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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

 
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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 117 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

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 high court judge
  • a district judge
  • a circuit judge
  • a tribunal judge

Find out more about the work shadowing scheme

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

Developing your experience

 
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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.

Applying for a judicial appointment

 
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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

Book a training workshop

We also have two webinars that explain how to meet the demands of the competency-based selection process:

Judicial appointments: succeeding with competency-based selection Part 1

Judicial appointments: succeeding with competency-based selection Part 2

Selection day process

 
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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.

Role play exercises

This video shows a role play exercise you may need to do if you apply to be a judge. This example was used to assess candidates for the role of recorder sitting in the family jurisdiction.

You should read the accompanying notes before watching the video:

Explanatory notes (PDF 38 KB)

Candidate brief (PDF 26 KB)

Practice direction (PDF 48 KB)

McKenzie Friends guidance (PDF 32 KB)


In this second role play video, two sitting judges assess the candidate’s performance against the qualities and abilities specified by the JAC.


Read the transcript (PDF 60 KB)

Disclaimer: this commentary has not been endorsed by the JAC, which does not endorse guidance by individuals or bodies external to the JAC

Resources

 
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Becoming a judge – find out more about the process

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

Lord Neuberger opens up about life as a judge – the emotions judges can expect to experience in their career

Judging the next generation – how solicitor judges can assist and inspire student advocates

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