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Judge & justice of the peace - path & insight?


Lulu_spector
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Lulu_spector
  • Law School Admit

Looking for any judges or justice of the peace here who can help inform and guide please.

Hypothetically, let’s say a woman is 40 and starting law school in the fall 2022. What is the best plan for her to possibly someday have a decent chance at becoming a judge or justice of the peace in Ontario? Not even sure if my question makes sense sorry!

I am basically wondering if aiming to be a judge and/or justice of the peace is worthwhile given the age and the fact that this woman can’t work 100 hour weeks after graduation? 
 

Also, wondering about the hours and day to day of a judge and/or justice of the peace. If no one here knows, does anyone know a good way to meet a judge or justice of the peace to have their insight? 

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Jaggers

I'm not sure it's possible to chart a single path to becoming a judge. It's pretty rare, so probably shouldn't be something you would count on. But go for something that gets you into court a lot. Criminal law, family law, civil litigation (smaller firm is probably better than Bay St).

Also, donate a lot of money to both the Liberals and Conservatives. The federal government appoints judges. For JP, donate a lot of money to the provincial parties.

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Lulu_spector
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2 hours ago, Jaggers said:

I'm not sure it's possible to chart a single path to becoming a judge. It's pretty rare, so probably shouldn't be something you would count on. But go for something that gets you into court a lot. Criminal law, family law, civil litigation (smaller firm is probably better than Bay St).

Also, donate a lot of money to both the Liberals and Conservatives. The federal government appoints judges. For JP, donate a lot of money to the provincial parties.

Wow I had no idea it was rare! I thought it was something one can “hope” to do and actually try for 🤔 Thank you for sharing this! The donations … oh no I have no money 😂 at least right now 😔 So.. you’re implying that becoming a judge is more than just “applying” after a certain amount of experience. But what does donating to political parties have to do with being a judge in an Ontario superior or provincial court? Sorry for my ignorance here. 

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BlockedQuebecois
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Judges are political appointments. Superior court and appellate judges are appointed by the federal government, while provincial court judges (i.e. OCJ judges) are appointed by the provincial government. There have been steps to make them less political over the years, but they're still ultimately political appointments decided on by an MP or MPP. That's why donating matters. People like it when you give them money.

I don't want to come across as crushing your dreams, but realistically it is going to be incredibly difficult to get appointed to the bench as a 40 year old starting law school this year. Assuming you have not yet had your birthday, you will be 44 or so when you graduate law school and 45 when you are called to the bar. The minimum length of time before you can be considered to be a judge is ten years post-call, and practically speaking most judicial appointees have 20-30 years of practice. That means you would be 55 at the absolute earliest, and a more likely age would be 65 to 75. 

At that point, the people in power aren't going to want to appoint you because you'll be pushing up against the mandatory retirement age of 75. 

Justices of the peace don't require a law degree at all, and it's such a fundamentally different job that I don't think I can comment on it in a meaningful way. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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Fruitdealer
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46 minutes ago, Lulu_spector said:

Wow I had no idea it was rare! I thought it was something one can “hope” to do and actually try for 🤔 Thank you for sharing this! The donations … oh no I have no money 😂 at least right now 😔 So.. you’re implying that becoming a judge is more than just “applying” after a certain amount of experience. But what does donating to political parties have to do with being a judge in an Ontario superior or provincial court? Sorry for my ignorance here. 

Judges are appointed by the the Provincial or Federal government. While you have to meet basic criteria to qualify for an appointment, the political party in power at the time has to want to appoint you. The point Jaggers is making is that political parties tend to want to appoint people that have connections to them or donate to them.

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Jaggers

There are something like 40,000 lawyers in Ontario, and not more than a couple of hundred judges, so the odds are really against any one individual. The things you can do to improve your odds are do a lot of litigation, and ingratiate yourself with politicians. But I wouldn't count on it being any sort of career path where you might mostly control the outcome.

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Lulu_spector
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Judges are political appointments. Superior court and appellate judges are appointed by the federal government, while provincial court judges (i.e. OCJ judges) are appointed by the provincial government. There have been steps to make them less political over the years, but they're still ultimately political appointments decided on by an MP or MPP. That's why donating matters. People like it when you give them money.

I don't want to come across as crushing your dreams, but realistically it is going to be incredibly difficult to get appointed to the bench as a 40 year old starting law school this year. Assuming you have not yet had your birthday, you will be 44 or so when you graduate law school and 45 when you are called to the bar. The minimum length of time before you can be considered to be a judge is ten years post-call, and practically speaking most judicial appointees have 20-30 years of practice. That means you would be 55 at the absolute earliest, and a more likely age would be 65 to 75. 

At that point, the people in power aren't going to want to appoint you because you'll be pushing up against the mandatory retirement age of 75. 

Justices of the peace don't require a law degree at all, and it's such a fundamentally different job that I don't think I can comment on it in a meaningful way. 

I really appreciate your insight and honesty. I was not getting this type of honesty from my network so I came here. Would you suggest starting this whole journey in general is too late at 40? Do you think there’s worthwhile areas that can still give me/provide a good ROI if I’m only starting now?? 

Edited by Lulu_spector
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Fruitdealer
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2 hours ago, Lulu_spector said:

I really appreciate your insight and honesty. I was not getting this type of honesty from my network so I came here. Would you suggest starting this whole journey in general is too late at 40? Do you think there’s worthwhile areas that can still give me/provide a good ROI if I’m only starting now?? 

To be a judge, yes it is late. To be a lawyer, no. If you become a lawyer at 44 and practice until 65, you'll have 21 years in the profession. Lawyers also frequently practice past normal retirement ages. 

As a ROI, I didn't immediately find very good Ontario lifetime earning stats, but found numbers for BC based on 2016 census data ( - I'd only take these numbers as just a general guideline (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/post-secondary-education/data-research/lifetime-earnings.pdf). Average lifetime earnings with a high school diploma came out to about $2mil, with it increasing to something around $2.5-3mil with additional degrees/qualifcations.

Lawyer income varies heavily, especially if you are a sole practitioner or working in a small firm environment. That said, see guide for a salary summary (https://www.zsa.ca/salary-guide/) - the large firm numbers are reliable as Bay Street pay scales are well known and have minimal variation - the other numbers are more of a general estimate. For our purposes, lets take a lower end ballpark and say you end up with an average salary over 20 years of $150k, you'd still be making $3mil, which is more than or equal to the lifetime earnings of most other people. If you end up in a Bay Street firm, you could reasonably hit $3mil in earnings in the first 10 years without needing to make partner.

I wouldn't read too much into these numbers as they are from somewhat mismatched sources and are pretty general, but the basic point is that becoming a lawyer in your early-mid 40s can easily be worthwhile from a straight ROI standpoint.

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Diplock
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You can absolutely have a fulfilling and worthwhile legal career that starts by attending law school at age 40 or similar. But if your only objective is to become a judge or JP, that outcome is so specific and unlikely, in percentage terms, that attending law school at all is a bad idea. That's like becoming a journalist because the only thing you want to do is write the sports column for the Globe and Mail. Although writing the sports column for the Globe is a real thing, and it's not quite the same thing as saying you want to become a rock star, it's an extremely specific goal that may never be available to you no matter your skills in the field.

If you actually want a career as a lawyer, go to law school. If you're just trying to plan the next two decades of your life hoping that you're going to get onto the bench within the very limited window you'll have to do that, it's a very stupid thing to do.

Good luck.

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N. Mink
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12 hours ago, artsydork said:

Just putting it out there that you don't actually need to be a lawyer to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace (at least in Ontario)

Nor in BC. 
 

On the basis of the trajectory of this thread, though, I doubt the OP actually understands what a JP does (and doesn’t) do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by N. Mink
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Lulu_spector
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On 4/4/2022 at 12:18 PM, artsydork said:

Just putting it out there that you don't actually need to be a lawyer to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace (at least in Ontario)

Maybe not “need” but it can be beneficial to have a law degree when having such a big role. It’s astonishing that it’s not a requirement unless I’ve misunderstood something. But sorry for the confusion, I originally asked this to learn if there was some strategy in making it happen.

22 hours ago, N. Mink said:

Nor in BC. 
 

On the basis of the trajectory of this thread, though, I doubt the OP actually understands what a JP does (and doesn’t) do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such a strange and inefficient response. I’m asking about it thus admitting that I don’t know … so… I’m searching for people who can advise. They don’t “need” a law degree yes, but they can have one and apply. I was more wondering if it’s a worthwhile pursuit with the context of how to use a law degree. Do you have any insight into this? 

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Rashabon
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1 hour ago, Lulu_spector said:

Maybe not “need” but it can be beneficial to have a law degree when having such a big role. It’s astonishing that it’s not a requirement unless I’ve misunderstood something. But sorry for the confusion, I originally asked this to learn if there was some strategy in making it happen.

Such a strange and inefficient response. I’m asking about it thus admitting that I don’t know … so… I’m searching for people who can advise. They don’t “need” a law degree yes, but they can have one and apply. I was more wondering if it’s a worthwhile pursuit with the context of how to use a law degree. Do you have any insight into this? 

The vast majority of justices of the peace do not have a law degree. See here for example: https://news.ontario.ca/en/bulletin/1000424/new-justices-of-the-peace-appointed-to-the-ontario-court-of-justice

If you really want to be a justice of the peace, I suppose it could set you apart, but nobody can tell you whether it helps or not given the majority of them don't have law degrees.

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Jaggers

Interesting list. I had never actually thought about who gets appointed to these positions. I knew you didn't have to be a lawyer, but kind of assumed most were.

Lot of cops on that list.

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Lawstudents20202020
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1 hour ago, Jaggers said:

Lot of cops on that list.

Big yikes

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N. Mink
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23 hours ago, Lulu_spector said:

Maybe not “need” but it can be beneficial to have a law degree when having such a big role. It’s astonishing that it’s not a requirement unless I’ve misunderstood something. But sorry for the confusion, I originally asked this to learn if there was some strategy in making it happen.

Such a strange and inefficient response. I’m asking about it thus admitting that I don’t know … so… I’m searching for people who can advise. They don’t “need” a law degree yes, but they can have one and apply. I was more wondering if it’s a worthwhile pursuit with the context of how to use a law degree. Do you have any insight into this? 

Ok. How about you start with some basic research? Which province are you in? I can’t speak to elsewhere in Canada, because I practise in BC. But, if you’re in BC, start with reviewing this https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/about-the-court/judicial-officers/judicial-justices

is that what you’re actually referring to? Because a Judicial Justice and a Justice of the Peace are very different things in this province. Why would you need a law degree to do what is largely an administrative-type job? 
 

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BlockedQuebecois
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6 hours ago, N. Mink said:

Ok. How about you start with some basic research? Which province are you in? I can’t speak to elsewhere in Canada, because I practise in BC. But, if you’re in BC, start with reviewing this https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/about-the-court/judicial-officers/judicial-justices

is that what you’re actually referring to? Because a Judicial Justice and a Justice of the Peace are very different things in this province. Why would you need a law degree to do what is largely an administrative-type job? 
 

They're in Ontario, and this post is a tad harsh (and to be frank, confused). OP didn't ask anything about "judicial justices", which might be a position unique to British Columbia. They asked about justices of the peace. It's very odd and unnecessary to attack someone for using jurisdiction specific language that doesn't align with your specific jurisdiction's terminology, particularly given they were explicit about what province they were asking about: 

On 3/28/2022 at 2:56 PM, Lulu_spector said:

justice of the peace in Ontario

As to the substance of your post, it's actually perfectly reasonable to assume justices of the peace in Ontario have law degrees. In Ontario, justices of the peace have a  relatively wide jurisdiction—they can preside over trials in relation to provincial offences, the preside over bail hearings, and they authorize nearly every search warrant in the province. I think most people expect that a judge (with a law degree) will be the one making the decision when they are charged with a provincial offence, when police seek a warrant to search their home, or when they are arrested and appear at a bail hearing. Not just some lay person. 

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Fruitdealer
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4 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

They're in Ontario, and this post is a tad harsh (and to be frank, confused). OP didn't ask anything about "judicial justices", which might be a position unique to British Columbia. They asked about justices of the peace. It's very odd and unnecessary to attack someone for using jurisdiction specific language that doesn't align with your specific jurisdiction's terminology, particularly given they were explicit about what province they were asking about: 

As to the substance of your post, it's actually perfectly reasonable to assume justices of the peace in Ontario have law degrees. In Ontario, justices of the peace have a  relatively wide jurisdiction—they can preside over trials in relation to provincial offences, the preside over bail hearings, and they authorize nearly every search warrant in the province. I think most people expect that a judge (with a law degree) will be the one making the decision when they are charged with a provincial offence, when police seek a warrant to search their home, or when they are arrested and appear at a bail hearing. Not just some lay person. 

Pretty sure he just means "real Judges" when he says judicial judges and the OP did ask about that too when asking about "judges or justices of the peace". Dude wasn't super nice but one of the first People also ask questions if you google justice of the peace Ontario is "How are justice of peace appoint in Ontario" which clearly lays out the requirements.

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BlockedQuebecois
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28 minutes ago, Fruitdealer said:

Pretty sure he just means "real Judges" when he says judicial judges and the OP did ask about that too when asking about "judges or justices of the peace". Dude wasn't super nice but one of the first People also ask questions if you google justice of the peace Ontario is "How are justice of peace appoint in Ontario" which clearly lays out the requirements.

A judicial justice is a type of judicial officer in British Columbia, they're not quite analogous to justices of the peace in Ontario, but their jurisdiction is closer to that of an Ontario JP than BC's JPs.

I don't think your interpretation is a reasonable one, given the context of the post (and particularly the fact that they linked to the BC Provincial Court's website page discussing judicial justices).

Even if your interpretation is correct, the description of JPs as serving a "largely [] administrative-type" role would be incorrect. JPs in Ontario serve a quasi-judicial role. 

I'm all for people not answering questions they think are easily able to answered independently, or even answering with an appropriate dose of snark (I certainly do on occasion). What I am taking issue with is Mink attacking OP for using jurisdiction specific terminology that Mink thinks is wrong because of their home jurisdiction's terminology, despite OP using the correct terminology for the jurisdiction they specified they were asking about.

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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Fruitdealer
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13 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

A judicial justice is a type of judicial officer in British Columbia, they're not quite analogous to justices of the peace in Ontario, but their jurisdiction is closer to that of an Ontario JP than BC's JPs.

I don't think your interpretation is a reasonable one, given the context of the post (and particularly the fact that they linked to the BC Provincial Court's website page discussing judicial justices).

Well, I looked it up and hey it is some specific BC thing so I'm definitely wrong on the interpretation there (one of the stupider titles I've seen). I think the the point about googling still applies though.

The rest of the question about how to get there and chances and whatnot are totally fair questions.

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artsydork
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1 hour ago, Fruitdealer said:

Pretty sure he just means "real Judges" when he says judicial judges and the OP did ask about that too when asking about "judges or justices of the peace". Dude wasn't super nice but one of the first People also ask questions if you google justice of the peace Ontario is "How are justice of peace appoint in Ontario" which clearly lays out the requirements.

Just putting out there that N Mink uses they/them pronouns. When in doubt, look at profiles, folks! 

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Lulu_spector
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On 4/7/2022 at 4:34 AM, BlockedQuebecois said:

They're in Ontario, and this post is a tad harsh (and to be frank, confused). OP didn't ask anything about "judicial justices", which might be a position unique to British Columbia. They asked about justices of the peace. It's very odd and unnecessary to attack someone for using jurisdiction specific language that doesn't align with your specific jurisdiction's terminology, particularly given they were explicit about what province they were asking about: 

As to the substance of your post, it's actually perfectly reasonable to assume justices of the peace in Ontario have law degrees. In Ontario, justices of the peace have a  relatively wide jurisdiction—they can preside over trials in relation to provincial offences, the preside over bail hearings, and they authorize nearly every search warrant in the province. I think most people expect that a judge (with a law degree) will be the one making the decision when they are charged with a provincial offence, when police seek a warrant to search their home, or when they are arrested and appear at a bail hearing. Not just some lay person. 

Is if appropriate to hug you AND give you a passionate high five?? 😂 

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Jaggers

Yeah. As I noted above, I assumed that most JPs have a legal background in Ontario. I have no direct experience with the criminal law system, but I've been called for 14 years now.

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easttowest
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The only reason I knew most JPs aren’t lawyers is because my criminal law prof in 1L kept saying that most JPs aren’t lawyers. 

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