“Clerking with the Court of Appeal of Nova Scotia offers a unique opportunity to peer inside the black box. It can be intimidating at first... a little like lifting the great curtain on the wizard. But, you will find the wizard is even more intelligent than you expected, and far more fun. As part of the decision-making process, I most enjoyed working with the academic and analytical aspects of diverse areas of law. Going forward, I expect to continuously draw upon the writing and research skills I honed; however, I am most grateful for all I learned about how to (and how not to) advocate from the best legal minds in the province, both before and behind the bench.”
- Previous Court of Appeal Law Clerk
NOTE: The Supreme Court also has a Clerkship Program; << click here >>
The law clerks provide legal assistance to the Court of Appeal. Under the supervision of the judges, the clerks work individually on appeals and other matters. They also work collaboratively on special and larger-scale projects.
Their responsibilities at the Court involve the clerks in many areas of the law. Since they actively participate in the assignment of their cases, there are opportunities for them to focus on areas of interests and to explore previously unfamiliar areas of law. The clerks are asked to prepare research memoranda, often on challenging, emerging and unsettled points of law.
Clerks generally attend the hearings of the cases to which they have been assigned. As well, when assigned to assist the Chambers judge, they often attend Court of Appeal Chambers. These attendances allow the clerks to observe many different counsel arguing matters on which the clerks have reviewed the written submissions and may have conducted detailed research.
In working for and interacting with all the judges and by being exposed to so many issues and counsel, the clerks gain valuable insight into appellate decision making, effective written and oral advocacy, and the judicial process.
“My experience as a Clerk at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal was the best legal experience I will ever receive. Working on a daily basis with the Judges was not only rewarding, but it continues to serve me well in my litigation practice. The opportunity to work with all Judges that sit on the Court, and to get perspective on how they consider and analyze the law is truly invaluable. I would highly recommend this opportunity.”
“Clerking at the Court of Appeal was an incredible experience. I was able to get an intimate knowledge of the courts and how appeal litigation process works that few people have an opportunity to see. I observed the province’s top litigators in action and worked for some of the best legal minds in the country. It also set me up very well to move forward with my legal career.”
“My clerkship at the court helped me fully under the ‘behind the scenes’ workings of the court – process and procedure, what the bench needs in order to properly and effectively decide a case and how it goes about doing its analysis, what constitutes good advocacy skills and how important good advocacy is, and insight into the challenges courts are currently facing, such as difficulties dealing with untrained, self-represented individuals appearing in court, and a lack of accessible legal resources.”
“I still think working for the Court of Appeal was the best job I ever had. It gave me the opportunity to become familiar with many differentareas of the law, and helped me to figure out where and how I would most like to practice. Most of all, I enjoyed discussing cases with the justices who were always generous with their time and appreciative of the clerks’ efforts. It was exciting to be able to contribute (albeit in small ways) to shaping the law. When it finally came time to leave, I sought and received excellent advice regarding my future career from many of the justices. I would highly recommend a clerkship to anyone who loves the law, and is looking for a fun, supportive and intellectually stimulating place to work.”
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal is located in the Law Courts at 1815 Upper Water Street in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia. The Law Courts building is found in the heart of downtown Halifax and overlooks Halifax harbour. Normally, the clerks are situated near the Judges' Library and the office of the librarian in the Law Courts. However, the building is currently being renovated so the clerks are located in another building a couple of blocks away.
The period of employment is for one year. Start dates are generally July and August, though there may be some room for flexibility in exceptional circumstances.
The primary duty of the law clerks consists of providing legal assistance to the Court on a variety of legal subjects. This includes:
The clerks may also be asked to provide administrative assistance to the Court, including:
All applicants must have graduated from a recognized law school of Canada. Preference will be given to candidates who are admitted as a member of the Bar of a Province or Territory of Canada. However, all interested graduates are encouraged to apply.
Ability to read and work in French is not essential but is considered an asset.
The number of law clerk positions available may vary from year to year. Typically, one to three positions will be filled each year.
(a) (under review) for a candidate who is admitted as a member of the Bar of one of the Provinces or Territories of Canada ($57,934 per annum for 2013-2014)
(b) (under review) for a law graduate not yet admitted as a member of the Bar of one of the Provinces or Territories of Canada ($33,150 per annum for 2013-2014)
Except as provided by agreement or by the Labour Standards Code of Nova Scotia or other applicable legislation, law clerks are not entitled to any benefits and does not come within the Civil Service Act or other legislation relating to persons in the public service.
If a candidate for a law clerk position is not already admitted as a member of the Bar of a Province or Territory of Canada, the clerkship may count for a portion of the candidate's articling requirements, depending on the Province or Territory in which he or she wishes to be called.
For more information on articling requirements, the candidate should contact the law society of the Province or Territory in which he or she intends to be called.
Candidates must forward each of the following:
The Court of Appeal usually advertises for candidates in early March of the year and asks for submissions by the end of that month. Interviews are typically held in April, and may be conducted by telephone if distance inhibits travel or in other exceptional circumstances. Successful candidates are advised shortly after the interview process is complete.
This year's deadline for submitting applications is March 31st, 2014
Requests for further information should be directed to:
Sharon McIsaac, Judicial Assistant
For more information, go to Frequently Asked Questions >>