Client: A Small California Trial Court

The Challenge: Recent changes in California law have placed major new responsibilities on courts to manage their human resource functions while altering the way they are funded and their relationship to their counties and the state. In the past, California courts relied largely on county government to provide personnel services but now each Superior Court is required to be an independent employer. Rules, procedures and systems for employee classification, compensation, recruitment and testing, discipline and discharge and many other human resource functions are required. The client needed tools to establish quickly a fully independent, cost effective human resources operation to replace previous county services.

Our Approach: Our approach included evaluating the statutory and rule requirements for California trial court employment; benchmarking the court's employment practices against those of other California courts; and providing and evaluating options for delivery of human resources services.

Human Resource services vary widely in complexity (investigating discrimination complaints compared with maintaining personnel files), immediacy (from biweekly payroll processing to annual training) and impact on the management of the court (hiring qualified staff versus recording benefit changes). For each area of human resources services, we used the criteria of cost effectiveness and management flexibility to evaluate the following options for providing service:

  • Relying on internal court staff;
  • Collaborating with neighboring courts;
  • Hiring vendors or consultants;
  • Using staff analysts or other resources from the state Administrative Office of the Court; or
  • Continuing to rely on the county.

The Results

  • A recommended structure for the court's human resources operations.
  • Options for providing each area of human resource services (e.g., in-house, under contract).
  • Analysis of the staff hours or vendor cost of recommended options.
  • Budgetary justifications for staff and contractual funding necessary to implement the recommendations.

Consultants: Kate Harrison and Hampton Smith

For more information about this project, please click here to request the Executive Summary.

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