Administrative Ability

This is eighth in a series of posts highlighting my experience in each of the ten factors in evaluating a judicial candidate, as suggested by C. Dale McClain, a former President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in a 2009 blog post:

1. Legal ability. 

2. Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures.

3. A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity. 

4. Financial responsibility. 

5. Judicial temperament. 

6. Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office. 

7. Record of community involvement. 

8. Administrative ability. 

9. Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice. 

10. Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life. 

 (c) Ashley Athey Photography

(c) Ashley Athey Photography

A judge is the administrator of that courtroom and of the cases that pass through the court.  Each case involves real people--who are nervous, scared, and anxious for a fair and prompt decision.  That takes organization.

In his blog post, McClain (see side bar) describes the importance of organization:

8. Administrative ability. A judge needs to have strong administrative skills to deal with the demands of long court lists and complex lawsuits. These administrative skills are necessary for a judge to hear and decide cases within reasonable time limits without sacrificing the needs of individual citizens or their lawyers.

I learned organization from my mom, Linda Berg Stafford, who had me help her from an early age on all her projects, whether that was copying and assembling an organization's newsletter in our basement or setting up bar codes for the library at Bloomington High School North.  I'm proud to say that as a result I'm an inveterate list-maker and a flow chart devotee. 

As a small business owner, I know the importance of having procedures--but not too many; the importance of having organized files where you can find them; the importance of training staff; and the importance of delegating.  I took my law firm paperless in 2012--and we were the first private firm in Bloomington to do so.  I regularly teach about paperless law offices, law office management, and law office administration at continuing legal education events and I teach a course, Modern Small Firm Practice, at the IU Maurer School of Law.  

As a member of multiple city and county commissions over the years (including Bloomington's Commission on Sustainability, the Monroe County Plan Review Committee, and the Monroe County Women's Commission.  I learned how to work within city and county government, how to build bridges between elected officers and staff, and how to move projects forward.

As a member of numerous nonprofit Board of Directors (including Monroe County CASA, United Way, Buskirk-Chumley Theater Management, Inc., League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County, and League of Women Voters of Minneapolis), I learned how to communicate and collaborate with the fantastic boards and staff to innovate, plan, and improve our community.

I hope to bring the best of business, government, and nonprofit practices with me to the bench.  

Catherine Stafford