Fancy being the next Lord Sumption? You can now apply to be a Supreme Court justice

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By Katie King on

£200,000+ salary up for grabs

Close that training contract application you were working on — the most important application you can make this Christmas break is to the Supreme Court bench.

Three justices will be stepping down from the country’s most prestigious bench next year — deputy president Lord Mance, Lord Hughes and Lord Sumption — leaving behind vacancies commanding salaries in excess of £200,000 each. The selection commission will be looking for a new deputy president and two new justices, or possibly three if the deputy president role is filled internally. The successful candidates will be expected to take up their roles between June 2018 (when Mance retires) and January 2019 (one month after Sumption retires).

The three justices retiring next year: Lord Mance, Lord Hughes and Lord Sumption

Fancy it? The court — which has released an online Christmas card this year that we absolutely love — has given an indication of what kind of candidate it’s after.

A screenshot of the Supreme Court’s Christmas card

That is someone with a “deep level of legal knowledge and understanding”, plus a “high intellectual capacity” and an understanding of the “communities which the law is there to serve”. The court continues:

“The selection commission is looking for people who can demonstrate these qualities, and who can make a contribution to the collective wisdom of the court, as well as working efficiently and effectively both in and out of the court room.”

Experience-wise, you might assume all appointments are made from the Court of Appeal or at the very least from the judiciary. However, the statutory minimum qualification means a person satisfies eligibility conditions if they’ve qualified as a barrister or solicitor at least 15 years ago and have been gaining experience in law since. As Legal Cheek has pointed out in the past, this means the likes of Amal Clooney and journalist Joshua Rozenberg may, in theory, be able to serve.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

As we move through the process, ‘diversity’ is likely to be the word on everyone’s lips. Though the bench’s gender make-up has been given a recent boost with the appointment of Lady Black, the court’s second female justice, many will not rest until there is parity. At a recent Q&A on women in law, president Lady Hale said:

“We have three vacancies [coming up], it would be great if one could be filled with a woman, or even two or three.”

Indeed, the court has stressed it is after applications from “the widest range of eligible candidates”, particularly from those who will increase its diversity. The closing date is 26 January 2018.

Watch Lady Hale introduce the judicial vacancies in a YouTube video embedded below:

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