Support to become a judge

If you’re thinking about becoming a judge, support is available to help you apply, develop any skills you might be missing, and prepare for the selection day process.

Find out if you’re eligible

The Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC) is the independent body that selects candidates for judicial roles in courts and tribunals.

Its ‘Am I ready?’ tests will help you assess whether you’re eligible for a judicial role and if that career would suit you. 

Before you apply for a judicial appointment, you may want to:

  • build on your judicial skills
  • get support from existing solicitor judges
  • shadow a judge
  • take advantage of any programmes or schemes that are open to you

Follow the Judicial Pathway

The Judicial Pathway will guide your personal and professional development and help you demonstrate the competencies required for judicial roles.

It suggests activities to help you develop the competencies you’ll need, whatever stage of your career you’re at.

Use the Pathway to record your experiences and reflect on the lessons you’ve learned throughout your practising career. Use the best examples to show you meet the requirements.

Download the Judicial Pathway (PDF 66 KB)

Join the Solicitor Judges Division

Our Solicitor Judges Division supports solicitors who are interested in a judicial career by providing:

  • events and training
  • networking opportunities
  • access to a community of solicitor judges and aspiring judges

Understanding the role of a judge

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published videos about career paths for:

Download our guide to understanding judicial roles (PDF 690 KB)

Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme

The Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme (PAJE) helps lawyers from under-represented groups who are interested in becoming a judge to feel more confident about applying.

It’s aimed at:

  • black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers
  • women lawyers
  • lawyers with disabilities
  • lawyers from a non-litigation background

You can view online resources and then apply to join a discussion group course led by a judge. The course looks at the skills and experience you’ll need to be a judge.

Find out more about PAJE

Work shadowing

The Judicial Office runs a work shadowing scheme. It’s open to legal professionals with seven years’ post-qualification experience who are thinking about applying for a judicial appointment in the next two years.

If you take part in the scheme, you’ll spend two days shadowing one of the following:

  • a district judge (civil, family or magistrates' courts)
  • a circuit judge
  • a tribunal judge

From March 2022, you can take part in the scheme in person or remotely, depending on your preference and that of the judges.

Find out more about the work shadowing scheme 

Observing court hearings

The JAC encourages candidates to:

If you wish to observe a Cloud Video Platform (CVP) hearing, contact your local court or tribunal centre. Ask for confirmation of upcoming CVP hearings on the basis that you wish to join as a member of the public.

If the case is not private, the parties will be asked to consent for an observer to join the hearing.

HM Courts and Tribunal Service should give you access to the remote hearing details and PIN.

Find out more about joining a CVP hearing

Judicial Mentoring Scheme

This is aimed at boosting diversity. You can join it if you've taken part in the work shadowing scheme and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • you're a woman
  • you come from a BAME background
  • you attended state school
  • you were the first in your family to go to university

Find out more about the Judicial Mentoring Scheme

Before you apply for a judicial role, you may need to develop certain skills or get more experience.

Courtroom experience

To get courtroom experience you can do pro bono work, such as:

Decision-making panels

You can volunteer to join decision-making panels such as:

  • school exclusion panels
  • parking and traffic penalties
  • police conduct appeals
  • professional bodies’ professional conduct panels

Or you could get involved in decision-making forums, for example:

  • residents' associations
  • parish councils
  • local authorities

Public speaking skills

You can develop your public speaking skills through organisations such as the English Speaking Union.

Our workshops, webinars and video can help you make a strong application.

Preparing your application

In this video, former Law Society president Lucy Scott Moncrieff, JAC selection exercise manager Carol Morgan and district judge Paul Middleton-Roy discuss:

  • the range of judicial appointments available
  • the selection process
  • how to make a successful application

We run training workshops if you want to become a judge. They explain how to show that you meet the competency requirements for judicial roles. The workshops include:

  • practical advice on how to complete the application form
  • interview practice

Search for upcoming training days

Qualifying tests

 To get an idea of the type of questions and topics covered in assessments and qualifying tests, you may want to:

The selection day for judicial appointments involves an interview with two or three people, including a judge. For entry-level posts there will also be a role play exercise.

Watch our webinar on selection days in partnership with the JAC (available to members of our Solicitor Judges Division).

The JAC has shared some tips for selection day from its guide on preparing for judicial selection exercises.

You can see a few examples below or read the full list in the JAC guide (page 19).

Preparing for role plays or situational questions

You might be given some reading on the day, and/or a week or so in advance.

Make sure you:

  • read the material thoroughly
  • are ready to refer to key parts on the day 
  • keep it handy to refer back to

Roles such as High Court judge may involve a lot of complex reading in advance, so leave time in your diary to prepare.

Handling situational questions and role plays

Keep the competencies or skills and abilities in mind as you answer.

For example, the panel will expect you to:

  • give a clear decision / judgment with reasons, as evidence of exercising judgement
  • refer to specific parts of the pre-reading, as evidence of assimilating and clarifying information
  • communicate clearly and show sensitivity to any vulnerable parties, as evidence of working and communicating with others

Choosing examples for interview

The panel wants to hear your specific examples.

Listen to each question, think carefully and choose a relevant example to talk about. For example, if you’re asked about a complex case, choose a situation that really was more difficult than the norm. Avoid low level and routine examples if you can, it’s better to think about a situation that really tested you and where you clearly demonstrated your ability.

Examples where you did something wrong but reflected on it and learned from the experience can be just as evidence-rich as success stories.

Structuring your answers

Avoid lengthy background at the start of an example; one or two sentences is often enough.

The panel is most interested in hearing what you did, how you did it and why you did that. Some candidates find the SOAR structure helpful (talk about the Situation, the Objective, your Action, the Result) but if you use this, focus mainly on the action. Make sure you say “I” not “we”, as the panel needs to know what you personally did.

Becoming a judge – find out more about the process

Preparing for judicial selection exercises – JAC guide

Third time lucky: applying for a judicial appointment – practical advice on persevering with applications 

Case studies

Senior circuit judge Frances Kirkham

District judge Michael Walker CBE

District judge (magistrates’ court) Tan Ikram

Judicial recorder Peggy Ray

Judicial recorder Heather Baucher

Webinars for solicitor judges

From the judiciary

Watch webinars from the Judicial Office on applying for the role of:

Tribunal roles:

Extra resources for our Solicitor Judges Network 

Members of our Solicitor Judges Network can view recordings of the following:

Next steps for solicitor judges

If you're a sitting solicitor judge applying for your next judicial role, email to request a recording of our webinar on next steps, created in collaboration with the Judicial Office and Judicial Appointments Commission.