Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

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Oops2013
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:00 pm

Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

Postby Oops2013 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:54 pm

Hi all,

I'll be starting my clerkship with a Trial Court Judge (Civil Division) and, as the title of this post suggests, would like some insight on what a clerk's average day looks like. I assume this is very Judge/State specific, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask TLS!

Thanks in advanced

Anonymous User
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Re: Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:03 pm

Oops2013 wrote:Hi all,

I'll be starting my clerkship with a Trial Court Judge (Civil Division) and, as the title of this post suggests, would like some insight on what a clerk's average day looks like. I assume this is very Judge/State specific, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask TLS!

Thanks in advanced


I've clerked for two state trial judges and my experiences were vastly different.

During my first year, with my first judge, I basically just researched and prepared memos. The judge wrote all of his own opinions and orders, so there wasn't a lot for me to do. I don't think this was a typical experience, as I had much less work/responsibility than any of the other clerks who worked with other judges.

During my current clerkship, with my second judge, I essentially manage the Civil Docket. Every day I come to work at 8:30a, check my email, drink my coffee, and listen to any messages on my phone. Any documents regarding civil cases come to me for review first, so I'll pick up the pile of new things and go through them. Anything that I can "dispose of" quickly, I do - these are motions that don't need any work by me before going to the Judge for his signature. These are things like unopposed motions to compel, motions for special service, motions for extensions of deadlines, etc. I just look them over briefly to make sure there aren't any issues, and put them in my judge's inbox for his signature. Anything new that I get that requires research/writing, I put into my pile of things that I need to work on. I generally work on things in the order that they come in unless they are scheduled for argument on a particular day, then I save those in a separate pile and work on them the week or so before the argument/hearing so that they're fresh in my mind. Most of my day is spent reading briefs/memos of parties, researching the issue, and writing Orders and Opinions. My judge prefers to have a footnote for ever Order he enters that explains his ruling, so I basically write at least a mini opinion for every preliminary objection, motion for summary judgement, etc. On days when there are arguments, I hand in my memos to the judge the night before, then have a copy with me and I attend the arguments. Afterward I write up and Order or Opinion ruling on the issue. I leave every day at 4:30p, with the exception of days when we are in trial when I usually leave later.

If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

pianoman4
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:09 pm

Re: Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

Postby pianoman4 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:19 pm

What kind of personality would work well for clerking?

Anonymous User
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Re: Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:23 pm

pianoman4 wrote:What kind of personality would work well for clerking?


I think that could depend on the Judge. A lot of Judges put a lot of weight on the interview because they need someone who can get along well with the rest of their chambers' staff. In my first clerkship, I shared an office with 4 other clerks, so it was important to be able to be around others and be courteous. In my current clerkship I have my own office and am very isolated, so I don't think my personality matters much to anyone besides my Judge and his secretary.

You need to be disciplined - most days I don't have anything incredibly pressing, and could get away with doing absolutely nothing if I wasn't motivated to stay on top of and ahead of things.

Anonymous User
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Re: Day in the Life of a State Trial Court Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:11 pm

pianoman4 wrote:What kind of personality would work well for clerking?


I'm a d. ct. clerk and I interned for 3 judges in law school. I've talked to each of them about this (and consistently got good feedback from them), and they all said the following traits are what they look for.

Easy to work with and to get along with. This is what every employer wants, after all.

Responsible and reliable. Clerks have a lot of responsibility and power to screw things up. Docket management can be a PITA and being on top of everything is critical.

Honesty and objectivity. All politics and axes to grind have to be left at the door. Of course, this is a fine line (esp. at the COA level), but there is nothing more important for clerks than to be honest. This requires being able to argue with the judge and giving your 100% honest feedback and input. (My judge said the thing she likes most about me is my "integrity." She can ask me any question and know that I'll be straightforward with her in response. Specifically, she said she loves how I will candidly tell her I don't know the answer when I don't.)

Good writing - this is the most important substantive quality every judge I've worked for wants.




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