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Civil servant who finished LLB in 2021 becomes country’s youngest judge at 29

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Exclusive: Carlton Williams called to the bar just three months ago

Carlton Williams

A civil servant at the Home Office has become what is believed to be the country’s youngest judge.

Carlton Williams, who only turned 29 in December, was recently appointed as a judge in the First Tier Tribunal in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

He will preside over appeals against Home Office decisions relating to permission to stay in the UK, deportation from the UK, and entry clearance to the UK.

Williams will leave his current position as a senior presenting officer, a civil service role where he represents the government in immigration appeals.

After leaving school at 16, Williams completed an LLB part-time through the Open University, graduating in 2021. This was followed by a master’s degree at The University of Law which he completed last year. He was only called to the bar in November 2022.

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Williams describes the appointment as overwhelming, saying, “I’m very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to support me along the path to my appointment”.

“I was able to apply via the ‘5 years equivalent experience’ qualification which I think is an excellent way of increasing diversity among the judiciary,” he told Legal Cheek. “The fact I am mixed race, with no family connections to the law is again evidence of the way in which the judiciary is changing,” he added.

Williams becomes the latest in a string of fresh-faced judicial appointments.

In 2020, Legal Cheek reported that Baker McKenzie senior associate Jason Raeburn had become a judge at the age of 32. Prior to that, in 2017, criminal solicitor Briony Clarke made history by becoming a deputy district judge at just 31.

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5 Comments

Delighted

Congratulations to Carlton, this is incredible news!

Seeing someone so young, and from a diverse background, joining the judiciary is fundamental to ensuring fair outcomes.

(82)(24)

Stephanie

What an amazing achievement and definitely encouraging for aspiring young lawyers and judges

(43)(6)

Anon

Congratulations to him.

This next comment is not intended to detract from his achievement, but his appointment and the others referred to in the story do raise a serious point about judicial career structure.

It used to be the case that most judges below the High Court would not be promoted and could be understood to take the job on that basis. There were occasional promotions of circuit judges to the High Court and of District Judges to the Circuit bench, but they were unusual. They were appointed in their late 40s or older and could do 20 years to get the pension and then retire.

We now have young people choosing a career as a judge with uncertain prospects of promotion and, more importantly, restrictions on going back into practice as a lawyer. Surely it’s time to review both, ideally offering a clear path to promotion to avoid boredom/frustration, or allowing young judges to go back to private practice if they want to.

As I say, I don’t want to undermine Carlton’s achievement. He has done something quite remarkable.

But if I was his age, I would be reluctant to trust future governments for the next 30 years about pay, working conditions, pensions etc and take a job which I would struggle to leave. The present government has already screwed judges over pensions and is on the receiving end of ET claims brought by them. Does anyone think it will get better?

(85)(8)

Anon 2x

Read the room. If you don’t want to detract from his achievement, then maybe don’t? Write a policy paper or something and send it to the regulator.

(11)(122)

Christian

Congratulations Carlton, Wow what an exceptional achievement !

This is so aspiring, to see someone so young achieve such an unbelievable accomplishment is something that’s so valuable for our generation to see. Joining the judiciary is such a rewarding and respectable path, which will continue to unveil itself in the many years you have to come.

(17)(5)

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