Judicial Law Clerks fall into the Conventional Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory®. This inventory has been used and refined since 1927 to help individuals identify careers in which they will be comfortable. It analyzes how much they enjoy particular tasks or subject areas. This two-stage assessment first asks individuals to rate how much they would enjoy a number of jobs, hobbies, subjects, and then matches these scores to the answers given by currently employed professionals. For example, if your hobbies are similar to those of current Judicial Law Clerks, then the Inventory may recommend this job or others in the same Theme Code Category. The Conventional Theme Code Category contains careers which are detail-oriented and focused on organization and precision.
Judicial Law Clerks support judges in court by helping them prepare legal documents, such as briefs, statements, and memoranda. This includes any research into laws, precedents, and documents relating to the case, as well as conferring with judges on legal questions. They also proofread all documents before they are submitted to the court. Because they also serve as general support for judges, they must stay current on any legal changes, and inform judges of the changes, any cases affected by those changes, and the possible implications for those changes. Additional responsibilities are organizational and somewhat administrative. For instance, Judicial Law Clerks monitor the files that come across the judges’ desks and confirm that all folders, files, and complaints are complete, available, and ordered correctly. They also keep schedules and dockets of pending litigation to ensure that proper progress is being made, and serve as a first point of contact for inquiries to their judge. In some cases, they coordinate judges’ schedules and enter information into court databases or case management systems as well. In short, the role of a Judicial Law Clerk is to ensure that court proceedings run as efficiently and smoothly as possible for judges.
Judicial Law Clerks need to be comfortable using standard office hardware, including computers, printers, fax machines, copiers, and other machines. Software is more specialized, and includes using Lexis Nexis analytical software, LegalNet Smart Dockets scheduling software, Lexis Nexis search software, and Legal Files project management software. In addition, standard office interfaces including various e-mail servers, Microsoft Office Suite, and Microsoft Access are essential to being a successful Judicial Law Clerk.
The primary knowledge area required of Judicial Law Clerks is that of law and government, including government regulations, the general political process, court procedures and more. They should be comfortable communicating in English and other languages spoken in the court, and have strong reading, verbal, and critical thinking skills. The ability to think quickly and logically is a great asset to a successful Law Clerk, as is the ability to evaluate and synthesize large amounts of information and present it in a meaningful and concise way. Most Judicial Law Clerks build this expertise in law school by earning a Juris Doctorate. Over 56% hold a J.D., while 29% hold some other form of professional degree. Just 7% hold only a high school diploma or equivalent.
Judicial Law Clerks’ salary nation-wide averages just over $50,000 per year, though the median salary in New York and other mid-Atlantic states can be as high as $130,000 per year. On the other hand, in the Midwest and western states of Utah and Arizona, median salaries between $30,000 and $40,000 are much more common. Overall, the market for Judicial Law Clerks is declining, with a 6.3% drop in employment forecasted before 2024. While in some states, notably Tennessee, Colorado, and Washington, growth rates are projected close to 10%, their markets are so small that the total number of job openings in these states is just 70.
Below are some employment trends for Judicial Law Clerks:
- Median Law Clerk Salary: $24.89 hourly; $51,760 annually
- Employment: 12,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): Decline (-2% or lower)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 2,700
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org