- physical fitness
- clear speaking voice
- good written and spoken English
- handling sensitive information
- armed services
- making sure that everything is ready for the judge or sheriff - for example, paperwork, wig and gown - and remaining in court throughout the session to ensure that everything runs smoothly
- checking that everyone involved - jurors, lawyers, defendants and witnesses - are present, and dealing with any problems that arise
- introducing the sheriff or judge (in the supreme courts, carrying in the mace, a symbol of the court’s authority) and starting the hearing or trial formally
- responsible for swearing in the jurors, calling the accused and witnesses to court and administering the oath (their promise to tell the truth) to them before they give evidence
- labelling items of evidence and passing them to the judge and jury, and also passing messages between the court clerk and the lawyers
- responsible for security and discipline in the public areas around the court
- looking after jurors as they discuss their verdict, ensuring their safety and privacy and sometimes arranging overnight accommodation for them
- carrying out other general duties like photocopying, processing mail, filing and data inputting or covering reception.
- You usually work normal hours Monday to Friday in an office or in court.
- There might be some paid overtime in the early morning or evening.
- Part time work is possible.
- You might have to travel between courts.
- You might have to spend occasional nights away from home.
- You would be on your feet for much of the time.
- You would wear a gown in court.
- In Scotland all court officers and macers are civil servants.
- There are strict nationality and residency requirements.
- There are no formal entry qualifications.
- You must be over 16 in Scotland – most entrants are a lot older.
- A background involving dealing with the public and difficult situations such as in the police or armed forces is useful.
- A driving licence is useful.
- You must be fit enough to spend much of the day standing still and to carry equipment.
- a confident manner
- a clear speaking voice, capable of being heard throughout the courtroom
- excellent written and spoken communication skills
- respect for confidentiality
- the ability to calm and reassure witnesses
- good organisational skills.
- Training is mainly on the job and will cover court procedure, court behaviour and the roles and responsibilities of the various participants in the legal process.
- You can also do short specialist courses on, for example, security issues.
- You could do a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Level 2 and 3 in Court Operations.
Court Officer or Macer
Industry: Legal Support Services
Summary: Court officers make sure that hearings in the Sheriff Courts run smoothly. In the supreme courts (the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary) the people who carry out these duties are called macers. They prepare the courtroom beforehand, making sure that all the materials are ready. They meet the participants – the accused, lawyers, witnesses and jurors – and see that they are in the right place at the right time and know what they are supposed to do.
Average salary: The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates vary, depending on:where you work the size of the organisation you work for the demand for the job.As at 1 June 2012, the salary for a court officer is £14,055 to £15,425 a year.
Read further information about this career
Court officer; court macer; court usher; clerk of court; administrative officer
You could be:
What does it take
You need to have:
In English and Welsh courts the name of this job is court usher.
Skills for Justice
140 Causewayside Edinburgh EH1 1PR
Tel: 0131 662 5234
Notes: Skills for Justice is the Sector Skills Council for the Justice, Community Safety and Legal Services Sectors. The careers section of their website holds information on the careers within these sectors.