All About Law Clerk Jobs in 2021
Graduating from a law school can open new opportunities. Some graduates pursue further education, while others want to start their careers. Many jobs in the legal industry are based on individual desires and qualifications. You should have in mind that not every law school graduate becomes a full-time lawyer right after graduation.
The most significant trend in the legal industry is high competition. An example of this is law clerk jobs. This profession has high standards, and it is one of the most sought-after for recent law school graduates. Here is a full, detailed explanation of this legal career’s ins and outs so that you can decide if it is the right option for you.
What Do Law Clerks Do?
A law clerk, also called a judicial clerk, is often found working with a judge in municipal, state, and federal courts. But what are their everyday job responsibilities? Read our law clerks’ job description to find out more about this position.
Duties and Responsibilities of Law Clerks
Although law clerks are often confused with paralegals, law clerk duties are entirely different. During their regular working days, they have the following responsibilities:
- Conducting extensive research on relevant legal data
- Assisting the judge and the legal team
- Organizing, drafting, and preparing legal documentation
- Communicating and interpreting information with the legal counsel members.
Judicial law clerk jobs are seen as prestigious since they have a unique role in the legal office. A judge will often rely on the law clerk’s accurate advice about specific cases and appeals.
Types of Legal Clerk Jobs
There are two types of legal clerk jobs — trial court and appellate. Here are the core differences between them:
- Trial court law clerks
The trial court law clerk position allows you to get involved in litigation processes. Assisting legal proceedings at court, managing evidentiary exhibits, and taking witness statements are some law clerks’ daily tasks. A legal clerk position is quite similar to a supervisory role.
- Appellate law clerks
In contrast, appellate law clerk jobs focus more on intricate research and writing. Their list of tasks includes reviewing court records, drafting bench memoranda, and writing legal opinions for the judge. Contacting the legal team before an oral argument is also a part of appellate legal clerk duties.
Work Environment of Law Clerks
Law clerks usually work in offices within courthouses or law firms. Apart from that, they sometimes spend time in courtrooms or the judge’s chambers. Furthermore, they sometimes travel, if an employer demands that. No matter where they work, law clerks always have to wear business professional attire.
Injuries and Illnesses
As the duties of a law clerk are mostly centered on research, management, and documentation, they will have to spend a lot of time sitting behind a desk. To prevent back pain and muscle strain, you should consider using ergonomic furniture during working hours.
Law Clerks’ Work Schedule
Law jobs are known to be time-consuming. For example, many full-time lawyers in the US work more than 40 hours a week. However, the case is different with law clerks.
Law clerks’ work schedules are similar to those of many professionals outside the legal industry. Despite high demands, law clerk jobs in the US have predictable working hours. Law clerks are supposed to work full time — 40 hours a week.
However, sometimes they are also expected to work overtime, primarily when they deal with complicated cases. If allowed, many of them choose to work overtime from home.
How to Become a Legal Clerk
First, you should google “law clerk jobs near me.” When you find law clerk job openings, you should check which qualities and educational background the ideal candidate should possess. The following segment will describe how to get hired for a law clerk job and what requirements you will encounter during the application process.
Becoming a law clerk is not an easy task. To get hired, you should have the ability to handle legal processes under pressure. Here are some vital qualities a great legal clerk should have.
- A profound understanding of legal matters
As a law clerk, you will be an integral part of the judicial system. The judge and members of the litigation team will rely on your knowledge and skills. Due to these expectations, a legal clerk job implies that you have a diverse understanding of various law areas. Legal procedures, regulations, and the court system are some fields of interest you should understand.
- Strong writing skills
Judicial clerks have to write, draft, and organize legal files. Legal clerkship jobs involve drafting memoranda, opinions, and other related documents. Moreover, these documents should be based on well-researched facts.
- Excellent flair for research and analysis
A law clerk should be research-oriented, as their role is to analyze different regulations and statutory laws. Full knowledge of legal research platforms and complicated legal terminologies is also necessary.
- Great interpersonal skills
Becoming a law clerk means you won’t work alone. You will need to meet and interact with different legal professionals. Judges, counsel members, chambers’ staff, case witnesses — everyone related to a case will be within your legal scope. Learning how to cooperate and listen will be essential for your work.
The law clerk’s educational path is similar to that of a lawyer. Aside from a righteous character, they should also have an excellent academic background and no criminal records. Furthermore, they should possess the following:
- A four-year bachelor’s degree
- A Juris Doctor degree from a recognized law school would be a huge plus.
Because of the job’s prestige, candidates with outstanding academic credentials will be a top choice. Some offices also have open positions for law clerk summer jobs and prefer those who already have court experience.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most of the time, law clerks are practicing law. Besides gaining a bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees, they will also have to pass the bar exam in order to get a license.
Further education is also available and frequently encouraged in the legal industry. Some legal clerks have to handle different cases and appeals, so getting formalized training on legal topics such as immigration and tax will be beneficial.
Career Advancement Options for Legal Clerks
Another critical aspect of law clerk jobs is career advancement. It can be achieved in two ways — by gaining experience and through professional development. The more experience you have, the better position you can acquire.
Moreover, those who want to advance can take on an administrative role that is influential in the judicial system. Some also shift to specialized careers, such as federal law clerk jobs.
Federal law courts are some of the most competitive places for legal professionals. There, law clerks can gain multiple advantages concerning legal experience, job perspective, and salary wages.
Law Clerk Salary
A law clerk job is one of the most popular career choices for recent law graduates. Apart from providing a diverse insight into the court’s actual proceedings, the job is compensated well in financial terms. According to recent research, the median law clerk’s salary is $51,330 per year.
Moreover, the average salary range is $30,000–$50,000. In this case, you should have in mind that a law office clerk’s salary can vary depending on several factors, such as their location, type of job, and rank. For example, law clerk jobs in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington have always had a higher pay range than others.
Legal Clerk Job Outlook
Apart from the advantages of becoming a law clerk, we should also check whether it can be a great career choice. A detailed explanation of this job’s prospects is given below.
Law Firm Clerk Job Prospects
Recent statistics show conflicting data. Due to the rising fame of online self-service systems, several industries, such as travel and hospitality, no longer require clerk job positions. However, this is not the case with legal clerks.
Local governments, councils, and agencies will always offer legal assistant jobs and employ law clerks. After all, some administrative tasks cannot be done entirely online. It is predicted that the law clerks’ employment growth rate will increase by 6% in the next few years.
Many people seem to confuse paralegal jobs with law clerk ones. This misconception is because they have similar and sometimes overlapping duties. Like law clerks, paralegals are usually assigned administrative tasks and can conduct research based on a case.
The main difference between a law clerk and a paralegal is their educational background. Law clerks are required to finish law school, while paralegals are not. They only need to have some technical education. Because of this fact, paralegals cannot provide legal advice.
Another factor to consider is the legal clerk job description. Law clerks work with a lawyer or a judge and have a supervisory role. In contrast, paralegals are supposed to assist an attorney with a case.
Legal clerk job duties demand a developed skillset. If you want to get hired as a law clerk, you need to be educated, knowledgeable and have strong attention to detail. To gain those abilities, you should attend law school.
Interested applicants can send their resumes even if they are still law school students. Moreover, most law clerks are recent law graduates with exceptional academic grades. However, those aiming to work for federal court systems with a competitive law clerk salary should first finish law school.
The requirements for working in a law firm can be strict but attainable. One integral aspect is your education, which must consist of:
- A bachelor’s degree
- A J.D. degree
- A license obtained by passing the state bar exam
Apart from that, employers also look at various factors to see if you are a good fit in their agency. Other aspects they consider are your skill level and character. Therefore, having these traits can help in the long run:
- Ability to conduct thorough legal research
- Excellent writing skills
- Strong communication skills
- Solid knowledge of the laws.
If you get employed as a law clerk, you will have a busy schedule. Aside from the regular 9–5 working hours, law clerks often have to work overtime or continue their work at home. A law clerk is supposed to perform the following tasks:
- Do tons of legal research and be familiarized with legal terminologies
- Give educated opinions to a judge and a legal team
- Draft, write and manage legal documents
- Keep consistent records of the documents, and review those related to a particular case
- Establish clear communication with a judge and a legal team.
It is no secret that judicial clerk jobs are among the most highly coveted positions in the legal and clerical industries. One of the main rules is — the more experience you have, the higher your average salary will be.
The average salary range of law clerk jobs is $30,000–$50,000 a year. It can vary depending on your rank, location, and other factors. There is also a substantial difference between state and federal law clerks. In a recent study, federal law clerks are the top-paying positions and the ones where the competition is biggest.