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Judiciary seeks High Court diversity boost with selection exercise, support scheme

The Judicial Appointments Commission is to hold a selection exercise for 14 Deputy High Court fee paid (part-time) posts which for the first time does not require previous fee paid judicial experience.

The Judiciary said the exercise was part of an initiative aimed at encouraging “a wider more diverse pool of exceptionally high quality lawyers and legal academics to apply”. More information can be found here.

There will also be a new support and mentoring scheme for lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds, offering work shadowing, mentoring and a workshop.

Places are limited to women, candidates from a BAME background and those coming from less advantaged social or educational backgrounds, the Judiciary said. “These are the areas where we know the judiciary is significantly less representative of society.”

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This scheme is being introduced on the Judiciary’s website by a video from Lady Justice Hallett, the Court of Appeal judge who leads on judicial diversity.

The selection exercise is meanwhile being run under the provisions of Section 9(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.

“As the statutory provisions require no previous judicial experience, the JAC selection exercise will provide a route to the High Court for those for whom the traditional Recorder route has been a disincentive,” the Judiciary said.

The successful candidates will handle civil and family work.

In the video Lady Justice Hallett said the judicial appointments system was now “far more open than it was” and the judiciary was becoming more diverse year on year. However, she added, progress was slow and the route to the senior judiciary remained a long one.

“We fear that we may be missing out on a pool of talent for whom the traditional route is not an option – top flight solicitors and barristers, general counsel, academics and many more,” Lady Justice Hallett.

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