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Diversity initiative launched by the Judiciary

Date:8 APR 2015
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A new initiative to attract more exceptionally high quality lawyers and legal academics from non-traditional backgrounds to sit in the High Court in London is currently being piloted.

The initiative includes a specially designed programme of mentoring and support to help able candidates from more diverse backgrounds.

This programme is completely separate from the independent Judicial Appointments Commission’s (JAC) selection exercise.

To learn more watch the video by Lady Justice Hallett .

What’s new?

A JAC Deputy High Court Judge selection exercise

For the first time ever, this July, the JAC will be running a selection exercise to appoint up to 14 people as Deputy High Court Judges using the provisions of Section 9(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.

Deputy High Court Judges sit on a fee-paid basis and have the same responsibilities as High Court Judges. View the High Court Judge job description on the JAC website.

As the statutory provisions require no previous judicial experience, the JAC selection exercise will provide a route to the High Court for those for whom the traditional Recorder route has been a disincentive.

For more information about this July’s Deputy High Court Judge selection exercise see the JAC website.

What is the judiciary doing to support this initiative?

In readiness for the JAC selection exercise the judiciary will be running a pilot programme to help candidates from diverse backgrounds prepare for application.

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What will the programme offer?

It will provide a programme of work-shadowing and mentoring for a small number of top quality candidates from diverse backgrounds, with no previous experience of judicial office. It will acquaint them with the culture and pace of the High Court and will include a workshop to prepare them for the application process.
  • Work shadowing (April-May): The opportunity to shadow a High Court judge for up to three days will give candidates an insight into the judge’s work (in and out of court), ask questions about the role and decide whether a High Court appointment is really for them.
  • Mentoring (May-June): Mentoring by a high court judge will provide a safe environment for candidates to share any issues and concerns about their application and to receive confidential advice, support and guidance. It will also give them a greater understanding of the judiciary and establish what skills and experiences they will need to demonstrate in order to support their application.
  • Workshop (June): A one day workshop will offer guidance on how to prepare for the selection exercise. It will also provide tips and advice on presenting evidence against the Judicial Appointments Commission’s qualities and abilities to suit the different stages of the selection process.
Taking part in the programme is no guarantee of success in the JAC selection exercise for Deputy High Court judges. But it will provide candidates with support to help them apply.

The newly appointed Deputy High Court Judges, whether they have taken part in the support programme or not, will then be given training and the opportunity to sit in the High Court for up to 30 days, subject to business requirements, so that they will be able to compete on a more level playing field in the 2016 and 2017 High Court judge selection exercises.

Can I take part in the support programme?

This is a pilot programme for encouraging diversity in the High Court. Places are therefore limited to women, candidates from a BAME background and those coming from less advantaged social or educational backgrounds. These are the areas where we know the judiciary is significantly less representative of society.

As a barrister, solicitor or legal academic you will also need the qualifications required for application to the High Court and be able to demonstrate the skills and abilities for which the Judicial Appointments Commission will be looking in their selection exercise
You should have no previous judicial experience.

As everyone will be putting a lot of time and effort into this initiative you should only apply if you are genuinely considering a High Court appointment in the near future.

What commitments will I have to make?

The immediate commitment will be one of time. You will need to set time aside between April and June for the work shadowing and mentoring and to attend the one day workshop on the application process.

However, the biggest commitment you will be asked to make will be that of giving serious consideration, if you are appointed a Deputy, to applying to become a High Court judge in 2016 or 2017.

How do I apply?

You will need to complete the attached application form giving your name and contact details together with basic information about your qualifications and practice and/or employment. You will also be asked to confirm that you meet the qualifying criteria set out above. No further information is required.

If there are more applications than the 30 places available, the names of all those eligible to take part in the support programme will be entered into a ballot from which the names of those being invited to take part will be drawn at random. There is no right of appeal.

The deadline for submissions of applications is Tuesday 21 April 2015.

For more information visit the Judiciary website.