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Career profile Law Clerk

Also known as Appellate Law Clerk, Career Law Clerk, Clerk to Justice, Deputy Clerk, Federal Law Clerk, Judicial Assistant, Judicial Clerk, Judicial Law Clerk, Law Clerk

Law Clerk

Also known as Appellate Law Clerk, Career Law Clerk, Clerk to Justice

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$34,220 - $105,620 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Law and Government
  • Administrative
  • Computers and Electronics
Core tasks
  • Prepare briefs, legal memoranda, or statements of issues involved in cases, including appropriate suggestions or recommendations.
  • Research laws, court decisions, documents, opinions, briefs, or other information related to cases before the court.
  • Draft or proofread judicial opinions, decisions, or citations.
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What does a Law Clerk do?

Law Clerks assist judges in court or by conducting research or preparing legal documents.

What kind of tasks does a Law Clerk perform regularly?

Law Clerks are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Prepare briefs, legal memoranda, or statements of issues involved in cases, including appropriate suggestions or recommendations.
  • Research laws, court decisions, documents, opinions, briefs, or other information related to cases before the court.
  • Draft or proofread judicial opinions, decisions, or citations.
  • Confer with judges concerning legal questions, construction of documents, or granting of orders.
  • Review complaints, petitions, motions, or pleadings that have been filed to determine issues involved or basis for relief.
  • Keep abreast of changes in the law and inform judges when cases are affected by such changes.
  • Attend court sessions to hear oral arguments or record necessary case information.
  • Review dockets of pending litigation to ensure adequate progress.
  • Communicate with counsel regarding case management or procedural requirements.
  • Respond to questions from judicial officers or court staff on general legal issues.

The above responsibilities are specific to Law Clerks. More generally, Law Clerks are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Law Clerk salary?

The median salary for a Law Clerk is $57,510, and the average salary is $63,860. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Law Clerk salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Law Clerks earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Law Clerks earn less than $34,220 per year, 25% earn less than $43,400, 75% earn less than $76,140, and 90% earn less than $105,620.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Law Clerks is expected to change by 4.0%, and there should be roughly 1,100 open positions for Law Clerks every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$34,220 - $105,620
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Law Clerks?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Law Clerk are usually higher in their Conventional, Enterprising, and Investigative interests.

Law Clerks typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Law Clerks typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Lastly, Law Clerks typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Law Clerk tend to value Achievement, Working Conditions, and Support.

Most importantly, Law Clerks strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Law Clerks moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Law Clerks moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Law Clerks must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, attention to detail, and analytical thinking.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Law Clerks, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

What education and training do Law Clerks need?

Many Law Clerks have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Law Clerks may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Law Clerks

  • 2.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 8.5% completed some college coursework
  • 6.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 13.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 6.1% earned a Master's degree
  • 62.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Law Clerks

Law Clerks may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as law and government, administrative, or computers and electronics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Law Clerks might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Law Clerks

Law Clerks must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Law Clerks need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Law Clerks, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Law Clerks

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Law Clerks frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Law Clerks, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.