Law Clerk Salary | What is the Average Salary of a Law Clerk in the United States?

Law Clerk Salary
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Do you want to find out about how much is made as a law clerk salary? If yes, this article is best for you as it provides insight into law clerk salary, especially in the United States.

Who is a Law Clerk?

Before exploring how much is earned as a law clerk salary, let’s find out who a law clerk is.

A Law Clerk is also known as a judicial clerk. A law clerk provides administrative support and services to legal departments in a legal office or law firm. To earn a law clerk salary, a Law Clerk is responsible for completing paperwork, file documentation, handling communication, meetings, and setting appointments with clients, etc.

Types of Law Clerks

Trial Court Law Clerks are often responsible for assisting the judge with settlement conferences and discovery disputes. Also, they review briefs submitted by the parties involved in trial proceedings, carry out legal research, and draft legal documents, including memoranda and orders.

They also manage all exhibits submitted as evidence, take witness statements and serve subpoenas. If they have passed the bar, they will be involved in the litigation process.

Appellate Law Clerks carry out research and analyze complex legal issues. They brief the judge and other legal staff on the facts that concern a particular case before the court hearing. They assist during judicial proceedings and also supervise the chamber staff and manage the chamber library. 

Job Description of a Law Clerk

Prior to stating what a law clerk salary is, we should also know what the job description entails. The work hours in an office setting for a Legal Clerk are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sometimes, they can work for over 40 hours a week or during weekends, especially when approaching deadlines.

A Law clerk performs administrative duties, such as attending administrative meetings, retrieving information for legal staff, handling communications for the office, contacting and gathering information from local, state, and federal agencies, and preparing checklists. 

To earn the law clerk salary, a Law Clerk is also responsible for preparing documents, completing research, drafting correspondence, summarizing records, and writing briefs, petitions, and other legal documents, for or legal staff.

They are also responsible for preparing other documents such as bench memos, legal orders, and judicial opinions.

Law Clerks help to organize and manage paper and electronic files. They are also responsible for scanning, copying files, indexing, coding, and labeling files, documents, or tasks. They help coordinate records and store information about clients to ensure that they complete every task according to the appropriate procedure.

A Law clerk helps Judges form their opinions on legal cases by carrying out thorough, detailed research and handling paperwork for them. They also create trial briefings, write legal documents and help the Judges communicate with legal counsel about the progress of their case.

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They offer advice and recommendations on legal cases and review and edit the judge’s orders and statements for clarity, accuracy, and future reference. Sometimes they assist in the courtroom during trials and hearings by communicating with all parties regarding trials and schedules.

A Law clerk is also responsible for managing the chamber library and updating court calendars and schedules. They proofread all documents carefully to confirm citations. They also study legal journals, past cases, and other legal resources to be able to offer appropriate advice on sentencing. 

Law Clerks are also responsible for filling out forms, managing and documenting evidence, drafting schedules, and recording statements from witnesses.

Where Can a Law Clerk Work?

Are you curious about earning a law clerk salary? Then you should know where a law clerk can work. There are a few different options for working as a law clerk, but majorly, they work in courthouses (federal or state courthouses). 

Law clerks can work on the state level, in a trial court, intermediate appellate court, or the state supreme court. Working with a state court provides you with a better understanding of state laws. It also makes you a good candidate for a local law firm after your clerkship ends.

On the federal level, you can work in the States District Courts, the Court of Appeals, or any other specialized courts. Serving in a specialized court is an advantage for Law clerks who wish to pursue a specific field in the future.

The most prestigious clerkship you can get is in the Supreme Court, and each of the eight Associated Justices on the Supreme Court can select four law clerks each term. 

Law Clerk Educational and Skill Requirements

Although most students apply for positions in their final year of school, Law Clerks need a Juris Doctor or a law degree from an accredited institution. Courts usually require candidates to be extensively involved in extracurricular activities such as being a member of a law student’s or bar association while in law school.

Interning with a court or firm while at school to gain experience is also an added advantage for candidates due to the competitive nature of the position. Some courts do not require candidates to have any experience because most law clerks are those who just graduated from law school.

Some courts could require candidates to have already passed the state bar exams or plan to take them. This, however, is not compulsory.

For individuals who want to work in a federal courthouse or for a federal judge as a law clerk, they will need to complete law school. This will take at least three years to complete as a full-time student.

To be eligible for law school, they must first get a bachelor’s degree. After they have done that, they need to take and pass the LSAT (Law School Administration Test).  

As a law clerk, you need to remain up to date about all current legal issues and laws. Thus most employers will require a law clerk to enroll in continuing education and take courses regularly.

Law clerks can proceed to obtain additional educational knowledge and experience in the field, such as obtaining a Master of Law degree (LL.M.). This degree provides the opportunity to have a deeper look into specific areas of the law. Although this is not compulsory, this degree broadens job prospects.

Law clerks are required to possess organizational skills, the ability to coordinate multiple projects, word processing abilities, comprehensive online and on-ground research skills, and first-hand knowledge of online case management programs.

Other personal skills a law clerk should have include efficient written and verbal communication skills, good interpretational skills, the strong will of decision making, ability to pay attention to details, a retentive memory, a good knowledge of the law as well as computer and technical knowledge in areas such as Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel).

It is also very important for law clerks to be able to manage time, prioritize activities, be discreet, and can handle confidential information.

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Law Clerk Salary NYC

As of 2019, the average law clerk salary is $24.68/hr which is $51,330 annually. However, those in judicial law clerk positions may earn up to $97,000 per year.

The median annual law clerk salary is $51,330 that is $24.68/hr. The top 10% annual njudicial law clerk salary is over $97,230 that is $46.75/hr, while the bottom 10% law clerk salary is less than $32,990, $15.86/hour.

Currently, the law clerk salary depends on factors such as experience, whether they’ve yet been admitted to the bar, type of clerk position, type of appointment, whether it’s a career, term, or temporary, etc. As most things go, location can be critical. California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon provide the highest law clerk salaries.


Do Law Clerks need to pass the bar?

Law Clerks do not necessarily need to pass the bar exam to provide legal advice and act as legal arbiters. Some judges require passing the bar as a condition of employment, but it is not a legal requirement because Law Clerks do not practice law; they work in an advisory capacity.

What are the everyday duties of a Law Clerk?

Law Clerks conduct research on the past and legal opinions that can be useful in a judge’s decision on a case. They prepare statements for judges to approve and proofread a judge’s statements to add in the important citations and details.

Law Clerks also meet with judges to clarify information and prepare the appropriate files needed for a court hearing. They stay in touch with legal counsel on behalf of their judge concerning the process for a case.

Is there a difference between a Law Clerk and a Paralegal?

Although they are both legal professionals, law clerks work directly with Judges while paralegals assist attorneys. Paralegals often engage in more administrative work than

Law Clerks, who do more research on legal cases. Law Clerks have the authority to offer legal advice, while Paralegals are only allowed to work in administrative and clerical roles.

What are the qualities of an excellent Law Clerk?

Law Clerks should have the ability to always remain calm and composed, even when tensions are high, especially when assisting a judge in a courtroom. A good Law Clerk should be careful and inquisitive; this is good to be able to carry out reset until they are satisfied with the information they find.

They should be able to prepare the judge’s documents ahead of time and use their organizational skills to make sure everything the judge will need is in order before the court hearing. 

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