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Wanna join the Supremes?
It’s not too early to start planning your route to the top
Ever thought you’d like to become a justice of the UK Supreme Court? Not sure how to get to the top of the tree? In that case, you’re in luck: the Supreme Court is happy to offer you career advice.
On Thursday 13 January, Lord Reed, the court’s president, and Lady Rose, its newest justice, will be speaking at an online webinar and answering questions.
Who, though, is the intended audience?
The event aims to provide early- and mid-career legal professionals with an opportunity to learn more about the appointment process and what it takes to become a well-qualified candidate, enabling aspiring future justices to kick-start long-term career planning.
I understand this to mean lawyers in their 40s. Most will be thinking of a conventional route through independent practice as a lawyer and then onto the bench. But others may come straight from academia (like Lord Burrows) or from the government legal service and the tribunal system (like Rose). They need judicial experience, of course, and those who aspire to follow Burrows will need to have put in the hours sitting part-time.
Registration for the webinar is free and open to all who want to know more about career pathways to the Supreme Court. I would expect arrangements to be made for participants to join without their names being known to other participants, but that’s not confirmed.
The court is committed to supporting increased diversity and says it particularly welcomes participants from groups that are currently underrepresented within the judiciary. And that is very much the point. Justices realise they need to be proactive if they are going to attract the widest range of candidates.
We are familiar with the work done by the Judicial Appointments Commission to improve diversity among those seeking a first judicial post. It does seem strange to be encouraging and supporting candidates who can expect to spend the next 10 or 15 years in the the High Court and Court of Appeal (or their equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland) before reaching the top of the judicial tree.
But we could all do with a bit of career advice from time to time. And successful candidates will need the broadest possible experience, which means they need to plan ahead — and seize opportunities when they present themselves. This must be one of them.
Career Pathways to Becoming a Supreme Court Justice is on Thursday 13 January 2022, 17:15 to 18:15. Register here.