Legal

Judge or Magistrate

Judges and magistrates ensure that legal processes in courts of law are run fairly and according to the rules of law and evidence.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor's degree + professional registration

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Judge or Magistrate do?

Judges and magistrates ensure that legal processes in courts of law are run fairly and according to the rules of law and evidence.

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Work activities

As a Judge or magistrate, you would:

  • read documents on pleadings and motions to ascertain facts and issues
  • rule on admissibility of evidence and methods of conducting testimony
  • monitor proceedings to ensure that all applicable rules and procedures are followed
  • preside over hearings and listen to allegations made by plaintiffs to determine whether the evidence supports the charges
  • read and research previous cases, other legal decisions and legislation in order to stay up to date with changes and legal precedents.

Judges preside over civil and criminal proceedings, and would also:

  • instruct juries on applicable laws, direct juries to deduce the facts from the evidence presented, and hear their verdicts
  • award compensation for damages to litigants in civil cases in relation to findings by juries or by the court
  • write judgments after the case, including detailed descriptions of their reasons.

Magistrates preside over criminal matters, determine whether defendants will be committed for trial, and can make judgments on criminal offences without a jury.

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Key skills and interests

To become a judge or magistrate, you would need:

  • to be mature and responsible
  • honesty, firmness and fairness in all your dealings
  • to be able to deal with public scrutiny
  • an intimate knowledge of Commonwealth and state law, legal history and court processes
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • the ability to understand, analyse and use facts quickly and logically
  • the ability to work under pressure and deal with a variety of people.

Judges and magistrates must be Australian citizens.

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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

The majority of judges or magistrates work full time.

Conditions

All judges and magistrates are employed by local, state, and federal governments. Most work both out of their own offices (called Chambers) and in courts of law.

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How to become an Judge or Magistrate?

Entry Level Education

To become a judge or magistrate you have to be a qualified lawyer. To get into degree courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. Students are often advised to undertake a combined degree course that leads to two degrees. The prerequisite subjects required for entry into these combined courses depend on the non-law component of the combined course.

Judges are usually appointed by a State or Federal Governor or Attorney-General. To be eligible, you need to have completed a law degree and have been licensed to practise law for a minimum of eight years, although most judges have a lot more experience before being appointed.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of judges and magistrates is projected to show little or no change.

Nearly every new position for a judge must be authorised and approved under State or Commonwealth legislation. New judges are usually only appointed when others retire or resign.

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