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New guidance on joining the judiciary as a non-legal member

07 June 2021

Your specialist knowledge of living with a disability could have benefits to the delivery of justice within England and Wales.

You might be able to use your expertise by sitting as a part-time tribunal member. Not all members of the judiciary are lawyers and there are sometimes roles where it is required that candidates are experienced in dealing with the needs and barriers faced of disabled people. In these roles, members are asked to use their personal experience of disability to help other tribunal members understand more about the issues they are being presented with, and reach the right decision.

The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the non-departmental public body responsible for appointing members of the judiciary, has published new introductory guidance to help educate on what non-legal roles are, how to know if one might be right for you, and how to apply – so that if you are interested, you can start preparing and will feel better-equipped to apply as roles become available. Roles are part-time and usually paid, either salaried or fee-paid, so they can be done alongside an existing ‘day job’. These roles are vital to the delivery of justice in England and Wales, and members in these roles report them being very fulfilling and valuable.

These case studies of Larry O'Callaghan and Helena Suffield-Thompson on the JAC website give more information on working in the judiciary and on the selection process. 

The JAC is committed to improving the diversity of the judiciary, including the representation of disabled judges, and they welcome applications for all roles from eligible candidates who are disabled. They want to make sure that disabled candidates and those with long-term health conditions can participate fully and fairly in all stages of the selection process, and they will make reasonable adjustments where needed to support candidates through the selection process and remove barriers. For others, there may be other non-legal or even legal roles you are eligible for – you can find out more on the JAC website.