Job as a Court Clerk

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Carl Clark is a court clerk at a Crown Court in London. He is responsible for assisting the judge and managing the courtoom, ensuring it runs smoothly and that everyone is in the right place at the right time.

What is the role of a court clerk?

The clerk assists, updates and informs the judge. I prepare all the case papers for the judge and make sure he/she is fully prepared for court.

What do you do in court?

I sit just in front of the judge keeping a written log. I also swear in the jury, take pleas from the defendant and complete paperwork, including imprisonment orders and bail forms. When I'm in court I wear a gown, starched collars and tabs.

What kind of cases do you deal with?

On some days, I might deal with a rape or murder. At other times I could be dealing with simpler cases, such as the theft of a bicycle. Apart from trials, there are sentencing hearings, appeals and any number of applications that might be made to the judge.

What equipment do you use?

I usually use a pen, paper and a computer. Courtrooms can be technically advanced, with videos and DVD players, and the jury can watch computer presentations on their own screen. Sometimes a witness gives evidence via satellite if they cannot attend court, or we use a video link so that a nervous victim does not have to see the accused party.

What was your route into your job as a court clerk?

During one summer holiday at school, I worked as an office junior in a firm of solicitors and became interested in the law. After university, I applied for a job in the court's general office. I spent a few months inputting new cases onto the computer system before I was promoted to court clerk.

Do you ever deal with unusual cases?

Rarely a day goes by where something interesting doesn't happen. A defendant may try to escape from the dock, or a celebrity could be on trial. Court cases that I'm involved with regularly appear in the papers.

Is your work ever distressing?

Sometimes it can be. People make mistakes and can be sent to prison for them, and understandably they can get very upset. Occasionally, I come into contact with victims of rape or violence, which can leave me feeling very low.

What training have you had?

I have been on numerous courses and was only allowed to run a courtroom once I'd shadowed a clerk for a few weeks.

What hours do you work?

The court usually sits from 10.30am until 1pm, and then from 2pm to 4pm. We work on a flexitime system; as long as I'm here between 10am and 4pm, and complete an average of 36 hours a week, I can work whatever hours are necessary to do the job.

What do you like best about your job?

No two days are the same and I come into contact with a wide range of people. I enjoy the challenge and the responsibility of clerking – it can be quite exciting when I have a high-profile case!

What are the skills and qualities needed?

You need to be level-headed, confident and happy to speak in front of a room full of people. Mistakes happen sometimes and you need to be able to deal with situations without panicking.

What are your future career plans?

At the moment, I am just enjoying clerking, although I may convert my degree to a legal one to become formally qualified. In the Civil Service, it is also very easy to transfer to other areas of work.

Carl's route to his job as a court clerk

  • A levels
  • Degree in Philisophy
  • Worked in Southwark Crown Court general office
  • Promoted to court clerk

Carl's court clerk tips

  • Courts are open to the public, so find out where your local court is and make a visit.
  • Gain as much experience as you can - courts sometimes hold open days or accept school pupils on work experience.

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Salary of a court clerk

  • Salaries range between £16,350 and £20,000 a year.
  • Court clerks working in London receive higher salaries.

How to become a court clerk

  • The minimum entry requirements are five GCSEs (A-C) including English language or equivalent qualifications, or two years' administrative experience.
  • Training is on the job; no prior knowledge of law is required.
  • Computer literacy is important.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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