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Tell me about law clerks.

Riverhead, NY |

How do they get their jobs? What is their job? How long are their terms, if there are terms? What "powers" do they have? Do they look at everything that is submitted for the judge (i.e., motions, requests for adjournments, letters)? Are they allowed to make decisions without the judge's involvement? Can they refuse to allow a party to speak to the judge about an issue? Can they tell you to leave without addressing the issue with a judge? Can they decide whether a motion can be submitted at a pre-motion conference? Can they do settlement negotiations? Can they hold you back from speaking with the judge? Can they tell you (or yell at you) not to address an issue that you wanted to put in a motion for the judge to decide?

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Attorney answers 4


Schedule an appointment with a local lawyer to discuss the matter of the local law clerk. Different judges use their clerks differently. Also, check the court rules of the judge you are in front of. You should be represented by counsel, you are over your head in this case.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


Your question is too complicated to answer. If you have a particular judge's clerk in mind, consult with an attorney ( for a fixed fee) who regularly practices in that court for guidance if you don't want to or can't afford an attorney to handle your matter.


12 questions? Are you for real? I will answer one of them for you: The judge absolutely positively is never ever never ever going to speak with you informally outside of the courtroom or his/her chambers and while observing the formalities of the judicial process. If you think there is any chance of that happening whatsoever, then you are sadly mistaken.

If you think my response is the best response, it would help me if you would indicate that. Also, please note that my responses to question(s) are NOT legal advice from me to you because I am NOT your lawyer, you are NOT my client, and we do NOT currently have an attorney-client relationship. Thanks!


A law clerk is an attorney. Works for the judge. Paid by the jurisdiction. Frequently a recent kaw school grad they generally wield significant influence with the court. If you've run afoul of the clerk for the judge handling your case, that could be 'ungood' for you. I advise contrition. Hire yourself an attorney b/c if you don't understand the clerks' role you are in deep kimchi.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.



Thank you. I appreciate all the different answers to my question. I witnessed some questionable things recently, (not me) and just wondered how far- reaching a law clerk's "authority" goes. I thought they acted more as researchers for the judge. Do they write the decisions for the judge too?

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III


yup. Its a bit hit or miss though- some judges do everything themselves, some lean heavily on their clerks--some fall in between. Ask some of the lawyers that practice in your court and regularly appear before this judge to determine where on the spectrum he/she is. Best of luck to you .

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