17 May 2021
First full-time CILEX judge named
Elizabeth Johnson has become the first CILEX lawyer to be appointed to the judiciary in a full-time position.
Elizabeth is a CILEX Fellow and currently a part-time Judge of the First-tier Tribunal, assigned to the Social Entitlement Chamber. As of 14 June, she will become a full-time, salaried District Tribunal Judge.
She is a personal injury specialist with over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of injury, insurance and liability claims. In 2019, she became the first female CILEX member to be appointed to the judiciary and for the last two years has been sitting as a judge part-time whilst working as an associate at Ashfords in Exeter.
Elizabeth qualified with CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) in 1998. In 2017, she took part in CILEX’s Judicial Development Programme, aimed at providing members with information, support, training, mentoring and encouragement when preparing to make their application for a judicial appointment.
Elizabeth says, “The last two years sitting as a part-time judge have been hugely rewarding. My work in the Social Entitlement Chamber means I hear cases that have a profound impact on people’s lives, taking decisions relating to disability benefit appeals where individuals are often representing themselves.
“Dealing with individual appellants to ensure that they have the best opportunity to present their appeal, and then applying the law to reach the right decision in each case, is a perfect balance for me and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to apply for a full-time position.
“I would strongly encourage any CILEX members considering a career in the judiciary to look at applying. Over the last two years I have been contacted by several CILEX members seeking advice and guidance about becoming a judge and I’m glad I have been able to inspire others to apply for judicial office. Whilst the application process is tough, I have demonstrated that, with the right skills and expertise, it is achievable and well within reach for many CILEX lawyers.”
CILEX Chair, Chris Bones says: “It’s fantastic to see Elizabeth become the first full-time, CILEX member of the judiciary. CILEX lawyers are increasingly making it to the top of the legal profession, as judges, partners and business owners. Just last year we saw Millie Grant become the first CILEX Fellow to be appointed an Honorary Queen’s Counsel.
“There is still considerable under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in our judiciary. This urgently needs to change to ensure the judiciary better reflects the society it serves. With a diverse membership, CILEX has an important part to play, and Elizabeth’s appointment sends a message to our members, that the judiciary is a potential career path for them.”
There are currently six other CILEX Fellows sitting as judges as well as 12 solicitors who initially qualified through CILEX, some of whom are also full-time judges.
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