Despite a large number of solicitors serving as District Judges and on tribunals, few solicitors in large corporate law firms apply, despite having particular legal skills and case management experience, which make them well-suited for judicial appointment.
The Law Society campaign aims to increase the number of applicants and address the apparent unwillingness by leading practitioners in the larger corporate firms to apply for ‘silk’ and judicial positions, by inviting firms to sign up to a declaration of commitment to the promotion of judicial appointments. Twenty leading firms have signed up so far .
Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: “Solicitors who wish to take this route should have the support of their firms and those who work in signatory firms can be confident of having this support.
“We have been working closely with the Judicial Appointments Commission, and with the support of the Lord Chief Justice and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, to try to gain a better understanding of the reasons for the apparent lack of interest in judicial appointments on the part of solicitors from corporate law firms. Many solicitors from such firms are well placed to make excellent judges. What is more, taking up a judicial appointment often enhances both the skills of the solicitor and the reputation of the firm. Solicitors who hold part-time judicial posts can enhance a firm’s reputation with clients and help to demonstrate the commitment of the firm to wider society.’
Immediate past President and former Allen & Overy partner John Wotton said: “I am encouraged by the positive support for this campaign and hope that the commitment demonstrated by the initial signatories to the declaration of commitment will act as a powerful magnet and inspiration for the rest of the profession. We are working closely with senior partners in City, national and regional firms to highlight the benefits of pursuing a part-time judicial career and we are asking them to encourage solicitors to plan ahead in order to be in a position to apply at the appropriate stage in their careers. Empowering more solicitors to apply for silk and judicial positions will help to sustain the enviably high quality of our judiciary.”
The Law Society launched the Solicitor Judges Division on May 9th at Chancery Lane, to create a community of solicitor judges in all courts and tribunals, providing opportunities for networking and also supporting solicitors who aspire to judicial positions.
The division has been developed in liaison with and in response to feedback from solicitor judges, with the aim of creating a community and enabling engagement with the Law Society. Members of the Solicitor Judges Division will benefit from regular communications and invitations to local events and networking opportunities at a national and circuit level.