There are four things required to become a magistrate: formal training, related experience, conflict resolution techniques and listening skills. Historically, a magistrate is an office of the court. In a civil law court system, a magistrate is a superior court judge. In many societies, the magistrate is responsible for both civil and criminal cases.
The first item required to become a magistrate is the completion of training in the law. This type of training typically is provided at a university and takes eight to 10 years. There is no specific program to become a magistrate, with different requirements in every country that uses a civil law court system. Investigate the details of a magistrate position in your country, and make sure that you have the correct academic credentials.
Experience that will be relevant once you become a magistrate includes positions in the legal system or a government agency. Look for positions that require research skills, interviewing people from a range of backgrounds and the creation of formal, written documentation. Common places to obtain these skills include government support system departments, law firms and academic research institutions.
Issues that appear before a magistrate are conflicts that require a decision by a third party who has no involvement or interest in the dispute and has no bias. Skills in conflict resolution are essential for anyone who wants to become a magistrate. It is essential to have the ability to identify the key issues, strip away the emotional layers and make a decision based on the facts.
Many people who are interested in this type of work develop excellent listening skills. This includes the ability to identify changes in tone, inflections in the voice and other elements of oral communication. There are a series of short courses designed to help develop these skills, which some people simply learn over time.
There are several settings in which a magistrate can work. Courts, tribunals and government investigations are just some of the options available for a magistrate. There is no mandatory retirement age in this role, and many people continue to serve well into their 70s. In addition to these employment opportunities, magistrates can perform marriage services, write books and offer lectures.
Career advancement opportunities are limited, because the number of superior roles are quite limited. However, this is not a concern for most people who become magistrates. The primary motivation to become a magistrate is to play a decision-making role in the legal system. People who posses leadership qualities and enjoy a challenge are the most successful in this role.