what is a law clerk?

As a law clerk, you work in a court or law firm handling routine administrative and legal tasks. You work under experienced lawyers and judges, helping them to execute their duties. The roles in the legal system vary depending on your assignment.

Your job is to help judges manage the paperwork filed in court. Also, you help them shape their decisions on various cases before the court. You can do this through legal research and by analyzing every case to explain why the judge and the court gave a specific verdict.

You don't need experience or a law degree to work as a law clerk. Most judges begin their careers as law clerks before attaining their qualifications. Besides supporting teams, a stint as a law clerk provides you with valuable learning opportunities. It also gives you a feel for the job and builds the foundation for your career.

After working as a law clerk for between one and two years, you often move higher up the ladder of the legal system. This transition gives fresh and energetic graduates a chance to get into clerkships. Ultimately, this role gives chambers a constant flow of new thoughts and ideas.

Would working as a law clerk suit your administrative skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a law clerk role.

law clerk jobs

average law clerk salary

According to Job Bank, law clerks make an average salary of $60,000 per year. That means you get an hourly pay of $30.81. When you have entry-level experience and skills, your salary starts at $48,741 annually. However, as you improve your skills and gain experience, you have the potential to earn more. The highest-paid law clerks take home over $80,101 yearly.

what factors affect the salary of a law clerk?

Various factors affect your earnings as a law clerk. For instance, where you work impacts your salary scale. When you work in the public sector, your salary will depend on the duties you perform and the hours you work. For instance, working longer shifts or outside traditional office hours increases your earnings. The private sector salary of a law clerk depends on the size of the company. When you work for a start-up firm, your hourly rates are lower than those working in a large law firm.

Your qualifications and experience also influence your earnings. A recent law graduate could earn more working as a clerk due to the additional qualifications. When you have a few years of experience, your take-home salary is also higher than law clerks with less than a year of experience.

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types of law clerks

If you're keen to get into a law clerkship, there are different types of jobs that you could do. Here are some types of law clerk jobs:

  • entry-level law clerk: you can become a law clerk without undertaking any prior on-the-job training. This means working as a law clerk while still attending college. It will allow you to build your resume and learn more about the legal field.
  • virtual law clerk: it is also very common to get employed as a remote law clerk. In this role, you handle the office's telephone calls, emails and conference calls. Also, it entails any other task that's doable outside your employer's office.
  • law clerk internship: if you have completed college, you can get employed as an intern. Although this role pays little or no money, it’s a chance to hone your skills. It would benefit your future job search because most employers look for internships on a prospect’s resume.
  • temporary law clerk: you can get employed to fill a law clerk position for a set period. This is usually when an employer has a specific project or certain seasonal needs. Such agreements occasionally change into ongoing or full-time roles, depending on your performance and availability.
  • director law clerk: in this case, your employer assigns you a managerial role for a specific project. Your work in this role is to lead other employees to achieve specific goals. You plan, execute and manage different day-to-day business activities.
woman studying on tablet
woman studying on tablet

working as a law clerk

Before you become a law clerk, discover the tasks associated with the role. Remember to look at the job outlook and work schedule associated with law clerks.


law clerk skills and education

The requirements for becoming a law clerk in Canada include the following:

  • education: you require a bachelor’s degree in law or a college diploma and legal training to work as a law clerk. Since you require knowledge of legal principles, having paralegal training prepares you for the role. If you perform advanced legal services, you are expected to have a paralegal licence in Ontario from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
  • work experience: gain experience through on-the-job training in a law firm or a courtroom. If your duties involve administering oaths, you require a provincial licence or membership in the Society of Notaries.

competencies and characteristics of law clerks

To succeed in your law clerk role, you need these important skills:

  • organization: you take charge of the office paperwork once you begin working as a law clerk. Properly organizing files ensures they're easy to retrieve when needed.
  • communication: communicating effectively on the phone or by email is an excellent skill for a law clerk. You need good etiquette, eloquence, and great listening skills. You sometimes work in teams with other legal professionals, so it's vital to collaborate with others and communicate your ideas and opinions clearly.
  • typing: you need good typing skills to succeed as a law clerk. This skill helps you keep records faster when attending court hearings and will also help you generate reports quickly.
  • computer skills: it is easier to get hired as a law clear when you have Microsoft Office and other computer skills. In these modern days, clerks work more with computers than they do with paper.
  • knowledge of the legal system: as a law clerk, you require an in-depth understanding of the law and court procedures. You should be familiar with the relevant federal and provincial laws to understand the legal system and be able to draft legal documents.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a law clerk.


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