Interview with Douglas Mincher
April 01, 2015
The MSLA office recently had the opportunity to speak with one of our alumni, Mr. Douglas Mincher. Doug was recently named Clerk of Court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which has has appellate jurisdiction over federal cases originating in the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. His new duties include leading operations for the Clerk’s Office and supervising staff for all non-judicial functions in the court.
Mincher earned his MSJA in 1989-1990 and when asked what guided his decision to pursue this degree Mr. Mincher stated,
I was originally considering a career in law during my undergrad years when a professor asked me to intern with the Court Administrator’s Office in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas in Youngstown, Ohio. During this internship I learned the basics of how a court functioned. I found it very interesting and decided that post graduate study was the only way someone was going to hire me. I asked that same professor what program he recommended and he didn’t hesitate – DU. So, my wife and our two little kids moved to Denver for the year.
Mincher went on to state that,
I know the degree helped me in my initial hiring – it had to since I had almost no experience. I was hired in 1991 as the Assistant Court Administrator with the King County District Court in Seattle, Washington. After that, it was always a combination of experience, reputation, and education. You are not going to progress in a career in the courts without that combination. Actually, that’s probably true in any career.
Mincher credits his success to first and foremost to “the world’s greatest wife,” stating that “I married waaaay above my pay grade. Another reason is that I always had judges around that wanted their court to run better. Judges Linda Jacke and David Admire in Seattle, Judges Deborah Greene and Catherine Malicki in Atlanta come to mind. It’s always easier when the judges want to improve the operation.”
Mincher states that the most important lesson he has learned throughout his career is that of patience.
You’ll find an area that you want to change quickly and for the better, but you must be patient and explore all the ramification of making that change. I always keep Donald Rumsfeld’s quote in mind, ‘There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.’ It’s that last one that can get you in trouble.
Mincher’s favorite part about working in the courts is streamlining processes. He enjoys watching how a task is completed, then pondering the options to make it easier on staff, or more efficient, or more helpful to a judge, etc. If the options involve using technology, even better. He believes that funding is the largest issue facing today’s courts and is passionate about facilitating improvement within the courts. His favorite aspects of his job is promoting: “watching someone you hired develop into an excellent clerk or manager is fun too.”
When asked what advice he would give to those who aspire to accomplish what he has he stated “in a broad sense, you need to find your niche. Mine happens to be managing in the court environment. I find it attractive because you need a diverse skill set – IT, accounting, HR, security, facilities, case management, record management, procurement, etc. It’s a job where no two days are alike and that makes it interesting.”
Finally, when asked of any particular areas of study he would encourage us to include in the reassessing and development of our MSLA curriculum, Mincher stated that “the most difficult area for me to learn was accounting. I managed in the King County Court and the Municipal Court of Atlanta, both of which had millions in revenue from traffic fines flowing through each year. You need to understand financial controls inside and out or you’ll be on the news – and not in a good way.”
The MSLA office thanks Mr. Mincher for his time, and congratulates him on his recent promotion!