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Judiciary FAQs

What are the entry points to judicial appointment?

You can begin judicial appointment either on a fee-paid or salaried basis. There are several starting points:

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How much post-qualified experience (PQE) do I need before applying?

The statutory eligibility criteria vary according to the role concerned, but for most posts this will be either five or seven years. 

This means that while holding your legal qualification, you must have been engaged in ‘law-related activities’ – whether paid or unpaid, full or part-time – for a minimum of 20 per cent of the time in any year that forms part of your PQE.

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Can I get help deciding?

Many solicitors do not have the opportunity to visit court often and so are not fully familiar with the working of courts and tribunals. You can participate in the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme, shadowing a District Judge (civil and family), a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts), a Circuit Judge or a Tribunal member.

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Must I have advocacy experience?

No. You don't need advocacy experience, nor authorisation to exercise higher rights of audience.

Do I need to be in private practice?

Not at all. Solicitors working in areas like industry or commerce, central or local government or as justices’ clerks or academics are also eligible to apply. However, some restrictions apply to the types of cases which may be heard by Government and CPS lawyers sitting in a fee-paid capacity.

Do I need to be working?

Not necessarily. For example, many solicitors taking a career break may be eligible.

Do I need to be engaged in litigation?

No. Some judges who were solicitors before appointment were not litigation specialists when in practice.

What vacancies are there?

The Judicial Appointments Commission advertises vacancies on their website www.judicialappointments.gov.uk. You can also sign up to receive Judging your Future e-newsletter on the JAC website. If you have any specific questions about applying for a judicial appointment please email the JAC.

Can I pursue a judicial appointment following a career break?

The Association of Women Solicitors (London) run an annual course for solicitors wanting to return to practice after a career break, or who have recently gone back to work. The course includes information about Judicial appointments. Contact the AWS London for more details.