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There is a lack of diversity on bench, points out top solicitor judge

12th Apr 2017

There is a ‘dearth of solicitors’ sitting in the country’s top courts, according to the second solicitor to be appointed to the Court of Appeal.

A ‘failure to recognise’ what solicitors could bring to the bench was pointed out by Lord Justice Gary Hickinbottom.

The comment came during last saturday’s annual conference of The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division.

‘Solicitors would and do make a valuable contribution to the bench. The judiciary would benefit from having more solicitors who are able to offer a different skill set and bring different life experience,’ he said.

The judge, who previously worked for McKenna & Co, now part of international firm CMS Cameron McKenna, became only the second solicitor appointed to the Court of Appeal in September last year. He also became only the fourth solicitor to be appointed as a High Court judge in 2008.

It is difficult for solicitors to take on the role of judge, Hickinbottom has said. He suggests that this difficulty is down to a combination of contributing factors, including pressure from firms and a reluctance to let go of solicitors.

In response to the media’s attacks on judges following the Article 50 ruling by the High Court, he continued to say that the reports were ‘personal, unfair and ill informed’.

‘More seriously though, in my opinion, they sought to challenge the rule of law,’ he continued.