Becoming a Judge

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Knock
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Becoming a Judge

Postby Knock » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:02 pm

What is the career path that takes one into becoming a judge? How competitive is it?

What do judges do on a daily basis? and what kind of salary do they make?

Anything else you wish to add would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Kobe_Teeth
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:06 pm

It seems like the avg is a couple hundred grand or better.

If its not extremely competitive then its extremely political. The two differ slightly.

legends159
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby legends159 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:10 pm

federal or state?

federal--appointed by president. You will need to do stuff that gets you recognized by people in the executive branch. High profile stuff like working for the state AG or as an AUSA will help a lot.

state--election. You will need to know people in the political parties to help you campaign

I think you can apply to be a magistrate judge b/c those are Article I judges that are created by Congress so it's like applying for a job. Doing a good job as one could very well help land you a career as being a federal judge b/c it gets you recognized.

the salary is good but biglaw is more. Very few ppl do it for the money. Though I have met a few COA judges who were previously doing small-town law before being nominated and got a pay bump. Most clerks of federal judges end up making more than the judges do after their clerkship.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:17 pm

Kobe_Teeth wrote:It seems like the avg is a couple hundred grand or better.


The average is not "a couple hundred grand or better." It's probably in the low 100s.

John Roberts makes $223,500/year, the associate justices make $208,100. These are the highest paid members of the federal or state judiciaries. COA and District judges make mid-high 100s. New York State trial judges make $136,700. Local judges make less.

As for how competitive it is, the answer varies significantly. To become a state judge in a less populous state, probably not "competitive" as much as political. To become a federal judge, extremely competitive. T14 and law review are pretty much required to have any sort of shot, plus a track record in practice before getting appointed. Political connections help too.

You don't really get on a "career path to be a judge." Rather, you build a very successful career in an area of practice, and get recognized by being appointed by a judge.

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jks289
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby jks289 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:18 pm

Kobe_Teeth wrote:It seems like the avg is a couple hundred grand or better.

If its not extremely competitive then its extremely political. The two differ slightly.


This isn't quite right. They are paid like any other government employee. Between 120,00-160,000 or so. And it can be political depending on the specific position, but a most of time it is a combination of timing, luck, and credentials.

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby Mr. Pablo » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:19 pm

Not all states have elected judges. I know that in RI, for example, judges are appointed by the Governor.

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jks289
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby jks289 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:20 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Kobe_Teeth wrote:It seems like the avg is a couple hundred grand or better.


The average is not "a couple hundred grand or better." It's probably in the low 100s.

John Roberts makes $223,500/year, the associate justices make $208,100. These are the highest paid members of the federal or state judiciaries. COA and District judges make mid-high 100s. New York State trial judges make $136,700. Local judges make less.

As for how competitive it is, the answer varies significantly. To become a state judge in a less populous state, probably not "competitive" as much as political. To become a federal judge, extremely competitive. T14 and law review are pretty much required to have any sort of shot, plus a track record in practice before getting appointed. Political connections help too.

You don't really get on a "career path to be a judge." Rather, you build a very successful career in an area of practice, and get recognized by being appointed by a judge.


The one benefit in terms of salary is that federal judges who hit 63 or x years of service, receive full pay plus cost of living adjustments for the rest of their lives. Even if they retire and go onto a second career.

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby Mr. Pablo » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:27 pm

The lifetime paycheck is the a real gem, isn't it?

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kings84_wr
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby kings84_wr » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:33 pm

This is just from memory but one of my profs said that prosecutors have a significantly higher rate then any other employment in becoming judges.

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Xnegd
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby Xnegd » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:41 pm

Knockglock wrote:What is the career path that takes one into becoming a judge? How competitive is it?

What do judges do on a daily basis? and what kind of salary do they make?

Anything else you wish to add would be appreciated.

Thanks.


It's al politics. My boss' Brother is currently up for a Federal Nomination. He was blocked because he helped the ACLU on a racial based rape case 25 years ago, and some Senator from like Kansas or Iowa refused to accept him nomination based on the fact that "he has tied to the ultra radical ACLU." He's currently up for re-nomination, but he'll probably be blocked again. I was really upset, but no one else was, as if they weren't at all surprised.

A couple partners at my firm also got Federal nominations, but they raised Mad Bank for Obama in California. Most of the local state/city judges I know were Corporate Lawyers here at the firm. It's funny, before they become judges here they were billing corporate machines, yet once they go their robes, they profess their undying hatred of Big Law to every paper that would interview them. This probably means it's all politics at the local level too.

LjakW
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby LjakW » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:54 pm

legends159 wrote:federal--appointed by president. You will need to do stuff that gets you recognized by people in the executive branch. High profile stuff like working for the state AG or as an AUSA will help a lot.

Although the President does the official nominating, this is almost exclusively done on recommendation of senators. So if you want to be an Article III judge, you should find favor in your Senators' eyes.

dreman510
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby dreman510 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:56 pm

Aside from pay, arent the more prestigious judges paid significant $$$ for speaking engagements, consulting (although when they retire I guess), or writing articles?

imchuckbass58
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:33 am

dreman510 wrote:Aside from pay, arent the more prestigious judges paid significant $$$ for speaking engagements, consulting (although when they retire I guess), or writing articles?


I'm pretty sure they can only take money for that when they retire. It's a pretty big conflict of interest/ethics violation to do so as an active and/or senior judge.

dreman510
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby dreman510 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:39 am

imchuckbass58 wrote:
dreman510 wrote:Aside from pay, arent the more prestigious judges paid significant $$$ for speaking engagements, consulting (although when they retire I guess), or writing articles?


I'm pretty sure they can only take money for that when they retire. It's a pretty big conflict of interest/ethics violation to do so as an active and/or senior judge.

Active judges dont speak at graduations, etc? Dont they get paid for that?

imchuckbass58
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:29 pm

dreman510 wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:
dreman510 wrote:Aside from pay, arent the more prestigious judges paid significant $$$ for speaking engagements, consulting (although when they retire I guess), or writing articles?


I'm pretty sure they can only take money for that when they retire. It's a pretty big conflict of interest/ethics violation to do so as an active and/or senior judge.

Active judges dont speak at graduations, etc? Dont they get paid for that?


They do speak, but I imagine they don't get paid (though I might be wrong). My undergrad never paid its graduation speakers (aside from covering travel expenses) - usually it's just alums who are loyal to the school.

As for writing articles you definitely do not get paid for that, and it would be pretty skeezy for an active judge to "consult" (i.e., practice law).

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ozarkhack
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby ozarkhack » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:38 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Kobe_Teeth wrote:It seems like the avg is a couple hundred grand or better.


The average is not "a couple hundred grand or better." It's probably in the low 100s.

John Roberts makes $223,500/year, the associate justices make $208,100. These are the highest paid members of the federal or state judiciaries. COA and District judges make mid-high 100s. New York State trial judges make $136,700. Local judges make less.

As for how competitive it is, the answer varies significantly. To become a state judge in a less populous state, probably not "competitive" as much as political. To become a federal judge, extremely competitive. T14 and law review are pretty much required to have any sort of shot, plus a track record in practice before getting appointed. Political connections help too.

You don't really get on a "career path to be a judge." Rather, you build a very successful career in an area of practice, and get recognized by being appointed by a judge.


T14 certainly helps. But, like all parts of the system, the federal judiciary has its share of lower-tier grads. Don't know how small of a percentage, assume it's small. But in Arkansas, for one, nearly half of eastern district judgeships are held by UA-Little Rock grads.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:27 am

There's no per se credential check for federal judges other than being deemed "well qualified" by the ABA. That's a pretty low threshold in practice and has nothing to do with school or firm/current court prestige. The remainder of the process is highly political. You probably don't want to be borderline for normal character & fitness purposes or tend to not pay the IRS. That's about all you can control that matters.

Elections are entirely political with pretty much nothing to do with merit. Being a DA helps because most people don't believe that criminals have rights, let alone should get off. I've seen DA's who everyone knows are actually quite reasonable or even social liberals run as "tough on crime" just by virtue of being a DA and win handily.

State appointments can be more political than federal (because there's less transparency and process) and are almost entirely dependent on how well you get along with the governor and his machine.

HBK
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby HBK » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:36 am

I spoke with a judge for a while at a reception. I asked him why he wanted to be a judge. He said it was partly because of the hours. He works like six hours a day and has more time to spend with his kids.

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SteelReserve
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Re: Becoming a Judge

Postby SteelReserve » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:50 pm

The average is not "a couple hundred grand or better." It's probably in the low 100s.

John Roberts makes $223,500/year, the associate justices make $208,100. These are the highest paid members of the federal or state judiciaries. COA and District judges make mid-high 100s. New York State trial judges make $136,700. Local judges make less.

As for how competitive it is, the answer varies significantly. To become a state judge in a less populous state, probably not "competitive" as much as political. To become a federal judge, extremely competitive. T14 and law review are pretty much required to have any sort of shot, plus a track record in practice before getting appointed. Political connections help too.

You don't really get on a "career path to be a judge." Rather, you build a very successful career in an area of practice, and get recognized by being appointed by a judge.


Your post is very thorough and accurate, but I did want to clarify one point that is not accurate, specifically, suggesting that T14 and law review are pretty much required to have a shot as a federal judge.

This holds true for the Supreme Court and only a bit for Court of Appeals, but it does not hold true at all for the district court. Anyone can search the court in their own state to look at the backgrounds of the judges to confirm this point. Let's keep T14 or bust to where it belongs--for biglaw and to a lesser extent for federal clerkships.

As you noted, becoming a judge is about having an ethically unblemished and respectable legal career, while also becoming heavily involved in politics.




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