Competition for judicial roles is strong, with as many as 25 applications per vacancy in many recruitment exercises. The following information will give you hints and tips on how to prepare for your application, and also provides guidance to assist you in completing your application form.
Finding out about vacancies
- Visit our website regularly and check the vacancies page.
- Register your interest to receive information and news from us, including details about our latest vacancies.
- Follow us on Twitter (@JudgeAppts) and Linkedin.
- Subscribe to the Scottish Legal News where the Board also advertise its legal vacancies.
Preparing for your application
- Evaluate yourself with Am I Eligible?
- Read case studies of successful candidates on our Journey to the Judiciary page.
- Read the relevant Role Profile on our website.
- Apply to the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme run by the Judicial Office for Scotland.
- Visit the Judicial Office for Scotland website to learn more about the work of judicial officeholders.
- Speak to judges and observe how they work.
- Observe courts or tribunals from the public gallery.
- Attend any outreach events being run by the Board.
- The Law Society offers 'competency based selection process' CPD events; for information on these events and instructions on how to register, please visit their website.
- Take time to seriously consider your own knowledge and experience and compare this with the skills and qualities for the role you are interested in.
This is the section of the application that you will spend the most time completing. The Board is looking for strong evidence and examples to support the extent to which applicants meet the required skills and qualities.
- Read the skills and qualities for the post carefully to understand what you need to demonstrate in your self-assessment.
- Consider how your own experience relates to or is transferable to the skills and qualities specified.
- Reflect on roles, tasks and situations in which you demonstrated those skills and qualities.
- Select specific examples that best demonstrate the skills and qualities.
The strongest self-assessments provide between one and three examples within each competency area, and demonstrate breadth, showing clearly how you approached each situation and achieved a successful outcome.
Each individual example should follow a clear structure. The following structure may assist:
|Stage||Details||% of answer|
|Situation||Briefly outline the situation - to give context.||10%|
|Task||State what you were trying to achieve.||10%|
|Action||What action did you take? Explain what you did, how you did it and why you did it. What did you actually do? What was your contribution and role?||60%|
|Result||Describe the result. What happened and what did you learn? Did you achieve what you set out to do? What difficulties and challenges did you face? Did you have to adapt to achieve your goal?||20%|
- Be clear and explicit so there is no doubt about how you tackled the task.
- Ensure the focus is on your actions in a specific scenario and avoid simply listing the roles and responsibilities of your job.
- Be concise, as you are limited to 300 words in each competency area (unless otherwise stated on the application form).
- Where possible, give different examples for each criterion in the application form.
- Use your strongest examples in your application, but keep a note of others that are relevant as you may wish to use these at interview if invited.
What Not To Do
- Don't use hyperlinks, as these will be disregarded by the panel.
- Don't simply list cases you dealt with in the past. the panel needs enough information to understand the impact of your actions and may not be familiar with specific cases.
- Don't rely on highly generalised descriptions of work carried out, give assertive or aspirational statements or merely refer to positions held, without giving specific examples.
Depending on the role you are applying for, you may be asked to submit one or more pieces of legal written work for which you alone have been responsible. You should explain, briefly (in no more than 100 words), how it demonstrates your knowledge of the law, and your skills and competence in the interpretation and application of the law.
Examples of written work include:
- advice given to clients in the form of letters or memos, opinions or notes; written submissions or other written legal argument;
- reports, opinions, judgments, stated cases or decision letters given in a judicial (courts and tribunals) or similar capacity;
- written advice given internally in a firm or other institutional environment; or
- any other written explanation of the law, and how that applies in the circumstances of a particular case or other factual situation.
The example you choose should have a broad range, ideally be recent, and clearly demonstrate the legal competence criteria. Choose your written work carefully, making sure that it is concise and to the point. Applicants who submit written work that contains a lengthy narration of the facts, are asked to confirm (within the 100 word limit) which paragraphs contain the analysis and application of the law that they wish the Board to consider.
Although the Board will treat all written work in the strictest confidence, it is imperative that you delete or redact any references to the identity of clients or others in such documents. Any written work which is submitted without being redacted will be immediately deleted and you will be asked to supply the written work again, with the redactions made.
To upload your written work to the online application system successfully, your written work example must be in Word (.doc or .docx), PDF or Rich Text Document (.rtf) formats. The maximum file size that can be uploaded to the system is 4MBs.
This section of the application form seeks information about whether applicants are of good character. It is important that each question is answered fully and frankly. A disclosure in answer to a question will not automatically disqualify an applicant but will permit the selection panel to assess its significance and, if appropriate, to seek further information. Applicants should include any relevant mitigating information which they wish the selection panel to take into account.
The attention of applicants is drawn to the question on Personal and Professional Life, where any matter which might affect suitability or fitness for appointment should be disclosed.
In assessing good character, the selection panel may take into account any court decision, whether published or not, and any newspaper report or other published source which may have a bearing upon an applicant’s ability to fulfil the judicial office applied for, and the applicant’s fitness to hold that office. Given that the composition of the Board includes senior members of the legal profession in Scotland charged along with the lay members with the duty of making proper recommendations, applicants should anticipate that the selection panel will be aware of any publicly recorded judicial criticism.
The selection panel cannot enter into an adjudication process as to whether any criticism was justified. However, given the high office to which such applicants aspire, you should indicate whether there has ever been a complaint made about you. The selection panel is entitled to expect that applicants will bring to its attention any judicial criticism(s) together with an indication as to what the applicant has learned from this.
At the first stage of an application, and bearing in mind the requirements on the Board to respond promptly to requests for nominations, the selection panel is entitled to proceed upon the basis of the full application papers, and cannot enter into discussion with individual candidates either as to what has been said in public judicial criticism. If an applicant, on whom such criticism has been laid, is invited for interview the Board would expect the interview panel to discuss in detail with the candidate what has been learned from this experience.
A copy of the Statement of Principles on Criminal Convictions is available on the Board’s website.
The assessment of good character continues throughout the process, up to the point when the Board decides which applicants should be recommended for appointment. Any relevant change which occurs after submission of the application form should be disclosed to the Board as soon as possible. The Board takes very seriously any matters, which applicants fail to disclose, that later come to light.
Prior to interview, the Board will enquire whether there are any reasons relating to an applicant’s character, legal competence or any other matters which might cause the Board or the First Minister to doubt their suitability or fitness for appointment to the office for which they have applied.
The Board will consult;
- Lord President of the Court of Session
- All Sheriff Principals
- Dean of the Faculty of Advocates
- President of the Law Society of Scotland
- Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
- Crown Agent