Monday, January 28, 2008

Judicial Diversity

This will be a short post, so my apologies to Phil but this was just something which caught my eye (and is a wonderful distraction from Allen Buchanan's book), anyway here teh Graun talks about the problem of diversity in judicial appointment. Although, I'm not entirely sure I think 'background' is that determining a factor in judicial decisions, it strikes me that the problem is deeper than just selection. The real problem here is that the 'pool' is really quite narrow. In my own (anecdotal experience) the problem goes back to professional training and university. In terms of the vocational training to be a barrister, well that's all hideously expensive, furthermore, the early years in a not-so-good chambers are hardly likely to be finacially lucrative. This means you either have to have a good financial support network, or you need funding. In order to get funding, it's pretty much the case that you have to be from Oxbridge. Now since Oxbridge is hardly the most diverse of institutions, it's no surprise that the Bar reflects this. In terms of becoming a solicitor (which of course is not the best route into the judiciary anyway) well again the vocational training is quite expensive, so the best bet is to get a training contract before undertaking it. But again - unfortunately - these are disproportionately given out the Oxbridge people, with all the problems that apply.

So it strikes me that any government really serious about a diverse judiciary needs to widen the pool, this basically needs to involved more state funding (or at least state-backed cheap loans) going to people who aren't able to get funding by other means. This is the only way to widen the pool of potential judges (short of nationalising Oxford and Cambridge, which of course has its appeal).

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