The Training and Skills You Need to Become a Court Clerk
Courts process many hundreds and even thousands of documents every day in court cases,
ranging from minor traffic tickets to murder. Some types of cases processed in the court
system include traffic infractions, domestic disputes, small claims, personal injury
claims, bankruptcies, and criminal charges ranging from minor misdemeanors to serious
felonies. Court clerks play an essential role in the daily operations of all court
systems, including municipal, county, state, and federal courts.
What is a Court Clerk?
A court clerk performs a variety of tasks in the everyday operations of a courthouse. A
court clerk may provide face-to-face customer service in a clerk's office, and take calls
from people asking about court services, like how to file for divorce, for example. Court
clerks often research and prepare copies of court documents, which sometimes involve
looking at microfilm of very old court cases.
They take new cases for filing, and perform many other administrative and customer
service tasks. The specifics of a court clerk's job will vary depending on the
jurisdiction of the particular court, but a court clerk always works in direct contact
with people who need to navigate the court system.
What Skills and Knowledge Does a Court Clerk Need?
If you want to work as a court clerk, you'll need a good combination of clerical,
computer, and people skills. You must learn to adapt quickly to technology and use
database programs specific to the court system that you will be working in. You will also
need to be familiar with legal documents and legal terminology, and you must have the
ability to keep cool under pressure.
A lot of the people you'll come into contact with might be angry, upset, or confused
about their involvement in the legal system. While this can make clerking a stressful job,
it is also an exciting one, since you will get to see major court cases from the frontline.
What Kind of Training Does a Court Clerk Need?
In most cases, there is no formal education required to work as a court clerk. Even
though a college degree isn't strictly required, a certificate or associate degree will be
helpful. Courts sometimes hire people who have general administrative and customer service
experience, especially in smaller towns.
In larger court systems with a high volume of cases and more demanding customer service
requirements, prior work in the legal field and extensive familiarity with legal
terminology will probably be required. You can get relevant experience by working as a
legal secretary, legal assistant, or file clerk.
How Will I Know if a Job as a Court Clerk is Right for Me?
A good way to see what a court clerk actually does is to simply visit your local
courthouse and watch how things unfold at the clerk's office. You are likely to see clerks
behind the counter entering data, stamping documents, and answering customers' questions.
If you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment with the opportunity to interact with
a variety of different people, court clerking may be for you. If you keep calm under
pressure, have good clerical and computer skills, and enjoy a job that focuses on customer
service, organization, and multi-tasking, you have the skills to land a job as a court clerk.
Copywrite Kenneth Echie. Kenneth is a writer for
Criminal Justice Schools.
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