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Judges preside over civil and criminal courts of law, and may decide the outcome of some legal cases. They ensure that courts are run fairly by enforcing the rules of law and evidence. They listen Future Growth Static to evidence put forward by lawyers, barristers and solicitors and decide on the kind of evidence that is allowed in a case. They also instruct juries on legal matters, receive the decisions that juries make on legal cases, and make decisions on the outcome of cases. They pass sentence on those convicted of crimes and decide on the outcomes of custody and access disputes. Judges may also sit on tribunals or offer input to programs that seek to improve the court and justice system. They work all over Australia in large and small courts in our cities and larger towns.

ANZSCO description: Presides over civil and criminal proceedings in a court of law.

Judge
(Source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers)

Specialisations: District Court Judge, Family Court Judge, Family Court Justice, Federal Court Judge, High Court Justice, Magistrate, Supreme Court Judge, Youth Court Judge (NZ)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A judge needs:

  • a strong moral and ethical code

  • research, analytical and interpreting skills

  • decision-making ability

  • maturity and responsibility

  • integrity, honesty and fairness

  • a sense of compassion

Working conditions

Judges work in offices and courtrooms. They usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours to prepare for court and read case files. The length of cases varies considerably, with civil cases sometimes taking a matter of minutes to resolve, and criminal investigations sometimes taking weeks or even months to resolve. Judges may be required to travel between regional courthouses if they are working in country areas.

Jurors chairs
Jurors chairs


Tools and technologies

Judges refer to legal texts and databases when researching a case. They are required to wear legal gowns in court. They may use a microphone, depending on the size of the courtroom in which they are presiding.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a judge you must first complete a degree in law, and then gain significant experience as a solicitor or barrister.

Many universities in Australia offer degrees in law.

To work as a barrister or solicitor in Australia, you must complete Practical Legal Training as specified by the Legal Practice Board in each State in Australia and then apply to the Supreme Court for admission as a lawyer.

To be eligible to be appointed as a Judge by the Governor of each State in Australia, you will need to have practised law for a minimum of eight years. However, most judges have significantly more than eight years of experience working in the judicial system before they are appointed.

Did You Know?

A Judge can use any of the following three sources of Australian law:

  • Acts of Parliament or legislation
  • the common law, or previous decisions by the courts
  • a constitution, either State or Commonwealth

depending on the particular court the judge is working in.

Because Australia is a federation, with two main levels of government, there are also two levels of courts, State and Commonwealth. The High Court is the final court of appeal for both levels. Some other legal disputes may be dealt with by the High Court from the start. Constitutional cases often begin in this way.

To what extent do judges make law?

Judges make law to a limited extent.

The common law is judge-made law. That means a law has been made because of something a Judge has ruled on in his/her court. These laws continue to be adapted to meet new situations and changing circumstances.

How are Australian judges appointed?

Australia has two main levels of government, the Commonwealth and the States. Both have court systems.

The method for appointment of judges to both Commonwealth and State courts is roughly the same. Judges are only formally appointed by the Governor-General, who acts on the advice of the government. The Attorney-General also plays an important part.

In a similar way, Judges of State courts are appointed by the State Governors, on the advice of the State Government, with each State Attorney-General playing an important role.

Supreme Court Perth
Supreme Court Perth

Not everyone can become a judge. There is no law to say so but judges in Australia are always lawyers. That is because they have had experience arguing cases in court.

In a few recent instances, appointments have been made from other parts of the legal profession as well: solicitors, academics and government lawyers.

Judge

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Judge

Personal Assistant

Corporate Trainer

Lawyer

Marketing Officer

Management Consultant

Officer Administrator

Interpreter

Private Investigator

Security Consultant

Receptionist

Sports Administrator

Call Centre Operator

Marketing Research Analyst

Hospital Administrator

Medical Administrator

Nurse Manager

Sports Centre Manager

Steward of Racing

Bookmaker

Child Care Centre Manager

Judge

Personal Assistant

Corporate Trainer

Lawyer

Marketing Officer