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Paths to the Bench

Bankruptcy Courts, and Paths to the Bench

Bankruptcy helps people who can no longer pay their debts get a fresh start. Federal judges and attorneys explain the critical role of the bankruptcy process and the different paths to becoming a bankruptcy judge. All bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts. A petition for bankruptcy may be filed by an individual, by spouses together, or by a corporation or other entity. There are different types of bankruptcies, which are usually referred to by their chapter under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Unlike appellate and district judges, who are nominated by the President and confirmed to life terms by the Senate, bankruptcy judges are appointed to renewable 14-year terms by a majority of the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for their circuit.

Candidates must meet eligibility criteria, such as being a member of the bar in good standing. A circuit court may appoint a merit selection panel, consisting of judges and other legal professionals, to review and recommend candidates for appointment.  

Learn more about bankruptcy judges and other types of federal judges: About Federal Judges | United States Courts (