The adjudicator is a legal professional presiding, arbitrating, and judging over formal disputes. As a rule, adjudicators judge over civil matters, good examples of which are unemployment insurance claims or financial payments owed to individuals by public organizations. Like the mediator, the adjudicator helps resolve disputes between the parties before their case enters the court system. Appealing to adjudicators for help is advisable, because their services are less costly and time-consuming. If a case is opened in court and arbitrated by juries, solving it will be a much lengthier and much more expensive process. Overloaded with different cases, judges in court do not usually devote so much time to listening to plaintiffs’ complaints as adjudicators do. It is true, of course, that adjudicators’ decisions are considered to be of less legal weight than those made by judges or juries in the legal courts. Yet still, adjudicators’ decisions are legally binding, no less than those of the judge presiding in court. They can also be appealed and transferred to court to be reconsidered. In most of the cases, however, judges accept and validate the decision made by the adjudicator.
Adjudicators perform various duties, the most important of which are enumerated below:
Also called hearing officers and administrative law judges, adjudicators work for all levels of government and make rulings concerning government programs. Among the cases on which adjudicators work are those involving enforcement of health and safety regulations, compliance to economic rules, compensation eligibility, or hiring discrimination. Note that job requirement for the position of the adjudicator vary depending on employers, companies, and industries. Thus, those judges who work for federal government are lawyers by profession. They also need to pass an exam. Yet some companies hire adjudicators who do not have a legal background.
Adjudication is different from other justice-seeking procedures. This process is limited to solving the following kinds of disputes:
In the majority of cases, adjudication is a binding force. There is no need for a jury to make a decision in a civil trial. In the adjudication process, a judge renders a decision only after all pieces of evidence have been presented by the adjudicator to the presiding body. This procedure is preferred by arguing parties, because it is less costly, time-consuming, and stressful than solving disputes in court.
Students dreaming of the legal career do not necessarily need to obtain their bachelor’s degree in law. Their undergraduate degree may be in other disciplines, though it is essential for them to take courses developing those skills that will be useful in a law school. Courses developing good writing and oral communication skills along with analytical thinking will serve students well in their further studies.
The LSAT - Before joining the law school, students aspiring to become adjudicators have to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test is administered by the Law School Admission Council to determine whether applicants possess required intellectual abilities and skills to study in the law school. The Law School Admission Test is given only four times a year and takes about half a day to be completed. All law schools approved by the ABA ask applicants to take the LSAT.
The Law School - The next step is studying in the law school. It takes students about three years to complete their law degree. While pursuing their degree, students are allowed to specialize in the area of law that they find most appealing. Once they graduate, students are required to pass the bar exam for the state where they plan to work.
Legal Work Experience – If you want to be hired as adjudicator, you need first to gain a work experience as attorney. As the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) indicates, adjudicators and administrative law judges working for a federal government agency are required to have seven years work experience as lawyers to be hired for these roles. These requirements may surely vary from state to state in the US, but no one can be employed as adjudicator without some work experience as attorney. It is also crucial for attorneys aspiring to work as adjudicator to gain a work experience precisely in those areas of law in which they wish to work later in their new role.
Certificates and Examinations – Job applicants aspiring to be employed as adjudicators also need to take exams measuring their knowledge of legal systems. Provided they have passed these exams with success, would-be adjudicators will be permitted to serve as judges for federal agencies. If you pass these exams and earn additional certificates, it will be easier for you to advance in your legal career.
Adjudicators are expected to have the following skills in order to succeed in their profession:
Salaries of adjudicators depend on the level of government for which they work. On average, adjudicators, administrative law judges, and hearing officers earn US$93,000. Their salaries also vary depending on the state in which they reside: adjudicators working in Alabama, California, and Massachusetts tend to make more money than their colleagues working in different states.
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