A friend pointed out to me that there is a new job listing on the Supreme Court of Texas website for a “Central Staff Attorney.” This job title is new for the Court — indeed, this listing (unlike the other listings on the page) does not currently link to a PDF file providing more details. Instead, the only information is:
Summary: Assist in preparation of opinion drafts and memoranda to Court. Applicant must have excellent legal research and writing skills, at least three years experience as a practicing attorney and strong familiarity with appellate procedure. Law journal or equivalent writing experience preferred. Texas license required.
Currently, each of the nine Justices has his or her own staff attorney and two law clerks. The only “central” attorneys are the General Counsel (a position that, I believe, still remains open), the Attorney for Original Opinions (the mandamus attorney), the Attorney for Public Information, and the Rules Attorney. Of those, only the mandamus attorney works on written opinions for the Court.
The courts of appeals have taken a variety of approaches to assigning their staff attorneys, with some (notably the Dallas Court) preferring a large central staff while others (recently the Austin Court) have assigned staff attorneys to particular chambers. The Court may be experimenting with ways to smooth out the workload across chambers by providing additional staff resources where needed.
I’m curious to see whether the Court hiring a “central staff attorney” signals a broader change in the Court’s internal practices or if this is merely a single position for which the Court has found some funding.
If any readers have some insight, please let me know. [Update: I’ve been advised that this new “central staff attorney” position is indeed a separately funded position that came out of the last legislative session aimed at helping the Court deal with its workload.]