As the first Grand Corps of the French State, the Conseil d’État has approximately 300 members, two-third of whom work within the Conseil d’État and one-third externally.
Regarding the texts, one should mention the provisions of the Code of Administrative Justice stemming from the decree of 30th July 1963, establishing the status of the members of the Conseil d’État. These provisions are very similar to those of French civil service law (e.g., no immovability is formally instituted) with some exceptions. For example; no evaluating, nor advancement list are established.
Ultimately, the guarantees granted to the members of the Conseil d’Etat mostly stem from practice. In that regard, three practices should be noted as both ancient and decisive:
• Firstly, the management of the Conseil d’Etat and its members is guaranteed internally, by the board of the Conseil d’État, composed of the Vice-president, all seven presidents of sections and the secretary general of the Conseil d’État, without any external interference;
• Secondly, even though texts do not guarantee the immovability of the members, in practice, this guarantee exists, except for exceptional cases such as in 1940-44;
• Finally, if the career advancement does not - in theory - follow any specific rules, it strictly obeys - in practice - to seniority. This ensures the independence of the members from both political authorities and the authorities of the Conseil d’Etat themselves.
Each year, five positions of auditor are made available to senior officials with at least 2 years of experience in public services. After three years an auditor is promoted to maître des requêtes (master of petitions) and after twelve years, to Conseiller d'État (Councillor of State). Promotion is based exclusively on seniority which assures independence and impartiality in the promotion of members.
Recruitment by external appointment accounts for one out of four maîtres des requêtes and one out of three Conseillers d'État. Maîtres des requêtes on special service are appointed for four years whereas Conseillers d'État on special service are appointed for five years. A number of external appointments, upon the nomination of the Vice-President of the Conseil d'État, is reserved for members of the administrative tribunals and the administrative courts of appeal. External and special service appointments provide the Conseil d'État with a rich diversity of member profiles and skills.
Members are appointed to serve in the litigation department, and/or in an advisory department. Some members choose to work outside the Conseil d'État, for example by assisting the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or other members of the cabinet. They may also be seconded to key posts in the French administration. A few Conseillers d'État sit as judges in the International Court of Justice, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. Members also have the option of taking leave of absence in order to work in the private sector for a limited period of time.