Norman Meyer - A Pioneer of Court Excellence
September 04, 2013
Over the course of his extensive career, Norman Meyer has lived and worked all over the US while wanting nothing more than to return to his home state of New Mexico. From the beginning of his career, he spent ten years as a trial court administrator in the state courts of Oregon and Wisconsin, participating in innovative programs in jury, technology, case flow, public education and human resource management. Beginning in 1989, he spent seven years as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the U.S. District Court in Arizona. From 1996-2001, he was Clerk of the Court of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Since 2001 Meyer has been the Clerk of the Court of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico. For Meyer, professionally speaking, patience is not only a virtue, it is a requirement. When asked about the 24 years it took him to find a job that would bring him back to New Mexico, Meyer stated, “you have to be geographically flexible – you cannot and will not get the job you want right out of the chute.”
Meyer completed his undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico in 1977, with degrees in both Political Science and Russian Studies. After graduation, he moved to Colorado to pursue his Juris Doctorate at the University of Denver. Upon completion of his first year of law school, however, he realized that, although he still wanted to work in a legal setting, becoming a lawyer was not the right fit. Never one to simply give up, he began to look around DU for an MBA program (or something similar) and discovered the law school had the MSJA Program. Meyer then met with Harry Lawson, then-director of the MSJA program, and was immediately sold on it as a career choice. He started the MSJA program that August and ended the program the following August. His career in the courts began when he was required to complete his externship at the Jefferson County Court in Golden, Colorado. He was then assigned to the Administrator’s office in Salem, Oregon for a summer internship (being assigned summer internships out of state was a common practice for the MSJA program at the time). After completing his MSJA degree, he applied for several jobs around the country – he laid bricks for income – until he finally landed a newly-created job as a district court administrator in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Throughout Meyer’s career in the courts, he has certainly found particular jobs more challenging than others. These experiences have led him to grow and to become a very successful and well-respected Court Administrator. While positioned as Clerk of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia, (what Meyer states has been his most challenging job overall) he oversaw three separate court regional divisions, each 100 miles from each other. In addition to the troubles associated with keeping track of and traveling to each division, Meyer found the judges on the bench did not always cooperate well, which complicated decision-making. Furthermore, his predecessor as clerk had a history of discriminatory hiring practices, which upset Meyer and caused him to take action.
When asked what he believes is the hardest thing he’s had to do in his career, Meyer said that is to terminate an employee for non-performance related reasons, primarily budget concerns. Since taking care of staff is a leader’s prime concern (staff are your most important resource), for Meyer this is an emotional and horrible thing to have to put someone through, especially a dedicated, deserving employee.
In turn, Meyer has a true passion for public service and has found throughout his career he is most fulfilled when making the courts a better place for the public. He truly excels at this and has never forgotten he works for the tax-payers above everyone else. As a public servant, he draws inspiration from his grandfather, once a city councilman in St. James, Minnesota, who stated, “I have accepted a public trust and I will keep the faith.” Meyer himself has stated that, “every day, I work hard to fulfill the public’s trust in me and do my best to provide excellent public service while supporting and defending the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law is why I have a passion for what I do and it is why I am proud to be a court administrator. We in the courts work in the most important branch of government. It is our mission to protect the rights of our citizens, and without a strong judiciary, our democracy fails.” Moreover, Meyer is passionate about working and collaborating with the Sturm College of Law, attending events held by the MSLA Program as well as networking with MSLA students and alumni.
One exceptional area of work for Meyer has been participating in Rule of Law projects in Eastern Europe over the past 15 years. From teaching classes on case flow, I.T., and H.R. management to management reviews of trial courts to establishing model pilot courts, Meyer has worked in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and Serbia. He is currently the Vice President for the North American Region of the International Association for Court Administration. At the MSLA-MSJA 40th Anniversary celebration earlier this year, Meyer was given the “Outstanding Achievement in International Court Administration” award.
Meyer’s involvement in and commitment to the National Association for Court Management (NACM) began in 1980. Meyer served on the NACM Board of Directors for seven years,
including as President of NACM in 1995-6. In July 2013 he received the NACM Award of Merit — which is NACM’s most prestigious individual award. When asked how he felt about accepting this award, Meyer was extremely humble, claiming that “[the] best kind of recognition you can ever get is from your peers. It’s really powerful.”
In closing, Meyer urges current MSLA students and recent graduates of the program to never limit themselves geographically. He credits much of his success as a Court Administrator to his flexibility and willingness to move to new places. It is imperative, according to Meyer, to be flexible in terms of career goals and location. A person who limits him or herself only limits the potential opportunities that can come his or her way. Maintaining a professional reputation and working hard is a necessity when applying and working for the judicial system. Meyer’s advice to students and graduates is to take the initiative and advantage of opportunities while NETWORKING as much as possible. When asked his opinion of the MSLA program, Meyer answered, “I think the program is on an upward arc, it’s doing very well and the alums are encouraged by the direction of the program today. We have hope for the future of the program with the great leadership on board.”
Thank you Brad Bolton for your commitment to the MSLA!
January 09, 2013
Brad Bolton is a well-respected and a lively professor in the MSLA program at the University Of Denver Sturm College Of Law. Brad also held the position of the Clerk of Court for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado since 1979. Brad retired this past December from the Bankruptcy Court, passing along his position to an MSLA alum. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from California State University in 1974 with a degree in political science with a focus on law. Brad then went on to get his Master’s in Public Administration and Judicial Administration from the University of Southern California in 1976. Brad now passes on his wisdom and experience to the new generation of Master of Science in Legal Administration (MSLA) students.
When Brad pursued the Master’s Program at USC, his original goal was to go to law school and practice law. During the program, he was introduced to the management of the law and it stuck with him. It appealed to Brad so much more than law school with the whole idea in mind that it could be an option to practice law and manage. Upon graduation, Brad was employed in the court system of Los Angeles and quickly fell in love with his career. He continued to work in various positions in the courts and really started to develop a niche for the institution.
Many people know Brad as being the entertainer and this all started when he began dancing at the age of four. Born in Massachusetts and then relocated to California at an early age, Brad’s Mother was uneasy about the new house and the busy road that the family lived on. His Mother would often tie Brad and his brother to a water spicket in order to keep them safe all the while allowing them to play outside. One afternoon, a lady came by to sell dance lessons and saw Brad and his brother playing outside. Shortly after, Brad began to dance which lead to him dancing professionally for six years. Brad eventually stopped dancing but later picked it back up in his mid-30s when he was asked to choreograph a performance for the Evergreen Community Theatre. At first, he was uneasy about the idea of choreographing and only agreed to dance, but later began to choreograph many different performances. Brad is now the resident choreographer for the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
In the mid 80s, Steven Ehrlich and Pat Campbell asked Brad to lecture on a couple of classes in the MSJA program specifically focusing on bankruptcy. Brad was introduced to Dean Yegge during his guest lectures and it was then that he realized his passion for teaching in the classroom. In 1994, Brad became an adjunct professor and has since taught various classes over the years and even earned adjunct faculty of the year in 2006. He currently teaches: The Business of the Courts, Court Space and Facilities, Applied Leadership Theory with Ron Seigneur, Project Management, and finally Statistics for the Legal Administrator.
Brad’s extensive knowledge and experience with the court system lead him to believe that there are countless valuable skills to have as a court clerk. First and foremost is having the ability to communicate with the judges and appreciate them. Brad attributes that his most beneficial skill is having a vision and to be able to have forward thinking. Brad explains that the MSLA program offers students a multitude of knowledge and skills in order to be successful in the courts. He believes that the best skill that the program offers is opening the students eyes to the institution and how the institution itself is different than a law firm and business enterprise. Students learn that the court is a service-oriented business with business sense, efficiency, and managing resources appropriately. Brad strives to provide this information as background to the students in the program and the unique culture and how to succeed in the courts. The greatest thing this program can do, according to Brad, is to teach a student how to write. This is the medium that judges use to make decisions, the ability to communicate and effectively write well. Furthermore, Brad states that an administrator must have an appreciation of the judges to be successful and build trust for the administration. The administrator must have an understanding of operational knowledge because that is the language that the judges speak.
When looking for new court managers today, Brad suggests that there are different attributes that one must possess. Quality management initiatives and using data to make decisions are the qualities that a court manager must be skilled in. It is also imperative for court managers to lead a team based environment and also continuous process involvement. Brad said he specifically looks for someone who has a great rapport with the staff and judges because this will help to foster a great work environment.
Throughout Brad’s career, he has endured many challenges and of course many successes. The greatest challenge in which Brad has faced is working with a specific judge or even several judges who did not or could not earn his respect or trust. The biggest success Brad has seen were the initiatives that were implemented in 1994. These were all long-term initiatives that took two to six years to implement. In short, it helped to save taxpayers money along with balancing a large caseload in 2005 after the new BABCPA law.
The new Clerk of Court for the Bankruptcy Court in Colorado is MSJA alum (’86), Ken Gardner. Brad is very confident in Ken and his new role as the Clerk of Court for numerous reasons. Ken has a national reputation and is very well respected by his peers. He previously ran the criminal division and has a background in operations. Brad has the utmost respect for Ken and he has seen firsthand his work ethic, working with him on a team for many different projects in the mid-90s. Brad explains that Ken will be a much better Clerk of Court because he is an extrovert and has extraordinary people skills.
In closing, Brad’s advice to recent graduates of the MSLA program is to not understate the value of learning operations and to take advantage of all opportunities that entail experience. Some students want to immediately move into huge roles, however they should have experience before fulfilling these roles.
Brad’s dedication and commitment to the MSLA program is always evident to students and faculty. Brad plans to spend his free time continuing to teach at DU in the MSLA program because teaching energizes him. He will also pursue the two bands that he is currently in and look for future opportunities for playing his guitar. With Brad’s level of energy and without a 9-5 job, rest assured Brad won’t be too hard to find.
The latest International Association for Court Administration (IACA) journal is online
December 19, 2012
Interested in International Court Administration? Check out the new IACA newsletter
October 11, 2012
MSLA Alumni in the Courts are making news: Mark Weinberg, Kevin Bowling, and Norman Meyer
September 12, 2012
International Journal for Court Administration Now Available Online!
June 11, 2012
Access the Journal by clicking here
There’s More to Law than Lawyering
June 06, 2012
Thank You, Kevin Bowling, MSJA’78, for Your Dedicated Service!
May 17, 2012
Thank you, Kevin Bowling, for your dedicated service to the courts and congratulations on your election to the NACM presidency!
Current NACM President, Kevin Bowling, graduated from the Master of Science in Judicial Administration (MSJA) program in 1978 and has over 30 years of experience in the judicial system. Kevin is currently the Court Administrator for the 20th Judicial Circuit Court and Ottawa County Probate court, and also serves as an attorney referee for a juvenile court. Kevin’s career has taken some interesting and unexpected turns; he reflects on how the MSJA impacted his career, while imparting some pearls of wisdom to the new generation of MSLAs.
As an undergraduate, Kevin studied political science and public administration at Providence College and had envisioned himself beginning law school immediately thereafter. Kevin’s pre-law advisor informed him of a unique program out in Denver: the MSJA program which, at the time, was run by Harry Lawson. The advisor assured Kevin that if he could survive Harry Lawson, he was guaranteed a job following graduation. Kevin assumed the challenge and, needless to say, survived. He attests that while Harry was harsh, he was a great mentor and pushed him to discover things on his own.
Kevin’s initial intended career path was to defend juvenile delinquents. He planned on completing his JD and moving back to his home state of Rhode Island to do trial work in this area. Instead, after earning his MSJA at the University of Denver, followed by his JD at Cooley Law School in Michigan, Kevin went to work for the Michigan Supreme Court, beginning his 30 years of service to the courts. Since then, he has had experience at almost every court level, except federal. In fact, his diverse experience includes time in the National Center for State Courts, in Michigan as a state judicial educator, and in Nigeria doing international law work. Kevin agrees he has been fortunate to experience the judiciary from a number of different perspectives and he thanks the MSJA for preparing him to wear all of those different hats.
Kevin learned a number of things while earning his MSJA. First and foremost, Harry Lawson taught him that it does not work to be a dualistic thinker in the courts. “There is a lot of grey,” Kevin says, “and rarely black and white.” He further states, to be an effective administrator, “one must be able to work with people at all levels, and one must not be rigid. Flexibility is extremely important in administration. Help others when you can. Also, learn the skills associated with individual projects and jobs.” To all MSLAs and administrators, “do your homework, do it carefully, and always cover your bases.”
Kevin has faced a few challenges throughout his career and explains that the lessons learned in the MSJA were instrumental in helping to address and overcome these issues. Leadership in any organization is challenging, but in the courts there can be “a vacuum of leadership at the highest level.” Administratively, the repercussions from this can be difficult. Some court leaders are not as familiar with administration as others and this can be challenging to overcome. Leaders must be strategic thinkers and visionaries; “it is great leaders that make the courts a great place to work.” Limited resources are also a challenge. Kevin contends that if the courts are not properly funded, then justice is affected; ultimately affecting the individual freedoms of the public. The ability to think critically and strategically, communicate effectively and with purpose, and to be amenable to change is how he has overcome his greatest obstacles and adapted to challenges unforeseen. Kevin says, “all of my experiences kick back to my time in Denver.”
For the new generation of MSLA students: Kevin believes there are critical skills you will need to be successful in your administrative careers. You will need basic knowledge and an understanding of the courts and you should be eager and willing to learn. He emphasizes that communication skills are also vitally important and cannot be overstated. This includes speaking, writing, and the ability to listen and interact with others. Honed communication skills are absolutely crucial for your career to be successful. The legal landscape is changing; you must bring problem-solving skills and vast amounts of creativity to the table. Newer and older generations must adapt to the changes in the field, making these skills critical for the future of our courts. Finally, relationships are the crux of success. You should spend time developing your interpersonal and negotiation skills, as they will be put to good and frequent use.
For all current MSLA students, Kevin ended with this piece of advice:
“Be persistent and open to continuing your learning. Courts all over need bright, energetic MSLA students. Be flexible and appropriately aggressive. Don’t ever be afraid to get more experience.”
Alumni in the News
May 09, 2012
Managing the Firm as a Business
February 24, 2012