District Judge Maughan, is a Family and Court of Protection District Judge of the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre. Here she shares what it’s like to be a Salaried, Part-Time Working (SPTW) District Judge.
I have always worked part-time as a District Judge, commencing at 70% when I began due to family commitments and later on, elderly care commitments. I now work at a 90% level, due to the pandemic but will reduce to 80% next year. The role as a part-time District Judge works very well, because cases are booked so far ahead, provided you are organised, the Listing Teams work around your holidays and days off and there is a huge amount of flexibility.
The role of a District Judge I have found to be very fulfilling. Away from the constraints of billing and difficult clients, there is a high level of independence. You do need to be IT ‘savvy’ (as there is now very little administrative support) to be able to manage your cases and where necessary, draw up orders in a timely fashion. Remote hearings have become the norm, so the ability to manage this is essential. I personally prefer dealing with all case management hearings in this way – no delay coming into court and parties often prefer this medium.
I had a considerable amount of experience of appearing before District Judges on contested hearings and at case management hearings and after 10 years in practice, I decided to take the plunge to apply to become a Deputy District Judge. In those days, there were no opportunities for work shadowing (as there are now, i.e. via remote hearings during the pandemic). I really enjoyed working in a court environment and the buzz that goes with it.
I was greatly supported by my District Judge Mentor who was of the view that I had the necessary skills, particularly in relation to problem solving and applying the law in a practical way to resolve cases. The Mentoring scheme is extremely helpful to potential candidates. It is, in my view, very important to have worked in a court environment and to have gained experience as a deputy District Judge or otherwise as this type of work does not suit everyone. I now Chair the National Appraisal and Mentoring scheme for Deputy District Judges. Our aim is to provide ongoing support and training for potential candidates who sit as fee paid Deputies.
I now work exclusively as a Family and Court of Protection District Judge. The work is the most fulfilling I have ever done in my legal career, and each day I do have a strong sense of achievement with the advocates and social workers on each of the cases, we are all collaboratively having a positive effect on the life chances of the children and vulnerable parties in each case.
It has been a privilege to work in Family law where advocates and social work professionals have a more altruistic outlook and strive to work in collaboration with each other and the Judge.
Birmingham is a large court centre with a highly dedicated team of staff and Judges. There is huge scope to specialise in different areas of law and develop one`s interests and gain experience.