I read with interest your article “Those Who Can, Judge” (Lawyers Weekly, 12 October 2007). Victoria’s judiciary are to be congratulated for leading the way.
Until recently solicitors and barristers never had an opportunity to provide feedback to judicial officers, and judicial officers themselves seldom received honest and genuine feedback. Because of this, the Judicial College of Victoria has instituted a 360-degree feedback survey process for judicial officers where between 10—15 legal practitioners are selected as raters and given the opportunity to provide feedback using an anonymous online questionnaire. The survey questions focus on work-related behaviours — timeliness, courtesy, listening, verbal and non-verbal communication.
Supreme and County Court judges, magistrates and VCAT members voluntarily take part each year and the process is designed to provide the judicial officer insights into how they are perceived, what their strengths and weaknesses might be, and provides opportunities for self-reflection and professional development.
The process is totally confidential for both the raters and judicial officers. Each judicial officer is provided with the collated responses in a confidential report at a lengthy one-on-one individual debrief by a psychologist. No one else (including any head of jurisdiction) sees these reports. We have run this over the past two years and the College Board, chaired by Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC, is delighted with its success and it will continue to be offered each year. In Victoria at least, the profession does have a voice.
Lyn Slade, chief executive officer
Judicial College of Victoria