The move is expected to improve diversity in the judiciary.
This is an important reform for those from all backgrounds, it will improve diversity. The route to becoming a lawyer with the CILEX route of ‘earn as you learn’ training, makes it one of the most diverse in the legal profession where 77% of members are women, 16% from ethnic minority and 85% attended state school.
It is acknowledged that CILEX Lawyers who have taken up judicial appointments since eligibility was opened in 2007, that their achievements show that they are more than capable of taking on responsibility of these roles.
These legislative changes will open more positions to CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) for the first time. This will mean that suitably qualified CILEX Lawyers will be able to apply to become Recorders and Upper Tribunal judges, prior to these changes the highest post available to them was district judge.
Professional Chris Bones, CILEX Chair said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this move by the Ministry of Justice. Women and ethnic minorities are currently under-represented in our judicial system at a senior level. To promote confidence in the rule of law, we need a judiciary that is representative of the society we live in, and as one of the most diverse parts of the legal profession, CILEX is a key solution to access talent of great diversity.
“Currently only 1% of the England and Wales judiciary are Black – this has remained the same since 2014. Although women make up nearly half of all tribunal judges, they are lacking n senior court roles.
“Judicial appointments should be based on merit; all lawyers regardless of their professional title should be able to apply for all judicial roles they are trained and competent to perform. The trailblazing judges among the ranks of CILEX Lawyers have shown they are more than up to the job.
“In giving its support to this much-needed, ground-breaking legislative change, CILEX is clear that this should be the first step to opening up all judicial posts to CILEX Lawyers who meet the required standards as the optimum way of enabling the broadest range of applicants to successfully join the judiciary”
The move is a positive one and many are welcoming the news, Nick Vineall KC, chair of the Bar Council said: ‘Judges should be, and are, appointed on merit. If candidates for judicial appointment can demonstrate the skills and experience required for the role, it should not matter in which branch of the legal profession those skills and experience were acquired.’
What does this mean for those who are under-represented groups, and for modern society? Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex chalk said: “providing more opportunities for experienced lawyers from a range of backgrounds to join the bench strengthens the judiciary and the rule of law.
‘That’s why we’re making these important reforms, to broaden eligibility and ensure the judiciary is able to draw on a wealth of experience.’
Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “We are striving to build a legal system that truly reflects the range of voices in our society. This change shows how important the broader legal professional is to our goal of breaking down barriers and boosting eligibility as we recruit more, diverse judges.”
The future careers of those in under represented groups is looking bright.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in law on the ‘earn as you learn’ membership, visit the CILEX website to find out more.