Diversity has become a major concern for judiciaries around the world. Popular – sometimes populist – calls for the inclusion of marginalized groups in judiciaries are ample. A vast and rich literature highlights the impact that judges’ lived-experiences bring to judicial outcomes. Consequentially, many judiciaries are struggling to find ways to enhance social and professional diversity. At the same time, judiciaries have undergone through numerous reforms, transforming judiciaries into highly complex systems that exhibit a bureaucratic division of labor between many actors and coordinated by hierarchy that favors managerial patterns of adjudication. And yet, even though both processes have their focus on institutional design – especially on the process of judicial nomination – too little has been written about their interactions and of the implications of bureaucratization for the discussion of diversity.
This paper aims at intervening at that junction. It uses the recent history of the Israeli Judiciary to explore those interactions and to make salient their importance. It utilizes the rise of nomination of former law clerks and registrars to judicial positions – and the changes in institutional design that supplemented this rise – to demonstrate that in some cases bureaucratization can shape and even enhance social and professional diversity in the judiciary. Analysis of the factors that enabled this process in Israel shows that both diversity-focused design and unintended consequences of otherwise-intended bureaucratization processes have shaped the social and professional composition of the Israeli Judiciary. However, the paper warns against overreliance on bureaucratic measures to enhance diversity, as they risk shaping the judiciary into a multi-tier institute where bureaucrat-judges of marginalized groups would be restricted to lower instances. The case study thus highlights the importance of incorporating processes of bureaucratization into diversity-focused judicial system design, and more broadly contribute to the consolidation of the many aspects of judicial system design into a larger framework.