The Israel Supreme Court justices and their law clerks on the roof of the old supreme court building at the Russian compound in Jerusalem
A law clerk or a judicial clerk is an individual—generally an attorney—who provides direct assistance and counsel to a judge in making legal determinations and in writing opinions by researching issues before the court. Judicial clerks often play significant roles in the formation of case law through their influence upon judges' decisions. Judicial clerks should not be confused with legal clerks (also called "law clerks" in Canada), court clerks, or courtroom deputies who only provide secretarial and administrative support to attorneys and/or judges.
Judicial clerks are generally recent law school graduates who performed at or near the top of their class. Serving as a judicial clerk is considered to be one of the most prestigious positions in legal circles, and tends to open up wide-ranging opportunities in academia, law firm practice, and influential government work. In some countries, judicial clerks are known as judicial associates or judicial assistants.
In many nations, clerk duties are performed by permanent staff attorneys or junior apprentice-like judges, such as those that sit on France'sConseil d'État. In English courts, they are known as judicial assistants. The European Court of Justice uses permanent staff attorneys (référendaires) and the stagiaires (young law graduates). Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Brazil have notable clerk systems.