Career Development

What Does a Law Clerk Do?

Find out what a law clerk does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a law clerk.

Law clerks are an integral part of the legal profession. They provide valuable assistance to lawyers by researching legal issues, drafting documents, and helping with trial preparation. In many cases, law clerks are responsible for taking detailed notes during court proceedings and meetings with clients.

Law clerks typically work under the supervision of a senior lawyer or judge. Their duties may include reviewing case files, conducting legal research, writing memos and briefs, and preparing presentations for their supervisor.

Law Clerk Job Duties

Law clerks have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Drafting legal documents such as motions, briefs, or subpoenas based on the attorney’s instructions
  • Conducting legal research, including locating case law, statutes, rules, regulations, etc. that support the attorney’s arguments
  • Reviewing files for accuracy and ensuring that all deadlines are met
  • Providing advice to attorneys about the application of the law to specific situations
  • Interviewing clients and witnesses, taking notes, and recording observations to help lawyers prepare for trials
  • Helping attorneys prepare for court appearances by researching case law and other materials relevant to a case
  • Drafting contracts, wills, trusts, and other legal documents based on the attorney’s instructions
  • Reviewing documents to ensure they comply with legal requirements such as proper signatures, notarization, and confidentiality clauses
  • Scheduling meetings and appointments with clients, witnesses, other attorneys, and other parties involved in cases

Law Clerk Salary & Outlook

Law clerks’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of law they specialize in.

  • Median Annual Salary: $56,500 ($27.16/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $137,000 ($65.87/hour)

The employment of law clerks is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Lawyers will continue to hire law clerks to help with research and other tasks. However, the increasing automation of legal work will limit the need for law clerks to conduct some types of legal research.

Related: In-Depth Law Clerk Salary Guide

Law Clerk Job Requirements

A law clerk typically needs to have the following:

Education: Most law clerks have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as political science, English or history. Some law clerks earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, which is a three-year program that includes courses in constitutional law, criminal law, civil procedure and contracts.

Many law clerks pursue a master’s degree in law (LLM) to increase their employment opportunities and earning potential. An LLM takes one to two years to complete and includes coursework and a thesis.

Training & Experience: Most law clerks will receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training will help the law clerk learn the specific procedures and requirements of the law firm. The training may include shadowing a current law clerk or working with a supervisor to complete tasks.

Certifications & Licenses: Though certifications are not usually required to qualify for a law clerk position, there are certifications that law clerks may choose to acquire to improve their qualifications and increase their earning potential.

Law Clerk Skills

Law clerks need the following skills in order to be successful:

Research: Law clerks perform research to find information for their superiors. They need to be able to find information quickly and efficiently. This requires a thorough understanding of how to use the law library and the legal system. It also requires the ability to use search engines and online databases.

Communication: Communication is another important skill for law clerks to have. You may be communicating with clients, other lawyers, judges and other court officials. It’s important to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in writing and verbally.

Organization: As a law clerk, you may be responsible for managing a large amount of paperwork, including case files, court documents and other records. It’s important to have excellent organizational skills to keep your work space and files in order. You may also be responsible for scheduling meetings, preparing presentations and other tasks that require you to be well-organized.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is another important skill for law clerks to have. They need to be able to review documents and find errors or inconsistencies. They also need to be able to review contracts and other legal documents and find any issues that may affect the validity of the document.

Confidentiality: Confidentiality is the ability to keep information private. As a law clerk, you may be privy to sensitive information about a client’s case. It’s important to keep this information private so that it doesn’t get leaked to the public or the opposing party.

Law Clerk Work Environment

Law clerks work in the legal department of a corporation, government agency, or law firm. They provide support to lawyers by researching cases, writing reports, and preparing legal documents. Law clerks usually work a standard 40-hour week, although they may have to work overtime to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, and law clerks must be able to handle pressure and work well under deadlines.

Law Clerk Trends

Here are three trends influencing how law clerks work. Law clerks will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Ethics

As the legal profession becomes more complex, law clerks will need to focus on ethics and compliance. This means that they will need to be familiar with the latest laws and regulations in order to ensure that their firms are in compliance.

In addition, law clerks will need to be able to identify potential ethical violations and help their firms avoid them. This requires a deep understanding of the law as well as the ethical standards that apply to lawyers.

More Use of Technology

Law clerks are increasingly using technology to streamline their work. This is due to the increasing use of electronic court filing systems, which allows law clerks to file documents electronically rather than manually.

As technology continues to play a larger role in the legal profession, law clerks will need to learn how to use it effectively in order to stay competitive. This includes learning how to use electronic court filing systems as well as other technologies such as document management systems.

Greater Attention to Diversity

The legal profession is becoming increasingly diverse, as more and more people from different backgrounds are entering the field. This is leading to an increased focus on diversity within law firms, as they seek to hire employees who reflect the communities they serve.

Law clerks can capitalize on this trend by developing skills that make them attractive to law firms, such as language fluency or experience working with clients from different cultures. They can also network with professionals in their field and develop relationships with those who can provide valuable connections.

How to Become a Law Clerk

A law clerk career can be a great way to get started in the legal field. It’s a good way to learn about different areas of law, meet new people, and gain experience working with lawyers.

There are many ways to become a law clerk. You could work as a law clerk while you’re studying for your law degree, or after you graduate. Alternatively, you could train to become a certified legal assistant (CLA), which is another way to work in the legal field.

Related: How to Write a Law Clerk Resume

Advancement Prospects

A law clerk is an entry-level position in the legal field. Many law clerks eventually become lawyers, but some may advance to other positions in the legal field, such as paralegal, legal assistant, or law firm administrator. Some law clerks may also choose to pursue careers in other fields, such as business, government, or education.

To become a lawyer, a law clerk must attend law school and pass the bar exam. To become a paralegal, a law clerk may need to complete a paralegal studies program. To become a legal assistant, a law clerk may need to complete a legal assistant studies program. To become a law firm administrator, a law clerk may need to complete a business administration program.

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