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Law Clerk


Description

It takes a lot of people to run an effecient law office. Along with the lawyers, there are the secretaries, and, of course, the hardworking law clerks. Law clerks are the law experts who don't make it into the lawyer movies and television shows. However, in the real world, no law office could function without at least one of these trained assistants to help with the daily foot work of a law practice.

Also know as legal assistants or paralegals, law clerks always work under the watchful eyes of a lawyer, researching, interviewing, writing up reports, drafting legal documents, fact checking, and any other task the lawyer sends their way. The work load can be heavy, and often the tasks assigned are urgent, so the stress level in this job can be high. But because law clerks are not usually law school grads, they are not permitted to give out legal advice, nor do they go to court. But they are still working in the thick of the law, assisting people maneuver their way through the legal maze of North American society.

Law clerks may work in a smaller firms, and assist in all areas of the law. Most programs cover all the bases, from contract, civil, and criminal law to immigration, real estate, and family law. Some may specialize in one area if they work for larger firms, depending on their level of experience.

Some choose to become independent law clerks. These law clerks can represent clients in small claims court and in other lower court proceedings, as well as take legal action on landlord and tenant matters, traffic violations, and name changes. These law clerks require lots of experience before leaving a law office and going it alone, and must be prepared for the rigors of running an independent business, on top of the duties as law clerk.
 
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Post University Online

At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

Programs Offered:
  • Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
  • A.S. in Legal Studies
  • B.S. in Legal Studies

 

 



  Interests and Skills  
Successful law clerks have a an interest in law and justice. They are critical thinkers who are organized, discreet, good at memorization, and have excellent research and writing skills. A general knowledge of computers is important. Because law clerks often work with distraught clients and busy lawyers, they must be good listeners, who are calm and able to work well under pressure.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interview clients and witnesses
  • Prepare legal documents, court reports and affidavits
  • Draft contracts, and draw up wills, mortgages and other legal documents
  • Read and research past cases
  • Follow up lawyer's correspondence
  • Assemble documentary evidence for trials
  • Meet with clients when lawyers are unavailable
  • Much of a typical day in the life of a law clerk is spent sitting in front of a computer, processing data, records, or research. However, a substantial amount of time is spent running around, to meetings, to libraries, and to other offices in order to get the information or documents needed by the lawyer. Some law clerks are hired by law firms in a dual role, as assistant as well as legal secretary. Law clerks must often work quickly, and interact with a number of professionals, as well as clients.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Law clerks work in legal firms, legal aid offices, and in the legal departments of corporations and organizations. They work in law libraries, boardrooms, and at computers. They may work long hours, depending on the firm and the area of law they specialize in. Trial work requires late nights and plenty of research, whereas something more stable like real estate law would allow for regular hours and weekends off. They are employed by lawyers, by the government, and by companies, or may be self-employed. Their workplaces can be stressful. They may work alone, or in a team of law clerks, under the supervision of one or more lawyers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Securing a position as a law clerk is a good entry point to the world of law. Law clerks can specialize in family, corporate, criminal, civil, or real estate law, working at increasingly higher levels, with more reputable law firms as they gain experience. Law clerks can also be self-employed, offering services independent of a law firm. They can also pursue a career in the administrative side of law, as well as move onto law school. Law clerks may also choose to become a notary, or a bailiff.
 

  Educational Paths  
There are a few paths one can take in order to become a law clerk. Some people become law clerks after completing a bachelor's degree in law, and many choose to take a two- or three-year college program in law assistance or paralegal studies as a way to enter the field. College programs may include a practical component, giving the student a hands-on view of the world of law, lawyers, and law clerks. Some schools may require two years of study at another postsecondary institution prior to applying to the law clerk program.

Because there are no certification requirements, it might be a good idea to check with a reputable law office or association, and ask them which programs and training courses are the most worthwhile for aspiring law clerks.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Post University Online  Online

At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

Programs Offered:
  • Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
  • A.S. in Legal Studies
  • B.S. in Legal Studies
Campus Locations:
  • Waterbury, CT

 
Liberty University  Online

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs Offered:
  • CERT: Paralegal Studies
Campus Locations:
  • Lynchburg, VA

 
Platt College  Online
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
Programs Offered:
  • Paralegal Studies
Campus Locations:
  • Alhambra, CA

 
California University of Pennsylvania  Online

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

Programs Offered:
  • Jurisprudence with concentration in Legal Studies (Bachelor of Science) - Online
  • Legal Studies - Law & Public Policy (Master of Science) - Online
  • Legal Studies - Homeland Security (Master of Science) - Online
  • more programs...
Campus Locations:
  • California, PA

 
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