Court clerks are professional legal advisers to non-stipendiary (unpaid) magistrates/justices of the peace. Court clerks are qualified lawyers but they do not take part in the decision making within the court. In England and Wales, the new title of judicial or legal adviser is increasingly being used. In Scotland they are known as clerks of court.
As magistrates do not have to be legally qualified, court clerks answer their questions, explain points of law and court procedure, and advise them on possible penalties for offenders.
Outside the courtroom, court clerks complete paperwork ordered by magistrates, such as warrants and emergency protection orders, they administer legal aid and adoption procedures, and monitor licensed premises and bookmakers.
Other duties may include attending meetings with prosecutors and defence solicitors, liaising with police officers, prison staff and social workers, dealing with enquiries from the public, collecting statistics and training magistrates.
Court clerks usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Some courts start earlier. Court clerks may have to work some evenings, weekends and bank holidays if courts are held to deal with urgent cases. Part-time work may be available.
Court clerks work in courtrooms and offices. In certain court areas, especially those in rural areas, travel between courts may be involved.
To be a court clerk you should:
Court clerks can become justices' clerks who are responsible for running a number of courts within an area. Some go on to become justices' chief executives.
There are opportunities for court clerks who are fully qualified solicitors or barristers to move into private practice or into the Crown Prosecution/Procurator Fiscal Services. There are limited opportunities to work abroad, or to become district judges, magistrates who work for a regular annual salary.
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