Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
From time to time bankruptcy judgeships open up around the country for various reasons.
A judge may retire or sadly, as was the case with the late Judge Dennis E. Milton, a judge may pass away, leaving a vacant bench that must be filled. [Click here to see the Bankruptcy Judge Dennis E. Milton obituary that I wrote last week].
Bankruptcy judgeships may also open if Congress passes the Bankruptcy Judgeship Act of 2010, which I also wrote about last week: Pay a Buck — Get a Bankruptcy Judge .
I just received an e-mail about an opening in the Ninth Circuit for a bankruptcy judgeship in the Western District of Washington — Seattle.
Since most bankruptcy practitioners are curious about what’s involved with applying for a bankruptcy judgeship, even if they have no plans to do so, here’s some information:
How Far in Advance do Bankruptcy Judgeships Become Available?
The selection process usually takes a good 10 months to complete. The open position in Seattle is not available until January 2011.
How Long is the Term?
A bankruptcy judge is appointed to a term of 14 years which is renewable, subject to applicable reappointment procedures.
How Much is the Current Salary for a Bankruptcy Judge?
The current salary is $160,080 per year. If you are applying from here in New York, and are accepted, you will not get any relocation expenses.
I wrote a more detailed post last year: How Much Do Long Island Bankruptcy Judges Earn? 
What is the Selection Process Like for Bankruptcy Judges?
It is open and very competitive. I wrote about this last year — How Are Long Island Bankruptcy Judges Appointed? 
Basically, all applications are screened by a local Merit Screening Committee which then selects a limited number of judicial candidates for interviews. The committee also contacts references.
From this initial group, the Committee narrows down the applicants who then receive a further interview by a new committee composed of Circuit Judges. The judges then submit their recommendation to the Court of Appeals.
What Are the Basic Qualifications for a Bankruptcy Judge?
Applicants must be admitted to practice before the highest court of at least one state, be a member of good standing in every bar in which they are a member of, and have at least five years of legal practice experience.
What Checks to Bankruptcy Judge Applicants Go Through?
Nominated applicants must undergo both FBI and IRS background investigations prior to appointment.
Are You Actually Interested?
If so, contact the Ninth Circuit official website for more information. The deadline is August 5, 2010. Incidentally, there is also a judical bankruptcy opportunity in the Central District of California — Los Angeles — but the deadline is June 17, 2010.