How to Become a Law/Judicial Clerk

Career Path Guide

If you have an interest in performing legal research, a strong work ethic, and the ability to carefully follow instructions, then a career as a law clerk is worth considering.


If you're looking for a way to get onto the fast track to becoming a lawyer however, this will not be an effective route to take. This demanding but rewarding field offers good pay, the opportunity to work with a variety of legal professionals, and the chance to perform many different types of administrative duties.


If becoming a law clerk sounds promising, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing, how much you could make, and what you need to do to get into this field!



Education Needed to Become a Law/Judicial Clerk

The education you’ll need to become a law clerk can vary anywhere from a high school diploma to a law degree, based on the discretion of the employer. It will largely depend on the level of responsibility you will have within the position.


Some employers will only require that you have a high school diploma, as long as you have experience working in a law office or as an administrative assistant.


Other employers will require that you have an associate’s degree, certificate or diploma in a Law Clerk, Legal Assistant, or Paralegal program. Many employers however, will require that you have, or are completing, a law degree.





Experience You'll Need

Although not typically listed as a formal requirement, having some previous relevant experience is a great way to demonstrate your suitability to the job. Such experience may include any business, legal or accountancy work as well as court administration.


Success Tip: Most law clerk programs, and law degree programs offer field placement and similar opportunities. This is a great way to gain relevant experience while pursuing a relevant education.



Skills You’ll Need

In order to become a law clerk, and perform your job effectively once you’ve been hired on, you’ll need a certain set of hard and soft skills. Some of these skills you’ll acquire through work experience, some through education, and some through life experience in general. They include, but are not limited to:



Hard Skills


• Working knowledge of legal terminology & legal documents

• Expert-level strength in MS Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint

• Strong legal research abilities



Soft Skills


• Excellent attention to detail

• Strong clerical and organization skills

• The ability to listen carefully to instructions

• The ability to work with minimal supervision

• The ability to effectively communicate with internal and external clients, attorneys & support staff 



What You Would Be Doing: General Job Description

As a law/judicial clerk, you’d be responsible for providing technical support to attorneys, judges, paralegals and/or other legal professionals. Your main duties would be to perform legal research and assist in drafting and filing legal documents.





Typical Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, tasks you would be responsible for performing might include:


• Receiving tasks from attorneys and paralegals

• Serving copies of pleas and other legal documents to opposing counsel

• Arbitrating disputes between parties

• Assisting attorneys in preparing for depositions and trials

• Possibly arranging travel and accommodations for jurors

• Directing the delivery of subpoenas to witnesses and parties to action

• Searching for and studying legal documents in order to investigate facts of law surrounding cases

• Determining causes of action and assisting with case preparations using findings of research



Is This Profession Right for You?

If the following traits describe you, then you’ll be well-suited for a career as a law clerk:


• You have a cooperative and team oriented attitude

• You take work duties seriously

• You are willing and able to follow rules and directions

• You’re logical, task oriented and analytical

• You like to think through a problem, and weigh the pros and cons

• You have a commitment to confidentiality, ethical behavior, and workplace decorum

• You enjoy taking a methodical approach to compiling information

• You enjoy dealing with people

• You enjoy researching legal records



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a law clerk can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The industry in which you work

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties


Law/Judicial Clerk Salary in Alberta: According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Judicial Clerks” occupational group is $55,705 per year.


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), those working in the “Lawyers and Quebec notaries” occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $54,434.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Judicial Law Clerks” occupational group is $57,920 per year.



Who Employs Law Clerks?

Law clerks can be employed with private law firms, as well as with all levels of public Courts, including the Supreme Court. They may also be employed within organizations that are large enough to have their own legal departments.



Current Job Postings in Your Area

Our job board below has "Law Clerk/Legal Clerk" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Career Advancement Possibilities

Your career in this field would likely begin in a junior-level law clerk role. As you accumulate experience as a law clerk, and demonstrate your competence and work ethic in the role, opportunities for advancement will become available.


Your first advancement would typically be to take on more responsibility (and more pay) within the role. From there, you might have the opportunity to supervise or even manage the work of other clerks.


Advancement into the role of Senior Clerk would be the next step. This position is one that is highly sought after in this field, and one that usually takes 6 years of work and supervisory experience to reach.


While working as a law clerk does not offer a shortened route to becoming a lawyer, the experience and knowledge gained while working as a clerk would be very useful and relevant for a legal career. 



Alternate Titles

Law clerks may also be known by other titles, such as:


• Court Clerk

• Judicial Clerk

• Legal Clerk



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as "law clerk":


• Administrative Assistant

• Court Reporter

• Judge

• Lawyer

• Legal Assistant

• Paralegal




Information for this career guide was compiled from the websites listed below. Some information has also been compiled from actual job postings from various organizations, which cannot be listed here due to the brief nature of their online availability.


Occupations in Alberta:Judicial Clerk.” (January 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 17, 2020.

Explore Careers: Court Clerks.” (January 18, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved February 17, 2020.

Occupational Employment Statistics:Judicial Law Clerks.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved February 17, 2020.

About:Law Clerks of Ontario.” (n.d.). The Institutes of Law Clerks of Ontario website. Retrieved December 30, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Law Clerk

The “Relevant University Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a law clerk. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on the following pages:


Criminal Justice Scholarships

Criminology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a law clerk. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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