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September 27, 2005


We had a three clerk system in my chambers, with the CRD taking on the bulk of the docketing management and the "admin clerk" handing the day-to-day case management and interaction with GSA.

The only downside is that in a non-traditional chambers, one of the clerk positions will max out at JS-13 (I think). It may not be a problem if the clerks are all new grads, but if there are some that have a year or two of practice, or have been clerking for a couple of years, then someone may get screwed out of the extra $$ upon "promotion."

Our district court chambers also has 3 clerks (two rotating and one permanent) and a secretary with the three clerks handling all deputy duties on a rotating basis as you described. However, for paperwork purposes, our secretary is designated as the courtroom deputy (rather than an official secretary) and the three of us are all designated as law clerks thus we get law clerk salaries and "legal experience" and the only thing the secretary/deputy must do is file a deputy "time in court" sheet each month with all of our accumulated hours. This is a long-winded way of saying that the secretary should just be designated deputy re paperwork only (not with respect to duties) and the rest of you as law clerks and then everyone can keep doing what they do while getting the appropriate credit.

Two suggestions:

1. Why does your payroll title have to be the same as your resume title? If the title has to be conferred for purposes of paperwork, then why must it be used beyond that? Why not simply ask the judge if you can use the title law clerk for professional purposes (i.e., resume), even if your payroll title is Deputy Clerk? I can only imagine that any reasonable judge would appreciate the circumstances and the value of the law clerk title, esp. when you are doing all the same work (and s/he didn't tell you in advance!). And if you've cleared it with the judge, then anyone who actually calls for a reference will be able to confirm it.

2. I have a friend who interned for the summer for a Circuit Judge, immediately following her graduation from law school, and at the end of her internship he gave her a certificate saying that she was a "law clerk" so that she could use the law clerk title on her resume, rather than intern.

Seriously, though, explain to the judge your predicament and find out what they would suggest. Put the ball in his/her court. Any reasonably kind judge would surely try to find some solution.

Good luck!

I clerk in a district court chambers that has three law clerks--all rotating on one-year stints--a courtroom deputy, and no secretary. We're all designated "law clerks," and we're all getting credit for legal work. Unlike the situation mentioned in the earlier post, though, we three law clerks split up the secretarial duties. It works great as long the clerks don't have ego problems related to admin work.

Or, more humanely, have the secretary be appointed to the "deputy clerk" position and the clerk slide into the third chambers spot.

The solution is quite simple. Do what a district court judge did in our area -- he let his secretary go, and hired a law clerk to replace her. So now, he has three law clerks and a courtroom deputy. The courtroom deputy takes on the minimal secretarial duties such as filing and correspondence. Problem solved.

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