Judges preside over, review and handle court cases, hearings, appeals, and trials. They ensure that court procedures conform to conventional legal processes and review evidence and juries. Judges preside over cases involving such areas as crime, family issues, civil law, small claims, and juvenile offenses.

Here are some of the typical tasks performed by judges:

  • Preside over court hearings, trials, and proceedings, ensuring they are conducted in accordance with legal procedures and rules of evidence.
  • Listen to arguments and presentations from attorneys, witnesses, and litigants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the case.
  • Interpret and apply the law to make decisions and rulings based on the facts presented during the trial or hearing.
  • Ensure that the legal rights of all parties involved are protected and that each party has a fair opportunity to present their case.
  • Issue court orders and rulings, such as granting or denying motions, admitting or excluding evidence, and instructing the jury on legal principles.
  • Evaluate the credibility and reliability of witnesses and evidence presented during the trial to arrive at well-founded conclusions.
  • Rule on matters of law, including constitutional issues, statutory interpretations, and precedent, to guide the course of the trial or appeal.
  • Manage the trial process, including setting schedules, hearing motions, and overseeing the selection of jurors.
  • Review written briefs and legal arguments submitted by attorneys in appellate courts to make informed decisions on appeal cases.
  • Conduct legal research to ensure a comprehensive understanding of complex legal issues and precedents relevant to the case.
  • Collaborate with other judges and court staff to streamline court processes and improve the efficiency of the judicial system.
  • Maintain impartiality and avoid conflicts of interest, ensuring that decisions are made solely based on the law and evidence presented.
  • Uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and equal protection under the law in all aspects of the judicial process.
  • Issue sentences and rulings that align with the legal framework and consider the best interests of society and the affected parties.
  • Stay informed about changes in the law and legal developments to ensure accurate and up-to-date legal interpretations and decisions.
  • Participate in judicial conferences and continuing education programs to enhance knowledge and skills in judicial practice.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to judge:

investigating magistrate
deputy circuit judge
district judge
circuit judge
high court judge
family court judge
inquisitorial magistrate
youth court judge
examining magistrate
appeal court judge

Working conditions

Judges typically work in courtrooms, which are formal and professional settings. They may preside over multiple cases each day and handle complex legal issues and emotionally charged situations. The workload may vary, depending on the type of court and the number of cases pending. Judges may work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to manage court dockets and meet legal deadlines.

Minimum qualifications

To become a judge, individuals typically need to obtain a law degree (Juris Doctor) and be licensed to practice law in their jurisdiction. Many judges have significant experience as attorneys, gaining valuable legal knowledge and courtroom experience before being appointed or elected to the bench. Becoming a judge often involves a combination of legal experience, demonstrated competence, and appointment or election processes specific to each jurisdiction’s legal system.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Judge is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Judge career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to judge.

supreme court judge
justice of the peace
court jury coordinator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of judge.

  • Civil law: The legal rules and their applications used in disputes between different parties.
  • Legal terminology: The special terms and phrases used in the field of law.
  • Court procedures: The regulations which are in place during the investigation of a court case and during a court hearing, and of how these events occur.
  • Civil process order: The legal procedures and standards that courts follow in civil lawsuits.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of judge.

  • Supervise court hearings: Supervise the procedures during a court hearing to ensure they are compliant with regulations, occur in an orderly and honest manner, and to ensure that no moral or ethical boundaries are crossed during questioning or the presentation of legal arguments.
  • Show responsibility: Accept responsibility and be accountable for professional decisions of yourself or others as part of a job or one’s role.
  • Show impartiality: Perform duties for disputing parties or clients based on objective criteria and methods, disregarding prejudice or bias, to make or facilitate objective decisions and outcomes.
  • Maintain court order: Ensure that order and is kept in court during a hearing.
  • Hear legal arguments: Hear legal arguments presented during a court hearing or other context in which legal cases are handled and decided upon, in a manner which provides both sides equal opportunity to present their arguments, and making a decision based on the arguments in an honest and impartial manner.
  • Interpret law: Interpret the law during the investigation of a case in order to know the correct procedures in handling the case, the specific status of the case and the parties involved, the possible outcomes, and how to present the best arguments for the most favourable outcome.
  • Observe confidentiality: Observe the set of rules establishing the nondisclosure of information except to another authorised person.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of judge. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Criminology: The study of criminal behaviour, such as its causes and nature, its consequences, and control and prevention methods.
  • Family law: The legal rules that govern family-related disputes between individuals such as marriages, child adoption, civil unions, etc.
  • Law enforcement: The different organisations involved in law enforcement, as well as the laws and regulations in law enforcement procedures.
  • Contract law: The field of legal principles that govern written agreements between parties concerning the exchange of goods or services, including contractual obligations and termination.
  • Legal case management: The procedures of a legal case from opening to closing, such as the documentation that needs to be prepared and handled, the people involved in different stages of the case, and the requirements that need to be met before the case can be closed.
  • Juvenile detention: The legislation and procedures involving correctional activities in juvenile correctional facilities, and how to adapt correctional procedures to comply with juvenile detention procedures.
  • Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.
  • Legal research: The methods and procedures of research in legal matters, such as the regulations, and different approaches to analyses and source gathering, and the knowledge on how to adapt the research methodology to a specific case to obtain the required information.
  • Correctional procedures: Tthe legal regulations and policies concerning the operations of correctional facilities, and other correctional procedures.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of judge. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Make legal decisions: Make decisions in legal cases in order to reach an official conclusion which has to be enforced, creating a decision which is legally binding for the parties involved in the case.
  • Compile legal documents: Compile and collect legal documents from a specific case in order to aid an investigation or for a court hearing, in a manner compliant with legal regulations and ensuring records are properly maintained.
  • Analyse legal evidence: Analyse evidence, such as evidence in criminal cases, legal documentation regarding a case, or other documentation that can be regarded as evidence, in order to obtain a clear image of the case and reach resolutions.
  • Present arguments persuasively: Present arguments during a negotiation or debate, or in written form, in a persuasive manner in order to obtain the most support for the case the speaker or writer represents.
  • Think analytically: Produce thoughts using logic and reasoning in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Ensure sentence execution: Ensure, by contacting the parties involved and monitoring and handling progress and follow-up documentation, that legal sentences are followed as they were issued, such as ensuring that fines are paid, goods are confiscated or returned, and offenders are detained in the appropriate facility.
  • Present legal arguments: Present legal arguments during a court hearing or during negotiations, or in written form after a trial concerning its outcome and sentence, in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for the client or to ensure the decision is followed. Present these arguments in a manner that is compliant with regulations and guidelines and adapted to the specifications of the case.
  • Moderate in negotiations: Oversee negotiations between two parties as a neutral witness to ensure that the negotiations occur in a friendly and productive manner, that a compromise is reached, and that everything is compliant with legal regulations.
  • Facilitate official agreement: Facilitate an official agreement between two disputing parties, ensuring that both parties agree on the resolution which has been decided on, as well as writing the necessary documents and ensuring both parties sign it.
  • Show confidence: Demonstrate degrees of maturity by fully understanding one’s own qualities and abilities which can serve as sources of confidence in different situations.
  • Supervise legal case procedures: Supervise the procedures conducted during or after a legal case to ensure that everything occurred compliant with legal regulations, that the case is finished before closing, and to verify whether no mistakes have been made and all necessary steps were undertaken during the progression of the case from start to closing.
  • Show empathy: Show empathy in order to prevent any kind of symbolic violence and isolation and to guarantee a considerate attention to everyone. It should include a capacity to understand various verbal and non-verbal communication of sentiment and feeling.
  • Support juvenile victims: Support juvenile victims to monitor their mental and emotional well-being, and that they are capable of enduring any difficult situation they are being put through such as a court trial or interrogation, as well as to provide them with the support they need and to ensure they know they are being helped.
  • Respond to enquiries: Respond to enquiries and requests for information from other organisations and members of the public.
  • Authenticate documents: Authenticate official documents, ensuring that their composition and the manner in which they were signed and officiated is compliant with regulations, and thus establishing the document’s authenticity and legal power.
  • Review trial cases: Review legal cases dealing with criminal and civil offenses after they have gone through a trial, a hearing in court, to reassess the initial decisions made and to verify that they were no mistakes made during the treatment of the case from opening to the end of the trial.
  • Communicate with jury: Communicate with the jury of a court hearing in order to ensure they’re fit for jury duty in the trial, will be able to remain impartial and make sound decisions, and to ensure they are briefed on the case and are aware of the court procedures.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Handle conflicts: Mediate in conflicts and tense situations by acting between parties, such as service users, important others like families, and institutions, striving to effect an agreement, reconciliate, and resolve problems.
  • Promote the safeguarding of young people: Understand safeguarding and what should be done in cases of actual or potential harm or abuse.
  • Advise on legal decisions: Advise judges, or other officials in legal decision-making positions, on which decision would be right, compliant with the law and with moral considerations, or most advantageous for the adviser’s client, in a specific case.
  • Apply knowledge of human behaviour: Practice principles related to group behaviour, trends in society, and influence of societal dynamics.
  • Hear witness accounts: Hear witness accounts during a court hearing or during an investigation to assess the significance of the account, its impact on the case under scrutiny or investigation, and to aid in reaching a conclusion.
  • Guide jury activities: Guide the activities of a jury during a court hearing and in the decision-making process to ensure they act in an impartial manner and that they heard all the evidence, arguments and witness accounts relevalt to the trial so that they can make the best decision, on which the judge may base a sentence.

ISCO group and title

2612 – Judges

  1. Judge – ESCO
  2. Judges and Hearing Officers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Guide to Become a Judge | Indeed.com
  4. Featured image: By Jeroen Bouman – http://www.icj-cij.org, Public Domain
Last updated on August 28, 2023