How to become a Judge

Overview, Courses, Exam, Colleges, Pathways, Salary

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Who is Judge ?

A judge is an elected official who is appointed to conduct court proceedings and uphold the law to administer justice in a constitutional manner. They preside over the courtrooms, ensuring that the law is followed and justice is served in each case. Depending upon the scope of their role and the power vested in them, a judge may preside over both civil and criminal proceedings. They are tasked with the responsibility of interpreting the law in an unbiased, reasonable and fair manner. They are conferred with the power to dictate verdicts, determine the sentence in criminal cases, and decide the fine amounts in civil cases.

They administer, control, and interpret the law as it is laid down by the constitution of the country acting, providing justice to the citizens that seek it. A judge is expected to perform their duties with the highest level of integrity to dispense justice. Owing to their extensive knowledge about the country’s laws, they are an authority on various matters concerning the nation. They are in charge of making the final verdict on court cases.

Types of Judge

  1. Trial Court Judges: These judges preside over trial courts, where legal cases are heard for the first time. They listen to the evidence presented by both parties, apply the law to the facts of the case, and make decisions or render verdicts.
  2. Appellate Court Judges: Appellate court judges review decisions made by trial courts to determine if errors of law were made or if the lower court's decision should be upheld or overturned. They do not retry the case but assess whether the legal process was followed correctly.
  3. Supreme Court Judges: Supreme Court judges, or justices, sit on the highest court in a country's judicial system. They review and decide on cases of national importance, constitutional matters, and issues involving significant legal principles.
  4. Federal Judges: In countries with a federal system of government, federal judges are appointed to hear cases involving federal laws, regulations, and disputes between states or the federal government.
  5. State Judges: State judges preside over cases within their state's jurisdiction, dealing with matters that fall under state laws and regulations.
  6. Civil Court Judges: Civil court judges handle cases related to disputes between individuals or organizations, such as contract disputes, property issues, and personal injury claims.
  7. Criminal Court Judges: Criminal court judges preside over cases involving alleged violations of criminal laws. They oversee trials, rule on motions, and determine sentences for convicted individuals.
  8. Family Court Judges: Family court judges handle cases related to family matters, such as divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, and domestic violence.
  9. Administrative Law Judges: Administrative law judges (ALJs) work within administrative agencies and hear cases involving disputes between individuals or organizations and the government. They make decisions based on administrative laws and regulations.
  10. Bankruptcy Court Judges: Bankruptcy court judges specialize in handling cases related to bankruptcy proceedings, where individuals or businesses seek relief from debts they cannot repay.
  11. Magistrate Judges: Magistrate judges assist other judges in various tasks, such as conducting preliminary hearings, issuing warrants, and handling certain aspects of cases.

Here are some steps to becoming a Judge

  1. Educational Qualifications: Obtain a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. While no specific undergraduate degree is required to become a judge, a degree in law or a related field is common and beneficial.
  2. Law School: Attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Law school typically takes three years to complete and provides a comprehensive legal education.
  3. Pass the Bar Exam: After completing law school, you must pass the bar exam in the jurisdiction where you plan to practice. The bar exam tests your knowledge of legal principles and procedures and is a prerequisite for obtaining a license to practice law.
  4. Gain Legal Experience: Work as an attorney to gain legal experience. Most judges have several years of experience practicing law before being considered for judicial positions. Many judges start their legal careers as lawyers in law firms, government agencies, prosecutors, or public defenders.
  5. Networking and Reputation: Build a strong professional network within the legal community. Establish a reputation for professionalism, ethical conduct, and legal expertise. Networking can lead to opportunities and recommendations for judicial positions.
  6. Apply for Judicial Positions: Keep an eye out for openings for judicial positions in the courts where you want to serve. Judicial positions may be advertised or appointed by a nominating committee or government official, depending on the jurisdiction.
  7. Judicial Selection Process: Depending on the jurisdiction, the selection process may involve various steps, such as application submission, interviews, background checks, and evaluations by legal organizations or committees.
  8. Appointment or Election: Judges are often appointed by government officials, such as the governor or president, or elected by the public in some jurisdictions. The process can vary significantly depending on the type of court and the legal system.
  9. Judicial Training: If selected for a judicial position, you may be required to undergo judicial training or orientation to familiarize yourself with the responsibilities and procedures of being a judge.
  10. Continuing Education: Throughout your judicial career, participate in continuing education programs to stay updated on changes in the law and best practices in the judiciary.
  11. Demonstrate Impartiality and Fairness: As a judge, it's crucial to uphold the principles of impartiality and fairness, treating all parties before the court with respect and adhering to the rule of law.

How to Become a Supreme Court Judge

To become a Supreme Court Judge, one must meet specific eligibility criteria in the Indian Judiciary system, which consists of the Supreme Court, High Courts, and Subordinate Courts. The Supreme Court, situated in New Delhi, serves as the highest court in India, and its decisions are final and cannot be challenged by any other court in the country. Below are the requirements to become a Supreme Court Judge:

  1. Citizenship: The candidate must be a citizen of India.
  2. Legal Qualifications: The individual must hold an LLB or LLM degree.
  3. Judicial Experience: To be eligible for the position of a Supreme Court Judge, the person should have served as a High Court Judge for at least five years or practiced as a High Court Advocate for at least ten years.

Additionally, an exceptional Jurist, as determined by the President of India, may also qualify for the role of a Supreme Court Judge.

How to Become a High Court Judge

Now, let's consider the process of becoming a High Court Judge:

High Courts in India are state-level courts, with 25 such courts nationwide. The High Courts have appellate jurisdiction over their respective states and union territories. To become a High Court Judge, certain eligibility criteria must be met:

  1. Indian Citizenship: The candidate must be an Indian citizen.
  2. Legal Education: An LLB or LLM degree is required.
  3. Judicial Experience: Eligibility can be achieved by serving in a Judicial office in India for ten years or practicing as an advocate in a High Court for a minimum of 10 years.

Both becoming a Supreme Court Judge and a High Court Judge are esteemed positions in the Indian legal system, requiring candidates to have the necessary legal qualifications and extensive experience in the judiciary or legal profession.

Typical day at work

What does Judge do?

  • Preside over court proceedings, trials, and hearings.
  • Assess the admissibility of evidence as well as analyze and interpret it in the context of the case.
  • Listen to the allegations and arguments presented by the persecution and the defence, hear witness testimonies, review legal briefs.
  • Maintain an impartial stance on the cases and use sound judgement to dictate a fair verdict or a sentence.
  • Determine the liability of the defendants.
  • Rule on the motions presented in the courtroom.
  • Conclude the case by determining the extent of the punishments levied in the form of monetary fees and damages.
  • Enforcing the code of conduct in the courtroom and inform the defendants of their rights.
  • Make decisions regarding the approval or denial of arrests or search warrants.
  • Supervise the work of law clerks, court officers, and other court staff.
  • Assist in jury selection, provide support to the jury and manage them during trials.
  • Meet with attorneys for discussions regarding discovery issues, objections, pretrial motions.

Abilities and Aptitude needed

What are the skills, abilities & aptitude needed to become Judge?

In order to be a judge as a part of India’s judicial system, one must have excellent communication skills in order to encourage the settlement between parties, mediate disputes, and tactfully deal with sensitive issues. They must have excellently developed listening skills in order to effectively understand all details of the case and accurately analyze the information presented in the proceeding. They must be highly detail-oriented and skilled at critical thinking in order to analyze the factual and legal elements of a case. They must possess extensive knowledge about the law and judicial procedures, which is continually updated. They should be equipped with excellent problem solving and organizational skills in order to extract and synthesize vast amounts of relevant data to address the legal situation.

Their decision making and reasoning skills are crucial in order to weigh the facts and apply the laws to make decisions that are unbiased, fair, and just. They should display professional conduct and follow certain customs specific to the court such as brandishing a hammer. In order to qualify for the position of a Judge in any court of India, one must be a citizen of India and below 65 years of age.


Salary for Judge?

Different states within India might have variations in salary structures. Here are the approximate minimum and maximum monthly salaries for Judges in India:

High Court Judge:

  • Minimum Monthly Salary: Approximately INR 2,25,000 to INR 2,50,000
  • Maximum Monthly Salary: Approximately INR 2,50,000 to INR 2,95,000
  • Annual Salary: Approximately INR 27,00,000 to INR 30,00,000

Supreme Court Judge:

  • Minimum Monthly Salary: Approximately INR 2,80,000 to INR 3,00,000
  • Maximum Monthly Salary: Approximately INR 3,50,000 to INR 3,75,000
  • Annual Salary: Approximately INR 33,60,000 to INR 36,00,000
  • Highest Paying Jobs and Scope : As Judges, the highest paying jobs in the legal profession come with competitive salaries, benefits, and job security. They hold a prestigious position, influencing legal precedents and making significant decisions. The scope includes career growth to higher courts, impact on society, and a respected role in upholding justice and fairness.

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How to become an Judge?

Entrance Exam

Entrance Exam for Judge ?

After obtaining LL.B and LLM, you need to qualify the AIBE Exam to become a member of a State Bar Council and Practice as a Lawyer.

To become a District Court Judge, you need to pass the Judicial Service Examination.

To become a High Court Judge, appear for Higher Judicial Services Examination.


Which course I can pursue?


Which Industries are open for Judge?

The primary industry open for a Judge is the legal industry. However, it's important to understand that the legal industry encompasses various sectors and settings where Judges may serve. Some of the industries and areas within the legal sector where Judges can work include:

Judicial System: Judges serve in various courts within the judicial system, including:

  • Specialized Courts: Courts that deal with specific areas of law, such as family courts, labour courts, or tax courts.
  • Supreme Court: The highest court in the country, responsible for interpreting and applying the constitution and hearing cases of national significance.
  • Appellate Courts: Intermediate courts that review decisions made by lower courts.
  • District Courts: Trial courts that handle civil and criminal cases at the local level.
  1. Government: Judges may work as Administrative Law Judges in government agencies, presiding over hearings and deciding on regulatory matters and disputes.
  2. International Tribunals: Judges can serve in international courts and tribunals, addressing international law issues, human rights, and disputes between countries.
  3. Arbitration and Mediation: Some Judges may work as arbitrators or mediators, helping parties resolve disputes outside the traditional court system.
  4. Academic Institutions: Judges with extensive legal expertise may teach law at universities and law schools, contributing to legal education and research.
  5. Legal Research and Policy: Judges may engage in legal research, contribute to legal publications, or work on policy development related to the legal system.
  6. Legal Consultancy: Retired Judges or those with specialized expertise may provide legal consulting services to law firms, organizations, or government agencies.
  7. Nonprofit Organizations: Judges may be involved in nonprofit organizations working on legal advocacy and social justice issues.


Are there internships available for Judge?

Some potential internship opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a Judge include:

  • Judicial Clerkships: Law students or recent law graduates may apply for judicial clerkships with Judges in courts of various levels, including district courts, appellate courts, and the supreme court. Clerkships allow individuals to work closely with Judges, observe courtroom proceedings, and assist in legal research and writing.
  • Legal Aid Organizations: Interning with legal aid organizations or public interest law firms can provide exposure to social justice issues essential to judicial decision-making.
  • Law Firms: Some firms may offer internship programs focused on litigation and trial practice. Working on real cases and court proceedings can provide valuable experience relevant to a judicial career.
  • Government Legal Departments: Interning with government legal departments, such as the Attorney General's office or the Department of Justice, can provide insights into the legal system's and government's functioning.
  • Judicial Support Organizations: Some organizations support the work of Judges, such as judicial commissions or research organizations. Interning with such entities can offer exposure to judicial processes and decisions.
  • Legal Research Organizations: Research institutions focused on legal studies and policy analysis may offer internships to individuals interested in a deeper understanding of legal issues.
  • Academic Institutions: Some law schools or legal research centres offer internships that involve assisting faculty members with research projects related to law and legal systems.

Career outlook

What does the future look like for Judge?

To be appointed as a Judge is one of the most coveted and respectable positions to hold. They can work in the High Court, Supreme Court, District and subordinate Court. Apart from a handsome salary and stature in society, they enjoy job security. To be a supreme court judge, the aspirant must have served as a high court judge for five years or a high court advocate for ten consecutive years and must be considered a distinguished jurist by the president of the nation. Similarly, there are specific qualifications needed to be elected as a judge at each level of the judicial hierarchy. Judges in India have work in a full-time capacity in offices, courtrooms, and courts.

While the working hours for judges are nine to five, they generally work for longer hours in preparation for trials and hearings and are required to be available at all hours in case of emergencies. There is a high demand for judges in India's judicial system today, owing to the large population and the rising caseloads. Judges need to be invested in keeping themselves updated with the current legal issues and legislative changes throughout their tenure.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can I become a judge after LLB?

Answer: In some countries, including India, it is possible to become a judge after completing an LLB (Bachelor of Laws). However, becoming a judge typically requires additional qualifications and experience. In India, to be eligible for a judicial position, a candidate with an LLB degree must gain experience as a Judge in the High Court for a minimum of 5 years or as a High Court Advocate for a minimum of 10 years. Alternatively, as determined by the President of India, exceptional Jurists may also be considered for judicial positions.

2. What should I do after 12th to become a judge?

To become a judge in India, after completing the 12th standard, the following steps are typically taken:

  • Pursue a bachelor's degree in law (LLB) by enrolling in a law school or university.
  • After LLB, gain experience in the legal field by practicing law as an advocate or serving as a legal professional.

Following this, aspiring judges can aim for judicial positions at various levels, starting with lower courts and rising to High Courts and the Supreme Court.

3. Is it easy to become a judge?

Answer: Becoming a judge is a challenging task. It requires a combination of extensive legal education, experience, and dedication. Aspiring judges must undergo rigorous studies and gain practical experience as legal professionals, often including several years of practice as advocates or serving in judicial offices. The process can be challenging and competitive, but those passionate about the legal profession and pursuing justice find it rewarding.

4. Can I become a judge without CLAT?

Answer: In India, CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) is an entrance exam that many law schools use for admission to their undergraduate and postgraduate law programs. While CLAT is a common route for entering law schools, it is not the only way to pursue a law degree. Some universities conduct their own entrance exams; others may admit students based on merit in their 12th standard or other qualifying exams. After completing LLB from a recognized institution, candidates can still become judges by meeting the required eligibility criteria and gaining experience.

5. What is the salary of a judge in India?

Answer: The salary of a judge in India varies depending on the judiciary level and the court type. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the salary of a High Court Judge in India ranged from around ?2.50 lakh to ?2.80 lahks per month. The salary of a Supreme Court Judge was higher, with the Chief Justice of India receiving a higher pay scale than other judges. It's essential to note that salaries may be subject to revisions and changes over time due to government policies and other factors.