How much does a magistrate make and what do they do?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Magistrates are important because they're responsible for keeping the court cases consistent and ensuring that the legal system runs as expected, hearing cases throughout the community. Without magistrates, courts find themselves in a backlog and struggle to resolve cases that are blocking up the system. Many people who are curious about becoming a magistrate first try to learn about the compensation magistrates can expect. In this article, we explain how much a magistrate makes and some of the skills and experience you may need to take up the role of a magistrate in your community.

How much does a magistrate make?

A magistrate is a voluntary role, and those that decide to be magistrates do not receive payment for their services. A magistrate may receive a small allowance. This is to pay for their expenses for the day, including any money that has been spent on travelling to and from the court and money that may have been spent on food throughout the day.

The role of a magistrate is primarily a community one. Magistrates don't receive a fee because they are not legal professionals and are instead upstanding members of the community with good character, guided by a legal advisor at their side. The role of a magistrate is one that somebody takes to be of service to their community, rather than one taken for personal and financial gain.

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What is a magistrate?

A magistrate is a volunteer within the local community that is qualified to sit in court proceedings. Their role is to make judgements on cases based on all of the evidence provided to them and any extenuating circumstances. Magistrates may also be able to hand out sentences alongside the guidance of an allocated advisor.

How to become a magistrate

Becoming a magistrate is a process with several steps and may vary between local councils. It's important to remember that even with the best intentions, you may still not pass your application to become a magistrate for reasons beyond your control. Below are some of the steps to take to become a magistrate:

1. Complete the application form

Before getting any further in the process, applicants may need to complete an application form that can be found on the government website. You can pick up the same form from a local Advisory Committee contact, who is there to point you in the right direction if you are unable to navigate the process without assistance. It's important to fill in this form as thoroughly and honestly as possible.

If you work in a position with a conflict of interest or have recently been convicted of a crime, the Advisory Committee may reject your application. This is because it's essential for the Advisory Committee to ensure the highest standard when selecting magistrates.

2. First interview

If your application form passes screening by the Local Advisory Committee, you may receive an invitation to interview. The first of these interviews help to corroborate all of the information in the form, to establish what your motivation is for becoming a magistrate, and to get a better idea of your personality and whether or not you are suitable for the role.

In this interview, it's important to be yourself. Interviewers always look for signs of your personality, and being honest during your application only serves to improve your chances of being accepted. Whether you find yourself hiding beneficial parts of your personality or the panel believe that you are being dishonest, there is very little to gain from being dishonest about yourself in a magistrate interview.

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3. Second interview

If your first interview is successful, you may have a second interview. In this case, interviewers delve into further detail around the questions they put to you initially. If there are any questions remaining from your first interview this is the perfect opportunity for interviewers to ask for more details and learn more about how you may perform in the position.

Furthermore, you can expect questions relating to further details from your work experience or your personal life. For example, if you mentioned working in a legal field or surrounding conflict resolution in the past, the panel may ask questions that follow up around individual situations that you encountered.

4. Advisory committee

Once you complete these steps, it's the responsibility of an advisory committee to select magistrates from the remaining pool of candidates. The advisory committee is appointed by the lord chancellor, and it's their role to have the final say on who is suitable to be a magistrate. The advisory committee is responsible for making sure it represents the community as a whole and when selecting magistrates.

This means that even though you may have given a strong interview and you may be a good candidate, to properly represent the community you live in the committee may select somebody of a different race, gender or nationality with an equivalent application.

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5. Training

All magistrates may need to go through detailed training before taking any cases as a magistrate. These include covering the basic procedures of a courtroom, the legislation that they may find themselves dealing with in the role and the sentencing powers that they hold in their position as a magistrate.

A magistrate also needs to deal with ongoing training to make sure that they remain up to the standards expected of them. Training takes place regularly, and failing to attend may mean that you are no longer eligible to take on cases. Experienced magistrates may also take part in training surrounding family law, allowing them to deal with more sensitive cases.

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What skills do magistrates need?

To effectively fulfil your role as a magistrate, there are a few skills that you may need to acquire throughout your career. Without these, magistrates struggle to make unbiased decisions and may come to the wrong conclusions. Here are some of the most important skills for a magistrate to hold:

Understanding and listening skills

Much of the role of a magistrate is in deciding between two different accounts of the same story and potentially establishing blame and liability. To do this effectively, a magistrate's ability to understand the meaning of what they're hearing removes the potential for misunderstandings and plays a big role in making the right choices. This also includes being able to focus for a sustained period of time without being distracted or losing interest.

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A sound sense of judgement

Magistrates may look at situations impartially, fairly, and without being affected by other circumstances. With sound judgement, a magistrate is able to establish the facts and apply them to legal precedent, where poor judgement may instead lead to punishment falling on the wrong side of the problem.

A sound sense of judgement helps hand out convictions in an appropriate manner, which leads to both personal satisfaction of the innocent party and avoidance of wider public backlash.

A consistent sense of commitment

Being a magistrate requires a firm commitment to your position and responsibilities. You may need to be available to preside for 26 half-days every year, in which you may deal with several cases per sitting. Commitment also means that you continue to receive all of the necessary training to continue in the role and are reliable in the case that a magistrate is urgently needed.

It's important to remember that being a magistrate is in addition to other duties such as a full-time job, family commitments, and other social events or personal reasons.

Reliable social awareness

Understanding the social contexts behind every case is crucial for a successful magistrate. This is because magistrates may need to take into consideration as many aspects as possible behind the case when coming to a conclusion. One of such aspects is the social context, such as what is going on in the wider world or more on a family's previous dynamic.

Having a reliable social awareness of broader conflicts allows a magistrate to reach a truly sound and confident decision in each case.

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