Jack Taylor for The Times
Legal executives should be allowed to apply for all levels of judicial post, their professional body said yesterday, claiming that the move would rapidly increase diversity on the bench.
The call from the president of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives came after a report last week into the experiences of people from ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system.
The report, written by the Labour MP and barrister David Lammy, highlighted a need for more ethnic minority judges in the UK.
Legal executives are eligible to apply for judicial roles up to the level of district judge. The institute said that ceiling “puts them at a disadvantage to their solicitor and barrister counterparts who are eligible to apply for more senior roles from the outset”.
Millicent Grant, the institute’s president, said: “The profession I lead is committed to finding systemic solutions to the problems our justice system faces.”
She added that legal executives “are the most diverse group of lawyers in the UK”, pointing out that three-quarters were women and a third of students were from ethnic minority backgrounds.
However, legal executives “are the least represented group among the judiciary”, she said, blaming “outdated assumptions” and “a glass ceiling that prevents lawyers like me applying for senior judicial roles”.
“The government needs to scrap this unjustified barrier and take other practical steps if it is to have any hope of achieving a judiciary that is more reflective of the society it serves.”