JAC Meeting Manchester

Manchester Lawyers Find Out What It Takes To Be A Judge

25 February 2008 pr008.08

Manchester lawyers took the opportunity to find out exactly what it takes to become a judge when they met the Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Baroness Prashar and North West based JAC Commissioners, Ed Nally and Charles Newman, at the splendid new Civil Justice Centre in Manchester.

Members of the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX), all lawyers based in the Manchester area, were able to quiz the Chairman and Commissioners during a flying visit they made to the Northern Circuit on 20 February.

Recent moves by the government to open up the selection process for judges within the legal profession culminated in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 which was passed at the end of last year. The Act gives a wider range of people, including Legal Executives, the opportunity for to apply for judicial posts which in the past have been denied to them. including those of District Judge and Tribunal Chairman.

During the meeting Baroness Prashar told the ILEX members that the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) was independent and selected candidates for judicial office on merit, through fair and open competition, from the very best eligible candidates drawn from the widest range of candidates. She went on to outline the requirements that were needed to become a judge.

The JAC was looking for experience and relevant local knowledge was just as important as the other factors. She said “Applying to be a judge was really just like applying for any other job. The old myth, that unless you are male, white, upper class and Oxbridge educated you should not even think about trying to become a judge was no longer applicable in this day and age.

“ILEX has fought long and hard for the right for it’s members to be considered on merit for judicial appointments, said Lesley Graham, President of the Institute of Legal Executives and a lawyer with the Manchester firm, Sheldon Davidson.

”This has been a great opportunity for ILEX members in the Manchester area to meet with the Chairman of the JAC and local Commissioners, to talk to them informally and to discuss what the Commission is now looking for in a candidate, in addition to learning more about the selection process.

“I now believe it is only a matter of time before ILEX is able to announce its first judicial appointment and I look forward to that day. After this meeting, I would like to think that it could be from the Manchester area.”