Jennifer Eady is a Senior Circuit Judge of the Employment Appeal Tribunal. She was called to the Bar in 1989 and became a QC in 2006. Before taking up a full-time appointment, she had previous experience as a Recorder (County and Crown Courts), as a part-time Employment Judge and as a member of the Pension Regulator's Determinations Panel. She was also an independent member of the Acas Council for some seven years and is a Trustee of the Wallace Collection.

“I started my full time salaried role in early December 2013 and really enjoy it. I think I had got to the stage where I was ready to leave the Bar; I wanted to feel I was making a more positive contribution. Had my predecessor not announced his retirement I might have waited a few more years but I didn't know when a vacancy at this court might arise again and didn't want to miss out on the opportunity, so I kept an eye on the JAC website and applied when it was advertised last summer.  

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) is a superior court of record, generally (although not exclusively) hearing appeals on points of law from Employment Tribunals. I am one of four judges sitting at the EAT throughout the year. We are joined by visiting High Court and circuit judges. We generally sit alone but can also sit with lay members, appointed for their particular experience in employment relations. I previously sat as a fee-paid Employment Judge so am comfortable sitting with lay members. I was also on the Acas Council for a number of years and am very used to chairing bodies which involve both sides of industry being represented.

“I had been through the JAC selection process before – when applying to be an Employment Judge and in the appointment process for Recorders. This meant I was reasonably familiar with the process. The process for public appointments generally is also similar and I had been through that for my other appointments. The more you do, the more experience you get and the more used to it you are.

“For me the real preparation for the interview came in completing the application form. You need to give it time and think it through. Barristers are not necessarily very good at self-assessment – we don't really do self-appraisal in a formal sense. It is, however, a skill you need to learn when you apply for silk or for a judicial post.

“In particular, your presentation style has to be thought through and that takes time. It is worth reflecting on all the experience you have got and then working hard to edit that effectively to fit it into the limited space on the application form. I would also recommend allowing time to collect all the information you are asked for so you have relevant dates etc at your fingertips.

“I did try to prepare for the interview but, on reflection, the best thing I could have done was simply to try to get a good night's sleep the night before. The panel are not trying to catch you out. They are trying to bring out the best in you. In turn, you are trying to ensure they don't make a mistake in missing why you might be best qualified for the role.

“In my application and interview, I obviously drew on my experience as a barrister and QC but I also referred to experience gained from other roles. Personally, I have greatly valued having a range of interests and experience, and I certainly drew upon that in my application.

“My new working week is generally divided into three sitting days, one reading day and one paperwork day. Before I started, the work here was described to me as fairly unremitting and I think that's a fair description. We work pretty hard and put a lot into the preparation for each hearing. You don't get additional days for reserved judgments, so when you hear a case you have to be prepared to give judgment straight away.

“You need excellent organisational skills to manage that kind of workload. In that respect, it is helpful that I was used to having a highly productive working day in order to manage my time as a working parent. If you have been used to having to leave Chambers on time to collect a child from nursery or school etc, you get pretty good at working highly productively in compressed hours; a useful transferable skill for a judge.

“I enjoyed my career at the Bar and got a lot out of it, but I don't miss it. The move to my new role felt absolutely right for me and my experience so far has only served to confirm that feeling.”

This case study also features in the JAC Annual Report 2013-14.