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The Management of Staff by Federal Court of Appeals Judges

Posted by on Monday, March 21, 2016 in Articles, Essays, Volume 69, Volume 69, Number 2.

The Management of Staff by Federal Court of Appeals Judges


Federal court of appeals judges have staffs consisting usually of a secretary and four law clerks; some judges have externs as well (law students working part time without pay). These staffs are essential, given judicial workloads and judges’ limitations. Yet not much is known about how the judges manage their staffs. Each judge knows, of course, but judges rarely exchange information about staff management. Nor is there, to our knowledge, a literature that attempts to compare and evaluate the varieties of staff management techniques employed by federal court of appeals judges. This Essay aims to fill that gap. It is based on interviews, some in person, most by telephone, of seventy-five judges drawn from a number of different federal courts of appeals.


Mitu Gulati
Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law.

Richard A. Posner
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. We thank Joseph Blocher, Andre Davis, Tracey George, Eva Guzman, Steve Leben, David Levi, Marin Levy, Don Molloy, Pat Shin, Don Willett and the students in the Duke Judicial Studies LLM program for helpful comments. Thanks also to Kali Frampton, Alan Freedman, Mike Kenstowicz, and Xingxing Li for their research into the background literature.