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Career Profile: Judge

Why Is a Judge a Job of Tomorrow?
Judges will always be in demand as long as there are criminal and civil cases to decide in court. Employment opportunities for judges are expected to grow 4 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Judges make an average salary of $101,690 annually.

What Does a Judge Do?
Judges oversee legal disputes. They ensure that the law has been applied fairly and that trials are being conducted correctly. The cases judges oversee can center on a minor issue such as a traffic citation dispute or major ones such as a homicide. No matter what the subject of the trial is, all judges have the same responsibilities. They must listen to lawyers present their cases on behalf of their clients, decide what evidence is admissible in court and act as general rule keepers to ensure that both sides have a fair chance. Judges are also responsible for deciding which cases go to trial through pretrial meetings. During these sessions, judges listen to allegations and decide whether the accused party should be jailed until the trial or not. Most important, however, judges often decide whether the accused is guilty in criminal cases, though sometimes a jury reaches the verdict. Outside of court, judges conduct legal research and manage the court’s administrative and clerical staff.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Judge?
Judges must have worked as lawyers before they can sit on the bench, and therefore must fulfill the same educational requirements as lawyers. They must hold a bachelor’s degree as well as a law degree from an accredited school. Earning these usually takes students about seven years to complete. Law programs typically cover legal history, philosophy and research skills. All applicants must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to be considered for acceptance. After graduating, lawyers must pass the bar exam and seek certification to work. Some judges are appointed and others are elected.

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