This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Court/legal clerks assist with the day-to-day operation of courts. They handle court documents, schedules and may support the judge in running court hearings.
Court/legal clerks usually earn
$40K-$55K per year
Source: Ministry of Justice, 2015.
Pay for court/legal clerks varies depending on experience, but they usually earn $40,000 to $55,000 a year.
Court/legal clerks working in the High and Supreme Courts generally earn more than those working in the District and Family Courts.
Source: Ministry of Justice, 2015.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Court/legal clerks may do some or all of the following:
- schedule court hearings
- swear in witnesses and read out charges
- document court proceedings for transcriptionists (the people who record what is said in court)
- prepare and maintain case files
- liaise with police, judges and lawyers.
Skills and knowledge
Court/legal clerks need to have knowledge of:
- court processes
- the order of court proceedings
- legal terms and methods.
- usually work regular business hours
- work in offices and court rooms
- may work evenings if a court hearing is running late.
What's the job really like?
Missy Tapine-Tumu - Court Registry Officer
When Missy Tapine-Tumu arrives for a new week at work, she can count on two things – new people and new cases.
"In my role, I look after the judge, the sound system to record the evidence, and I make sure everything is co-ordinated in the court. I like the variety of work. It chops and changes and there's something new every week."
Treating people with respect and making sure they understand what is going on is important for Missy.
Confidence with communication important
"You have to be confident to talk in public. You've got a lot of people turning up to court that have no idea how the court system works, so you need to put them at ease. You've got to think about someone else coming in from the outside – it might be the most important day of their life.
"You just need common sense and confidence with public speaking. There are a lot of people you deal with in this job, from lawyers on both sides, the media, family members who are supporting the defendants, and also dealing with the defendants. You just treat them how you would want to be treated."
There are no specific entry requirements to become a court/legal clerk. Most court/legal clerks are trained on the job by senior clerks.
Graduate law students with little experience are often given on-the-job training as judge's clerks.
Court/legal clerks need to have NCEA Level 2 or equivalent.
A good level of spoken English is important, and subjects such as drama, history, social studies, te reo Māori and maths are useful.
Court/legal clerks need to be:
- able to work well under pressure
- reliable and able to keep information confidential
- confident and capable in front of an audience.
Useful experience for court/legal clerks includes:
- work as a legal secretary or law clerk, or other work in a law office
- court work
- administration work
- work with the public.
What are the chances of getting a job?
The number of court/legal clerks is likely to continue dropping slowly due to automation – for example, administrative tasks are increasingly done by computers.
However, court/legal clerks often move on to other roles in the Ministry of Justice, which means jobs become available fairly regularly.
Most court/legal clerk jobs are in courts
Court/legal clerks are hired by the Ministry of Justice to work in courthouses.
Job opportunities are best in the main centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, where more courthouses are located.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Ministry of Justice, Careers New Zealand interview, July 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Court/legal clerks can specialise as a:
- Court Registrar
- Court registrars have additional power granted to them under legislation. They are able to access court records and summon people to court.
Last updated 6 June 2017