There are currently 19 law clerks in the Law Clerk Programme at the Court of Appeal. At least one clerk is designated as bilingual to assist with the French language work of the Court. The clerks are either recent law school graduates fulfilling their articling requirements or lawyers who have recently been called to the Bar. The Law Clerk Programme is overseen by the Court’s Law Clerk Committee, consisting of Justices van Rensburg, Roberts, Paciocco and Coroza, and Joanna Pearson, a staff lawyer at the Court. The law clerks provide invaluable research assistance to the judges of the Court of Appeal and gain unique insight into how appellate cases are argued and decided.
Law clerks go on to become leaders in the profession – in government, academia and private practice in Canada and abroad. Several alumni of the programme presently serve on the bench, including Justice Feldman of the Court of Appeal for Ontario and Justice Andromache Karakatsanis of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The law clerks work on a wide variety of cases, including constitutional, criminal, civil, commercial, family, child welfare, and administrative law matters. They brief the judges on upcoming appeals, research complex points of law, edit judgments, papers and speeches, and work on special projects assigned by the judges, often working closely with staff research lawyers. The law clerks frequently attend court proceedings at the Court of Appeal and the nearby trial courts, where they have the opportunity to see access to justice in action, and to observe different styles of oral advocacy.
The law clerks have the opportunity to participate in a variety of social and educational activities throughout the year, including: coffee sessions with Court of Appeal judges; continuing education seminars with appellate and trial court judges; book clubs; and talks with distinguished guest speakers. They also volunteer with pro bono initiatives.
The clerkship begins each year in August and lasts for one year. Each law clerk is paired with either one or two judges of the Court and then changes assignment halfway through the year. This rotation process ensures that each law clerk is exposed to different approaches to judging and a broad range of areas of law.
For further information about applying for a clerkship, read about the application process.