The second solicitor to be appointed to the Court of Appeal has expressed regret at the ‘dearth of solicitors’ sitting in the country’s top courts.
Lord Justice Gary Hickinbottom cited what he described as a ‘failure to recognise’ what solicitors could bring to the bench.
Hickinbottom spoke during the annual conference of The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division last Saturday.
He said: ‘Solicitors would and do make a valuable contribution to the bench. The judiciary would benefit from having more solicitors who are able to offer a different skill set and bring different life experience.’
In September last year the judge, who previously worked at McKenna & Co, now part of international firm CMS Cameron McKenna, became only the second solicitor appointed to the Court of Appeal. In 2008, he became only the fourth solicitor appointed as a High Court judge.
Hickinbottom said it is also difficult for solicitors to take on the role of judge, explaining that pressure from firms and an unwillingness to let solicitors go may also be contributing factors.
Turning to the media’s attacks on judges after the High Court’s Article 50 ruling, Hickinbottom said the reports were ‘personal, unfair and ill informed’.
‘More seriously though, in my opinion, they sought to challenge the rule of law,’ he added.