Judge Ian Ashley-Smith
Deputy District Judge and Consultant
If you think you have got what it takes, I advise you to apply as soon as the opportunity arises.
I qualified as a CILEx Fellow in 1981, but have been employed in the legal profession since 1969, originally as an outside clerk.
Qualifying as a Family Mediator in 1996, I became one of the first Legal Executives to be appointed to the Law Society’s Family Law Panel. I am also an accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator.
I was appointed as a Deputy District Judge in August 2010 and I am authorised to hear civil, family and private law cases and as well as Chancery cases in the specialist lists at the Central London County Court.
I left school at 16 with a few O levels and got my first job in law as an outside clerk working with Judge & Priestley in Bromley. Working my way up, my brother introduced me to the Institute of Legal Executives. I enrolled and studied for my exams by means of correspondence courses (now called distant learning) and eventually I qualified as a Fellow of the Institute.
I am no longer employed full-time in the profession. I am a Consultant to a local firm of solicitors that I helped start some years ago, this means I can sit pretty much as often as I am required. The ever increasing Court workloads with the prevalence of litigants in person and the absence of Legal Aid means that I am frequently offered the chance to sit as a Deputy.
The selection of Deputy District Judges is an interesting process but one that you have to take seriously. No half-hearted attempt will succeed. I think I spent a week, at least, completing the application form. This is a document that requires careful completion given the criteria. JAC website is a mine of information in this regard.
CILEx members have taken the opportunities provided by the Institute in the way of education and personal advancement and so the Bar and my Judicial colleagues have a high regard for the Chartered Legal Executive as a result.
Let no-one think however that the Legal Executive route into the profession is an easy option. It is the opposite. I take my hat off to our members, who in many cases have worked, brought up children and studied at the same time to attain the qualification of Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.