In the Media

Leading firms sign up to judge recruitment campaign

PUBLISHED July 27, 2012

Friday 27 July 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Magic circle and other top law firms are spearheading a campaign to encourage more senior solicitors to apply for judicial office.

The initiative follows the failure of earlier attempts to bring more solicitors into the judiciary. As the Gazette revealed earlier this year, a committee of senior City solicitors formed expressly for that task failed to meet even once.

The new campaign, launched by the Law Society with the support of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, invites firms to sign up to a 'declaration of commitment' to the promotion of judicial appointments. So far, 20 firms have become signatories.

Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: 'We have been working closely with the Judicial Appointments Commission, and with the support of the lord chief justice and the SRA, to try to gain a better understanding of the reasons for the apparent lack of interest in judicial appointments on the part of solicitors from corporate law firms.

'Many solicitors from such firms are well placed to make excellent judges. What is more, taking up a judicial appointment often enhances both the skills of the solicitor and the reputation of the firm. Solicitors who hold part-time judicial posts can enhance a firm's reputation with clients and help to demonstrate the commitment of the firm to wider society.'

Immediate past president - and former Allen & Overy partner - John Wotton said: 'I hope that the commitment demonstrated by the initial signatories to the declaration of commitment will act as a powerful magnet and inspiration for the rest of the profession.

'We are working closely with senior partners in City, national and regional firms to highlight the benefits of pursuing a part-time judicial career and we are asking them to encourage solicitors to plan ahead in order to be in a position to apply at the appropriate stage in their careers.'

The following firms have so far signed up to the declaration of commitment: Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Berryman Lace Mawer, Bird & Bird, Charles Russell, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, Eversheds, Farrer & Co, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Lewis Silkin, Linklaters, Russell-Cooke, Stephenson Harwood, Simmons & Simmons, Trowers & Hamlins and Weightmans.

The campaign follows the Law Society's 9 May launch of the Solicitor Judges Division to create a community of solicitor judges in all courts and tribunals. The division aims to provide networking opportunities and also to support solicitors aspiring to the judiciary.