Other Legal MattersWhat is a Law Clerk?

September 17, 20220

Although it can be a stand alone position, law clerk is often seen as an entry-level position in the legal field that provides an opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the legal system –

 

What is a Law Clerk?

A law clerk is someone who assists a lawyer in the courtroom and elsewhere. They may do research, prepare and lodge filings, or help with other legal tasks.

Many large firms have “summer clerk” programs which are offered to law students for a specified period (often 8 weeks, but it can be more or less than this). These, then, are in the nature of temporary positions.

We will focus in this article on a law clerk as a permanent position.

waiting for judgement

The Role of a Law Clerk

There is some overlap between the position of law clerk and the position of paralegal.  A paralegal’s role is typically more structured and certain in terms of tasks, than a law clerk position may be.

A law clerk is an employee who assists a lawyer in the preparation and prosecution of legal cases. A law clerk typically performs many tasks associated with the clerical aspect of law, such as reviewing case files, researching precedents, preparing briefs and other documents, and contacting opposing counsel.

Law clerks are often highly educated professionals with a background in a variety of different skills and occupations, and includes people currently studying for a law degree who hope to transition from law clerk to lawyer. Law clerks must have good research skills and be able to work quickly and efficiently.  Some educational establishments offer special programs designed for law clerks seeking entry level employment in the legal field.

what is a law clerk

The Skills Required to be a Law Clerk

Law clerks are integral part of many legal teams and play an important role in assisting attorneys with their work. Here are some essential skills that every law clerk should possess:

  1. Strong writing skills – Law clerks need to be able to write coherently and effectively across various formats. They must be able to draft legal documents such as briefs and pleadings accurately and concisely.
  2. Ability to assist with complex cases – A typical day on a law clerk’s calendar might include working on complex cases or researching new case laws. As such, they must have excellent problem-solving skills as well as knowledge of the relevant legal proceedings involved in these disputes.
  3. Excellent research abilities – A successful career as a lawyer depends largely on being able to identify potential loopholes in court rulings or statutes, which can often only be uncovered through exhaustive research into the matter at hand. As such, good law clerks should not only be competent writers but also know how to critically analyse information sources.
  4. Enhanced communication and organisational skills – It’s not just about being able to produce high-quality written materials; good law clerks also need effective interpersonal skills including the ability to stay calm under pressure and efficient time management abilities.

The Experience You Need to Be a Law Clerk

A law clerk is a legal professional who assists a lawyer in the performance of their duties. A law clerk may have a degree in law, or be working towards one, but not always.

A law clerk will need to gain experience performing legal tasks. This experience can come from working as a law clerk, or by initially working for a law firm in another capacity (e.g. as a legal assistant or legal secretary).

Job Outlook for Law Clerks

The job outlook for law clerks is good. Demand for legal services is increasing, and the number of law clerks is expected to grow. This is due in part to the increasing number of law firms and the need for more legal help.

Law clerks typically work in a law office or in a government agency. They may work on a full-time or part-time basis.

wooden judge gavel

Final Comments on What is a Law Clerk

Being a law clerk can be an incredibly rewarding experience, both in terms of pay and professional development.

Law clerks are an important part of the legal system in Australia. They provide valuable support to lawyers and play a vital role in research and writing, as well as a supporting role in Court.

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