Communities and Justice

Judicial Careers

The following information relates to the appointment of permanent judicial officers, as well as the appointment of some other statutory officers in NSW.

Overriding principle

Appointments will be made on the basis of merit. Subject to this principle, including the relevant considerations listed below, there is a commitment to actively promote diversity in the judiciary. Consideration will be given to all legal experience, including that outside mainstream legal practice, and to willingness to serve in regional locations.

Judicial appointments

The Governor-in-Co​uncil appoints judicial officers on the recommendation of the Attorney General.

Vacancies for judges of the District Court and Local Court magistrates are advertised. 

The appointment of judges to the higher courts and the appointment of heads of jurisdiction continue to be made traditionally following consultation with the head of jurisdiction and relevant legal professional bodies. The head of jurisdiction is the most senior judicial officer of each court, that is, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate.

Why is the role of judge important to our legal system?

“It's incredibly important that our bench represents our community. If I can treat people with respect, dignity and fairness, make sure that they feel heard and understand our system, that supports the rule of law.”

– Judge Lara Gallagher, District Court NSW 

  • Deputy Chief Magistrate Sharon Freund on her role in the Local Court.

    Deputy Chief Magistrate Sharon Freund

    Deputy Chief Magistrate Sharon Freund on her role in the Local Court.


    Deputy Chief Magistrate Sharon Freund

    I’m passionate about what I do. I love coming to work in the morning. 

    Every day is a highlight for me. I love the management of the court. I love sitting in court. Everyone who appears before the local court. It is their moment and they want to be heard and being able to give them that ability to be heard is an enormous privilege. We keep community safe by listening to the evidence, weighing up the evidence, applying the law and applying the law without fear nor favour. 

Professional qualities

  • Proficiency in the law and its underlying principles
  • High level of professional expertise and ability in the area(s) of professional specialisation
  • Applied experience (through the practice of law or other branches of legal practice)
  • Intellectual and analytical ability
  • Ability to discharge duties promptly
  • Capacity to work under pressure
  • Effective oral, written and interpersonal communication skills with peers and members of the public
  • Ability to clearly explain procedure and decisions to all parties
  • Effective management of workload
  • Ability to maintain authority and inspire respect
  • Willingness to participate in ongoing judicial education
  • Ability to use, or willingness to learn modern information technology.

Personal qualities

  • Integrity
  • Independence and impartiality
  • Good character
  • Common sense and good judgement
  • Courtesy and patience
  • Social awareness.

Why did you apply to become a judge?

“I think it was a natural progression to become a judge rather than a hard and fast decision. I thought that it was time to stop pitching the argument and try and resolve the problems.”

– Judge Penelope Wass SC, District Court NSW


Other statutory positions

Other statutory appointments in NSW that are advertised are:

  • Crown Prosecutors
  • Public Defenders
  • Commissioners of the Land and Environment Court
  • Commissioners of the Industrial Relations Commission
  • Members of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal [Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013]

The selection process for these positions is the same as that applying to advertised judicial vacancies.

Search available jobs

Where a vacancy for judicial office occurs, which is to be advertised, advertisements are placed in local and national newspapers and on this website. The Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association are also notified of the vacancy. 

Visit the links below to search for current advertised positions using the following keyword/s: 

Additional information

Terms and conditions of office

Section 44 of the Judicial Officers Act 1986 provides that judicial officers and magistrates must retire on reaching the age of 75 years.

The Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal (SOORT) is an independent body established by the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Act 1975 to make binding determinations on the remuneration and/or additional entitlements payable to judges, magistrates and related office holders. 

The Judges' Pensions Act 1953 makes provision for pensions for judges. 

Magistrates are covered by State Government superannuation schemes or private sector complying superannuation funds.​

Selection criteria

The Attorney General has approved a list of personal and professional criteria, which will be considered in selecting candidates for every judicial office in New South Wales.

The statutory requirements for qualification for office are set out in the relevant legislation establishing the court:

Selection process

A panel is convened to review applications against the selection criteria. The panel commonly includes the relevant head of jurisdiction, a senior officer from the Department of Communities and Justice and at least one leading member of the legal profession.

The panel develops a short list of candidates for interview. Following interviews candidates are assessed as being highly suitable, suitable or unsuitable for judicial office – candidates are not otherwise ranked within these categories. The panel then provides a report to the Attorney General, who is ultimately the final decision maker on the recommendations to the Governor-in-Council with respect to all judicial appointments.

Given the high level of interest in appointment to judicial office and the occurrence of vacancies throughout the year, the panel may reconvene to conduct fresh interviews to assist in expanding the pool of applicants identified as being most suitable for judicial office. 

Enquiries about the appointments process

Enquiries regarding the appointments process may be made via Appointment Services

Last updated:

08 Mar 2024