What Can You Do as an Attorney to Prepare to Become a Judge?

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We asked four attorneys (one served as an Illinois judge) what can you do as an attorney to prepare to become a judge? All four attorneys chimed in with their opinions. We hope you enjoy their answers.

If you want to become a judge, it's a good idea to work for a judge as a law clerk. It can also be helpful to become involved in politics at the local level because becoming a judge is often a result of relationships. You will need to be nominated, so establish a strong history of legal practice and try to establish support from politicians.

Matt Reischer, Esq.

It depends on whether you're seeking a political appointment or if you want to run.

If you want to run start by getting involved and getting your name out in the community. Join law organizations, work part time at law schools, etc. so you can develop a large contact base of people who will remember you and promote your name when you eventually run. Pick the right seat for which to campaign against a vulnerable opponent, and then raise lots of money!

If you're seeking a political appointment get politically involved, work hard for others, then wait your turn so you can cash in all the political equity and have others endorse you.

Shane Fischer, Attorney at Law

I believe the most important preparation is to remember that serving in the judiciary is a public service. I acknowledge that it is a great privilege to be able to help so many people on a daily basis and it is vital to treat everyone as you would want them to treat you. I also recommend that an attorney preparing to become a judge should observe the way sitting judges manage their courtrooms. Simple observation will help an attorney prepare, especially for those presiding over high-volume courts. Of course, it is also important for the attorney to be well-versed in the rules of evidence and stay updated on the law.

Michael Ian Bender
The Law Office of Michael Ian Bender

Judges preside over trials. Therefore it is important to have significant trial experience - both civil and criminal. Master rules of civil and criminal procedure. Master rules of evidence. Master the legal system (be familiar with the roles of probation officers, clerks, court officers, secretaries, witnesses and, of course, judges). Have a strong understanding of black letter law. Make sure you develop the proper demeanor (be respectful, thoughtful, display dignity and patience, be empathetic and avoid unfair bias.) Develop good listening skills.

By being a good litigator a lawyer develops a good reputation among judges and other court personnel. These people may be willing to make recommendations!

Ramsey A. Bahrawy, Esq.

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