Elizabeth Johnson has become the first CILEX lawyer to be appointed to the judiciary in a full-time position.
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and currently a fee-paid judge of the First-tier Tribunal, assigned to the social entitlement chamber, from next month she will become a full-time, salaried district tribunal judge.
Ms Johnson is a personal injury specialist with over 20 years’ experience and in 2019 became the first female CILEX judge, sitting part-time whilst working as an associate at Ashfords in Exeter.
She said: “The last two years sitting as a part-time judge have been hugely rewarding. My work in the social entitlement chamber means I hear cases that have a profound impact on people’s lives, taking decisions relating to disability benefit appeals where individuals are often representing themselves.
“Dealing with individual appellants to ensure that they have the best opportunity to present their appeal, and then applying the law to reach the right decision in each case, is a perfect balance for me and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to apply for a full-time position.”
CILEX chair, Professor Chris Bones, said: “CILEX lawyers are increasingly making it to the top of the legal profession, as judges, partners and business owners. Just last year we saw Millie Grant become the first CILEX Fellow to be appointed an honorary QC.
“There is still considerable under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in our judiciary. This urgently needs to change to ensure the judiciary better reflects the society it serves.
“With a diverse membership, CILEX has an important part to play, and Elizabeth’s appointment sends a message to our members, that the judiciary is a potential career path for them.”
There are currently six other CILEX Fellows sitting as judges as well as 12 solicitors who initially qualified through CILEX, some of whom are also full-time judges.