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What are the qualifications required to be a judge?

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Quick Answer

Common qualifications required to be a judge include acquiring a law degree and obtaining experience as a lawyer. A lawyer is either appointed to the position by other judges, the American Bar Association or other parties that assess judicial candidates, or is elected by the public.

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Full Answer

Most people appointed as judges were lawyers. To become a lawyer, a person must obtain a Juris Doctor degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association. After law school, a potential lawyer must become licensed and admitted to the bar in her state. This is done by passing numerous exams. Testing and admission requirements vary from among states, but a common exam is the Multistate Bar Exam, which consists of 200 questions and lasts six hours.

After passing the bar, the prospective judge works as an attorney. The amount of experience required varies for each position and depends on who is appointing or electing the judge. To become a federal judge, the American Bar Association reviews candidates and prefers a minimum of 12 years legal experience.

When a position is open that the lawyer is interested in, she can submit her name to the party making the decision. Senators and other politicians may also submit a lawyer's name for consideration. A history of political activity and support of politicians can help a lawyer become a judge. The judge or other party appointing the new judge reviews a lawyer's tactics, performance and academic writings when considering her for the position.

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