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Issue 3: The Judiciary Workforce of the Future

How can the judiciary continue to attract, develop, and retain a highly competent and diverse complement of judges and staff, while meeting future workforce requirements and accommodating changes in career expectations?

Issue Description

The judiciary can only meet future workload demands if it can continue to attract, develop, and retain highly skilled and competent judges and staff. Chief Justice Roberts has noted that judicial appointment should be the “capstone of a distinguished career” and not “a stepping stone to a lucrative position in private practice.” Attracting and retaining highly capable judges and staff will require fair and competitive compensation and benefit packages. The judiciary must also plan for new methods of performing work, and prepare for continued volatility in workloads, as it develops its future workforce. Two strategies to address this issue follow:

Strategy 3.1

Support a lifetime of service for federal judges.

Background and Commentary. It is critical that judges are supported throughout their careers, as new judges, active judges, chief judges, senior judges, judges recalled to service, and retired judges. In addition, education, training, and orientation programs offered by the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office will need to continue to evolve and adapt. Technology training, for example, is moving away from a focus on software applications toward an emphasis on the tasks and functions that judges perform. Training and education programs, and other services that enhance the well being of judges, need to be accessible in a variety of formats, and on an as-needed basis.

Goal 3.1a:   Strengthen policies that encourage senior Article III judges to continue handling cases as long as they are willing and able to do so. Judges who were appointed to fixed terms and are recalled to serve after retirement should be provided the support necessary for them to fully discharge their duties.

Goal 3.1b:   Seek the views of judges on practices that support their development, retention, and morale.

Goal 3.1c:   Evolve and adapt education, training, and orientation programs to meet the needs of judges.

Strategy 3.2

Recruit, develop, and retain highly competent staff while defining the judiciary’s future workforce requirements.

Background and Commentary. The judiciary continues to be an attractive employer, and staff turnover is relatively low. Employees are committed to the judiciary’s mission, and the judicial branch provides staff with many resources and services, including training and education programs. Nonetheless, ongoing changes that the judiciary must address include an increase in the amount of work performed away from the office, shifting career expectations, and changes in how staff communicate and interact. Changes in how and where work is performed are related to Strategy 2.1, as certain types of changes provide opportunities for the judiciary to reduce its space footprint and rental costs while creating a better and more efficient work environment.

The judiciary also must develop the next generation of executives. The management model in federal courts provides individual court executives with a high degree of decentralized authority over a wide range of administrative matters. The most qualified candidates often come from within the system since the judiciary’s management model is not currently replicated in other government systems. To ensure a sufficient internal supply of qualified candidates, the judiciary should initiate a meaningful leadership and executive development training program along with the creation of executive relocation programs to widen the pool of qualified internal applicants.

Goal 3.2a:   Attract, recruit, develop, and retain the most qualified people to serve the public in the federal judiciary, emphasizing a commitment to nondiscrimination both in hiring and in grooming the next generation of judiciary executives and senior leaders.

Goal 3.2b:   Identify future workforce challenges and develop programs and special initiatives that will allow the judiciary to remain as an employer of choice while enabling employees to strive to reach their full potential.

Goal 3.2c:   Deliver leadership, management, and human resources programs and services to help judges (especially chief judges), executives and supervisors develop, assess and lead staff.

Goal 3.2d:   Strengthen the judiciary’s commitment to workforce diversity through expansion of diversity program recruitment, education, and training.