CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 25, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Become a Magistrate

If you have a good intellect and the capacity to act fairly; you may look at becoming magistrate.

Magistrates, also known as Justice of Peace, are volunteers who hear prosecutions for and dispose of ‘summary’ offences. They are entrusted with the job of making decisions and placing further requirements for offenders.

Job

 As a Magistrate, you are expected to discharge the following responsibilities:

  • Listening carefully to what everyone has to say
  • Facilitating the decision making process by using a structured approach
  • Identifying relevant and significant issues related to the cases
  • Monitoring the cases
  • Making the proper use of delegated judicial power
  • Effectively managing the cases
  • Researching and analysing legal issues
  • Collecting case statistics

Working Hours and Conditions

Your working hours are usually regular extra hours and may involve evenings and weekends.

You usually have to be present in court for the specified duration. Your job demands you to sit and focus for long working hours.

Salary

Magistrates are usually not paid, but are allowed time off with pay. You are free to claim an allowance at a set rate, as well as other allowances like travel and subsistence. It is done when you lose out on pay.

Entry Requirements

To become a magistrate, you don’t need a formal qualification. You are provided full training for the role, and a legal adviser appointed in the court helps you with the process. It is, however, recommended that you gain qualifications in law. You must be between 18 years to 65 years to be eligible to become a magistrate.

Recruitment process

The local advisory committee looks after all appointment applications for the recruitment process. It is responsible for collecting and evaluating all the applications. The stringent recruitment process includes two interviews for short listing the candidates. The shortlisted candidates are forwarded to the Lord Chancellor who is responsible for the final appointment.

Training

When appointed as a magistrate, you usually undergo training before sitting in the court. The introductory training includes the basics of a magistrate’s role. For continuous professional development and training, you may refer to Magistrate’s training.

Interests and Skills Needed

To become a magistrate, it is vital that you demonstrate the following:

  • Awareness of social issues
  • Having a sense of fairness
  • Reliability
  • Commitment to serve the community
  • Ability to understand documents and follow evidences
  • Good logical skills
  • Ability to reach a fair decision
  • Good character
  • Sound judgement
  • Good temperament
  • Practical skills
  • Good organisational and research skills
  • Discretion, for working with confidential information
  • Patience and tact
  • Impeccable communication skills
  • Be able to work under pressure
  • Excellent problem solving skills

Career Prospects

After gaining experience, you may get progression to higher roles like:

  • Chairman
  • Presiding Justice
  • Specialist for Family or Youth courts
  • Court legal adviser 

After gaining relevant law qualifications, you may also move into private practice as a solicitor, or pursue your career as a Crown Prosecutor or Crown advocate.

Last Word: This job may suit you only if you have the real qualities of prudence and transparency. To prove your mettle in this job, you need to work with dogged determination for long hours.

Image Source:wisegeek.com

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