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What do you have to do to become a law clerk?

do i have to get a JD?
How long will it take?
#law-school #lawyer

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Kevin T.’s Answer

Hi Jennifer S.

Good question, and I think that the answer may depend on your state laws.

Typically, you need to go to law school and can work as a lawyer after you graduate and pass the state bar exam. During law school, you might be able to get a part-time job or a summer job working in the legal field where you might hold the title of "law clerk." Alternatively, after you graduate you might be able to get a job as a "law clerk" for a judge. Typically, clerking for a judge is a one or two year assignment that you use as a steppingstone to a more permanent job in the legal profession, such as a lawyer in a firm in private practice or an in-house counsel.

In those "clerk" roles, the things that you actually do on a daily basis will depend on the specific job. I have never clerked for a judge, but I imagine that the job entails studying the facts of a particular case that is before the judge, researching issues of law that are pertinent to that case, writing memos on those issues of law and fact, maybe writing draft opinions for the judge. When I was in law school I held a part-time job at a law firm and was called a "clerk." In that job, I worked on specific issues of law for the firms clients and did things like legal research, writing memorandum about that research, organizing documents and files in cases, drafting letters, edited briefs, and generally helped get things done that needed to be done.

In some states, you might be able to sit for the bar exam without going to law school, but in that case you might have to work as an apprentice in a law firm for several years. In that situation, you might actually hold the title of "clerk" also and do some of the same things that I described above, but it would more likely be a full time role and an intense period of dedication and learning. For example, there have been recent news stories that Kim Kardashian is taking such a path to becoming a lawyer in California.

I personally do not know what the laws in your home state of Nevada would require. However, you can do an internet search for the "authorized practice of law in Nevada" and you should find the relevant statutes that explain who can practice law in your state and whether that person must graduate from law school before sitting for the bar.

I hope this sheds some light on the issue for you.

Good luck.

Kevin T. recommends the following next steps:

Research the law in your state to determine what the requirements are to practice law there.

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Lisa’s Answer


It depends on what type of law clerk. Most law firms hire law students in the summer or during the year and they clerk for the firm before they have their law degree or license. If you mean clerk for a judge, except the case of internships, you need to have your law degree and license to practice in most states.

Wishing you the best!


Lisa recommends the following next steps:

I recommend participating in an internship while you are in law school to see if you like it.

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Jonathan’s Answer

First I can tell you that I’m some states you can be an apprentice to become a lawyer. However in most states you need a JD or be a law student. Most private law firms take on academic law clerks starting in your second your second year. After your first year you may be able to get a highly paid summer associate positions depending on your 1L grades and law school. Most students after the 1L year can get unpaid internships with state judges or appellate courts or low paying positions elsewhere. For example I worked for 10/hour in the Govt Affairs department of a large insurance company. I considered myself. Ultimately if you do not want to get a JD or need more time to make your decision try becoming a paralegal for two years. Some paralegals do some legal research and writing which is what you would do as a clerk