By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk for Dagger Law
During my time as a law clerk at Dagger Law, I’ve been asked many times what a law clerk is and what I do during my workday. A law clerk is typically someone, like me, who is currently in law school and is seeking practical experience before actually becoming an attorney.
As a law clerk, I complete tasks for licensed attorneys such as legal research and drafting documents. If an attorney is working on a case and has questions come up that they don’t know the answer to or want to know more about, they would then ask me to find an answer for them. This could be a matter of finding a rule or statute that contains a direct answer, or it could mean researching caselaw to see how courts have previously ruled on an issue. Once I find something, I report back to them in a written memo. In this document, I restate the question, give a brief summary of the answer, and then provide a detailed explanation of my research and findings in an analysis which includes citations of caselaw, or statutes used in the research.
When drafting documents, a partner or associate would ask me to draft items like discovery, motions, or letters. This allowed me to attempt legal writing on my own and then the attorney would review, revise, and provide me with valuable feedback to improve my legal skills. Not only did this lighten their workload but it allowed me to gain real-world experience while drafting these documents. This is a win-win situation for the firm and for me, as a student.
As an added benefit, law clerks can actually lighten a client’s bill. The hourly rate of a law clerk is less than an attorney’s. If I spend an hour or two drafting a document for a client, and the attorney reviews and revises my draft for thirty minutes (versus them spending two hours drafting it at their hourly rate), this is actually saving the client money. Now the situation becomes a win-win-win!
This experience was not all research and writing in some dimly lit room. Law clerks get to shadow attorneys to get a taste of “a day in the life” and get practical experience that can’t be gained in a classroom. This means getting to attend court hearings, client meetings, and even be a witness for legal documents. I was only able to attend court twice this summer due to COVID-19, but it allowed me to see how the attorneys at Dagger Law interact with prosecutors, magistrates/judges, and other attorneys. I have also been able to sit in on client meetings, and witness how attorneys interact with both new and long-term clients. I learned how to listen to clients, what questions to ask them, and how to respond to client questions.
My experience as a law clerk for Dagger this summer has been a great one, despite the current pandemic happening. The attorneys tried to make the experience as normal as possible for me, and they did a great job!