A legal clerk is responsible for performing administrative and clerical duties to legal offices and organizations to ensure smooth legal business operations. Legal clerks sort and distribute documents to the appropriate personnel, update information on the database, schedule appointments, respond to clients' inquiries and concerns, and document meeting objectives. They may also coordinate with other offices and institutions to acquire files and research data according to the needs of the managing department. A legal clerk must have excellent communication and organizational skills, especially in monitoring business transactions and submitting reports timely and accurately.

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Legal Clerk Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real legal clerk resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Complete accounting and payroll functions.- gather and process client documents.- manage daily operations of office.
  • Maintain and organize litigation materials; litigation management; process correspondence, and various clerical duties, including filing/copying/package assembly.
  • Process civil, probate and small claims cases, issue writs, abstracts, summons, defaults and judgments.
  • Assist or draft wills, power of attorney, revocable living trusts, probate, adoptions, ERISA and Medicaid eligibility.
  • Serve subpoenas and notice and draft related affidavits.
  • Conduct conference calls independently with clients to gather information to answer interrogatories.
  • Communicate directly with clients/witnesses to complete interrogatories as a part of discovery in preparation for trial.
  • Describe and input litigation material into system ensuring high-levels of accuracy and detail allowing for information to be quickly locate.
  • Answer and propound discovery/mandatory disclosure/financial affidavits.
  • Prepare PowerPoint presentations for use by expert witnesses and attorneys at trials.
  • Draft legal documents; PowerPoint presentations.
  • Research issues concerning contracts, torts, civil practice, property law, and ethics.
  • Answer and propound discovery/mandatory disclosure/financial affidavits.

Legal Clerk Job Description

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as a legal clerk is "should I become a legal clerk?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, legal clerk careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 12% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a legal clerk by 2028 is 39,000.

Legal clerks average about $16.9 an hour, which makes the legal clerk annual salary $35,152. Additionally, legal clerks are known to earn anywhere from $24,000 to $49,000 a year. This means that the top-earning legal clerks make $23,000 more than the lowest earning ones.

It's hard work to become a legal clerk, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a summer associate, real estate paralegal, litigation assistant, and contractor-paralegal.

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Legal Clerk Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 13% of Legal Clerks are proficient in Litigation, Legal Correspondence, and Subpoenas. They’re also known for soft skills such as Computer skills, Research skills, and Communication skills.

We break down the percentage of Legal Clerks that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Litigation, 13%

    Utilized several databases for queries and searches locating potential valuable information to assist in investigation for Litigation Agents and Paralegal.

  • Legal Correspondence, 9%

    Maintained legal correspondence files and directives.

  • Subpoenas, 7%

    Served subpoenas and notice and drafted related affidavits.

  • Legal Research, 6%

    Contributed to the collective office staff by drafting legal briefs based upon comprehensive legal research and analysis of discovery documents.

  • Trial Preparation, 5%

    Conducted on site trial preparation including assembly of exhibits, summarizing of depositions and assisting with witness preparation.

  • Law Firm, 5%

    Corresponded with expert witnesses, clients, partners, and Suffolk County judges inside a fast-paced New England law firm.

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"litigation," "legal correspondence," and "subpoenas" aren't the only skills we found legal clerks list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of legal clerk responsibilities that we found, including:

  • The most important skills for a legal clerk to have in this position are computer skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a legal clerk resume, you'll understand why: "paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support" According to resumes we found, computer skills can be used by a legal clerk in order to "input and access case information to and from personal computer using litigation support software to update and conduct legal research. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling legal clerk duties is research skills. According to a legal clerk resume, "paralegals gather facts of the case and research information on relevant laws and regulations to prepare drafts of legal documents for attorneys and help them prepare for a case." Here's an example of how legal clerks are able to utilize research skills: "performed legal research and drafted memorandums in cases related to personal injury maritime litigation. "
  • Communication skills is also an important skill for legal clerks to have. This example of how legal clerks use this skill comes from a legal clerk resume, "paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney." Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "prepare and edit litigation documents, correspondence, memoranda and various written communications. "
  • In order for certain legal clerk responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "interpersonal skills." According to a legal clerk resume, "paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships" As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "provided strong interpersonal skills to intense emotional situations with clients, process payments to trustees and perform legal research. "
  • Yet another important skill that a legal clerk must demonstrate is "organizational skills." Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a legal clerk who stated: "reviewed and consolidated litigation files which helped improve organizational skills. "
  • See the full list of legal clerk skills.

    After discovering the most helpful skills, we moved onto what kind of education might be helpful in becoming a legal clerk. We found that 55.0% of legal clerks have graduated with a bachelor's degree and 4.4% of people in this position have earned their master's degrees. While most legal clerks have a college degree, you may find it's also true that generally it's possible to be successful in this career with only a high school degree. In fact, our research shows that one out of every seven legal clerks were not college graduates.

    Those legal clerks who do attend college, typically earn either a law degree or a business degree. Less commonly earned degrees for legal clerks include a political science degree or a criminal justice degree.

    Once you're ready to become a legal clerk, you should explore the companies that typically hire legal clerks. According to legal clerk resumes that we searched through, legal clerks are hired the most by PRA Group Careers, SGI Global, LLC, and Levorse Debra E Atty. Currently, PRA Group Careers has 4 legal clerk job openings, while there are 3 at SGI Global, LLC and 2 at Levorse Debra E Atty.

    Since salary is important to some legal clerks, it's good to note that they are figured to earn the highest salaries at Diodes Incorporated, Levorse Debra E Atty, and Harris Health System. If you were to take a closer look at Diodes Incorporated, you'd find that the average legal clerk salary is $49,986. Then at Levorse Debra E Atty, legal clerks receive an average salary of $45,705, while the salary at Harris Health System is $42,977.

    View more details on legal clerk salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a legal clerk include Law Office, Skadden, and Manley Holding Company. These three companies were found to hire the most legal clerks from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    The industries that legal clerks fulfill the most roles in are the professional and government industries. But the highest legal clerk annual salary is in the professional industry, averaging $39,441. In the finance industry they make $38,164 and average about $36,737 in the government industry. In conclusion, legal clerks who work in the professional industry earn a 42.2% higher salary than legal clerks in the manufacturing industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious legal clerks are:

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    What Summer Associates Do

    Summer associates are law students hired seasonally by law firms. The aim is for future lawyers to be exposed to the practical aspects of a firm. Typically, this program lasts for nine weeks, beginning in May and running through July. Summer associates are expected to be friendly and kind to people, preserve company reputation, support other associates, and perform legal tasks appropriately.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take summer associate for example. On average, the summer associates annual salary is $7,197 higher than what legal clerks make on average every year.

    While their salaries may differ, one common ground between legal clerks and summer associates are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like litigation, subpoenas, and legal research.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a legal clerk responsibility requires skills such as "legal correspondence," "court dates," "real estate," and "computer system." Whereas a summer associate is skilled in "first hand," "client facing," "team work," and "financial models." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Summer associates tend to make the most money in the professional industry by averaging a salary of $86,415. In contrast, legal clerks make the biggest average salary of $39,441 in the professional industry.

    Summer associates tend to reach higher levels of education than legal clerks. In fact, summer associates are 7.4% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.1% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Real Estate Paralegal?

    A Real Estate Paralegal helps real estate lawyers with a variety of tasks, such as offering advice to clients, doing research, and preparing documents. They collaborate with landlords, housing managers, or other real estate personnel.

    The next role we're going to look at is the real estate paralegal profession. Typically, this position earns a higher pay. In fact, they earn a $33,235 higher salary than legal clerks per year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Legal clerks and real estate paralegals both include similar skills like "litigation," "subpoenas," and "legal research" on their resumes.

    In addition to the difference in salary, there are some other key differences that are worth noting. For example, legal clerk responsibilities are more likely to require skills like "legal correspondence," "trial preparation," "court dates," and "real estate." Meanwhile, a real estate paralegal might be skilled in areas such as "due diligence," "estoppel," "affidavits," and "real estate transactions." These differences highlight just how different the day-to-day in each role looks.

    It's been discovered that real estate paralegals earn higher salaries compared to legal clerks, but we wanted to find out where real estate paralegals earned the most pay. The answer? The finance industry. The average salary in the industry is $72,649. Additionally, legal clerks earn the highest paychecks in the professional with an average salary of $39,441.

    On the topic of education, real estate paralegals earn similar levels of education than legal clerks. In general, they're 0.9% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.1% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Litigation Assistant Compares

    Litigation assistants are professionals who provide administrative support as well as perform tasks such as filing legal documents, communicating with clients, and conducting legal research for law firms or legal departments. These assistants are required to draft and prepare a variety of court and legal documents that include expert witness designations, motions for preference, and complaints. They must receive many phone calls from clients they are handling as well as examining information about the cases they are working on. Litigation assistants must also work closely with bookkeepers to ensure that all invoices are paid.

    Let's now take a look at the litigation assistant profession. On average, these workers make higher salaries than legal clerks with a $18,731 difference per year.

    By looking over several legal clerks and litigation assistants resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "litigation," "legal correspondence," and "subpoenas." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from legal clerk resumes include skills like "computer system," "legal issues," "word processing," and "legal memos," whereas a litigation assistant might be skilled in "phone calls," "discovery responses," "attorney review," and "proofreading. "

    Interestingly enough, litigation assistants earn the most pay in the construction industry, where they command an average salary of $63,516. As mentioned previously, legal clerks highest annual salary comes from the professional industry with an average salary of $39,441.

    When it comes to education, litigation assistants tend to earn similar education levels than legal clerks. In fact, they're 0.4% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 4.9% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Contractor-Paralegal

    A Contractor-Paralegal works for a law firm or corporate legal department for a specified amount of time, or for a specified task. They can be specialized in the entertainment industry or in providing services to healthcare companies and insurance providers.

    Contractor-paralegals tend to earn a higher pay than legal clerks by about $25,534 per year.

    According to resumes from both legal clerks and contractor-paralegals, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "litigation," "legal correspondence," and "subpoenas. "

    Each job requires different skills like "court dates," "computer system," "word processing," and "legal memos," which might show up on a legal clerk resume. Whereas contractor-paralegal might include skills like "discovery responses," "in-house counsel," "contract database," and "due diligence."

    Contractor-paralegals earn a higher salary in the finance industry with an average of $79,049. Whereas, legal clerks earn the highest salary in the professional industry.

    The average resume of contractor-paralegals showed that they earn similar levels of education to legal clerks. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 1.7% more. Additionally, they're less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by 5.3%.