What Does a Law Clerk Do?

To better comprehend and clarify material, speak with several court personnel.
To assist in making judgments, research the essential legal papers and facts.

Law clerks (not to be confused with deputy court clerks) help judges make better legal judgements.
Despite their designation, legal clerks have extremely little clerical responsibilities.
They’re occasionally extremely accomplished attorneys who hold one of the legal industry’s most prominent and sought-after jobs, but they’re more commonly recent law school graduates who graduated at the top of their class.
It may be determined by state and judicial customs.

After graduating from law school, most judicial law clerks work for a judge for one to two years.
Some judges keep skilled legal clerks on their staffs as permanent personnel.

Because they provide suggestions about case and appeal dispositions and may strongly influence a judge’s decision based on their study, law clerks have a lot of authority.
Because of their contributions to judges’ opinions, law clerks play a crucial role in the formulation of new case law.

If they’ve passed the bar, law clerks at the trial court level are often engaged in the litigation process.
They assist the judge in courtroom proceedings, handle exhibits filed as evidence, and communicate with chambers staff, court workers, litigants, and the general public.

Settlement discussions and discovery conflicts are often handled by trial court law clerks.
They evaluate briefs presented by trial parties, check referenced legal authority, do legal research, and write various legal documents such as memoranda and orders.

They may take statements from witnesses and issue subpoenas.
They sometimes serve as supervisors for other chambers employees.
They essentially take on all of the responsibilities that judges don’t have time for or aren’t willing to do themselves.

Appellate law clerks provide research and analysis in civil and criminal appeals.
Prior to oral argument, they brief the judge and legal staff on the facts and issues of the case.
They often assist in court processes, but they cannot participate actively until they have taken the bar test.

Bench memos, orders, opinions, and other legal documents are researched and written by these clerks.
Other responsibilities might include overseeing chambers workers and managing the chambers library.

Salaries for Law Clerks

Salaries differ based on the clerk’s experience, whether or not they’ve been admitted to the bar, location pay adjustments, and the kind of clerk position—whether permanent, temporary, or term.
New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, Illinois, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Nevada, and Washington have traditionally paid more than others.

Salary ranges for judicial law clerks, for example, are as follows:

$51,330 ($24.68/hour) is the median annual salary.

Annual Salary in the Top 10%: Over $97,230 ($46.75/hour)

Annual Salary in the Bottom 10%: Less than $32,990 ($15.86/hour)

Education, Training, and Certification, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

The following are the educational and training requirements for the post of legal clerk:

Candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree as well as a law degree.
Superior academic qualifications are often required for employment because of the academic nature of the job and the status associated with clerkship positions.
This entails high grades, participation in law review, and other academic honors.

Experience: Many judges prefer legal clerks who have participated in a law review or a moot court competition, and they frequently favor those who show promise of going on to do great things in the area of law.
While preparing for the bar test, many graduates work as legal clerks.

Skills and Competencies of a Law Clerk

Candidates that possess the following talents, in addition to schooling and other prerequisites, may be able to perform better in the position.
Judicial clerkships need a great deal of study and writing.

Superior writing abilities are required to create succinct, well-researched opinions, bench notes, and other legal papers.

Excellent research abilities are required, as is the ability to comprehend complicated case and statute legislation.

Solid understanding of many areas of the law, judicial processes, jurisdictional rules, and the court system.

Interpersonal abilities:
Strong communication skills and the capacity to collaborate with attorneys, chambers staff, litigants, and, in many cases, the general public.

Job Prospects

In comparison to other professions and sectors, the forecast for legal clerk positions is average, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Between 2016 and 2026, employment is predicted to expand by roughly 6%, which is somewhat less than the average of 7% growth for all professions.

Working Conditions

Law clerks operate in an office setting and spend a significant amount of time interacting with classmates and supervisors.
Some people may find the work unpleasant since they are always under pressure to be precise and correct.

Working Hours

A full 40-hour workweek is typical for a legal clerk.

How to Land a Job

RESEARCH

Look into the legal field that interests you.
Many law clerks have said that they learnt more in this short-term employment than they did throughout their entire legal education.
This is especially useful if you wish to specialize in a specific field of law.
Apply for clerkships in courts that handle the matters you’re interested in, such as family law, criminal law, or tort law.

NETWORK

Join appropriate industry organisations to develop relationships and boost your chances of being hired or referred for a clerical position.
Check out the websites of organizations like the Federal Court Clerks Association to see what activities are taking place near you.

APPLY

Law clerk job information is available via the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR).
Browse for legal clerk jobs on Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com, or search a nationwide database of federal law clerk openings.

The position of legal clerk adds a lot to a résumé.
Four Supreme Court Justices started their legal careers as law clerks on the Supreme Court.
Before becoming a clerk for a federal court judge, you must often serve in a lower court.

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