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Career As A Judge

Who is a Judge?

Judge is the highest and the most respected position in the legal/ judicial system of India. Judges are impartial decision-makers in the pursuit of justice and they rule on questions of law, act as a referee between the litigating parties and renders decisions in legal disputes.

A Judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone, with a panel of judges or a jury, depending on the jurisdiction. A Judge hold more administrative power and are responsible for handling criminal cases, federal cases, constitutional cases and high priority cases. The judge is expected to hear all witnesses, view all evidences, access the arguments by the prosecutor and the defendant, and form an opinion and give a verdict.

What does a Judge do?

Judges typically do the following:

Research legal issues

Read and evaluate information from documents such as motions, claim applications, or records

Preside over hearings and listen to or read arguments by opposing parties

Determine if the information presented supports the charge, claim, or dispute

Decide if the procedure is being conducted according to the rules and law

Analyze, research, and apply laws, regulations, or precedents to reach judgments, conclusions, or agreements

Write opinions, decisions, or instructions regarding the case, claim, or dispute

Judges commonly preside over trials or hearings of cases regarding nearly every aspect of society, from individual traffic offences to issues concerning the rights of large corporations. They listen to arguments and determine whether the evidence presented deserves a trial. In criminal cases, they may decide that people charged with crimes should be held in jail until the trial, or they may set conditions for their release. They also approve search and arrest warrants.

Judges interpret the law to determine how a trial will proceed, which is particularly important when unusual circumstances arise for which standard procedures have not been established. They ensure that hearings and trials are conducted fairly and the legal rights of all involved parties are protected.

In trials in which juries are selected to decide the case, judges instruct jurors on applicable laws and direct them to consider the facts from the evidence. For other trials, judges decide the case.

A judge who determines guilt in criminal cases may impose a sentence or penalty on the guilty party. In civil cases, the judge may award relief, such as compensation for damages, to the parties who win the lawsuit. Some judges, such as appellate court judges, review decisions and records made by lower courts, and make decisions based on lawyers’ written and oral arguments.

Judges use various forms of technology, such as electronic databases and software, to manage cases and prepare for trials. In some cases, they also may manage the court’s administrative and clerical staff.

Types of Judges

  • Federal District Court Judges – Judges for the federal trial court.

  • Federal Magistrate Judges – Special federal court judges who hear certain pre-trial and post-trial matters.

  • Federal Circuit Court Judges – Appellate judges on the appellate courts for all of the district courts within its geographic jurisdiction (judicial circuit).

  • Supreme Court Justices – Justices (judges) who sit on the highest appellate court in the Indian legal system.

Judges for Special Article I Courts

  • Federal Administrative Judges – Judges that preside over the various legislative (administrative) courts established by congress, such as the Tax Court.

  • Specialty Court Judges – Judges that preside over the various special courts designed by Congress under Congress, such as bankruptcy courts and courts-martial.

  • Municipal Court Judges – Judges presiding over municipal hearings to enforce city or municipal ordinances.

  • State Magistrate Judges – Specialty court judges who preside over county or small claims courts. They also serve the function of granting warrants, holding probable cause hearings, and presiding over initial appearances.

  • Intermediate State Court Trial Judges – Judges who preside over special trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

  • Superior Court Judges – Judges who preside over trial courts of general jurisdiction.

  • State Appellate Court Judges – Appellate judges who hear appeals from trial courts within its geographic jurisdiction.

  • State Supreme Court Justices – Appellate judges (Justices) sitting in the highest appellate court in the state.

  • State Administrative Judges – Judges presiding over the administrative agencies created by the state legislature.

  • Specialty Court Judges – Judges presiding over special courts designated by the state constitution or legislature. Special court judges may include: family court judges, probate court judges, and masters in equity.

Some jurisdictions may have special names, designations, qualifications, etc., for judges presiding over a specific court.

Workplace and Environment of a Judge:

Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers held about 15,200 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals


Federal government


Local government, excluding education and hospitals


Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates held about 29,800 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals


Local government, excluding education and hospitals


Judges and hearing officers do most of their work in offices and courtrooms. Their jobs can be demanding, because they must sit in the same position in the court or hearing room for long periods and give undivided attention to the process.

Some judges and hearing officers may be required to travel to different counties and courthouses throughout their state.

The work may be stressful as judges and hearing officers sometimes work with difficult or confrontational individuals.

Work Schedules

Some courthouses have evening and weekend hours. In addition, judges may have to be on call during nights or weekends to issue emergency orders, such as search warrants and restraining orders.

Knowledge Areas to be Acquired

  • Logic and reasoning skills: Judges must possess excellent logical reasoning, analytical, and decision-making skills to analyze a complex case and statutory law and render sound legal decisions.

  • Legal knowledge: Thorough knowledge of criminal and civil procedures, jurisdictional rules, and the court system is critical.

  • Writing skills: Top-notch writing ability is necessary to draft clear, concise, and well-researched opinions, bench memoranda, and other legal documents.

  • Mediation skills: Excellent mediation skills are necessary to resolve discovery disputes and promote a settlement between the parties.


Legal Skills

Knowledge of the law, and particularly of trial law, is the most basic skill needed to become a judge.

Interpersonal Skills

Judges need strong interpersonal skills to effectively oversee complex cases involving adversarial lawyers and powerful emotions among all concerned parties. They need to be able to control a courtroom when a situation becomes intense, and they need to be able to make tough decisions in such a way that their authority and fairness are respected even by those who may be adversely affected by their rulings. For instance, if a prosecutor applying for a judicial appointment receives strong recommendations from the defence attorneys who have faced her in court, the commission takes this as evidence that she has the interpersonal skills needed to be an effective judge.


Impartiality is not simply a character trait or a matter of temperament, but the skill of being able to recognize your own prejudices so you are not unduly swayed by them. As a judge, you may be responsible for a case with life-changing implications for an individual you find personally distasteful. Unless you have the self-awareness needed to recognize your own prejudice against that person, your decision could reflect your personal biases instead of serving justice in the case.

A Typical Workday

There are many different kinds of judges, from traffic court judges through supreme court judges. While their duties may differ in the types of cases they see on a daily basis, their basic duties are all the same, from sitting on the bench to drafting orders and making decisions.

District Court Judges

Judges of the lower tribunal courts, such as traffic court, family law court, felony court, probate court and civil courts all sit on the bench (preside over trials and hearings) almost every day. A probate court judge may not see as many trials as a family law judge or a felony court (criminal court) judge, depending on the jurisdiction of the court.

Judges will normally schedule hearings during a certain time of the day, then reserve part of the day to draft orders. If the particular venue uses general magistrates, they will draft a Report and Recommendations of General Magistrate, which is then sent to the division judge. He then reviews the document and drafts an Order on Report and Recommendations of the General Magistrate.

Some courts, usually family law courts, have an uncontested docket. Judges usually schedule these at a certain time of the day, and usually only on certain days of the week. The uncontested docket is used to "prove up" a divorce when there is a signed settlement agreement and no trial is needed.

High Court Judges

Appellate court judges have the same duties as the lower tribunal court judges, but they must also review lower court decisions and may have to do additional research regarding the outcome of the lower court. The appellate court judge then decides whether to overturn the lower court's ruling by reversing and remanding, or it may agree with the lower court. Either way, the appellate court judge must then write her opinion, which is an appellate court order.

Supreme Court Judges

Again, supreme court judges have the same duties as other judges, but their cases are carefully selected. There are only certain cases that the supreme court (of the United States) will take, and they all have to do with federal statutes or constitutional issues. Supreme court judges do more research than any other type of judge. While their opinions are not necessarily longer, their cases are more difficult.

Every judge sits on the bench. Whether it be daily or weekly, depends on how many hearings and trials are scheduled, and the length of the hearings and trials. They all must do some legal research on issues brought before the court, particularly if the research the attorneys bring is not sufficient enough for the judge to make his decision. They all write opinions or orders on the cases.

Personality Traits

Judges have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

A judge should possess excellent spirit and work on new techniques and strategies for serving the country and also work for the development of the country. There are certain personal skills that are important for the judges including personal honesty and sense of responsibility, impartiality, courtesy, mercy, patience, commitment and self-confidence. Judges often have the ability to work hard as they have to work at speed and under pressure. Excellent public speaking, logical reasoning, analytical, decision-making, debating skills are the other key skills required for the judges to analyze complex cases and to deliver sound legal decisions. Judges must strive for the highest standards of integrity in both their professional and personal lives.

Procedure to become a Judge in India

In order to become a Judge, one has to qualify the Judicial Service Examination conducted annually by Public Service Commission of the respective States. For appearing in this exam, one must hold a legal degree from a recognized university or institution and must have enrolled as an advocate with membership in the state bar council. The age limit for appearing however, may vary from State to State.

Judicial Services Examination

Judicial Service Preliminary Examination is held in two successive stages namely Judicial Service Preliminary Examination and Judicial Service Main Examination. The Preliminary Exam comprises objective type questions. The Preliminary Examination is conducted only for the purpose of short-listing candidates for the Main Examination (written).

The marks obtained by the candidates in the Preliminary Examination will not be counted for the purpose of determining the final merit list. The Final merit list will be prepared on the basis of total marks obtained in the Main Examination and the Viva-Voce Test. The percentage of qualifying marks in preliminary exams and the scheme and syllabus of both Preliminary and Main Examination may vary from state to state.

The marks obtained in the Viva-voce will be added to the marks obtained in the Main Examination (Written) and the candidate’s position will depend on the aggregate of both.

Only those candidates who have qualified in the Judicial Service Examination are eligible for the post of a Judge.


The Constitution of India is endowed with three-tier judicial system, which involves Supreme Court of India, The High Courts in the States and Subordinate Courts. So, the constitution of India requires that the appointment of Judges must be from amongst the members of the Bar at all these three levels.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and 30 other Judges and they are appointed by the President of India. Chief Justice is the highest-ranking and the senior most judge in the Supreme Court of India, and thus holds the highest judicial position in India. The President appoints the Chief Justice of Supreme Court after consultation with other judges of the Supreme Court and High courts.

To be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, a person must :

be a citizen of India

have been a Judge of a high court for at least five years or two or more such courts in succession, or

an advocate of a high court or of two or more such courts in succession for at least 10 years or

be a distinguished jurist, in the opinion of the president

The judges of the Supreme Court hold office until they attain the age of 65 years.

High Court

Every judge in a High Court are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the state and the Chief Justice of the High Court. For appointing the Chief justice of High Court, the President consults with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor. The number of judges in the court is decided by dividing the average institution of main cases during the last five years by the national average, or the average rate of disposal of main cases per judge per year in that High Court, whichever is higher.

To be eligible to become a Judge in the High Court, a person should have held a Judicial Office in India for 10 years or has experience of 10 years practice, as an advocate in a High Court or of two or more such courts in succession.

The judges of the High Court hold office until he attains the age of 62 years.

District Court

Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a District and Sessions Judge. He is known as a District Judge when he presides over a civil case, and a Sessions Judge when he presides over a criminal case. He is the highest judicial authority below a High Court judge. In addition to the district judge there may be number of Additional District Judges and Assistant District Judges depending on the workload. They are known by different names in different states.

The district court has appellate jurisdiction over all subordinate courts situated in the district on both civil and criminal matters. Subordinate courts, on the civil side (in ascending order) are, Junior Civil Judge Court, Principal Junior Civil Judge Court, Senior Civil Judge Court (also called sub-court). Subordinate courts, on the criminal side (in ascending order) are, Second Class Judicial Magistrate Court, First Class Judicial Magistrate Court, Chief Judicial Magistrate Court.

The judges of district courts are appointed by the Governor after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned State. The necessary qualification to become a district judge is minimum seven years of practice as an advocate or a pleader.

District judges are also appointed by way of elevation of judges from courts subordinate to district courts provided they fulfill the minimum years of service.

Magistrates / Munsiff

Magistrates are appointed by Central or State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned State.

Job Outlook

Overall employment for judges is projected to grow slower than average, but varies by specialty. Although caseloads are increasing, budgetary issues may limit judicial hiring.

Most job opportunities will arise through judicial retirement, promotion to higher judicial offices, and the creation of new judgeships as authorized by law. Candidates with law degrees, legal experience, and excellent academic credentials will find greater employment opportunities.

According to some Statistics, the job growth outlook for all judge occupations between 2016 and 2026 ranges from 4% to 6%, driven by budgetary constraints that limit the number of available jobs. This growth rate compares to the projected 7% growth for all occupations.

The prestige associated with becoming a judge, and the fact that many need to be elected or nominated into the position, also ensure continued competition for these positions.


Salary of Supreme Court Judges

The salary payable to a Supreme Court Judge was previously, specified in the Constitution in Article 125(1) and the Second Schedule. However, through the 54th Constitutional-Amendment, Parliament has gained the power to determine the salaries of Supreme Court Judges by law. Parliament also has the authority to determine questions relating to the privileges, allowances, etc., for these Judges.

None of these can, however, be varied by Parliament to the disadvantage of a Judge after his appointment to the Court. These matters are now regulated by the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.

At present, the salary of Chief Justice of India is Rs 2,80,000/- per mensem (month). While, on the other hand, the Supreme Court Judges are entitled to a salary of Rs 2,50,000/- per mensem. In addition to the salary, the Judges are also provided with allowances, for example, travelling, leave, sumptuary, etc. Post-retirement perks are also provided to Supreme Court judges accordingly.

Salary of High Court Judges

Parliament has the authority to determine the salary of the High Court Judges by law. Until such provision is made for the purpose, salaries are provided as of under the Second Schedule of the Constitution. Further, Parliament is empowered to determine by law matters of allowances, rights in respect of leave of absence and pension.

Parliament may regulate these matters from time to time but never to the disadvantage of a Judge after his appointment. The rights of a Chief Justice of a High Court to receive a pension and other benefits, cannot be altered to his disadvantage, after his appointment. Currently, the salary of judges in the High Court is provided under the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954. According to the latest amendment, the salary of Chief Justice of High Courts is fixed at Rs 2,50,000/- per mensem. Likewise, the high court judges are entitled to a salary of Rs 2,25,000/- per mensem. The High court judges are also provided all those amenities which are provided to the Supreme Court judges accordingly.

Salary of Subordinate Court Judges

The last hike of salaries to the subordinate judges took place in 2018 which was done on an interim basis through an order of the Supreme Court. Here the Supreme Court accepted the suggestions of Second National Judicial Pay Commission. The commission proposed a hike of 30% to the basic salary amount. This was accepted by the Supreme Court and implemented in All India Judges Association vs. Union of India[8] on March 27, 2018.

The old entry-level salary for a junior civil judge was around Rs 45,000 per month, while a senior judge got Rs 80,000 approximately. The salary of a judge cannot be altered, to his disadvantage, during their term except for in the case of a financial emergency in the country. However, the perks and benefits provided additionally to the judges on subordinate level vary from state to state. Allowances are provided to them in a similar manner.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How many hours do judges work?

Work in these occupations presents few hazards, although sitting in the same position in the courtroom for long periods can be tiring. Most judges wear robes when they are in a courtroom. Judges typically work a standard 40-hour week, but many work more than 50 hours per week.

How to become a judge in India after completing LLB?

Method 1: Direct Recruitment: Every State Bar Council for a frequent period will issue a notification for selection of Junior Civil Judge by qualifying examination conducted by State Bar Council of concern one can become Junior Civil Judge. Eligibility will be as per the Advocates Act and Bar council of India.

Method 2: This is the selection of the Junior Civil Judge based on the no. of years of experience at Bar and conducting exam thereafter.

Method 3: Internal Section: For those already in the Judicial service by promotion or Deputation or through departmental examination. For example: Court Managers, Registers, etc. working in the court concern are can be selected for Junior Civil Judge.

What is it like to become a judge in India?

  • Social Status: A judge has tremendous social standing in the society. The respect and influence is parallel to an MLA or Minister in State Govt if you are a judge in lower judiciary and it increases with every promotion such as when you are JM, then CJM, then District Judge. And if in HC as a judge, then it is at par with Governor of State and CM. And Supreme Court judge is parallel to the highest hierarchy of central govt. in power and prestige. If you become a judge at 27–28 age then there are quite high chances of elevation to High Court. Plus, you are given high social status till 65 years of age when you retire and then retirement benefits aplenty. Retired judges are given postings in tribunals, governorship, commissions to serve the country as long as possible. Judges are extremely dedicated to the cause of justice and righteousness. As an advocate I have found them to be fair, neutral and just.

  • Salary and Powers: Salary of judges is greater than civil servants as they are holders of public office and are not employees of State like IAS. They directly exercise sovereign powers of the state as judges. That's why they are called My Lord, or Lordships, as in ancient times it was the function of the sovereign king to dispense justice. Even IAS is not called Lord, but called only a public servant.

  • They can affix the word Justice in front of their name. Such as Hon’ble Justice Shri T.S. Thakur, Supreme Court of India.

  • Immunity from FIR and Police Investigation, Politicians: In other words, as a judge, no policeman, politician, or CBI can even touch you as the govt is not allowed to interfere with justice dispensation by pressurizing a judge. Police can't arrest a judge as judges have immunity under law. Politician can't transfer judges like they transfer IAS officers as a judge doesn't work for government but is an independent entity. This kind of protection should be given to IAS so that they are not scared by politicians and so that they uphold rule of law effectively and are true to the Constitution.

How is the life of a district judge in India?

His honour or her honour may be either a JMFC i.e. a magistrate or a civil and sessions judge. As one of the most powerful jurists in his other district the judge decides on important criminal cases and influential civil cases. Some sessions judges have a bungalow provided by the state or rented on their behalf by the state, a car, a driver, servants and a lot more. Even if a judge tries a single special case on behalf of the center the judge is entitled to benefits provided by the center which are much more than state benefits. They work usually from 11–6 pm from Mondays to Saturdays with normally second Saturdays off for civil affairs. They normally are members of clubs (local) and have their own district affairs hobnobbing with collectors, supdt of police etc. Their life is much better than session judges in cities.

What Are the advantages and disadvantages of being a Judge?

Authority and Responsibility

Each judge exercises complete control over the conduct of cases, an advantage for any professional. She manages the calendar and referees every stage of a trial from pre-trial motions and jury selection to sentencing arguments. That power can help ensure that cases move on a timely basis but it also puts pressure on the judge to schedule, listen, and rule according to the law and with impartiality. Judges know that ultimate authority brings with it the burden of responsibility, competent administration and the possibility, however remote, of making a bad call that could cause a defendant to lose a livelihood or worse.

Job Security and Demands

Although federal judge appointments last as long as a judge cares to serve, many judges must campaign for election. Once elected, though, judges tend to be re-elected easily unless they serve in a highly competitive jurisdiction or make egregious behavioral or procedural mistakes. With this job security, judges have to guard against the myth of omniscience. Because the law is constantly changing, a judge can never assume supreme competence. He must familiarize himself with current appellate court decisions and participate in continuing legal and judicial education, not only to keep up with new precedents but also to justify the trust that has been placed in him and keep up with practicing attorneys

Respect and Scrutiny

The gavel, the robe, the elevated bench -- all set the judge apart from other parties in a courtroom. The respect due a judge -- and a jury -- is a necessary element of the justice system. Judges must also work, through the competent, impartial, independent and courageous practice of their duties, to justify that respect. Even after a judge retires, she represents the entire occupation. The drawback is that she is subject to public scrutiny in her personal life, as well as her professional activities. In a small community, this scrutiny can extend to unexpected situations -- in church, at the grocery store or the local pizza joint -- creating the expectation of uniformly ethical behaviour.

Crowning Achievement or Dead End

Appointment or election to a judgeship typically crowns a career in the law. Although some trial judges may ascend to appellate or higher benches, there’s not much room at the top. Judges can always return to the practice of law if they are attorneys or teach at a law school. Other options include work as a mediator or service as a reserve or administrative judge. There are, however, few positions that carry the authority and responsibility that even a municipal judge enjoys.

Is Law an art or a science?

It’s a little bit of both—which creates huge, future opportunities for coders and lawyers alike. Contract provisions should be coded, so lawyers don’t need to redraft language every single time for repetitive transactions--and so we can understand what’s normative and industry-standard, leading to fairer, more efficient and more consistent outcomes. Similarly, high-quality technological solutions should make available DIY solutions for straightforward, low-value transactions. Finally, online marketplaces and other technology-based tools should increase transparency regarding what lawyers charge for various services, so consumers of legal services aren’t, literally, blind about cost and value.

None of this obviates the need for lawyers. In fact, it’s extremely exciting for the future of the profession.

What are the related degree options for a Judge?

People interested in a judicial career also consider the following career paths:

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators


Private Detectives and Investigators

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