Judges and magistrates oversee the legal process of cases in court, serving as mediators for negotiations between two parties and helping to resolve disputes. This could range from civil cases to criminal cases. They also work with law enforcement agencies to approve search and arrest warrants. Below are some of the common duties for judge and magistrate jobs as outlined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Preside over legal cases, listening to or reviewing arguments by both parties.
- Research laws and legal issues pertaining to cases.
- Evaluate court documents, including motions, claim applications, and other legal records.
- Rule on court cases.
In addition, to overseeing cases and eventually ruling on them, judges may also impose penalties or sentences on the guilty party, depending on the type of case. For civil cases, they will typically award relief to the party that wins the suit in the form of compensation for damages.
Job Growth for
Judge and Magistrate
Becoming a Judge or Magistrate
Jobs in judge and magistrate positions require a law degree and adequate experience working as a lawyer. In addition, most of these positions require that you are either elected or appointed. Jobs in local or state legal systems usually have fixed terms, which can range from four to 14 years, depending on the specific seat. Other positions are lifetime appointments, but these are not the most common and are usually at the federal level.
First, prospective judges and magistrates must earn their law degree, which includes four years of study at the undergraduate level and three years in a law program. As undergraduates, majors such as political science may be popular, but this is not a requirement. Below are some common classes found in law school curricula:
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Property Law
Once they have completed law school, graduates will need to pass the bar exam in their state. Then, after gaining experience working as a lawyer, you may be considered for a judge or magistrate position. All states have orientation for judges who are newly elected or appointed and many require continuing education courses as well.