If you enjoy being knowledgeable in certain areas and providing important services as part of a team dynamic, you may find a career as a law clerk to your liking. Law clerks work under the supervision and direction of lawyers—or sometimes judges—to relieve them of some of the more routine matters, as well as help them with more complicated ones.
At its core, the role of a law clerk is to assist lawyers in the execution of their duty. This can take a number of forms, such as helping a lawyer with large, complicated cases or taking smaller routine tasks off of their hands to free them up for the more involved work. They can work in the office of a sole practitioner helping that one lawyer, or in larger firms or multinational corporations, where they would take on a range of tasks into assist the lawyers working there. It is worth noting that what Canada refers to as a “law clerk” is typically referred to as a “legal clerk” in other parts of the world, with law clerk having a different meaning in places like the United States and the United Kingdom.
Law clerks typically work during normal office hours, meaning their average schedule will be around 40 hours per week during the normal business hours of 9 am to 5 pm. Overtime is not uncommon in this profession, particularly when dealing with overly complex or time-sensitive cases, and as such is something you should be prepared for before taking on a role as a law clerk. Given the nature of the job, a certain degree of remote working—such as working from home—may be an option. This is something you should talk to your employer about beforehand.
There will naturally be questions related to law and any areas of expertise you have, but there will also be some more open questions about you to answer. It helps to put some thought into your answers ahead of time, so here are some of the more common interview questions you can expect to be asked.
Your resume and cover letter are often the first things your potential employers will see of you, so it’s important to make a good first impression and include all of the information they need. In your resume, be sure to include things like;
Treat your cover letter as an opportunity to expand on the things you have included in your resume, such as past experience, any awards and certifications, and other relevant information. Also, expand a little on how you feel you are a good fit for the company, including why you think this is the case, such as your personality meshing well with the company’s ethos.
The job outlook for law clerks is very positive. This is a position that is often in demand but also one that has a high turnaround rate. This is largely because people who work as law clerks often move on to other professions within the legal system, taking their valuable experience with them. As a law clerk, you can not only look forward to gaining that experience yourself but also having a range of options when it comes to what company you want to work for, as having the opportunity to sample different areas of law by choosing an employer that works in that area.
The position of law clerk can come in many variations, but these are largely determined by the area of expertise and the setting. For instance, a law clerk may work for a law firm specializing in marital law, or they could work for a corporation dealing with property. Most law clerks will work for either a law firm, a commercial corporation or a financial institution, though there are certainly other organizations where a law clerk may be necessary. As for the specialty, there will invariably be openings for almost any area of law in each of the settings mentioned, so it should be relatively straightforward to find a position that centres around the area of law you want to focus on.
The average salary for a law clerk in Canada is around $49,000 based on an hourly rate of $25, though overtime will increase this amount. Entry-level law clerk positions tend to earn closer to $39,000, while the highest earners in the profession bring in as much as $65,000. This means that the highest-earning law clerks are still earning a little under the national average in Canada, but there are plenty of opportunities to transition to other jobs, taking the valuable experience gained as a law clerk along with you.
Top paying areas for law clerks in Canada include: Ontario and British Columbia.
The primary role of a law clerk is to make life easier for the lawyer or judge they are working for. Here are some of the ways they can achieve that;
The overall setting may vary depending on the job, but law clerks will typically be working in an office environment, meaning climate-controlled interiors with comfortable chairs. It may sometimes be necessary to travel, including to court (especially if you are a law clerk for a judge), but you should not find yourself working outside or in other physically uncomfortable settings.
Law clerks need a range of skills to ensure they can do their job properly. While most of the technical side of things should be covered by your education or training, you should work on the following competencies if you want to be a law clerk;
Some legal organizations—such as law firms—will offer law clerk training that provides a path into this career. That being said, the most common way into this profession is to get a degree in a relevant subject. The subject will typically be related to the area of law you are interested in working in. It is not necessary to have passed the bar exam to become a law clerk, though many law clerks aspire to become a lawyer one day, and for that, you do need to pass the bar exam.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about law clerk jobs.
While a degree in a related subject will certainly help you get into a vacancy for a law clerk, there are other options available to you. You can become part of a training program by a law firm or attend a college diploma course. You will typically be looking at a few years of study/training, but you will also gain invaluable experience if you intend to go to become a lawyer or judge.
There are several websites out there to show you new job listings in Canada, which of course, includes Randstad. We regularly list new job vacancies on our job seeker page for administrative support, which includes law clerk listings as well as other similar job openings.
When you find a law clerk job that appeals to you on our job seeker page, all you need to do is sign up with Randstad to apply. Creating an account is simple, and once you’ve done that, all you need to do is log in and apply for the law clerk position that caught your eye!
Finding out about new law clerk job openings has never been easier, thanks to the interconnected world we live in. There are, of course, traditional methods such as job boards and giving a company a call. There are also websites and social media accounts to check. To be one of the first to find out when Randstad has new law clerk jobs, you can sign up for our newsletter.
Law clerks work to assist lawyers and judges in the execution of their work, either by taking routine work off of their plate to free them up for other things or by assisting them with more complicated cases. Law clerks in Canada should not be confused with law clerks in other parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, as Canadian use of the term is more akin to what is known as a legal clerk, or paralegal, in those parts of the world.
Law clerks will typically have a master’s degree in a specialized subject, such as international law or public policy. Other routes into this career include law college diplomas and in-house training from a legal establishment or law firm. Some law clerks may have passed the bar if they have intentions of becoming a lawyer themselves, but this is not essential for becoming a law clerk.
A lawyer and a law clerk are similar in nature, but a law clerk is more of an assistant to a lawyer or judge, helping them with complex cases, or taking more routine cases off of their hands. The advantages of a law clerk go beyond making life easier for lawyers, however, as they also allow law firms to offer services at lower costs.