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"Huge rise" in lawyers wanting to be judges

10 February 2010

There has been a "huge rise" in the number of lawyers applying for posts as judges, the Judicial Appointments Commission has said.

A total of 624 lawyers applied for 36 posts as employment tribunal judges last year, while 982 lawyers applied for 128 posts as fee-paid recorders on the South Eastern circuit.

Four fellows of ILEX applied to become employment judges, making use of their new opportunities under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Under the Act, from the end of 2008, legal executives have been able to apply for posts as deputy district judge, tribunal judge and road traffic adjudicator. From this year, they can also apply for the post of civil or criminal district judge.

The total number of applications by legal executives for fee paid and salaried employment judge positions stands at 16. A further three have applied for post of salaried judge in first tier tribunals. None have been successful so far.

While 40 per cent of applicants for the post of employment judge were female, women made up 54 per cent of those selected. Three quarters of successful candidates were solicitors.

Women also did well in the competition for the post of recorder. While making up 31 per cent of applicants, 37 per cent of successful candidates were women.

Solicitors performed less well in the selection exercise. They made up 23 of applicants, but only 11 per cent of those selected.

“Everyone is selected on merit,” the JAC spokesman said. “You cannot draw too many conclusions from a single set of statistics.

“Our duty is to increase the diversity of the pool of applicants. This does not always translate into them getting through.”

The spokesman added that the JAC was delighted to see legal executives applying for the role of judge for the first time.

A spokeswoman for ILEX said fellows had shown “great interest” in judicial posts and attended special JAC events for legal executives.

“We have many talented and experienced fellows who will make first class district judges, chairs of tribunals or adjudicators,” she said.

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