Do issues always have the assignee moved to unassigned when closed? Is that a Jira requirement? The company I am at says "yes" but in the past (or rather, at past companies) I do not remember having to have that happen as a configuration. If it can be changed, can you please send me the instructions?
I'd like to track items by assignee after they have been closed. While I can do this with a query, I'd rather leave tickets assigned to whomever worked on them.
I'm afraid your new company is wrong. There is no technical reason to unassign users, you can configure the workflow to unassign on close, or leave it alone (note that the default Jira workflow leaves it alone already).
For "instructions", it probably is just "edit the workflow and remove the post-function that is removing the assignee", but you'll need to dig around to confirm this.
However, your company may well have a good business reason for wanting the assignee cleared. Ask them before changing it.
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