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I am interested in criminal law.

How do I become a criminal or family court judge? Can I become a judge out of law school?

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West’s Answer

I'd like to add to Fred's answer. I agree with him on most everything.

First and foremost, some judges are hired, but the vast majority are elected or appointed. In my work, I always appear before Administrative Judges. In this state, TN, administrative judges are simply hired. They do have less leeway than other judges, but they operate pretty much the same way. I have seen them hired out of law school, but that is very rare.

Another point. Some states have requirements on how long one must practice as an attorney before even being allowed to run/be appointed. I remember that superior court judges in CA must have 10 years of practice under their belt before they qualify to become a judge at all. At least that's what it was when I practiced there.

Third, research the role of commissioner. Usually these are retired judges that operate in a less official capacity than an actual judge, but their work is very close. Sometimes these positions are held by highly experienced attorneys.

Finally, criminal and family court judges require a very high degree of experience and knowledge. Although you may be able to luck into a position as a judge in some other court (big maybe), I'd say the chance of becoming a criminal or family law judge straight out of school are zero.

TL;DR - In all likelihood you're looking at a decade of practicing as an attorney before you can think of becoming a judge. But all the same, best of luck!
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Fred’s Answer

It depends on where you are, and what kind of judge you want to be. Further, it's highly unlikely.

From what I've seen (and I am not a lawyer), judges are generally appointed. State judges by the governor, federal judges by the president. They then must be confirmed by the associated legislature.

Some places let judges be elected. I don't know if they are appointed first somehow, or if just anyone can run.

But for the most part, most people would think you do not have enough experience to be a judge right out of law school. So...is is POSSIBLE? Yes. Is it LIKELY? No.
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