Lord Chief Justice urges City firms to allow partners to join bench

Thomas: commitment to public service

The Lord Chief Justice has issued a plea to large law firms to allow their partners to seek judicial appointment, saying it was in the interests of both the nation and the firms themselves to do so.

In a speech earlier this week at Mansion House in London, he told the City of London Solicitors Company that he appreciated “how difficult it is for partners within a firm to release the most able of their number – at the height of their earning power – to sit as recorders or deputy High Court judges, or to assist those who are taking retirement in their 50s to plan for a second career on the bench”.

But he continued: “It is in our nation’s interest and, therefore, in your own that we continue to have the strongest judiciary in the world and, through that judiciary, ensure the continued development and pre-eminence of our law as the law of choice in international transactions.

“I hope that we can persuade firms to consider their partners sitting as judges as part of their commitment to public service and a way in which they can contribute to the continued success of our nation more generally.

“On a less altruistic note – the law firm benefits from the continued pre-eminent status of English common law and from having a workforce with additional skills and experience. Similarly, the individual lawyer benefits from honing existing skills and developing new ones.”

Lord Thomas added that ensuring quality of the judiciary would not be sidelined by all the activity caused by Brexit.

He said: “At some stage, it really will be necessary to ensure that everything we are doing is focused on the position of UK lawyers and UK legal services in the world.

“Some things, however desirable in themselves, may have to wait. One of those matters, however, that cannot wait is maintaining the strength and vitality of the judiciary.”

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