Early last fall, the NACM Board met to discuss its strategic priorities for the coming year. One of NACM’s strategic focus areas is Advocacy for the Profession. A goal under advocacy is that NACM will be an influential and respected voice on behalf of courts and the court management profession. We identified a number of strategies that ultimately assist the NACM board and committees in determining the projects that will help us reach that goal. Strategies include:
- pursue and participate in opportunities to educate and promote the profession
- reach out to policy-makers to educate about important issues facing courts and the profession
- take a position and make recommendations on matters of importance
- develop advocacy resources and reference materials
- use innovative methods for acting on behalf of the profession
- educate and enhance relationships and communications with judges, judge organizations, and judicial/legal communities
- highlight contributions to improved court/judicial branch performance
I thought I would contribute to the above goal by taking a step back and revisiting the history of the court administration profession. The U.S. Constitution recognized the need for the third branch of government when it was signed into law on September 17, 1787. Since that time, we know there were people working in different capacities to make courts across the country function. However, a heightened awareness of the need for managerial expertise came later in the 1960s and 1970s. The “History of Court Administration” can be summed up best by this excerpt from NACM’s newly updated The Court Administrator: Court Administration: A Guide to the Profession:
History of Court Administration
In August 1969, soon after he became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Warren E. Burger observed, “The courts of this country need management, which busy and overworked judges, with drastically increased caseloads, cannot give. We need a corps of trained administrators or managers to manage and direct the machinery so that judges can concentrate on their primary duty of judging. Such managers do not now exist, except for a handful who are almost entirely confined to state court systems. We must literally create a corps of court administrators or managers and do it at once.” As a result of Chief Justice Burger’s efforts, and those of other leaders in the field, court administrators have become an essential part of the federal, state, and local courts.
Since Warren E. Burger’s call was made for trained professionals, several higher learning, justice-related programs became available to educate court professionals. Local, state, regional, and national associations formed, and they continue to play a role in educating court professionals.
NACM’s vision is to be a preferred source for education on innovative practices and a leading voice for the court management profession. To continue to advance the profession of court management, we must stay on the cutting edge of leadership and management. In addition, we must communicate with our stakeholders, legislators, justice partners, and the public about innovative and best practices within the courts.
I think our members find value in belonging to a professional association that is dedicated to educating court professionals, providing community, sharing information, and advocating on important court and justice system topics. NACM will continue to work on projects that promote it as a voice for the profession of court administration. I welcome all of your suggestions on how you think NACM can continue to be an influential and respected voice on behalf of courts and the court management profession and how we build momentum on this important topic. Please reach out to me or any board member with your ideas or join the conversation on the next Governance Committee meeting.
We look forward to hearing from you!