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Sherrilyn Warren sat as a Fee-paid Employment Judge before becoming a Salaried Employment Judge. She was previously with the Crown Prosecution Service.
Employment judges sit throughout England and Wales, and are assigned by the President to sit in a particular region. The Employment Tribunals determine disputes between employers and employees over employment rights.
"I've wanted to be a judge since I was a child, but joining the Crown Prosecution Service meant that being a criminal judge was no longer an option – working as a solicitor for the CPS precluded it. I did some thinking in my thirties and realised that my position as a team leader dealing with management and HR issues may make me eligible to be an Employment Judge. I did that part-time for six years and then applied for and was appointed to the role I have now.
"The guidance for the selection process was very clear on what to expect. I took time to prepare, and treated the test like an exam. I gave myself about six days to look at statutes and case law. I went back to basics and it was hard work.
"My tip for getting through would be not to assume that just because you're an experienced lawyer, you will be appointed. Show that you can think objectively, quickly and fairly and communicate in straightforward terms. Think outside of your current role – as an advocate you use your personality and as a judge you don't – you need to be 100 per cent objective. Also, you're dealing with people and their feelings, so compassion and a degree of empathy are essential.
"Right now, I couldn't be happier! I work in three different hearing centres as part of a team of 18 Employment Tribunal judges in Birmingham. The atmosphere is supportive and collegial and we get on well. It's more than a job and everything I dreamed of. It's intellectually challenging, not only from a legal perspective but from a human one. I'm where I want to be."