The position of Recorder is a fee paid post sitting for between 15 and 30 days a year. The post is broadly similar in jurisdiction to that of a Circuit Judge, but generally handling less serious and complex cases. Recordership has often been the first step on the judicial ladder to appointment to the Circuit Bench.
'I've practised as a barrister specialising in family law for over twenty years, and have always wanted to be a judge. When some family Recorderships opened up for the first time a few years ago, I applied and although I made it to the last stage, I wasn't appointed.
I was quite disheartened and felt that if I couldn't make it now, at this point in my career, I would never make it. But my friend, who is a Circuit Judge, told me that I shouldn't be put off from applying again and that I should consider applying to sit in crime and treat this as a new challenge.
When some further appointments came up I applied for a criminal Recordership. I spent a week work shadowing at Wood Green Crown Court in order to improve my understanding of what is involved.
I got together with a friend who was also applying and we sat the past test papers which we had downloaded from the JAC website, under proper examination conditions. We were really strict with ourselves and had to dredge up our exam skills from our A-levels thirty years previously. For the application form itself, I used as many practical examples as I could and because I was applying in a different field from my own, I focused on my capacity to learn as well as my experience.
Everybody at the JAC was helpful, approachable and willing to give advice. I had a number of questions about the mechanics of the application form and everyone I spoke to was very happy to help me.
I was absolutely delighted to get my appointment. I'm glad that I broadened my aspirations and tried for something out of my own area. The training I received was excellent.
I was apprehensive about sitting in court for the first time alone, but my adrenaline kicked in and everything seemed to come together. I'd say that as long as you think clearly and prepare well, you'll be fine!'