CLERKING AT THE COURT:
“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
Frequently Asked Questions:
The Application Process:
What sort of clerks are you looking for?
The Court is looking for well-rounded applicants with strong academic records, excellent research, writing and analytical skills, and the ability to work independently as well as cooperatively with judges, fellow clerks and court staff.
Can I apply if I am in third year?
Yes, you can apply in your third year of law school.
Can I apply if I have already been called to the Bar?
The Court of Appeal prefers candidates who have already been called to the Bar of a Province or Territory. As an added bonus, Clerks who have already been called to the Bar fall into a higher pay scale than articling students.
What type of reference letters should I submit?
Each candidate must submit three original letters of reference. Referees should be familiar with the applicant’s abilities that are relevant to the clerkship.
Do I need to submit a writing sample?
Writing samples are not required but may be included, or may be requested by the Court.
Do I need to be able to work in French?
No. The ability to read or work in french is not required, though it is considered an asset.
Should I take particular courses if I want to clerk?
The Court does not require that clerks take any particular courses. However, given the broad jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal, it is helpful to have taken a wide range of courses.
The Interview & Selection Process:
Who conducts the interviews?
Candidates will usually be interviewed by two judges of the Court but, if circumstances require, interviews may be conducted by a single judge.
When are the interviews conducted?
The interviews for will be conducted in April each year.
Do you pay travel expenses for those traveling to Halifax for the interviews?
No, the Court cannot reimburse candidates for traveling expenses.
Can interviews be conducted over the phone?
Yes, interviews may be conducted by phone in exceptional circumstances or if distance inhibits travel.
When are offers made?
Offers for positions will be made in April or May each year.
Law Society Requirements:
Does clerking at the Court of Appeal satisfy Nova Scotia’s articling requirements?
A full year clerkship at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal will count towards 6 months of a student-at-law’s articling requirements. The law clerk will have to complete another 6 months of articles at a law firm, pass the licensing exam and complete other practical requirements to be admitted to the Bar of Nova Scotia. Timing and completion of these other requirements must be arranged independently by the law clerk.
For details, please contact the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, or the law society of the Province or Territory in which you wish to be called.
Do I have to write the licensing exams prior to clerking?
No. Writing the licensing exam is not a condition or precondition of the clerkship.
The Clerking Experience:
When do the clerkships start and end?
The clerkship start dates are staggered and generally start in late June and July, although there may be room for flexibility in exceptional circumstances. The clerkships are for 12 months.
Do clerks work for a judge or for the Court?
Clerks work for the Court of Appeal rather than for a specific judge of the Court.
What type of work do clerks do?
The clerks’ main tasks are to prepare pre-hearing and post-hearing research memoranda. Clerks also assist judges with papers and speeches.
For a detailed list of duties, please see main clerkship program page.
What types of cases do clerks work on?
Clerks will work on cases in a variety of areas of law, including criminal, civil, family, constitutional and administrative. For more information, visit the Court of Appeal online docket, or browse through the Court's recent decision web page.
What resources are available to clerks?
The law clerks’ offices are primarily located within the secured area of the Law Courts building. Clerks have full access to the Judges’ library, the Barristers’ library and major online legal resources.
Does the job involve any traveling?
Will I have the opportunity to attend court?
Yes. Clerks will attend hearings and Chambers sessions on a regular basis.
Post Clerkship Opportunities:
What assistance are clerks given in searching for jobs?
The judges may provide advice and support to clerks in their job finding process.
What sorts of things do clerks do after leaving the Court?
Clerks typically come from diverse backgrounds and interests, and have therefore gone on to pursue a variety of career paths. Recent clerks have chosen to work in private practice in many specialized fields such as municipal, environmental, labour & employment, constitutional, commercial, civil litigation, tax and research. Others have joined industry or the public sector and are currently practicing law in the capacity of in-house counsel. Former clerks are also engaged in prosecution, both at the provincial and federal levels, while others work for Legal Aid. Others have opted to become stay-at-home parents, one is pursuing international development work, and another is a best-selling author!
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