How to become a judge
You can get into this job through:
- official appointment
You can get valuable experience and insights into the work of a judge through the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme. This may help if you later apply for selection to become a judge.
You normally have to be a qualified legal professional, with at least 7 years' experience in law-related work to join.
If you have been on the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme, you can apply for a place on the Judicial Mentoring Scheme. This encourages applications from people who are currently under-represented in the judiciary. For example:
- ethnic minorities
- lawyers with a state school education
Judges are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission. You’ll need to apply to them to be considered for selection.
To apply, you must:
- be a qualified solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive
- have worked as a legal professional for between 5 and 7 years, depending on the type of judge you want to be
- meet nationality requirements
Common starting roles include district, recorder and tribunal judges. For certain other judicial roles, you can apply if you’re an experienced legal academic, or trademark or patent attorney.
You must successfully complete a number of application stages to get through to shortlisting by the Commission. You’ll then be invited to attend an assessment and selection day, which will include interviews.
If you are appointed as a full-time judge, you will not be able to return to legal practice.
Part-time judges, usually found in the lower courts, for example a tribunal or district judge, are paid a fee for each court session and are expected to sit for at least 15 sessions a year. Fee-paid judges can continue to practise law, providing there is no conflict of interest.
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