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Judicial appointments

  • Looking for a change?

    Want to take your career in a new and challenging direction?

    Joining the judiciary is a real opportunity for solicitors who want to take their career in a new and challenging direction.

    There are many starting points, including positions as a deputy district judge or recorder in the courts, or as a judge in one of the many tribunals. Judges can sit on a fee-paid basis while continuing in practice, or as a full or part-time salaried judge.

    Eligibility and benefits

    You need a minimum of five or seven years' post-qualification experience, depending on the requirements of the post.

    You must also be a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or a Commonwealth country. There is no upper or lower age limit for candidates, apart from the statutory retirement age of 70 for all judges.

    Benefits include an attractive salary, flexible working arrangements, a varied workload and the opportunity to make a real difference

    Not sure about whether to apply? The JAC’s 'Am I Ready?' tools enable you to assess your eligibility and suitability for entry level, fee-paid judicial roles. The tools will not indicate whether you will be successful in being selected for appointment, but will give you a broad indication of your readiness to apply. (Note: these tools are not suitable for salaried judicial roles. If you already have a fee-paid judicial role and are considering a salaried post, you should seek feedback from a senior judge and/or a mentor about your readiness to apply).

    See further information about eligibility and benefits.

    See the judicial career progression chart.

    The selection process

    The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is the independent body that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals in England and Wales. It is responsible for ensuring that candidates are appointed on merit and through fair and open competition.

    There are several stages to the selection process and these may vary slightly based on the post. Generally, candidates will apply online via the JAC website. Applicants will then be shortlisted, usually through a qualifying test. Shortlisted candidates are invited to a selection day, which may involve a panel interview, role play, or both.

    Watch a video demonstrating the role play exercise that you may be asked to do if you apply
    Watch a video showing how role plays are assessed

    View the Law Society's webinar on competency-based selection. Each webinar is half an hour long and priced at £22.50:

    Further information about the selection process can be found on the JAC website.


    The information for each selection exercise will make it clear when references must be provided. Your referees should be able to comment on how you meet the qualities and abilities for the role you have applied for.

    The JAC has published reference guidance for candidates and for referees, as well as videos that provide more details on how references are used in the selection process.


    The Law Society's 'Meet the judges' events are an ideal way to find out more about life in the judiciary. At each event, solicitor-judges give presentations about their own experiences of applying for, and taking on a judicial role. The presentations are followed by a networking reception where you can talk to the judges and ask questions in an informal setting.


    Competition for judicial posts is fierce. Preparation is key to a successful application.

    There are many things you can do to prepare. These include watching cases in court, work shadowing (see below) and thinking about your application well in advance.

    The Law Society runs interviewing training workshops for solicitors. These workshops focus on competency-based applications and the selection process, and include practical advice on completing the application form. Book now

    Work shadowing scheme

    Work shadowing can help you to find out what being a judge is really like.

    The Judicial Office runs a work shadowing scheme for legal professionals with seven years' PQE who are considering applying for judicial appointment in the next two years. Candidates will spend up to two days shadowing a high court, dstrict judge, circuit judge or tribunal judge and learn more about judicial life inside and outside of court.

    Find out more and apply


    Do you have some burning questions about judicial appointments? Read answers to frequently-asked questions.

    Stay up to date

    For queries, please email

    The JAC's Judging your Future newsletter is sent out monthly and contains details of current and upcoming selection exercises.
    Sign up

    You can also follow the JAC on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @becomeajudge.

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