In the last Vantage Point blog post I described the challenge of staying professionally current and engaged in your work, then covered two things one can do in response: actively networking with others and engaging in mentoring activities.  In this post I will cover two more key areas:

Read, Look, and Listen!  First, make it a practice to read pertinent journals and other sources of relevant (and not so relevant) information.  IACA’s International Journal for Court Administration (https://www.iacajournal.org/) and their other publications (http://www.iaca.ws/resources.html), along with NACM’s Court Manager and Court Express newsletter (https://nacmnet.org/resources/publications/) are a great start.  Other court associations like FCCA, NCBC, and CCPIO publish great material, too.  A fabulous source are National Center for State Courts publications; and don’t forget that the NCSC has the largest court administration-related library in the world (http://www.ncsc.org/Publications-and-Library.aspx).

Expand on these sources by following blogs, video channels, podcasts, and the like.  For instance, here are some of the things I follow:  NCSC e-newsletters on social media, jury issues, court technology bulletin, and international justice (http://www.ncsc.org/newsletters); LeadStar’s blog (https://leadstar.us/leadership-blog/); IS Survivor technology management blog (http://issurvivor.com/); Steve Gutzler’s leadership blog (https://www.stevegutzler.com/blog/); Socialnomics “The Skinny” e-mails (https://socialnomics.net/skinny/); GovTech Today (http://www.govtech.com/subscribe/newsletters/); Pew Research Center reports/news  (http://www.pewresearch.org/follow-us/); IAALS legal issues blog (http://iaals.du.edu/blog); Glaser & Associates blog on communication skills (https://www.theglasers.com/communication-capsule-blog); the Made2Measure court performance blog (http://made2measure.blogspot.com/); World Justice Project updates (www.worldjusticeproject.org); Carnegie Endowment for International Peace world e-news (http://carnegieendowment.org/); DevelopmentAid news (https://www.developmentaid.org/#!/news-stream/news); and the BeSpacific daily e-mail on legal, technology, and knowledge discovery  (https://www.bespacific.com/).

You may notice that not all of these are directly “court administration” sources – you should always seek out sources of information outside of the courts to broaden your knowledge.  It is also important to seek out sources that provide diverse, even opposing, points of view – get out of your normal information “bubble!”  A side note:  once you find something you think is valuable, set up a “to-do” reminder or sign up to receive the content, usually via an e-mail, podcast automatic download, or RSS feed – that way you don’t have to think about it, and can quickly decide each time whether to take in the content or not (I do a lot of quick deleting of e-mails that don’t interest me, even if it they are from a generally good source).

Continuing Education.  The surest way to become stagnant in your career is to not pursue regular professional training and education.  We like to think of ourselves as court administration professionals, but true professional groups require regular education (and even recertification) – for instance, teachers/academics, doctors, and lawyers.  So, make the commitment to get further education every year.  There are a wide variety of ways to do this:

  1. Attend court association education conferences – they are one of the best sources of court-focused training and professional development you can find (as a side note, later this month I will be attending the annual NACM conference in Atlanta – I hope to see you there).
  2. The Institute for Court Management (ICM) at the NCSC offers not only specific classes in court management areas like caseflow and jury, but also certification programs like the Court Executive Development Program (http://www.ncsc.org/Education-and-Careers/ICM-Courses.aspx).  Many of the courses are offered online, and some are free.
  3. The Justice Management Institute (JMI) will work with courts to deliver training programs (http://www.jmijustice.org/education-training-3/).
  4. University/College level programs have been great places to take classes and get certifications and master’s degrees in judicial administration, with some totally online. Two programs are:
    1. University of Denver Sturm College of Law http://www.law.du.edu/graduate-legal-studies/masters-programs/master-of-science-in-legal-administration) – full disclosure, I am a DU graduate, and it made a tremendous difference for me!
    2. Michigan State University (https://cj.msu.edu/programs/judicial-administration-program/); but it appears this program is closing as of August, 2019, which is a big loss to the profession.
  5. Court systems themselves – find out what’s available in your jurisdiction:
    1. In the U.S. federal courts, the Federal Judicial Center has excellent classes and programs (https://www.fjc.gov/education). There are a wide variety of downloadable materials (like a monograph on caseflow management) on this website, too.
    2. State judicial systems – Michigan (https://mjieducation.mi.gov/) and New Mexico (http://jec.unm.edu/) are good examples.

As I noted at the end of Part 1 last week, take the time to evaluate what you are doing in each of these areas.  How can you do better?  Set a goal to pursue a few new steps each month — you owe it to yourself to invest the time it takes to develop yourself to be the best you can be.

As always, comments are welcome.  In particular, what might I have left out — did I miss another way to stay current or a good source of professional development?  Thanks in advance for your help, and good luck with staying fresh!

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