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Judge Local, State, Federal Career, Job, Degrees and Training Information

A judge is a government official who oversees court proceedings on the municipal, state, and federal levels. Often, they act as the only presiding official in a courtroom. On some occasions a trial or hearing may require multiple judges to find a verdict, though this is not as common. It is ultimately the responsibility of a judge to maintain an orderly environment while enforcing a fair and just ruling. Judges also have the right to interpret U.S. law, applying precedence with the intent of protecting the legal rights of both the prosecution and the defense.

Education and Training Requirements

Bachelor's Degree

Becoming a judge is a vigorous but rewarding pursuit, with several involved prerequisites, some of which aren't completely straightforward. A person interested in becoming a judge must first meet the educational requirements. Among these requirements is a bachelor's degree from a 4-year university. Regardless of what discipline you choose, it will have some application to the field of law, and in turn, your future position as a judge. While it isn't necessarily important to select a specific bachelor's degree, common areas of study include justice, philosophy, history, political science, criminology, and engineering.

Law School Degree

Once you've worked hard at a good college and earned a notable grade point average, you're ready to apply for law school. Because it can take many years to acquire a judgeship, many people attend law school immediately after graduating from college. It may also be a good idea to submit a law school application in areas you eventually want to practice law.

Because the competition for acceptance into law school is notoriously high, it will be important to receive an exceptional score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). There are several preparatory courses available for improving your chances of a high score. Write intelligent, interesting answers. Your ability to think analytically is a key component of success in law school. Use this test to truly make yourself standout.

Special Skills and Qualifications

Another prerequisite for earning a judgeship is a diverse portfolio of legal experience. A judge must work as an attorney for about 15 years before being considered for a judgeship. Common specialization fields for a lawyer are immigration law, civil rights law, tax law, corporate law, environmental law, and intellectual property law. Choose a field you are enthusiastic about.

Spend a lot of time in a courtroom so you can become uniquely knowledgeable regarding the legal process. Understanding the judge presiding over the trial or hearing, the way lawyers interact, and your own interaction with the jury, is vital experience.

Once You Have Experience, How Do You Apply?

Aside from the introductory training programs or seminars you will be required to take upon appointment or election to your judgeship, applying is the final step. Depending on the type of judge you want to be, you may have to be elected rather than appointed. In some scenarios, a person will be temporarily appointed with the understanding they will run for the position as a sitting judge.

Federal, state, and local judges generally have a renewable term, though some federal judges are appointed and undertake life-long service.