THE other day a friend told me their child was considering future career options and was wondering about something involving the criminal law.

Should they set their sights on becoming a judge, perhaps, or the holder of some other important role, such as determining guidelines for how magistrates ought to deal with wrongdoers?

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked the question, as parents tend to want the best for their children and roles such as these tend to be very well paid - not to mention offering plenty of career security and a healthy dose of social cachet.

Perhaps your own children are considering a future in the field and you are wondering whether they’ll fit in.

Whenever somebody asks me this question, I recommend setting their children a simple aptitude test based on current legal trends, with particular reference to local cases.

It’s a quick and very simple multiple choice test, and I’m happy to share a few questions from it

1 A man with a history of domestic violence appears in court and admits holding a knife to his partner’s throat, leaving her in fear for her life, and threatening to stab her.

Deciding that the knife was not sharp enough, he left the room before returning with the knife and a sharpener, then rubbed the knife against his own throat and proclaimed it sharp.

Should he (a) be put away until such time as he can prove he is no longer a danger to any other human being or (b) given a sentence allowing him to be let loose after 18 months or so?

2 A man kicks his girlfriend hard enough to shatter her arm so badly that extensive surgery is required to repair it. He then grabs her by the hair and chokes her to the point at which she feels herself losing consciousness.

He says via his representative that although he realises the attack was serious, he does not feel it was the worst among such offences.

Should he (a) be put away until such time as he can prove he is no longer a danger to any other human being or (b) given a sentence allowing him to be let loose after 18 months or so?

3 A man throws his girlfriend - who is pregnant with his child - over a fence, leaving her with a cut eyebrow.

Should he (a) receive a jail term or any other sanction which a reasonable person might think of as a meaningful punishment or (b) be allowed to stroll free from court with a restraining order and a fairly minor compensation order?

4 A man gets drunk, enters a pub, challenges three blameless innocents to a fight, throws a chair at them, punches one of them hard enough to break his glasses - and does all of this while subject to a community order for another act of violence.

Should he (a) go to jail or (b) stroll free from the court with a community order, an order to do some unpaid work and some modest financial penalties?

5 A man bites and kicks his one-year-old baby. When the baby cries, he is seen to press its shoulder to his face, after which the infant’s cries become louder. He also pushes his other child, a toddler, to the ground.

Should he (a) be placed in a cell until such a time as it can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no risk of his committing any such offences again, even if that means keeping the despicable child-abusing creature locked up until he no longer has teeth to bite a baby or the strength to lift one or (b) turned loose with a community order?

For young people who answer mostly (b) a potential career in the upper reaches of the legal system beckons, whether in the judiciary or as a lawmaker.