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The Supreme Court is on the hunt for judicial assistants

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Rub shoulders with the UK’s top judges

The Supreme Court is looking to recruit a fresh batch of judicial assistants to help lighten the load of its hardworking judges.

The coveted one-year placements see successful applicants join justices in court, carry out important research and draft summaries of often complex judgments for both the press and public.

Like in previous recruitment rounds, the Supreme Court says aspiring judicial assistants must be a solicitor, barrister or advocate qualified in one of the UK jurisdictions, who have completed a training contract or pupillage by the start of the appointment.

It goes on to say candidates wishing to be considered for the roles, which come with a salary of £36,500, should demonstrate a “high intellectual and analytical ability, incisiveness and work well under pressure”.

Tom Westwell, who has been Lord Wilson’s right-hand man since September 2019, commented: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the court so far. It has been a great privilege to be Lord Wilson’s judicial assistant: he has not only given generously of his time, energy and wisdom but has also made the job a lot of fun. Our daily meetings to discuss ongoing cases have been among the highlights of my role.”

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The former Freshfields associate continued:

“I’ve also relished working for the other justices on discrete tasks, attending judicial meetings to consider applications for permission to appeal, and seeing skilled advocates in action during hearings. To add to all that, in my fellow judicial assistants I’ve got to know a wonderful group of bright, friendly and committed people and the same can be said of the whole team at the court. If you’re thinking of applying, I’d strongly urge you to do so: you won’t regret it!”

Last year the social media savvy folk over at the Supreme Cout provided a glimpse of what life is like as a judicial assistant through a series of stories on Instagram (pictured below). Those interested in the eleven temporary posts have until 30 March 2020 to apply.

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44 Comments

Kirkland NQ

£36,500? Cute. Not even enough to pay my yearly car wash bill for the Lambo.

Anonymous

My neighbour is a soulless PE drone partner. He has a shiny Ferrari and is dull.

Anon

They should widen the pool to people from academic backgrounds. They have as much to contribute and it’s an invaluable opportunity to gain insights into judicial law-making.

anonymous

Why do they have as much to contribute, when they know little (or, more likely, nothing) of the law in practice?

Anon

Are these assistants giving law in practice advice to the Justices? I was under the belief they did research for the Justices and assisted them with writing summaries, which are the bread and butter of legal academics as well as practitioners.

Anon

Judgecraft is intensely practical, and is about the application of the law in the real world. An academic knows very little, of anything, about that.

Anon

I don’t think that freshly qualified lawyers are really being recruited for their in-depth knowledge of the legal world.

Rather, they are being recruited to do classic doctrinal legal research, i.e. handling and interpreting authorities. This is indicated in the job spec very clearly.

Anon

Academics would have no idea how to interpret authorities in the practical application of the law. How law operates in theory and in practice is very different.

Which is why the research roles go to people who are actually lawyers.

Anon

I think that’s petty hokum. In fact, many academics exist as social scholars and have knowledge of how the law works in the world on a universal plane as opposed to snapshots obtained by listening to your mentor’s musings during your second seat.

Realist

Academics know little or nothing about the law in practice.

Anon

Care to explain some insights a practitioner (who has only just completed their BPTC and pulliage) might have about a particular case, that guides their evaluation of the given authorities, which you think that an academic does not have?

Bearing in mind academic opinion is increasingly cited in appellate judgments as guidance, which is seemingly at odds with the idea that academic opinion in not important in crafting judicial decisions.

Anon

Academic opinion is rarely cited in appellate judgments. A bright barrister who has just completed pupillage, and who thus has spent at least 6 months doing court and advisory work in his or her own right, has more clue about how the law works in practice that an academic whose experience is theoretical.

Wake up and get back to your exam revision.

Anon

Ahh, so you’ve no examples you can think of.

I doubt you have experience of a) the academic world or b) the world of practice. Humbly, I have to say I won’t be taking advice from you.

anonymous

If you were a practising lawyer, it would be obvious and you wouldn’t need it to be explained. In no particular order, and amongst other things: civil procedure; pleading; how injunctions actually work in practice; how the doctrine of stare decisis is impacted by cross examination; how the per incuriam principle is engaged by your approach to submissions.

Now run along back to your exams at Warwick and good luck with being a provincial solicitor.

Anon

Enjoy the remainder of your self-funded LPC, big boi.

Anonymous

Am an 8 years’ Call barrister at a Chancery set. Now back to your exams at Warwick. When you land at your provincial solicitors’ firm and need someone to explain the law to you, let me know.

Anon

Called 2012, Oxford, Chancery set. Don’t give too much away.

Anonymous

I didn’t go to Oxford.

A Nony Mouse

This anon-on-anon fight is pretty hilarious enough, but the idea that an eight years’ call barrister would think both that the per incuriam rule is going to come up frequently in practice and that an professional legal academic of any skill would not know it is laughable.

Academics are obviously capable of being useful legal advisors as long as they have sufficient knowledge of rules of practice, which many of them do as a lot of them used to be or are currently practitioners as well, or have a professional qualification which they haven’t used. Burrows and Hale are both Supreme Court justices who went into the judiciary from academia, and despite what ‘counsel’ suggests, appellate judgments cite academic work with regularity – this week’s nuisance judgment Fearne v Tate being but one recent example from plenty that come to mind.

Not sure why the aggro against academics in general and apparently Warwick in particular, but a wronger person hasn’t graced an LC comment section in a while, and that is saying something.

Anon

Absolutely right that we need to steer academics away from the SC and have those involved as judges and researchers from the real world for the reasons explained above. A junior barrister offers more insight into how the law works than someone who spends their life writing for academic journals.

Former Bazza

Essentially you have no chance unless you have double first from Oxbridge, top or near top finish in the BCL and have completed a pupillage at a top commercial/civil set

Anonymous

One cannot obtain a “double first” from Oxford, darling. If you did not know that, then I cannot see how you would have the social skills for the task.

Anonymous

How do you get a double first from Oxford?

Anonymous

It is these little flags that give the game away of those who are speaking from a position of ignorance.

A A

First in prelims/mods and then again in finals? It isn’t a formal grade obviously, but I know plenty of people that use it.

Anonymous

No Oxonian with any modicum of class would say that. Mods are not given classifications. If someone did I would treat them with suspicion, thought it might be explained a consequence of the inane drive to over recruit from the state sector. Double firsts are for the Tabs.

Anon

Funny. If you are as much of a prig as your comment suggests, I suspect most Oxford graduates (myself included) would be delighted not to work with you!

Benny Goodman

No shortage of barristers at top-tier commercial sets who describe themselves as graduating with a double-first from Oxford – just do a Google search.

Anon

No, there are the diversity markers they look for. By looking at the LinkedIn profiles of the scheme’s alum.

Anonymous

Diversity. So dull. Why not pick the best?

James

Picking the best is so nineteenth century.

No one

Are they kidding? Most 1st year London trainees are paid more than that!

Anon

Welcome to the public sector…

Former Bazza

It’s the prestige, not all about the money you know . Ditto why a leading commercial silk billing a million a year goes to the bench

Jane

For a qualified solicitor in London that is very very low pay – less than trainees get – so presumably they want very low calibre people unless they are planning to provide a room and board I suppose.

Janet

Really? The best will be queuing up round the block for this.

Janeta

Quite. One year post qualification on a low wage, and then back in to law firms or the bar for mega wedge. It is a very prestigious job, particularly for litigators in firms and barristers. I have no experience of this job, but I would imagine that in terms of actual practical experience it may be better to work at the High Court (Commercial Courts) in your practice area assisting the judges. I imagine the churn of maritime, commercial, construction, IP etc. would be very high and quite interesting.

Anonymous

I’m curious to know how chambers feel about allowing someone they’ve only recently taken on to sod off to be a judicial assistant for a year. Granted, it’s another bit of decoration to that particular new tenant’s already (presumably) glowing CV, but that’s a year of billing missed?

Anonymous

They would be over the moon.

Anonymous

Huh, they really are all swimming in money over there, aren’t they?

Bean Counter

Say expenses are 20%. Chambers would “lose” £50k on £250k receipts, but almost all that work will in fact remain in Chambers provided there is capacity, so the net cost will be closer to zero. On Chambers income of £5-7m that would not be much of an issue.

Yuuu

£36,500? From Freshfields to that makes no sense at all.

Legal Officer with a 2:ii

This is definitely something I cannot do

Legal Cheek's First CyberNat #IndyRef2020 #SNP #ImWithNicola #ImSoExcited #AndIJustCannieHideIt #LetsGoToCourt #Scotland1-London0 #LetsSeeWhoWins

Maybe I should apply for this – gonnie talk to all them judges and get them to rule properly on the IndyRef case when it comes to Court – and that TWAW and TMAM

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