A variety of entry level judicial roles are available to aspiring judges, including positions as a deputy district judge, a recorder in the courts, or a tribunal judge. Judges can sit on a fee-paid basis while continuing in practice, or work as a full or part-time salaried judge.
Preparing for application
The Law Society runs training workshops for solicitors which focus on competency criteria, navigating the selection process and how to complete the application form.
Law Society webinar on competency-based selection - Part 1 and Part 2
The Judicial Office runs a work shadowing scheme for legal professionals with seven years’ PQE who are considering applying for a judicial appointment in the next two years. Candidates will spend two days shadowing a high court, district, circuit or tribunal judge.
You will need:
- A minimum of five or seven years’ post-qualification experience, depending on the requirements of the post
- Citizenship of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or a Commonwealth country
Candidates must be below the statutory retirement age of 70 for all judges.
The application process
The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is the independent body that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals.
The JAC looks for evidence of intellectual ability, the ability to be fair and even-handed, an air of authority, and advanced communications skills. Applications from solicitors from a wide variety of backgrounds are encouraged. There is no pass mark – the cut-off point for the shortlist will be determined by the number of posts selected for. Previously unsuccessful applicants are able to reapply.
1. The application letter and references
Generally, candidates will apply online via the JAC website. You and your referees must give evidence of the required qualities and abilities.
JAC guidance on references/independent assessments
Candidates are usually shortlisted on the basis of performance in a written test. The test will require you to analyse case studies, identify issues and apply the law which, in some cases, may be a hypothetical statute.
3. Selection day
The selection day involves an interview with two or three people, including a judge. There will be a roleplay exercise for entry level posts.
Watch our selection process roleplay videos
What happens next?
Panel members examine submitted materials and performances and commissioners make final recommendations. Once these have been accepted by the lord chancellor, the JAC informs candidates whether or not they have been recommended for the post.
If you have been successful, the Ministry of Justice will contact you with a starting date. There may be a delay before the post becomes available and your Judicial Studies Board training can begin.