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Summary of occupation

Judges preside over civil and criminal courts of law, and may decide the outcome of some legal cases. They ensure that courts are run fairly by enforcing the rules of law and evidence. They listen to evidence put forward by lawyers, barristers and solicitors and decide on the kind of evidence that is allowed in a case. They also instruct juries on legal matters, receive the decisions that juries make on legal cases, and make decisions on the outcome of cases. They pass sentence on those convicted of crimes and decide on the outcomes of custody and access disputes. Judges may also sit on tribunals or offer input to programs that seek to improve the court and justice system. They work all over the State in large and small courts in our cities and larger towns.

ANZSCO description: Presides over civil and criminal proceedings in a court of law.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: District Court Judge, Family Court Judge, Family Court Justice, Federal Court Judge, High Court Justice, Magistrate, Supreme Court Judge, Youth Court Judge (NZ)
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A judge needs:

  • a strong moral and ethical code
  • research, analytical and interpreting skills
  • decision-making ability
  • maturity and responsibility
  • integrity, honesty and fairness
  • a sense of compassion.
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Working conditions

Judges work in offices and courtrooms. They usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours to prepare for court and read case files. The length of cases varies considerably, with civil cases sometimes taking a matter of minutes to resolve, and criminal investigations sometimes taking weeks or even months to resolve. Judges may be required to travel between regional courthouses if they are working in country areas.

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Salary details

On average, a judge in the District Court of Western Australia can expect to earn approximately $7 499 per week ($389 932 per year). As a judge gains experience, seniority or presides in higher level courts their earning potential will generally increase.   

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Tools and technologies

Judges refer to legal texts and databases when researching a case. They are required to wear legal gowns in court. They may use a microphone, depending on the size of the courtroom in which they are presiding.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a judge you must first complete a degree in law, and then gain significant experience as a solicitor or barrister.

All universities in Western Australia offer degrees in law. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To work as a barrister or solicitor in Western Australia, you must complete Practical Legal Training as specified by the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia and then apply to the Supreme Court for admission as a lawyer. Contact the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia for more information.

To be eligible to be appointed as a judge by the Governor of Western Australia, you will need to have practised law for a minimum of eight years. However, most judges have significantly more than eight years of experience working in the judicial system before they are appointed.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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