Martin Forde KC in suit and tie


Martin Forde KC has a practice which covers all aspects of Health Law. He is currently acting as the Independent Advisor to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. In a guest blog for the Bar Council, Martin explains the Judicial Targeted Outreach programme.


During my six years as a Judicial Appointment Commissioner, I was surprised by the relatively low level of applications from the Employed Bar. This surprised me as the Employed Bar contains many talented individuals with the skills that a judge needs. They work in a collaborative fashion, have good communication skills and are involved in analysing the law, keeping abreast of legal and often regulatory changes and have to explain complex legal principles to lay members of their organisation. The Employed Bar is also more diverse in terms of those with protected characteristics and, importantly, seems to me to encourage social mobility.

In September 2020, as one of three former Commissioners, we co-founded the Targeted Outreach programme at the direction of the Judicial Diversity Forum (JDF).

We designed the programme to support the Judicial Appointments Commission’s (JAC) statutory duty to encourage diversity in the range of persons available for selection. The programme of support includes all legal selection exercises and supports four of our key target groups - women, ethnic minority people, disabled people, and solicitors, who are least represented in the judiciary.

What does the Targeted Outreach programme do?

The Targeted Outreach programme  is designed to support candidates that are ready to make an application for their chosen judicial role and to complement the suite of existing support schemes from JDF partners.

Prioritisation of support is based on:

  • Underrepresented groups - women, ethnic minority people, disabled people, and/or solicitors and chartered legal executives (both with a litigation and non-litigation background), and those from a non-litigation background including academic, employed bar and non-practising barristers.
  • The readiness to apply and likely impact in relation to successful outcomes in selection exercises.
  • The timing of the chosen selection exercise.

Ideally, we are looking to support candidates that already have experience of the JAC selection exercise process, having attempted a judicial application previously.

Candidates must have taken part in one or more of our recommended support schemes before applying for Targeted Outreach support:

How we identify candidates

The Targeted Outreach team uses three key work streams to identify potential candidates:

  1. Self-referral applications: encouraging candidates to self-refer through the application form.
  2. Stakeholder Nominations: referrals from professional bodies and the judiciary.
  3. JAC Nominations: identifying candidates that attended selection days and were unsuccessful – and may benefit from Targeted Outreach support.

The Targeted Outreach team used data tracking and analysis tools to follow applications by Targeted Outreach candidates and quantify feasible impact. This is in line with the JDF’s overarching monitoring and evaluation principles, which are underpinned by a ‘theory of change’ model, which help Forum partners better measure the impact of their judicial diversity initiatives.

Outcomes of the programme

Highlights demonstrating the positive impact of the programme include:

  • Success rates from candidates supported by the Targeted Outreach programme are significantly higher than those applying with the same diversity characteristics more generally, as shown by comparison to success rates in the three years to the end of March 2023 (the most recent statistics available).
  • 27% of candidates who have taken part in the programme for at least 12 months and made at least one application have been successfully recommended, resulting in a total of 77 recommendations to date.
  • Candidates matched with judicial guides have been more successful at reaching selection day, and these are now starting to ‘translate’ into recommendations also.

Judicial Guide Scheme

The JAC launched the Judicial Guide Scheme in January 2021 to provide additional support to candidates, led by HHJ Nigel Lickley KC, Director of Training. Judicial Guide support is uniquely tailored to candidate needs and covers a broad range of selection exercises, including advice on how to choose competency examples and independent assessors, to alternative pathways and signposting to other support programmes and resources. These conversations also tackle softer skills such as confidence-building, overcoming imposter syndrome, dispelling misconceptions, positive motivation, and management of expectations.

The Judicial Guide Scheme is officially co-badged with the judiciary, an indication of its success and the judiciary’s commitment to the longevity of support towards judicial diversity. From April 2023, all salaried Judicial Guides participating in the scheme have three days of protected time per year, as agreed by the former Lord Chief Justice, Senior President of Tribunals, and Senior Presiding Judge. This was reaffirmed by our new Lady Chief Justice upon her appointment in October 2023.

To date, 164 judges have been formally accredited as Judicial Guides. Of these 164, 52% are female and 15% come from an ethnic minority background.

How can we join?

Applications to Targeted Outreach: You might want to advance your own career or encourage and support others around you. The Targeted Outreach programme supports all legal exercises, so if you would like to know more, please ask the team, or visit the programme's webpage.

Contact details and more information

For further information please email the Targeted Outreach and Research team: [email protected]

Visit the Targeted Outreach webpage on the JAC website:

Targeted Outreach programme – Judicial Appointments Commission