Court law clerks
The Constitutional Court is the first court in the history of South Africa to have law clerks for all judges. Law clerks are appointed to work for a specific judge.
The primary responsibility of the law clerks is to assist the judges in performing their duties.
Each judge has two South African law clerks and may have one foreign law clerk.
Although responsibilities among South African and foreign clerks are essentially the same,
different conditions apply to the appointment of foreign law clerks in respect of period of employment and remuneration.
Roles and duties
Specific responsibilities may vary between chambers, but include:
writing analytical summaries of written argument or evidence and assessing arguments in the light of academic legal literature and case law;
carrying out detailed research on particular topics;
preparing pre-hearing memoranda, media summaries and opinions as well as identifying key issues in matters to be heard;
assisting the judge in Court;
taking detailed notes of oral argument during hearings;
assisting the judge in Court-related work such as committees, organisational work and international human-rights work;
cite-checking draft judgments before delivery;
taking part in various clerks' committees;
administration of Court papers and case management; and
Law clerks’ workload varies during the year and will depend on the demands made by an individual judge. The working hours are flexible and chamber specific.
Skills Law clerks are required to have the following skills:
knowledge of, and the ability to apply legal principles, concepts and procedures;
familiarity and experience in the use of a variety of legal research sources, including electronic sources;
excellent English language and writing skills;
drafting skills, including the ability to write clearly and concisely and under pressure;
the ability to plan work and manage conflicting priorities; and
the capacity to work independently and in a team setting.
Some training will be provided to new clerks by the Orientation Committee during the two week orientation period.
How clerks are appointed
South African clerks are appointed for one year. Foreign law clerks (except those who are part of the German trainee lawyer programme) are appointed for a minimum period of six months
and up to one year.
Appointments of South African clerks are ordinarily made in May of the preceding year for appointment as a law clerk for the following January to December or
All South African applications must be received by no later than 31 March each year. Foreign law clerk appointments are made on a rolling basis.
Because the judges have specific requirements and because they work so closely with their law clerks, appointments are made, where possible, after one-on-one interviews either in person or telephonically.
All applications are considered by all the Justices of the Court, as such applicants should not indicate a preference to work for a specific Justice. Importantly, applicants should indicate the period for which he or she wishes to be considered.
Applicants must be in possession of an LLB (or equivalent) or in their final year of study for such degree and have an interest in subjects relating to constitutional law. Applications must also include, as a minimum:
a cover letter of no longer than two pages; ;
a curriculum vitae of no longer than three pages;
a certified copy of the applicant’s ID;
certified copies of all academic records;
an example of written work between six and ten pages in length, which demonstrates critical legal analysis and is written solely by the applicant; and
letters of recommendation from two referees, together with their names and contact details (including an email address.
Failure to comply with these requirements will result in the application not being considered.
South African applications should only be submitted electronically to:
More information on the foreign clerkship position is available here .
Place of employment
Law clerks perform their duties at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg.
On occasion the judges may require them to attend to work-related tasks elsewhere.
Remuneration and benefits
South African law clerks receive a uniform salary of R252 144.00 per annum plus 37% in lieu of benefits which amounts in total to R345 437.28 per annum (this is subject to revision). No further benefits are included.
Parking is provided at the Court subject to a nominal monthly tariff of R30 per vehicle per month.
Foreign law clerks are not remunerated, so it is recommended that they seek their own funding to cover all their expenses including
food, accommodation, travel to South Africa, visas, telephone calls at the Court and travel to and from work.
Benefits of being a law clerk Being a law clerk offers opportunities to enhance personal and professional development and improve research,
writing and people skills.