When I was called to the Bar in 1967, the aim was to be appointed as a judge to the High Court. It was the destination to which all ambitious barristers not only should but would aspire. The job offered security, the conventional knighthood, an avenue to public service and a modicum of public power. But there is now an unprecedented and growing shortfall in candidates of adequate quality. Where did it all go wrong?
This development hasn’t appeared from nowhere. When I was a member of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB), which independently reviews judges’ pay, we noted in 2002 that: ‘Top legal practitioners who in the past would naturally have progressed to the bench are increasingly questioning whether they wish to do so.