What is a Clerk of Court?

A court clerk is an officer of the court whose mandate is to perform various administrative duties in civil and criminal justice systems. Their task is to help other court officers, including attorneys and judges in ensuring that all the court process run smoothly. Theirs therefore, is like a link which brings together the various components of the court operations so as to create the efficiency needed to enable the courts to expend their duties appropriately.

Court clerks can work in district courts, federal courts, county courts, state courts, supreme courts, bankruptcy courts, or even in the court of appeal. Being a clerk of court is thus a fulfilling career since it gives the chance to be part of a cog in big machinery which is the judicial system.

Types of Clerks of Courts

Just like most of the other professions, a clerk of court is also expected to start their career journey at some lowest level then work their way slowly towards the top. In this particular profession, there is an entry level where junior clerks can begin at as they advance their way upwards. Listed below are the various levels of court clerks you are likely to find in most judicial systems-:

  • Deputy Clerk –the deputy clerks is also known as assistant clerk of court and it is the most basic level for clerks of court.
  • Clerk of Court – once a deputy clerk has achieved further education as well as adequate experience, they can be promoted to the post of clerks of court where they will have more responsibilities compared to the deputy clerks.
  • Chief Clerk of Court – This is the highest level one can get to in the profession. The Chief Court of Clerk is mandated with managing the clerk’s office and they hold executive level positions within the judicial systems.

Duties and responsibilities of a clerk of court

The duties and responsibilities of a clerk of court are likely to vary from one court system to another and from one country to another. Their mandate however, remains to be the provision of various administrative tasks to ease the operations of the court processes. With that being said, the typical duties of a clerk of court therefore, include but are not limited to the following-:

  • Prepare all orders of the court
  • Keep a clear and up to date records of court orders as well as case dispositions
  • Take care of administrative tasks such as managing office supplies, answering phone calls and emails, file documents etc.
  • Inform the concerned parties about dates of appearances and hearings
  • Conduct legal research whenever called upon by the judges
  • Create and keep records of licensing requests of county, municipal or other agencies
  • Keep good records of all the legal documents
  • Collect fees for various services rendered to the members of the public

Other than the administrative duties listed above, court clerks can also analyze court’s financial data, manages court budgets, and makes future projections based on the available data. Additionally, they may also be called upon to manage staff in bigger courts. With all these demands and the versatility of their duties, court clerks ought to be compliant with human resource requirements, be good in project management, and have exceptional negotiation skills besides having adequate knowledge in probate law, diplomacy, court procedures, information systems, business management as well as jury management.

Requirements and qualifications for a Clerk of Court

To become a clerk of court, there is no specific degree required, especially if you will be working in a smaller court system. However, many of those who aspire for careers as Clerks of Court can take certifications or associate degree programs in criminal justice systems or administrative assisting.

The coursework for clerks of court primarily include introductory modules to criminal justice, business administration, court processes, and different archival systems. In some places, only a high school diploma may be needed as an entry level for clerks of court while others might require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, business management or their equivalent. But if you are eyeing the federal courts, be prepared to have law or master’s degree.

In order to have a competitive edge over the rest as a clerk of court and rise the ranks much faster, a background in accounting, customer service or some legal experience will be of immense help. Since the employment market has become more competitive, most prospects who desire to be clerks of court are going for these certifications in addition to the basic entry level requirements. They then follow it up with internships as clerks of courts so that they can gain the on-job experience to increase their chances of getting hired when they apply for the post of a clerk of court.