Law Clerk Job Facts

A law clerk’s job is to assist lawyers or judges in preparing legal or court documents. As a law clerk, you also have the responsibility of doing legal analysis and research while preparing such legal documents. Preparing draft opinions for attorneys or judges is a basic aspect of this position. In short, you have to give administrative assistance to the legal professionals.

Basic Duties

The daily duties of the legal clerk depend on the type of law firm you are working with. There are two types of job profiles for the kinds of law clerks you may chose to work as, trial court law clerks and appellate law clerks. As a trial court law clerk, you will be working at the trial court and will be involved in the litigation process. Appellate law clerks do research and analyze the complicated legal issues in the criminal and civil appeals. Your basic duties in either of the profiles would be as follows:

  • Prepare for closings, hearings, trials and corporate meetings.
  • Conduct research on legal documents to examine laws pertaining to a case.
  • Screen the petition and complaints to assess the litigant’s legal merit.
  • Prepare affidavits of documents and maintain all the documents and correspondences of a case.
  • Advise judges about the priorities and statuses of the cases.
  • Prepare drafts of arguments and submit the same for approval by attorneys.
  • Prepare subpoenas and deliver them to witnesses and clients.
  • Review and file pleadings, petitions and relevant documents; file all relevant documents.
  • Deliver the copies of pleas to opposing counsels.
  • Prepare the courtroom setup with recording equipment.
  • Liaise with officials, attorneys and litigants.
  • Counsel the parties in dispute and try to sort out their differences in opinion.
  • Organize and track files of all important case documents and make them easily retrievable for use by attorneys.

Work Hours

Law clerks are employed by law firms, corporate legal departments and government offices. If you are working as a law clerk in a government office or in a corporate firm, work hours should be the standard 40 hours a week. If you are working in a privately owned law firm, the work hours may extend beyond the normal ones on a regular basis because of the nature of the business.

Salary/Wages

Factors determining the salaries of law clerks are experience, bar membership, location and type of clerk. Law clerks from an accredited law school are making, on average, $53,889. In 2009, a term law clerk made around $70,000. A judicial law clerk made $100,000 in 2009. There are many variables that determine the salary of this position.  

Advancement Opportunities

After gaining significant experience in the field, you can be promoted as senior clerk or as the head of the clerical team. With increase in competency, you can also advance to managerial or law-related positions within the firm. Recent trends suggest that privately held law firms are hiring law clerks to do some of the work of junior lawyers. This helps them to keep the operational costs down. Thus, the demand for law clerks is going to be increasing for a few years.