The law enforcement and criminal justice system forms the backbone of any well-developed society. The system plays its part in uplifting the law, ensuring accountability, promoting law and order, and paving the way for peace and harmony among the people. It’s commonly assumed that a legal justice system’s responsibilities rest solely on the shoulders of the judiciary. This is not true. Many other players work hand in hand to make the USA the great country it is today. One of these players is the court clerk.
This post will discuss the dynamics of this prestigious job, the job description, benefits, and future outlook. Read on to learn more:
Who appoints the court clerk?
A court clerk is responsible for various administrative duties in a civil justice system. In fact, every court must have a court clerk in order to qualify as a ‘court of record.’
Their primary job is to assist the judge, lawyers, and other court officers. Court clerks are posted and appointed at multiple levels of the criminal justice system, including the Supreme Court, bankruptcy courts, district courts, or a court of appeals. Although court clerks are employed at both state and federal levels, their biggest employers are the municipalities. They’re either elected at county and district level or the court judge appoints them.
What is a court clerk’s job description?
A court clerk primarily acts as the chief financial officer and chief information officer of a court. They’re responsible for the court’s money as well as all the confidential record-keeping. In some cases, they may also be appointed as probate registrars or jury commissioners. In one way or the other, a court clerk is quite similar to an administrative assistant—the only difference is that they are a part of the legal system.
Here are some of their key responsibilities:
- Organize and maintain court records.
- Authenticate the court orders and judgments and ensure that they carry the court’s seal.
- Administer oaths to case jurors and witnesses.
- Document all the office tasks as they take place.
- Prepare meeting agendas and record the minutes.
- Take care of bookkeeping and accounting duties.
- Maintain a record of hearings and court appearances.
- Answer any official correspondence on behalf of the court.
- Issue legal permits and licenses.
- Collect court fees and update the transaction in the books.
- Prepare bylaws for city councils.
- Carry out the required research for the judges.
- Prepare dockets of cases that need to be called out.
- Manage and analyze all the financial data.
- Maintaining order in the hearing rooms and the adjacent areas during the court proceedings.
- Serving legal orders such as subpoenas and summonses.
- Assisting the solicitors in legal matters such as common law, contracts, probate, and conveyancing.
- Investing in trust funds and maintaining the trust files.
- Establishing beneficial entitlements and fulfilling statutory requirements.
- Organizing the witness and jury list and summoning them inside the courthouse when they’re needed.
What are the job requirements?
To carry out their duties, court clerks should have excellent knowledge in business management, accounting and finance, information systems, human resource management, diplomacy, legal negotiation, project management, financial compliance, court procedures, and probate laws. To increase their chances of qualification, many applicants also undertake coursework in the criminal justice system and archival systems.
Any applicant with relevant legal experience and the right kind of customer skills will stand a better chance. Other technical skills include case management, litigation, legal document composition, warrants, and case management.
To apply for the job, the candidates must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. In most cases, two years of education at a business school is also required. Although Bachelor’s degrees are preferred, many federal courts also prefer court clerks with a law or master’s degree. Additional required skills include budgeting, word processing, business and personnel management, and proficiency in computer systems. They must know how to work with computers, copy machines, microfilm, stenotype, and card indexes. They’re also expected to be good at writing, typing, time management, multitasking, communication, and must have sound attention to detail.
In some cases, good command over a foreign language may also count as a bonus. Excellent English skills are a pre-requisite. Besides the required skills, the applicant is also expected to have a sound moral character, a good sense of judgement, and integrity.
What are the job prospects?
The pay scale for a court clerk varies according to the court size and type. It also depends on the clerk’s prior professional experience, educational background, skillset, and the responsibilities taken up by them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a court clerk in the US was equal to $38,450 to 2018. Back in 2004, this was equal to $27,300. This shows that with each passing year, the job outlook is improving. Other than the pay, they also enjoy the same benefits as other civil service employees, including paid holidays, retirement plans, vacation leaves, and health insurance.
Another study suggests that court clerk jobs are expected to grow by 6% from 2018 to 2028. This will be on par with the employment growth in all other fields. With each passing day, the need for sophisticated and knowledgeable court workers continues to expand.
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