How to Become a

Judicial Law Clerk

The complete career guide to be a Judicial Law Clerk: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $59,910
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -6.5%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute
  • High Job Satisfaction
    Career Attribute

Judicial law clerks assist federal, state, and district judges with day-to-day responsibilities. Typically, judicial law clerks are new lawyers who want to gain an inside view of court processes at the beginning of their careers. They assist judges with conducting research, trial proceedings, and documentation.

Recommended Schools

What is a Judicial Law Clerk?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in judicial law clerk roles:

  • Review pleadings and briefs to assist judges with deciding on which cases to bring to trial
  • Conduct research to assist judges with decision making
  • Prepare drafts of memoranda and opinions, and proofread drafts written by judges
  • Observe court proceedings and assist with tasks related to conducting trials
  • Discuss cases with the judge to provide concurring or conflicting opinions

A Day in the Life

Judicial law clerk positions are contract positions that last between one and two years. Generally, these positions are awarded to new lawyers who graduated at the top of their classes. Becoming a judicial law clerk before moving into private law practice allows new lawyers to gain an inside view of how courts work and how judges make decisions. Judges essentially mentor law clerks, and the experience enables new lawyers to become more competitive for open roles and practice more effectively as lawyers.

Judicial law clerks assist judges with all aspects of their day-to-day responsibilities. They conduct research for the judge and report on findings, and that research informs the judge’s decision-making. They attend pre-trial hearings and help judges make decisions on which trials should go to court and which shouldn’t. They also write drafts of memoranda and opinions on the judge’s behalf, and help to proofread documents composed by the judge. Judges usually value the opinions of their clerks highly.

During trials, the judicial law clerks attends trial and assists the judge with trial proceedings. They may call court to session, write and provide jury instructions, and take notes on trial proceedings. With the information gathered in court, the law clerk prepares trial memoranda that include synopses of the issues, arguments, and decisions. Judicial law clerks also work closely with attorneys on trials to gain information and resolve issues. After their contracted term, many find jobs immediately in law firms.

Typical Work Schedule

Most judicial law clerks work full-time schedules during normal business hours when court is in session. However, overtime is common in the role, and evening and weekend work may be required to complete tasks by a deadline or to meet with the judge for deliberation or instructions outside of the courtroom.

Typical Employers

Judicial law clerks are employed by federal, state, local, and district courts. They may serve under Supreme Court justices, for circuit courts, or district courts, among others.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Judicial Law Clerk

The first step in becoming a judicial law clerk is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Pre-law majors are common for aspiring judicial law clerks, though political science, history, and English majors are sufficient as well. The major you pursue is less important than your overall academic profile upon graduation. Admittance into law school requires a high GPA, outstanding letters of recommendation from professors, and a high score on the LSAT—a standardized test that’s administered to all aspiring law school candidates.

After graduation, you’ll need to apply and be admitted into a law school. Law school is where you’ll learn how to practice as a lawyer. Three years of study is common, and law schools award Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees. After graduation, you’ll need to take the bar exam. Passing the bar exam is required to become licensed to practice law. With a J.D. degree and licensure from passing the bar exam, you’ll be ready to begin applying for open judicial law clerk positions.

Judicial law clerk roles are highly coveted among new law school graduates, and as such, highly competitive. To earn a position as a judicial law clerk, it’s best if you attend one of the top law schools, graduate at the top of your class, and earn outstanding letters of recommendation from your law school professors. Additionally, most clerks must work in smaller district or circuit courts for at least a year before qualifying to work as law clerks for Supreme Court judges.

Judicial Law Clerk Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Judicial Law Clerk salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Judicial Law Clerk's can make an average annual salary of $59,910, or $29 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $40,580 or $20 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #272 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Judicial Law Clerks

  • 76.9%   Doctorate
  • 4.2%   Masters
  • 9.7%   Bachelors
  • 2.3%   Associates
  • 5.6%   College
  • 1.3%   High School
  • 0%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Judicial Law Clerk job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -800 jobs for a total of 11,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -6.5% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #719 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Judicial Law Clerks

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 7,100 -300 0%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 5,000 -400 0%
--- --- ---

Want To Be a Judicial Law Clerk? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →