A law clerk's primary function is to perform research for a judge pertaining to legal issues before their court; they may work at the federal, state or municipal levels. Specific tasks performed by law clerks include drafting memoranda and opinions, preparing files for hearings and providing other support to judges as hearings are underway. They also review briefs to ensure they are accurate, as well as provide advice to the judge and others on their team related to cases.
Law clerks must be skilled writers and legal researchers with excellent critical thinking and organizational skills. They need to have an excellent understanding of the law and be able to work well under deadline pressure. Additionally, law clerks need to pay close attention to detail, as well as be able to multitask.
The position of law clerk is often an entry-level job in the legal profession, with clerks going on to work full time as lawyers in the public or private sector. Law clerks must have graduated from law school and have passed the state bar examination. Generally, clerkships are competitive and individuals needed to have performed well in law school to earn a clerkship; this is especially true at high levels such as the Supreme Court and federal courts.
Law Clerk Tasks
Search for and study legal documents to investigate facts and law of cases.
Deliver or direct delivery of subpoenas to witnesses and parties to action, serve copies of pleas to opposing counsel.
Review and file pleadings, petitions and other documents relevant to court actions.
Research and analyze law sources to prepare drafts of briefs or arguments for review, approval and use by attorney.
Prepare affidavits of documents and maintain document files and case correspondence.