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The Life of a Court Officer (Clerk) at the Magistrates’ Court

The Life of a Court Officer (Clerk) at the Magistrates’ Court

By Manolya Ilanli

Young Lawyers 

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Court Officers (Clerks) are the backbones of court proceedings in both open and online court. They work closely with Judicial Officers to assist them in the coordination of courtroom processes.

The duties of a Clerk include but are not limited to:

  • providing legal support to Judicial Officers by locating court files and briefs of evidence, and coordinating the movement of documents to and from the Registry;
  • liaising with both internal and external stakeholders such as registrars, legal practitioners, court users, media and the public;
  • providing administrative assistance to Judicial Officers during hearings including opening and adjourning court, operating audio and video conferencing equipment and administering oaths and affirmations to civilian and police witnesses;
  • diarising hearings and preparing documents for higher jurisdictions and compiling court ordered reports; and
  • conducting legal research including retrieving legal texts from libraries and online legal databases, to assist Judicial Officers.

The position of a Clerk would particularly attract a law graduate who is motivated in working in the future as a legal practitioner and would like to have an overview of courtroom process and procedure. Working as a Clerk could likely lead a law graduate to practise in the future as a:

  • Criminal Defence Lawyer where you will regularly appear in court on a range of different matters such as summary mentions, bail and diversion applications, pleas and contested hearings; or
  • Crown Prosecutor or Solicitor Advocate at the Office of Public Prosecutions where you will cross-examine witnesses in committals to determine whether there is enough evidence before a Magistrate to send the accused to the County Court or Supreme Court for trial; or   
  • Police Lawyer or Legal Support Officer at Victoria Police in the civil litigation unit, family violence or children’s court jurisdiction (youth crime); or
  • Criminal Lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid where you will be required to advocate on behalf of the disadvantaged and marginalised individuals of the community such as people from low socio-economic circumstances; or
  • Barrister at the Victorian Bar where you could accept briefs in criminal law or other areas.

Regardless of which pathway you intend to take, after spending a considerable amount of time as a Clerk, the list of career pathways is endless. This position will also enable a Clerk to be guided by a Judicial Officer within the legal profession, as they explain the law and procedure, provide constructive feedback and act as a potential life-long mentor and colleague.

Starting your legal career as a Clerk can bring vast amount of networking opportunities and confirm which area of law you genuinely enjoy the most, simply by observing how both the prosecution and defence present their case in court. In conclusion, it is not about where you first commence your legal career, it is how you finish it that counts and commencing as a Clerk after becoming admitted as an Australian Lawyer, can truly be the beginning of a career-long journey.

Manolya Ilanli is an admitted Australian lawyer and hopes to practise as one. She currently works as a Court Officer at the Magistrates’ Court.

 


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