Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Judicial Appointments Commission

The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) makes around 500 selections a year across courts and tribunals, full-time and part-time.

The JAC "selects candidates for judicial office", officially launched on 3 April 2006 under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, to relieve the Lord Cancellor of the burden of selecting judicial office holders. The Tribunals Courts and Enforcement (TCE Act) 2007 has in fact widened the eligibility requirements for many judicial appointments in order to increase diversity and ensure that those with the relevant skills, experience and expertise can apply for judicial office.

The required solicitors and barristers' practice experience has been reduced down from 10 to 7 years qualification, or 7 to 5, depending on the post. In fact some judicial posts are being opened beyond solicitors and barristers for the first time. There is no requirement to have sat as a Recorder (part-time judge with the powers of a Circuit judge) in order to apply to sit as a Circuit judge, and part-time posts do exist as well as full-time. The traditional judicial route for solicitors is as a Distirct judge however.

In terms of numbers, from the top, there are presently 11 Supreme Court judges, 5 Heads of High Court division, 37 Court of Appeal judges, 108 High Court judges, 680 Circuit judges, 448 District judges.

The JAC also has responsibility for appointment of Recorders (7 years PQE), preparing cases for trial and presiding over hearings in county courts. These are divided into circuits and fields of jurisdiction, e.g. crime, public, family law... Most posts are fee paid and part time, with Recorders expected to sit maybe 15 to 30 days a year.

Other advertised posts include for: Tribunal Chamber Presidents; bankruptcy registrars (7 years PQE), who hear insolvency and companies cases in the High Court and Companies Court; deputy chancery masters, acting as a procedural judge in the Chancery Division of the High Court; appointments to property tribunals (7 years), to provide members to sit on independent assessment committees and tribunals, the Social Security and Child Support Appeals Tribunal, Mental Health Review Tribunal etc. Positions can be full-time or advertised part-time on the basis of a daily remuneration, depending on their nature.

Application forms are submitted via the website. Advertised positions also appear in the Times Thursday law section.

Judicial Appointments Commission
Steel House
11 Tothill Street