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What is the Difference Between a Law Clerk and an Attorney?

When you ask, “What is the difference between a law clerk and a lawyer?” you’ll be surprised to learn that they’re not so much different, as they share several skills. Both are important, but some are better suited to certain types of work. Here, we’ll cover the differences between law clerks and attorneys, and provide examples of each job’s benefits.

Although there are many differences between a law clerk and an attorney, most are attorneys admitted to practice in the state where they work. Consequently, law clerks are bound by the New York Code of Professional Responsibility, but some rules won’t affect them directly. Among these, DR 1-103 deals with reporting requirements. DR 9-101 deals with issues for law clerks who switch between private and public employment.

As law clerks, you’ll work closely with judges, helping them in their chambers. They conduct research, prepare briefs, and proofread court orders. In some cases, they even participate in the decision-making process by assisting judges in draft decisions. These skills will be very valuable to you in the future, and you’ll get plenty of work experience during your tenure as a law clerk.

Although the term ‘law clerk’ was created by the Upper Canada Law Society, this title is now widely used by the Law Society of Ontario. Currently, there are a variety of positions available for law clerks in Ontario, including large private law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, court and registry offices, legal software companies, and more. But despite the plethora of opportunities, many law clerks fail to make the most of their positions and are underutilized.

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