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Your bench needs you

9 June 2009

All over the place there are notices up in robing rooms that ask us: have you ever thought of a judicial career? They are a bit like those “Your Country Needs You” posters, but without the moustache. For much of our careers the answer to the question, like so many questions posed on posters and advertisements, has been a pretty clear: “No, actually.” Being a judge seems so far away from what we do – being unnaturally quiet, not getting worked up about the outcome of the hearing, fooling about with your mates in the robing room and so on – that it appears to be an alien job, existing in a parallel universe to the court rooms that we inhabit.

When I was a pupil I was sent off to spend three days with a senior member of chambers who was sitting as a recorder. It was a very self-conscious thing to do, but pretty useful as well. The first thing I realised, and I try always to remember, is that the judge, sitting up there, can see EVERYTHING. This is well worth remember...

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