Court clerks take notes on everything that happens during a court hearing. They are at the heart of the action. They must pay close attention to what goes on and be very organized.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” It’s the court clerk who asks witnesses this question before they tell the court what they know. Court clerks also do other important jobs.
Court clerks are the “memory” of the trial. They prepare an important document called the “minutes” of the hearing. The minutes are detailed notes on the different stages of the court hearing. Having minutes makes it difficult for anyone to challenge what actually went on in court.
Court clerks are also responsible for organizing the court record. The court record is made up of all the documents used in the trial. A court record can sometimes fill several boxes!
Court clerks work at the centre of the action. They must pay close attention to what goes on around them. They need excellent communication skills because they do a lot of writing. They have to be detail-oriented and very organized.
Court clerks work with the public. They must be good with people and create a good impression.
- prepare and organize the court record and file it in the right place
- make sure lawyers and witnesses are in the courtroom at the beginning of the hearing
- swear in witnesses, that is, ask them to promise to tell the truth
- write the minutes, which is a document detailing everything that happens during a hearing
- schedule hearing dates according to when the lawyers are available
Court clerks are government employees. They work for different courts. They spend most of their time in a courtroom sitting at a desk in front of a judge.
Court clerks work on call, which means they work only when the court needs them. Their work schedule changes from week to week. When courts are less busy, for example, during the summer, court clerks might not have any work.
There is no specific training for court clerks.
The government sometimes requires them to have a Diploma of College Studies in Paralegal Technology or three years of experience as a legal secretary.
Court clerks who work in the judicial district of Montreal should be bilingual.
Court clerks often work on call. If they work 35 hours a week, court clerks can earn between $32,654 and $45,548 a year. This amount was set in April 2017.
But they don’t always work 35 hours a week because they only work when the court needs them. So their salaries can vary.
The website of the ministère de la Justice du Québec (Quebec’s department of justice) has information on what court clerks do. (French only)
The InforouteFPT.org website gives information on the Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS) in Paralegal Technology, including the program’s objectives, admission requirements and a list of schools offering the program. (French only)