders, and filing important documents;
- perform electronic court recording operator duties — attending, recording, and logging court proceedings;
- coordinate set-up of courtrooms and manage and organize exhibits used in proceedings;
- keep judges informed of case progress and support the judge in jury selection;
- schedule court reporters and interpreters;
- answer questions from the public and the judge;
- maintain contact with counsel during deliberations; and
- advise the jury clerk about case requirements and jury needs.
Excellent organizational skills, sound judgment and an understanding of how the courtroom works are key in this position.
Language skills are prized in the federal courts. Highly qualified interpreters in court proceedings involving non-English speakers help ensure that justice is carried out fairly for defendants and other stakeholders. Interpreters’ work allows defendants to hear the evidence, assist in their own defense, confront witnesses, and communicate effectively with court staff during court proceedings and trials.
Court interpreters interpret simultaneously or consecutively to bridge communications gaps and help the courts ensure due process. They may:
- interpret communications for defendants, defense witnesses, and other parties with limited English skills, helping them understand and communicate with the court, counsel, and probation/pretrial services officers;
- provide interpretation services when necessary in all criminal proceedings;
- provide sight translations of relevant court forms and documents;
- serve as a resource to judges and senior managers in matters concerning language and culture;
- prepare training and orientation materials and other documents; and
- help coordinate the services of other interpreters.
In addition to a strong command of a language other than English — most often Spanish — staff court interpreters must have successfully completed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination.
Highly accurate records and transcripts of court proceedings are critical to the administration of justice. Court reporters maintain the courtroom record and produce transcripts of court proceedings according to strict standards. Court reporters:
- produce verbatim records of proceedings in the form of certified transcripts by using shorthand, stenotype, or stenomask methods;
- read back testimony in court proceedings, and edit and proofread draft transcripts;
- complete research of names and other facts;
- meet strict delivery deadlines and perform related services;
- assist judges, counsel, and other court personnel in accurately recording the minutes and rulings of court proceedings; and
- maintain related records and reports as required by law or policy governing court operations and procedures.
Official court reporters in a U.S. district court must have at least four years of experience in prime court reporting, or in the freelance field of service, or a combination of this experience. They also must have passed the test to be listed on the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) registry of professional reporters, or passed an equivalent qualifying examination. Courts are increasingly seeking certified realtime reporters who must pass additional examinations.
The jury administrator ensures that jury selection and management are smooth and efficient processes. Both have an important impact on public perception about jury service. They may:
- make sure that jurors are selected at random from a fair cross-section of the community where the court convenes, according to law;
- operate the court’s online jury management system and electronic juror application system;
- follow standard operating procedures and rules for qualifying, summoning, managing, and paying both petit and grand jurors;
- determine juror attendance needs and prepare statistical reports;
- conduct juror orientations, and support and assist jurors during jury service;
- work with judges’ chambers staff, clerks’ office staff, attorneys, law enforcement agencies and other groups to ensure the smooth operation of high-profile or protracted jury trials;
- process notices, enter data, and prepare mail; and
- provide customer service.
Customer service skills and adaptability to computer applications and systems are required.
Judicial executives in various positions manage and oversee court operations in the relevant court unit, ensuring that judges and court employees are able to meet the judiciary’s mission of equal justice under law. They:
- provide leadership, coordination, and guidance in areas that include policies and procedures, finance and budget, human resources, information technology, space and facilities, public information, legal affairs, court management and research, statistical analysis and reporting, maintenance of official records, jury operations, and other administrative or operational functions;
- consult with and advise judges, senior managers, and court staff;
- typically operate under the direction of a chief judge to carry out statutory duties of their office; and
- have direct fiduciary responsibilities involving monies received and disbursed by the court.
Applicants generally must have several years of progressively responsible management experience. They must understand and have significant experience with most or all of the various functional areas of the job. Demonstrated ability and interpersonal skills to function effectively in a complex and sophisticated government environment are essential. An undergraduate, graduate, and/or legal education may be substituted for required general experience. Court management experience is always highly desirable.
Legal Secretary and Administrative Specialist
Legal secretaries and administrative specialists provide varied office assistance and support in keeping with internal procedures and policies. Their work supports judges, executives, managers, and court unit staff. They may:
- prepare a variety of legal materials and correspondence;
- type, file, input data, and prepare documents;
- plan, schedule, and organize;
- photocopy documents and assemble reports;
- answer phones, and greet attorneys and the public;
- conduct non-legal research;
- distribute mail; and
- make travel arrangements.
These positions provide varied administrative services in the full range of court work areas, such as human resources, procurement, finance and budget, property management, space and facilities, and statistical reporting.