Learning from outside perspectives is key to progress, growth, and improvement within the legal community. With this in mind, we invited Glenn Mangurian, the Chair of the Court Management Advisory Board (CMAB), to speak at the BBA’s monthly Council meeting. Mangurian brings a unique perspective to the CMAB: he made his career as a management consultant working with large corporations and high-profile leaders, and has no legal background. Now semi-retired, Mangurian joked that he only does things that he wants to do, and added more seriously that working with the courts is at the top of his list.
The CMAB works behind the scenes, so here’s some background on it: the CMAB was mandated by a statute in 2003 following the work of the Monan Commission. Its ten seats are appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court in three-year increments, although each member can be reappointed once. One particularly striking aspect of the CMAB is that it is diverse by practice area – and as Mangurian’s presence on the Board suggests, it is not even all attorneys.
The value this brings, however, is very evident. Mangurian spoke from his experience in management consulting about the emergence of cross-disciplinary teams, which bring a variety of perspectives to bear on solving a particular issue at hand. In the case of the CMAB, users of the court who interact with it in different ways come together in a team approach to fulfill the mission of the courts. Their only agenda is to improve the courts for personnel, attorneys, and litigants alike, and provide confidential, third-party advice to the Trial Court administration.
As Chair, Mangurian’s business background has lent him a keen third-person perspective on challenges the courts face and opportunities for change that may not be as readily apparent to attorneys. For example, he told us that he felt intimidated when called for jury duty. When asked why, he explained that – among other things – the formal letter he received caught him off-guard from the beginning, while concerns about wheelchair accessibility at the courthouse shortly followed. Interactions with the court staff and messaging did not ease his worries. Mangurian compared the courthouse to a hospital’s emergency room: “you are nervous and there in crisis, but for the workers, it is business as usual.”
We can see that under Mangurian’s guidance, the mission of the CMAB is being reenergized – especially because, as he pointed out, this is a great time of change for the Trial Court. In the coming months, we will see a total of six new Chief Justices in the Trial Court and a new Chief Justice and Associate Justice on the Supreme Judicial Court. Over 25 percent of the court system’s judges have been appointed to the bench within the last three years. The Trial Court recently adopted a new strategic plan under its new Chief Justice Paula Carey, which will be implemented with the help of Court Administrator Harry Spence, who is in his third year.
By all means, the climate is right for change and innovation. Going forward, the CMAB is focusing on three major areas:
- Talent management, as it applies to succession planning and formal leadership development
- The ‘visitor experience’ at the court – much like the ‘customer experience’ in the private sector
- Data and the appropriate use of metrics to understand anomalies, while learning to ask the right questions to glean the most information and utility from the data
We think these focus areas are an excellent way to better connect the public to the courts and, by doing so, improve access to justice across the Commonwealth. The issues facing the courts – including insufficient funding and a heavy workload – have repercussions on the legal community as a whole. By addressing these concerns, the CMAB can bolster the structure of how justice is served. Mangurian’s business savvy, coupled with myriad legal perspectives from other Board members, could be the recipe for success to mobilize the courts into a more efficient and effective system, and help to reinforce a fact that is too often overlooked: that our judiciary is coequal branch of government.