Human Resources – Annual Report 2022
Attracting, training, and retaining a skilled and diverse workforce are hallmarks of the federal Judiciary. Critical support systems and innovative human resources practices are vital to the efficient operation and management of the Judiciary.
Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
During 2022, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) had several initiatives underway to improve and support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Judiciary’s workforce. The efforts were focused on the areas of recruiting and hiring with the aim of attracting a diverse pool of applicants for internships, clerkships, and full-time positions in the courts. Following are descriptions of some of the initiatives.
The Model Intern Diversity Program
The Model Intern Diversity Program had nine interns in participating courts in 2022 as part of the Judiciary’s efforts to connect talented undergraduate students with federal courts and prepare them for permanent Judiciary employment. The program features virtual brown bag lunches with judges and court staff, diversity and inclusion training, a 12-week interview and resumé skills workshop, and one-on-one career counseling with a professional career coach.
To date, the program, which began in 2018, has placed 29 students in yearlong internships. It is aimed at nurturing interest in professional careers in the Judiciary, developing future judicial workforce leaders with on-the-job learning, and providing students of varying backgrounds the opportunity to work directly with federal judges and court executives.
Improving Law Clerk Recruitment and Hiring
The AO deployed a new feature in the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) to collect applicant demographic and hiring information. Law clerk and staff attorney applicants can now voluntarily identify their gender, ethnicity, and race, and identify how they learned about the job opportunity. The OSCAR enhancements allow the Judiciary to identify recruitment barriers and strategically tailor outreach activities to address them. OSCAR is the online database that enables candidates to upload applications and send them to all the judges for whom they are interested in clerking.
Training resources were updated to show judges and staff attorney offices how they can share job opportunities with minority-serving law schools to increase the diversity of the applicant pool. OSCAR resources for applicants and law school career offices were expanded to increase transparency and to provide information about the Judiciary’s workplace protection policies and points of contact, as well as information about background checks and suitability requirements.
Also, based on feedback from law school deans and judges, the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan Pilot was extended for two years, through 2025. The plan delays the hiring of students for clerkships until their second year of law school. By delaying the hiring process until a law student’s second year, judges hope to reduce the pressure that clerkship applications add to an already stressful first year of law school and give students more time to work with professors, write for law journals, and participate in other law school activities that help make them more competitive in the clerkship application process.
The changes are part of ongoing efforts by the Judiciary to improve law clerk hiring. In 2021, the AO launched a new generation of OSCAR that added mobile-friendly technology and a more streamlined user experience. New features include flexibility in uploading application documents, expanded judge hiring preferences to draw a pool of applicants who meet hiring criteria, enhanced search capabilities and filters, and an easier process for uploading recommendation letters.
Better Web-Based Resources for Recruiting and Hiring
The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Careers public webpage and LinkedIn content was updated in 2022 to be more user-friendly and reflect the diversity of the probation and pretrial workforce across the country. Other projects underway include establishing a method for collecting probation and pretrial services demographic data and developing a recruitment playbook or best practices guide for chief probation and pretrial officers.
A national list of minority-serving colleges and universities, with career center contacts, was posted on the Judiciary’s internal website to support local court and federal defender outreach to students, recent graduates, and alumni about Judiciary career opportunities. The process for posting court and federal defender openings on LinkedIn was also simplified to encourage greater use of the social media platform to reach a diverse pool of job candidates.
Implementing the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act
In 2022, the AO worked to help ensure compliance with the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019, which prohibits federal employers, including employing Judiciary offices, from asking applicants for most jobs to disclose arrest and conviction history information before a conditional job offer is extended.
Guidance for implementing the provisions of the act was distributed to the courts, and a webinar for court employees was held. An internal website page was created with resources such as revised job application forms and vacancy announcement templates.
The legislation was designed to give formerly incarcerated individuals a fair chance to compete for federal employment by barring most criminal history information requests until the end of the hiring process. It does not alter an employing office’s discretion to determine that a criminal history disqualifies an individual from a particular position.
Biometrics in Background Checks
In fall 2022, the AO began the national rollout of the Fingerprint Transmission System (FTS), a web-based tool that standardizes how courts and federal defender offices collect fingerprints and biographic data during background checks of employees, contractors, interns, externs, and volunteers. The FTS replaces inked fingerprint cards and provides enhanced security. It allows all the data to be securely transmitted and stored in a central repository, providing better protection of personally identifiable information. The system was piloted with 22 courts, and the lessons learned in the pilot facilitated a smooth national rollout.
Expanding Employee Training and Development
The AO expanded two new programs in 2022 to build the skills of new Judiciary employees. For the first time, new HR hires in federal defender offices were given group-specific orientations. Seventy professionals who were new to their roles or to the Judiciary participated in the program, which covered benefits, compensation, employee dispute resolution, fair employment, hiring, training, and workforce planning. The HR Orientation program was launched in 2021 with training for 100 court HR professionals new to their roles or to the Judiciary.
The second program, the AO Leadership series, added advanced classes for AO supervisors and aspiring supervisors, with sessions on delegation, creating psychological safety, managerial mediation, and influencing decision-makers. More than 500 people have already taken at least one class in the leadership program, which offers training on coaching, performance evaluations, project management, communication, team building, action-planning, diversity and inclusion, and foundational skills. The AO also provided a virtual Human Resources Academy program with sessions on telework, retirement, workforce planning, and COVID-19.
Other programs for employees include the Judiciary Online University Benefits for Life webinars, which address retirement planning and saving, mental illness, and other topics. Writing, telework, workplace harassment, leadership, and time management programs are especially popular topics, as are courses on workforce planning, onboarding, leave tracking, and pandemic-related policies.
More than 130 employees accepted temporary duty assignments at the AO. Participants provided needed court staff and federal defender expertise to national projects while expanding their skills.
Director’s Leadership Program
Each year, candidates are chosen for the Director’s Leadership Program, a yearlong residency that offers well-qualified court and federal defender employees the opportunity to work on national projects while gaining a greater understanding of national issues and policies. The Director’s Leadership Program residents for 2022-2023 were the following:
Jarrod J. Frilot, IT security specialist, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Frilot joined the AO’s IT Security Office to work on the Securing the Judiciary IT Environment Project. He is working with the office to lead an effort to improve the Judiciary’s enterprise security policies for the firewalls that protect its networks.
Jalei M. Kinder, intensive supervision specialist, Northern District of California Pretrial Services Office
Kinder is working with the Human Resources Office on the Judiciary’s National Recruitment Strategy Initiative. She provides an invaluable court perspective and is helping execute national recruitment efforts.
Jarrett B. Perlow, chief deputy clerk, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Perlow joined the AO’s Continuous Process Improvement Staff to assist in developing and implementing a continuous process improvement culture in the courts and federal defender offices.