The clerk of the court is the administrative office of the court, responsible for the courts day to day administration as well as maintaining judges’ dockets. It should be recognised that the Clerks of the Court can be both very helpful and effectively quite powerful – for example, clerks tend to know the proclivities of judges in their court and can advise a litigator as to what might antagonise the judge. Despite the relative power of such clerks, some litigators inexplicably choose to antagonise them.
In Barristers chambers the day to day management of the chambers, the initial retention of a barrister and billing issues are handled by the barrister’s clerks. As with clerks of the court, barristers clerks can be both very helpful and effectively quite powerful.
In the US in particular, judges, especially federal judges, recruit new law graduates to work for them for 1-2 years as judicial clerks. Their role can be limited or extensive depending on the judge. Typically judicial clerks will attend (in turn) the judge’s hearings in particular cases, keep track of pleadings, do legal research (for example checking that cited cases in fact stand for the premise for which they are advanced) and make early drafts of decisions under the judge’s direction. Upon completing a judicial clerkship, particularly certain federal judicial clerkships, especially of federal appeal courts and the Supreme Court, there is often significant employment opportunities, especially for clerks who served on the more prestigious courts.