Lawyers update magazine

Outside the Courtroom

Outside the courtroom (“in chambers”), a judge researches laws and regulations, issues opinions and case decisions, supervises the work of law clerks and other court staff, meets with attorneys to discuss cases and encourage settlement, and establishes court rules and procedures. Some judges perform marriage ceremonies and issue marriage licenses.

Education

Most, but not all, judges possess law degrees. State and Federal judges typically complete the educational requirements to become a lawyer and work for several years as an attorney before entering the judicial system. Some judges are elected or appointed to serve on the bench for fixed terms. Training for judges and other judicial-branch personnel is provided by The Federal Judicial Center, American Bar Association, National Judicial College and National Center for State Courts.

Skills

Judges must possess excellent logical reasoning, analytical and decision-making skills to analyze a complex case and statutory law and render sound legal decisions. Thorough knowledge of criminal and civil procedure, jurisdictional rules and the court system is critical. Top-notch writing ability is necessary to draft clear, concise, well-researched opinions, bench memoranda, and other legal documents. Excellent mediation skills are also necessary to resolve discovery disputes and promote a settlement between the parties.