Judicial Law Clerk Job Description
Judicial law clerks conduct research, write documents, attend court sessions, and perform clerical and administrative duties for judges. Judicial law clerks work for judges primarily within the courthouse itself, but sometimes travel outside the courthouse to deliver documents. Judicial law clerks work full-time shifts during daytime business hours, with evening and weekend shifts rarely required. They report to and collaborate closely with the judge for whom they work.
Judicial Law Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties for judicial law clerks vary based on the judge’s day-to-day caseload and the daily court docket of upcoming cases. However, the following core tasks are the common in all courthouses:
Conduct Legal Research
Judicial law clerks research legal cases, laws, and documents as directed by the judge.
Manage Court Records
Judicial law clerks prepare, process, and maintain court records.
Judicial law clerks maintain the judge’s daily schedule, keeping track of all cases and appointments.
Prepare Written Materials
Judicial law clerks draft and write reports, briefs, memos, orders, decrees, judgements, and other legal documents.
Attend Court Sessions
Judicial law clerks attend all court sessions and perform necessary duties while court is in session, such as keeping a record of courtroom events and preparing court records for the judge’s use.
Judicial law clerks administer oaths to swear in witnesses and juries during court sessions.
Evaluate Legal Documents
Judicial law clerks evaluate and review petitions, motions, briefs, pleadings, and other legal documents.
Perform Clerical Duties
Judicial law clerks perform clerical duties as set forth by the judge. This may include answering and placing phone calls, filing paperwork, and making copies.
Judicial law clerks deliver subpoenas to witnesses and deliver documents to legal offices.
Judicial Law Clerk Skills and Qualifications
Judicial law clerks need a law school education and legal knowledge to write legal documents of all types, maintain legal paperwork, and assist judges in all tasks inside and outside of the courtroom. Judges seek judicial law clerks who have the following skills:
- Data entry – judicial law clerks use data entry skills to transcribe notes and enter information into digital systems
- Multitasking – judicial law clerks manage many tasks and duties at once, which requires good multitasking skills
- Analytical thinking – judicial law clerks use analytical skills to evaluate complex legal documents
- Attention to detail – judicial law clerks use excellent attention to detail to ensure that legal language is correct in all documents and that all court proceedings are followed to the letter of the law
- Computer skills – judicial law clerks frequently use various software programs to create documents, which requires good computer skills
- Communication skills – judicial law clerks use excellent written and verbal communication skills to create legal documents and swear in witnesses
Judicial Law Clerk Education and Training
To apply for a clerkship with a judge, candidates must be law school graduates who have passed the state bar examination. Some judges also require judicial law clerks to have past clerical or legal work experience. The ability to type at least 40 words per minute is commonly required as well. In addition, judicial law clerks must pass a criminal background check.
Judges provide judicial law clerks with some training to teach them the specific methods by which they want tasks and paperwork managed. This on-the-job training period varies by judge, but generally lasts for several weeks as judicial law clerks become familiar with courtroom proceedings, legal paperwork, and other clerking tasks.
Judicial Law Clerk Salary and Outlook
PayScale job data shows that judicial law clerks earn a median hourly income of $15.08. In comparison, information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that general office clerks earn $31,500 in median annual income, or $15.14 per hour. The BLS predicts this field will experience little to no job growth through 2026.
Benefit packages provided to judicial law clerks typically include health insurance with medical, dental, and vision coverage. Judicial law clerks also usually receive paid holidays, vacation leave, and sick days. Additional job perks may also be included, such as free parking.
The primary benefit for judicial law clerks, however, is career advancement. This job is considered a primary stepping stone for professionals hoping to become lawyers or judges because of the educational opportunities and job training provided by the day-to-day courtroom environment and the benefits of working closely with a judge of the court.
Explore these books and websites to find career advancement opportunities and jobs for judicial law clerks, and learn tips and strategies for finding success on this career path:
American Bar Association – the ABA has numerous resources and materials for judicial law clerks and lawyers at all stages of their career, including news updates, webinars, and career advancement information
The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking – this book is an in-depth guide for judicial law clerks. The text provides information on obtaining a clerkship and how to perform all aspects of the job
National Association for Law Placement – the NALP helps professionals advance their law career by providing news updates and legal journals, education and conference information, research tools, and more resources for judicial law clerks and other legal professionals
Judicial Clerkships: A Practical Guide – this book is a comprehensive guide to working as a judicial clerk. The text provides in-depth information regarding the role and the various duties it requires, and also reviews the fundamental skills needed to carry it out successfully
Federal Court Clerks Association – visit this website to find conference dates, seminars, and other training opportunities for federal court clerks
The Tip Book: 18 Pearls of Wisdom for Judicial Law Clerks – research valuable tips and techniques for judicial law clerks with this book, which provides helpful insight into succeeding in this career
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