Prepare before you apply

Our judicial selection exercises are competitive, so it is important that you prepare thoroughly in advance. We run a regular recruitment programme, so you can apply when you are ready.

Getting started

1.  First of all consider the different types of role available and decide which would suit you. Thinking about becoming a judge?

2.  Then check forthcoming vacancies and review different types of roles to see what the selection process looks like (the process varies considerably between roles).

3. You should consider whether there is anything in your past conduct or present circumstances that could affect your application: Good character

4. Start to prepare the written evidence you will need to apply, this might include:

Competency frameworks (legal and non-legal roles)

Competency frameworks are used throughout the selection process to assess candidates’ ability to effectively carry out the roles. You will be expected to demonstrate either that you possess the required competencies or that you have the ability to acquire them quickly. You can read more about them and what we’re looking for in your application here: Competency frameworks

Competencies are specifically tailored to each role through job analysis, including interviews with those already in post. Each competency framework will be published on the page for the specific selection exercise here: Apply for a current vacancy.

We recommend you take a look at our guidance on completing your self-assessment and, in particular, choosing the best examples.

Skills and abilities (senior and leadership roles)

We assess candidates for the High Court, s9(4) Deputy High Court judge and Leadership roles against against a set of skills and abilities criteria for each type of post. These are aligned to the Judicial Skills and Abilities framework used by the judiciary and Judicial College, and lists the ways in which a person demonstrates the required skills and abilities when working effectively in post.  We use different skills and abilities for different exercises, for example:

  • High Court judge skills and abilities criteria
  • s9(4) Deputy High Court judge skills and abilities criteria
  • Leadership skills and abilities criteria

Details will be provided in the role advert.

For exercises using the skills and abilities criterion, you will be required to complete a statement of suitability which provides evidence to demonstrate the criteria. When writing your statement of suitability, you should explain how and why your expertise, personal qualities and experience provide evidence of your suitability for the post. You might also be required to submit a brief CV and written work that further evidences how you meet the criteria.

You can find out more about the selection process here Guidance on the application process

Dry runs: Try out part of our selection process as a mock candidate

We use ‘dry-runs’ for selection exercise elements including online qualifying tests, role plays and interviews to check that the selection materials are fair and robust. Participating in a dry-run as a mock candidate is an excellent opportunity if you are considering applying for judicial appointment in the future to familiarise yourself with the selection process. You will be asked to provide your views on the delivery of the test, such as the test content and timings, and we will provide you will some feedback on your performance.

Volunteers should be able to meet the statutory eligibility for the post in question. The experience can help you decide if you’re ready to apply and to understand where you may need development.

If you take part in a dry run, you will not be able to apply for that live exercise. You will also be required to sign a confidentiality statement confirming that they will not disclose any part of the selection exercise process.

Participating in a dry run will not affect any future application – future applications will be considered completely on their own merits and no material used to make selection decisions indicates whether an individual has previously taken part in a dry run.

You can sign up online with your preferences and the JAC will contact you when an opportunity arises: Dry Run volunteer

Targeted outreach for underrepresented groups

We are running a pilot programme of targeted outreach, providing tailored advice and guidance for JAC target groups (BAME people, women, disabled candidates and solicitors) who are considering applying for key court and tribunal roles where application rates and/or progression outcomes for candidates from these pools have been historically poor. Find out more about the targeted outreach programme and how to apply to take part.

Other activities that may help you succeed in your application

  1. Subscribe to Judging Your Future, the monthly vacancies newsletter
  2. Sign up for email alerts for individual vacancies to receive notifications about the launch dates
  3. Visit the Judiciary website to learn more about the work of judicial office holders
  4. Apply for one of Judicial Office’s work shadowing and mentoring schemes
  5. Observe courts or tribunals from the public gallery
  6. Spend time in, and research, the jurisdiction you intend to apply for
  7. Read feedback and evaluation reports from previous exercises such as Recorder, Deputy District Judge and Combined Qualifying Tests. You can read all reports here

Support available from our partners

In addition to the resources on our website, there is plenty of support available from our partners if you are considering applying to become a judge. For lawyers, we recommend exploring the resources and guidance available from your professional body.

The Bar Council

The Bar Council offers support to barristers such as mentoring schemes for all career stages, helplines for diversity, pupillage and other issues, wellbeing resources and personal support.

News update from The Bar Council | ~ Gray's Inn
The Law Society

The Law Society has a Solicitor Judges Division to support solicitors who are interested in a judicial career. Also available are case studies about judges with a solicitor backgound, and a ‘judicial pathway’ to guide your personal and professional development.

Home | The Law Society
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives

CILEx offers a Judicial Development Programme to support members who wish to learn more about applying for a judicial appointment. Also available are ‘be a judge’ webinars and case studies about judges with a CILEx background.

Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), The | Legal services | Law Gazette


Courts and Tribunals Judiciary of England and Wales

The Judiciary website offers a range of resources, including information about different types of judicial roles, a ‘day in the life of a judge’ series, judicial shadowing and mentoring schemes and information about how judges can progress within the courts and tribunals.

2019 Judicial diversity statistics published

Judicial work shadowing and mentoring opportunities

If you are considering applying for judicial office, work shadowing can offer an insight into the daily life of a judge, inside and outside of court. The shadowing scheme is run by the Judicial Office for England and Wales, where you would spend up to three days observing a judge’s main duties. Reasonable adjustments will be made to enable people with a disability to participate in the scheme. Apply for work shadowing on the Judiciary website

Spending some time observing in a courtroom can also be useful in helping you prepare for application. Most court rooms have a public gallery where you can observe how a hearing is run, and how the judge manages the courtroom, interacts with different individuals and delivers a judgment.

There is also a Judicial Mentoring Scheme to address the under-representation of women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic lawyers and encourage greater socio-economic diversity. This scheme is run by the Judicial Office and is open to those who have participated in the judicial work shadowing scheme. More information about mentoring on the Judiciary website

Pre-application judicial education programme (PAJE)



Pre-Application Judicial Education programme  

The Pre-Application Judicial Education programme (PAJE) supports talented lawyers from underrepresented groups to feel more equipped, confident and prepared when considering applying for a future judicial role.

It is a joint initiative of the Judicial Diversity Forum, which is made up of the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, Judicial Appointments Commission, the Legal Services Board, The Bar Council, The Law Society of England and Wales and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

PAJE offers participants from all legal backgrounds the opportunity to develop their understanding of the role and skills required of a judge. There are a series of digital resources including short online videos and podcasts, developed by the Judicial College, which show judges talking about their work and the judiciary. These digital resources cover a number of topics such as judgecraft, decision-making, judicial ethics, resilience and equality and diversity. They are available for all to view on an unlimited basis: PAJE

Once these the online resources have been viewed, candidates can then apply to attend judge-led group discussion sessions, by emailing the PAJE team. Spaces on these sessions are prioritised for lawyers from underrepresented groups.

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