The Judicial Appointments Commission (“JAC”) published research in June, commissioned from the British Market Research Bureau, showing one-third of 2,000 solicitors and barristers who responded mistakenly believed they had to know a High Court judge willing to act as a referee before they could apply for a judicial appointment.
Many respondents believed that being younger than 40 years’ old, working class, a solicitor rather than a barrister, not having the “right” kind of education and not knowing the top judges would disadvantage any application.JAC Chair Baroness Prashar said the results provided a “sound basis for future work”, and that the JAC would continue working “to dispel these unfounded myths and to develop an even sharper and better targeted approach to encourage applicants from a much more diverse pool”.
The JAC will hold a conference specifically to discuss the findings of the research and how to shape attitudes to the judiciary, on 7 July, in London. Representatives from the Law Society, Bar Council, Employed Bar, Association of Women Solicitors and other legal groups will be invited.
More than half the respondents said they would consider judicial office if they could work part-time. Of those questioned, some 13 per cent of black and Asian, and seven per cent of white respondents, said they were “very likely” to apply in future. Many respondents further believed the appointments process was based solely on merit. For example, women thought men had an advantage while men thought women were favoured.