The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts have announced the creation of the Arkansas State Court Fellows Program.
The program will educate law students about the profession of court administration and the career opportunities available in the state and federal court systems.
Court administrators are essential components in the administration of justice. As the modern court system has become more complex, professional administrative staff allows judges to more efficiently fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. Court administrators work to provide executive direction and policy development for the court, ensuring efficient and effective judicial operations.
During the January 2020 intersession, Bowen will offer a one-hour credit course entitled “The Administration of the Courts.” The course will be open to all Bowen students who have completed at least their first year of law school but who are not scheduled to graduate in May 2020.
After the completion of that course, students will be eligible to apply to the Arkansas State Court Fellows Program. Two individuals will be selected. State Court Fellows will be invited to attend and observe the annual meeting of the Arkansas Association of Court Management and the Arkansas Trial Court Administrator Conference in May 2020.
During June and August 2020, the Administrative Office of the Courts will enroll the fellows and support their attendance and participation in the national court manager certification program offered through the National Center for State Courts. The program, consisting of six three-day courses usually offered with an enrollment fee of $750 per course, will be provided at no cost to the fellows. At the conclusion, the fellows will be qualified as Certified Court Managers, a national credential recognized by state court systems throughout the country.
In July 2020, each fellow will be placed as a paid intern in the office of a circuit court judge and court administrator so they may observe and participate in the work of a court administrator.
The State Court Partnership, a collaboration between Bowen and the National Center for State Courts, will provide assistance and support to the fellows following their selection and during their service. This will include preparing them for their service as fellows, establishing and managing the details of their internship, and serving as the first point of contact when questions arise from the fellows or from the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“This program offers a great opportunity for Bowen students to both learn about and engage in the profession of court administration,” said James Gingerich, director of the State Court Partnership and former director of the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts. “At a national level, qualified and experienced court support professionals are in great demand. This partnership between Bowen and the Arkansas courts can serve as a model for other states where the search for highly skilled court employees, especially those with a law degree, is a high priority.”
In addition to the fellowship, the law school’s Career Services Office will actively search, compile, and share job postings in court administration in state and federal courts, particularly those requiring completion of a law degree, and assist interested students in their pursuit of a career in court administration.
“We are excited about this unique collaboration with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the State Court Partnership,” said Bowen Dean Theresa Beiner. “Court administrators are valuable members of public service communities, and they are important in helping courts address access to justice concerns. This program will help educate our students on the role administrators play and provide trained professionals for Arkansas’s court systems. It furthers Bowen’s core values of access to justice and public service.”