Work shadowing

The Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme

The Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme is available to Chartered Legal Executive lawyers with a minimum of seven years' post-qualification experience (prior to May 2014 two years post-qualification experience was required).

It is aimed at those who are thinking of becoming a judge and applying for judicial office. The work shadowing scheme offers an insight into judicial work and responsibilities and can give you the opportunity to observe the work of a variety of judges before you yourself apply.

The scheme seeks to widen the pool of applicants for Judicial Office, particularly those from under-represented groups by providing the opportunity to spend up to three days observing (both in and out of court) the working lives of the following types of judges:

  • District Judge (sitting in Civil or Family Jurisdictions)
  • District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)
  • Tribunal Member

Shadowing provides Chartered Legal Executives who have a minimum of seven years post-qualifying experience with opportunities to gain an insight into the life of a Judicial Office Holder to help them decide whether they would like to apply for a judicial appointment.

Work shadowing can also be particularly beneficial for those with caring responsibilities and those who may wish to change their specialism.

Find out about Chartered Legal Executive lawyer, Stuart Bannerman's experience of work shadowing.

Read below for more information or visit the workshadowing pages on the JAC website.


Participation in the scheme

The scheme is open to any lawyer with a minimum of seven years post-qualifying experience and who are interested in seeking a judicial appointment in England and Wales as a Deputy District Judge (including Deputy District Judges of the Principal Registry of the Family Division), Deputy District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) or as a Tribunal Member.

The shadowing does not have to take place on consecutive days, but must be completed within six months of acknowledgement of the application. Participants are encouraged to shadow for a minimum of two consecutive days, although this will depend on the availability of the Judicial Office Holder being shadowed.

Participants will be asked to sign a declaration that they have a genuine interest in a judicial appointment, which states that they agree and accept that they are prohibited from disclosing any facts or information about the cases after the work shadowing is completed.

Participants are asked to avoid any possible conflicts of interest. If they choose to shadow in a local court or tribunal, they should not shadow cases in which their firm is representing one of the parties. Judicial Office Holders are encouraged to reconfirm this with an applicant at the start of the shadowing period. For the same reason, Crown Prosecution Service lawyers will be required to shadow in a different region to the one in which they practice.


Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

The Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme can be used for CPD. For further details on this please contact membership@cilex.org.uk


Role of the Judicial Office Holder

Before any period of work shadowing starts, the Judicial Officer Holder will be provided with a copy of the participant’s application form. This will provide information about the applicant and whether he/she has made any specific requests regarding the type of work they would like to observe.

The Judicial Office Holder may also make initial contact with the participant prior to their placement to discuss any issues that may be useful. This may be explored further with the participant at the start of the shadowing period.

Judicial Office Holders will endeavor to set aside time to discuss aspects of judicial life with the participant, such as the volume and pressures of the workload and the relationship of judges with court staff and court users. It would also be useful to cover topics of particular relevance to fee-paid office holders (e.g. how best to combine sittings with practice).

It is intended that participants will see as wide a variety as possible of a judge’s main duties including, as appropriate:

  • preparing for trial/hearing
  • case management
  • overseeing court proceedings
  • hearing applications
  • sentencing
  • determining applications
  • giving judgments or decisions

At the judge’s discretion, the participant may sit on the bench in most types of case. In this case, the Judicial Office Holder may state to the court that the shadower is simply observing and will not be influencing the decision in any way. In the case of a trial of a juvenile in the Crown Court, however, the participant must sit in the body of the court or hearing room.

At the end of the placement, participants should ask the Judicial Office Holder to complete and sign a form to confirm that the work shadowing has taken place. The form will be returned to the Directorate of Judicial Offices to enable them to evaluate the success of the scheme and to make future improvements.


Participants with a Disability

The application form asks for the participant to state whether they have a disability in order to arrange for reasonable adjustments to undertake work shadowing. In these cases, the Local Disability Adviser will assist in the consideration of the application.


How it all works

The scheme is administered centrally by the Directorate of Judicial Offices, whilst placements are allocated regionally by administrators in Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Tribunals Service. The Directorate of Judicial Offices also publicises the scheme, including events hosted by other organisations and deals with any general enquiries.

The Judicial Work Shadowing team receives the applications and carries out the initial processing stages of the application form, including security checks on applicants. The application is then forwarded to the relevant circuit, who will provide a copy to the JOH. The application form outlines details of the applicant’s work experience and the type of work in which they have a particular interest.

The regional Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme administrator contacts the Judicial Office Holder to arrange a suitable date for the placement. It is the Court/Tribunal centre manager or listing officer’s responsibility to ensure that the placement includes an appropriate mix of cases where applicable. They will also be responsible for rearranging the shadowing placement if it cannot go ahead on the prearranged dates, for example if the list collapses.

The Directorate of Judicial Offices will be launching on 1 October 2012, a new electronic application system to administer the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme (JWSS). This new system will bring greater efficiency to the administration process and make better use of courts and tribunal resources.

The electronic application system is accessible by going to web http://jwss.judiciary.gov.uk

If you would like to discuss opportunities for judicial appointment in more detail please email our Careers Guidance Practitioner at the following address beajudge@cilex.org.uk.