This posting covers a critical competency of court leaders – that of understanding the purposes of courts.  Knowing why courts exist lies behind everything that courts – and court leaders – do.  I hope you enjoy this very brief summary of the purposes of courts competency. The full competency can also be viewed at

The purposes of courts convey meaning to what courts do to achieve their mission and frame the functions for which court leaders are responsible. A long-standing list of court purposes created by Ernest Friesen includes eight commonly accepted purposes ranging from doing individual justice in individual cases to dealing with persons convicted of crimes. In recent years, additional purposes have been offered, for example, the importance of protecting vulnerable persons or being accountable for efficient resource use. It is vital that court leaders recognize and understand court purposes.  Further, court leaders can leverage concepts about the purposes and the role and responsibilities of courts when talking about the court, when making decisions about court operations, and when sharing information about court performance.  I like to call this making sure that the court leader can “tell the story” about why the court exists and what courts and the court organization does.

The next posting will be on the court leader as storyteller, using court purposes and court performance measures to talk about what courts do.

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