Becoming a Judge or Magistrate
Pursuing a career as a judge or magistrate offers tremendous opportunities for advancement. You can even specialise in the types of cases you’ll oversee by choosing civil, family, or criminal law. This overview provides a brief understanding of what it takes to become a judge and what your responsibilities will be in that position.
How Do You Become a Judge?
In order to qualify to become a judge or magistrate, you’ll need to have an education in law. Since becoming eligible to sit as a judge requires a thorough understanding of the practice of law, it makes sense that most judges first spend several years working as lawyers. Spending time working as a lawyer provides experience in developing another skill that’s essential to becoming a judge: communication skills. You should be able to express yourself coherently through oral speech and written text since your thoughts and decisions will affect the lives of the people in your court.
You would also have to develop an understanding of legal ethics. Your actions will affect people in significant ways, so you must exhibit a good moral character. People who are successful as judges have good characters, an understanding of common sense, and an ability to make decisions that are impartial and fair.
What Does a Judge or Magistrate Do?
It may seem like a judge, or a magistrate, doesn’t do much, but most people don’t see what goes on outside of the courtroom. Before they can make a decision on any plea, or motion, they must review the documents submitted in court by the lawyers. This involves reading each document, reviewing past cases that are similar, and reviewing the relevant laws. They can spend several hours doing legal research before making a final decision.
Even after a judge makes a decision and settles an issue in court, they still have work to perform. They must write a summation that describes their decision, including the factors that influenced that decision. This helps other judges and magistrates understand why that decision was made, so they can use the information to help them settle their own legal issues, appeal requests, etcetera.
A lawyer spends years in school and, even after they begin practising law, they still continue to learn about new cases and laws. The same dedication to work and learning is required by judges and magistrates. While this can be a rewarding career, allowing you an opportunity to help others, it also entails long hours of work and study.
Originally published on Glenn Duker's website.