A law clerk is a professional who aids lawyers and judges in legal settings, such as law firms and courts. Because of the complexity and consistent changes within the field, law clerks must undergo required training before pursuing, gaining, and performing a law clerk job. Despite the complexity of the field, becoming a law clerk is a popular option within the legal field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 41,550 plus law clerks employed throughout the United States.
What Does a Law Clerk Do?
A law clerk works within a legal setting performing a wide variety of tasks like:
- Preparing legal documents
- Conducting legal analysis
- Aid the judge by providing information about the priority of the cases that are to be presented to the court and updating the judge on the status of each case
- Conducting research
- Prepare draft opinions for cases that act as the foundation for lawyers and judges
- Aid the attorney during the course of an action by preparing for a case and examining legal documents like petitions, legal complaints, and affidavits.
- Set up equipment in the court room
- Act as a liaison between clients, attorneys, and judges
- Aid with the translation of legal documents
Depending on the particular job, these duties can vary.
What Type of Educational Background is Required to be a Law Clerk?
Typically, successful law clerks possess a diploma or degree in legal studies. The majority of law clerks take this a step further by completing a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of law school. If you are interested in working for a federal judge as a law clerk, you will want to complete law school.
Here are the steps most individuals take to become a law clerk:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree
- Take and pass the Law School Administration Test (LSAT)
- Complete law school (typically at least three years as a full time student)
- Complete a judicial internship
Law clerks are required to have sufficient experience in the legal field, therefore it is important to take as many of the above steps as you can to give yourself the best chance at being successful in your chosen field. In addition, it is also important for a law clerk to keep current with legal issues and laws, which will involve taking continuing education courses periodically.
What is the Job Outlook and Salary Data for Law Clerks?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job numbers for law clerks, legal assistants, and paralegals, are expected to grow by 28 percent by 2018. This is a faster rate of growth than average for other professions. Despite the growing number of jobs, law clerks should expect to face serious competition for jobs. This is a popular profession, so you should give yourself the best chance possible at securing the right job by gaining as much education and experience as you can.
According to Glassdoor.com, the average national salary is $45,675. This is a good median salary, but will certainly go up or down depending on job location and the law clerk’s own education and experience.