Aneeta qualified as a Solicitor in 1998. She is a Solicitor Advocate and 1 of the 4 founding partners of ABV Solicitors. Aneeta was appointed a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) in 2009.
“A judicial appointment had never really been something I had thought about at that stage in my career. Perhaps thinking it was something out of reach. I was encouraged to at least consider applying by a Deputy District Judge, ahead of a competition that was coming up. I was busy in Court as a defence solicitor virtually every day and was told I knew my arena inside out. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became about applying and then thought, why not give it a go?
At the back of my mind though, I must admit that I still thought it was pretty much out of reach. It was a long process – at least it felt as though it was. I approached a District Judge that I appeared before on a regular basis and who knew my work well to be one of my referees and he was very encouraging. Following the written application, I had to physically go to a venue and sit a written exam. It was not online as it is now. I did not like the thought of revising the law for the exam but like any good advocate knows, preparation is key. I got through the exam and by the time I was invited for an interview some months later, I was in fact pregnant.
I attended the interview which was far more relaxed than I had expected. I did the role play on the same day and was astonished at just how ‘real’ the whole set up was. There were typical court room scenarios with a few surprises thrown in, nothing that would not happen in real life and not to throw you but for you to demonstrate your management and control of the Court. I realised then how my every day work of appearing so regularly at the Magistrates’ Court had given me the most beneficial experience and confidence.
A few months later I received the letter saying I had been successful and was to be appointed. The letter was inviting me to a residential induction course the following month – the same week my baby was due. I attended, very heavily pregnant and managed to get through the week without any emergencies! All the course tutors and my 29 fellow delegates could not have been more supportive.
Since then, I have been sitting alongside continuing to work as a Partner in my firm. I love the fact that my work is so varied, and the skillset I have gained from sitting has been invaluable in so many different ways. I think it has made me a better lawyer and given me a whole new perspective on the work that I do. I think carefully on how I would realistically deal with a situation, if it was me sitting. It goes both ways: when I am sitting, I also have a better understanding of what the advocates before me are dealing with. All the Judges and Deputies I have met have been and continue to be nothing but welcoming and always helpful.
I would say that, even if you think, like I did, that such roles are out of reach, never say never. Give it the thought I did and most certainly the preparation and go for it. The job is a positive and rewarding one. One in which you do feel as though you are contributing and often making a difference – be that slight or more often, huge.