How to Become a Judge in 2024 ? : Quick Guide

Being a judge is a dream for a lot of law students and graduates, mainly because it has a bright future. It not only gives a person the power to decide the fate of anyone entering a court but it also has a rising average salary rate over the past few decades, making the career path even more interesting for aspiring law professionals.

If you’re still reading up to this point, chances are you’re serious about pursuing a career as a judge. So, without further ado, let’s talk about what you should go through to become a professional judge!

What to Expect When You Become A Judge?

Before we go into the details of the steps to become a judge, let’s first talk about what to expect when you’ve developed into one. We’ll start by talking about the role of a judge. For those of you who are unaware, a judge’s primary responsibility is to preside over trials and hearings. Furthermore, they have the duty to make decisions regarding a particular case.

When a judge is serving in a joint capacity with other judges, the majority rule applies. Additionally, depending on the nature of the trial at hand, judges may have the authority to decide a case instead of a jury. They additionally have the privilege of deciding whether evidence is acceptable in court. However, during a trial, judges must maintain objectivity.

According to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics judges in the US can earn an average of $124,200 annually once they become appointed. But, before you think about how much money you can get from this career path, you must first know that it requires you to accumulate many years of experience within the field of law, which is not exactly an easy thing to do.

A judge is normally appointed, as opposed to other jobs for which people can apply for the position. Typically, one starts out as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer. Because of this, one must establish not only a strong legal reputation but also a broad political network in the area where they hope to be elected, as it is impossible for them to make the decision.

It has been possible, nevertheless, for someone to become a judge without having practiced law in the past. In this case, one needs to be appointed by the president. One of the few people who have received this privilege is Stanley Reed. But this is an unusual scenario, and it’s important to consider that Reed already holds a great deal of legal knowledge.

Ultimately, since the role of judges is essential in ensuring societal justice, it is crucial for them to acquire a long list of hard and soft skills. Naturally, a judge is required to have a decent understanding of the legal system, which is why they must have a degree. On top of that, great communication and critical thinking skills will also allow them to do well in their job.

Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Judge

It’s hard to say exactly how many years in the law field are required before one can be appointed as a judge. With that said, one can either become a judge in just a few years or maybe even after a few decades. Really, there’s no rule to it. However, following the steps below can allow one to achieve the position without taking too many years.

  1. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

In the previous part, it was mentioned that a judge is required to have an academic degree. Thus, the first step you need to do now is earn an undergraduate degree from an accredited university. While most reputable judges come from Ivy league schools, you should not focus too much on the prestige of your institution.

Keep in mind that even T14 law schools also accept ambitious learners from low-ranking undergraduate schools as long as they make stellar applications. Also, make sure you pick a program that intrigues you so you can keep your motivation while pursuing the degree. Along the way, try to improve your writing, research, and analytical skills.

  1. Pass the LSAT

LSAT is a standardized test that examines one’s law-related skills and understanding. While it is usually taken in the last year, students often spend months prior to get themselves ready for it. Yes, it is undoubtedly a difficult test, and most undergraduate students won’t be able to ace it without adequate preparation.

While not all schools require a student to pass LSAT, most schools do, which is why it is wise to set aside some of your time to prepare for it. And, know that this test includes tricky questions and you can only make a few mistakes to score high. In fact, to get into one of the higher-ranking law schools, you’ll have to get at least a 170 score on the test. 

  1. Join A Law School

We know how tiring preparing and passing the LSAT can be, but you’re still far from over. Now, what you need to do is join a law school and get a Juris Doctorate from it. The whole process typically takes around three years, and, when you’re in your final year, you’ll be required to choose the kind of law you want to practice in.

If possible, try to join one of the top law schools because they can provide you with more law-related learning resources and clerkship experiences. Doing so will also allow you to fill up your resume early. But, don’t worry if you can join one of these schools. What’s important for you to do here is maintain a good GPA and make solid connections.

  1. Complete The Bar Exam

There is another standardized test you must take before you can call yourself an attorney, and it is the notorious bar exam. Due to the sheer volume of topics involved alone, this exam is tough in all aspects. Whether it is mentally, emotionally, and physically, one needs to make sure that they are in a top form while completing it.

Once you pass this exam, you’ll get an attorney license, which makes all the hard work and effort worth it. You should definitely take some time to celebrate this big achievement! But, don’t get too immersed in all the fun and excitement because you are still a long way from becoming a judge and there are still a lot of things to be done.

  1. Gather Professional Law Experience

Upon obtaining an attorney license, you can publicly start your pursuit of becoming a judge. Some would-be judges might work for the government as legal consultants or city prosecutor’s office employees. Additionally, you can continue your education during this time to strengthen your legal knowledge.

Essentially, focus on your networking because it is very effective in improving your likelihood of getting elected as a judge. And, it is important to remember that most states require judges to have a minimum of ten years of legal experience, so don’t give up just yet if you haven’t been offered a position as a judge after a few years.

  1. Earn Your Judgeship

Once you’re offered the role of a judge, don’t hesitate to take the opportunity! You can be elected through partisan, nonpartisan, legislative, or merit election procedures, depending on the state in which you reside. Similar procedures to the Supreme Court’s are used in a handful of states, where the governor proposes multiple candidates for the position.

The Takeaway

After reading the guide above, do you still think that being a judge is the right career path for you? Pursuing this judicial career calls for a deep commitment to justice and societal fairness. Ultimately, while the whole journey is far from easy, no one will ever stop you from getting the role as long as you understand which steps you need to take.


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