What is a Court Administrator?

A court administrator is in charge of the day-to-day office duties that keep the courthouse smoothly running. These administrators need managerial and organizational skills in order to track information, manage processes and delegate tasks to employees. Court administrators work closely with judges and referees, but also supervise court staff who perform clerical and financial duties. Court administrators start out earning approximately $36,000 per year, but can end up making $96,000, according to PayScale.

Basic Functions

Court administrators perform certain functions that are essential to effective legal processing and judicial governance. These include assignment cases, calendaring events and managing records. Court administrators should be familiar with databases and information management systems. They also perform standard managerial duties related to hiring, disciplining, firing and training staff. Court administrators understand work related issues the best, so they are the most qualified to make policy change recommendations. Most court administrators oversee general offices, but others are trial or state court administrators. Regardless of the position, these legal professionals must make it their business to understand how daily functions are performed to ensure that they are consistently accomplished in fair and timely manners.

A Master Planner

Court administrators do not have the authority to change policies, but they do have the power to question and streamline procedural processes. Senior court administrators often work with different courts and legal organizations to maintain awareness of what others are doing and internally improve program and customer service quality. They may lead reinvention efforts, institute new best practices and disseminate data to rally support throughout judiciaries. Some court administrators specialize in project areas related to technology innovations, cost collections and staff professional development. Most court administrators will oversee scheduling processes and the calendars of individual judges and referees. Court administrators do not need to know the answers to all questions, but they must be able to find the right resources.

A Project Manager

Court administrators are often tasked with executing and fulfilling statewide projects. Court administrators share broad goals with staff, define requirements and expectations and follow up with employees to ensure compliance. This is critical because staff must be convinced of the end-user benefits. Many government agencies struggle to successfully supervise staff, because of heavy workloads, time limitations and bureaucratic red tape. Court administrators must therefore have the persuasion and communication skills needed to motivate employees, share visions and promote collaboration. For example, one of the most common projects involves the centralization and implementation of online court systems that allow users to pay fines, access information and schedule hearings.

Human Resources

Court administrators who oversee office employees will have unique human resources duties because statewide personnel regulations often differ from the private sector. Court administrators maintain staff accountability and financial stewardship through monitoring processes and performance. They direct support staff to monitor, collect and transform data into meaningful reports. This is a sensitive issue because many taxpayers become upset about poor court efficiency and staff performance. Some court administrators are tasked with helping staff and vendors create systems that identify and solve data reporting gaps.

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In closing, court administrators usually are also budget managers who must align fiscal and spending policies with current needs, public expectations and financial limitations.