Chancery Lane joins forces with judiciary to help more solicitors onto the bench

The Law Society has teamed up with the judiciary to launch a new initiative to help solicitors make it on to the bench. Under a new training programme, solicitors will be helped and supported in applying for judicial appointments.

“The experiences of working in a practice, managing cases and having direct contact with clients make solicitors particularly well suited for judicial appointments,” said Law Society president Peter Williamson. “We hope these training programmes will encourage more solicitors to come forward with confidence to seek appointment.”

Chancery Lane will be running a two-part course together with the Judicial Studies Board. Part one covers “what sifters and interviewers are looking for” and part two features sessions on handling interview questions, including mock panel interviews.

This helping hand comes shortly after last year’s annual report of the Commission for Judicial Appointments (CJA), which was critical of the bias against solicitors, women and ethnic minorities in the systems for appointing judges. So far only eight of the 651 awards of QC granted since solicitor-advocates became eligible for appointment have been awarded to members of the larger branch of the legal profession.

The CJA reported that candidates might be influenced by a perception that they had to fit a ‘silk mould’ by conforming to expectations as to appearance, accent, dress, educational or social background or other factors beyond the stated criteria. The CJA also flagged up the lack of exposure solicitors had to those automatically consulted on judicial appointments.