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UK’s youngest female judge promoted to full district status aged 34

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Briony Clarke first joined the bench at 31 😲

The UK’s youngest ever female judge has bagged herself a promotion.

Briony Clarke entered the history books when in 2017, she was sworn in as a deputy district judge on the London and South East circuit at the youthful age (by judicial standards) of just 31.

Now, three years on, Clarke has been elevated to full district judge status on the advice of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. The criminal lawyer will take up her new role at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 23 March, according to a statement published yesterday.

Briony Clarke

Following her initial appointment to the bench, Legal Cheek was quick to draw readers’ attention to her remarkable legal career.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

At just 15 Clarke joined Essex outfit Taylor Haldane Barlex LLP (THB) and went on to juggle work and studies, completing her law degree and Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Anglia Ruskin University. She qualified in 2009, became an accredited solicitor in 2010, an associate at THB in 2013, and a partner just one year later.

There have been a number of fresh-faced judicial appointments in recent years.

Criminal barrister Richard Archer was appointed a recorder at the sprightly age of 32, while Anna Midgley took up her spot on the bench at 33. Elsewhere, lawyers Ita Farrelly and Adem Muzaffer secured judicial roles aged 32 and 34 respectively.

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43 Comments

Anonymous

Firstly, congratulations.

Secondly, so much for equality taking too long.

(10)(27)

Anon

One can only be suspicious of someone who has such a burning desire to sit in judgment on others.

(52)(42)

Anon

To be fair, the salary is not too bad. For a criminal partner, it might be a decent boost to the earnings.

(16)(0)

DT

So little respect. She is an awesome person who worked so very hard…
I have been in partnership with her for 3 years and so comes from the truth and not some misguided jealousy!

(33)(37)

Anon

You would say that 🙂

Although I’m in favour of the appointment.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Someone has to.

It’s not an easy job to do well.

(1)(2)

Son of a Judge

Let’s not forget the ever youthful DDJ Carter in your list of young judges

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Anyone know who the youngest District Judge is?

(0)(2)

Anon

18 months. He throws bogeys at whoever he decides against.

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Bug really?

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Anyone?

(0)(1)

Anon

Going from the links above, there are a couple of other full time District Judge appointments at 34 (both in the County Court / Family Court). You will have to drill down to the months of birth! Tremendous achievements. Society can only benefit from a younger, more diverse, and ambitious judiciary.

(5)(17)

Anon

How can society benefit?

Anon

They can if it brings in better judges.

The Walrus

Or maybe she just got there on merit, like every other judge regardless of age or gender?

I’m presuming you don’t know her…

(32)(21)

Deputy Supreme Justice Dredd

What the hell is your basis for that reactionary comment?

(7)(7)

Anonymous

I don’t see anything to suggest it wasn’t on merit.

(5)(7)

why

Generally DJs do not have a good reputation. Often they are failed lawyers. Good luck to her.

(25)(14)

Anonymous

Agreed, most are crap.

Hopefully she’ll be a change and an improvement.

(12)(1)

Margot

The Administrative Court does not seem to agree with you. The vast majority of the decisions of District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) are upheld.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

They do agree. It’s just that judges don’t like to contradict other judges because they think it weakens the authority of the courts. Unfortunately, upholding crap decisions has the opposite effect from that intended.

(7)(3)

George Harris QC

Idiot

(5)(11)

Anonymous

Who and why?

(0)(0)

George Harris QC

You. You know why.

(1)(5)

US NQ

I respect LC’s practice of publishing comments which are critical of LC, which adds credibility to the site as a whole, but is it necessary to publish comments that are devoid of all meaning and social value?

Anon

I’m assuming you’re referring to George’s latest, US NQ, in which case it is devoid of all meaning and social value, until they say which comment they were referring to and why.

Margot

Judge Clarke has been appointed as a District Judge (Magistrates’ Court)
I defy you to identify even one who was a failed practitioner.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

There are quite a few. It doesn’t take anything away from Clarke’s appointment, which is good, especially if she’ll shake things up a bit.

Bug if you’re trying to argue that no District Judges are failed lawyers then you’ll just lose credibility. Unfortunately, the majority are crap and most lawyers know it. Better to call out the crap ones rather than pretend they don’t exist.

(2)(1)

Anon

”The majority are crap”. Jesus wept. You are either extraordinarily ignorant, or just don’t have a court based practice. Some aren’t as good as others, obviously. That’s the same across every role in every profession! However, in 15 years at the family Bar, I have only come across one or two that have struggled – and that’s undertaking some of the most difficult and trying work.

The great thing about younger appointments is that they tend to be ambitious and driven lawyers. They are motivated to do the job well and progress as far as they can. The idea that they are “failed” is laughable, and no doubt intended just to get a rise. Have some bloody respect.

(3)(7)

Anon

Sorry, but if you’re claiming that in 15 years, you’ve only seen ‘1 or 2 DJs who’ve struggled’ then you are being disingenuous, it’s just not conceivable. There are significant problems with DJs, unfortunately with the majority of them, who are crap. Mock outrage at the notion that the majority of DJs aren’t up to the job maximises the problem, it doesn’t diminish it. Honesty is very important for anyone who wants to be taken seriously.

I agree that the appointment of younger judges is to be applauded, but they should be ambitious and driven judges, they’re not lawyers anymore. I’m all for the appointment of Clarke and don’t regard her as a failed lawyer. As others have said, many DJs are though – they can often be seen desperately seeking lawyers’ approval during hearings, the more distinguished the lawyer the more desperately the approval is sought.

As for bloody respect, this can’t and shouldn’t be given to DJs whose conduct doesn’t deserve it. Perhaps you ought to show some yourself rather than expecting others to give it.

Egg Man

Not necessarily, 12:22. Just because diversity quota mania has impacted merit based selection of High Court judges and silk appointments does not mean that this appointment was so tainted.

(1)(2)

Charlotte

Fantastic news congrats to Briony Clarke and the other young judges such a great achievement professionally!!

(2)(2)

Margot

Well said Charlotte. This appointment is so well deserved.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes, hopefully will bring some much needed improvement to the calibre of District Judges.

(0)(0)

Charles Bradlaugh

As a non-lawyer, my only experience with a DJ was one where he didn’t notice the use of evidence that was Without Prejudice, neither did he know the FPR provisions on costs in the family court. Basic, schoolboy errors. He was also overpoweringly arrogant and rude. My overturning of his judgment at an appeal in which I self-represented (against all learned legal advice), was delicious indeed! If I, as a LiP with zero legal training, can so easily inflict such utter humiliation on a District Judge, shouldn’t we be calling these people what they are? They are “stipendiary magistrates”, not proper judges.

(4)(3)

Anonymous

I had one who spent most of the hearing flashing his eyelashes at the female brief on the other side, even asking during the hearing where she worked!

(2)(1)

Anon2020

Mmmm…. that’s some sweet BS right there.

Some people are just costs orders waiting to happen.

(2)(3)

Anon

What’s BS and why do you think there would be a costs order in either of the cases? If true, one related to someone who successfully appealed and the other to a judge trying to show off to a female brief. Where does the costs order come in, or are you suggesting the DJ would be subject to one?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

First, a costs order only takes into account costs reasonably incurred, there should be no element of punishment or fine. Anyway, its hard to see how a successful appeal in the first example or any appeal against the eyelash flashing judge in the second example, could conceivably and fairly lead to a costs order. Yes, its BS that District Judges act in the ways described but there are plenty of other examples. We all need to call out bias when we see it.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Having to stand up when the DJ enters and address them as sir is ridiculous.

(1)(1)

NQ1

First of all, no one below the age of 25-27 should even train to be a lawyer (including me) and secondly, this is simply a mockery. But whatever.

(9)(6)

Scep Tick

You know you’re getting old when you start fancying the judges.

(0)(0)

cathy mitson

Massive congratulations

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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