Clerk Programme for German Trainee Lawyers
Starting in 2008, a special post will also be created for German trainee lawyers to apply to the Court to work as a law clerk for a period of three months (though recommended is a minimum period of four months), starting each year in January and July. As the Court has no funds to pay salaries or travel expenses this post is ideal for referendare students seeking to fulfill their four month practical experience requirements. The post is not, however, limited to such candidates.
Applicants will need to be available for a minimum period of four months, although any applicants seeking a longer-term post will also be considered. The Court is only able to take one legal trainee each term. Successful applicants will participate in the two week orientation programme run by the Court for law clerks in order to provide the requisite training for the post. This training will include an introduction to relevant computer research tools such as Jutastat, Lexis Nexis and Westlaw, as well as an in-depth explanation of reference materials available in the Court Library
Roles and duties
Specific responsibilities may vary between chambers but include:
- writing analytical summaries of written argument or evidence and assessing arguments in the light of academic legal literature and case law;
carrying out detailed research on particular topics;
- preparing pre-hearing memoranda, media summaries and opinions as well as identifying key issues in matters to be heard;
- assisting the judge in Court;
- taking detailed notes of oral argument during hearings;
- assisting the judge in Court-related work such as committees, organisational work and international human-rights work;
- cite-checking draft judgments before delivery;
- taking part in various clerks' committees;
- administration of Court papers and case management; and
- public relations.
Trainee lawyers' workload varies during the year and will depend on the demands made by an individual judge. The working hours are flexible and chamber specific.
Skills and qualifications
Trainee lawyers are required to have the following skills:
- knowledge of, and the ability to apply legal principles, concepts and procedures;
- familiarity and experience in the use of a variety of legal research sources, including electronic sources;
- excellent English language and writing skills;
- computer proficiency;
- analytical skills;
- drafting skills, including the ability to write clearly and concisely and under pressure;
- the ability to plan work and manage conflicting priorities; and
- the capacity to work independently and in a team setting.
Some training will be provided to new trainee lawyers by the Orientation Committee during the two week orientation period. A postgraduate degree (juristisches staatsexamen) is substitutable for the LLB degree or equivalent requirement
Benefits of participating in the programme
German trainee lawyers taking part in the programme will achieve an extra qualification. Successful candidates will also have the benefit of taking part in the work of the Court and gain experience in a legal system based on human rights and democracy. It is also hoped that the programme will improve the co-operation and understanding between South Africa and Germany more broadly.
Eligibility and appointment
Applications for clerkships to this programme will be considered twice a year. Applications for the programme commencing in January, must be received by 31 July of the previous year; And for commencement in July applications must be received by 31 December of the previous year.
The application should indicate whether all judges, or a specific judge is being applied to, as well as and the period for which the applicants wish to be considered. Applicants must be in possession of an LLB (or equivalent) or in their final year of study for such degree and have an interest in subjects relating to constitutional law. Applications must also include, as a minimum:
- a motivational cover letter;
- a full curriculum vitae;
- certified copies of academic records;
- an example of written work;
- names and contact details of two references (one academic/professional and one personal); and
- references regarding working experience and/or any special qualifications (if appropriate).
Failure to comply with these requirements will result in the application not being considered.
In addition to the application requirements, applicants for the programme must also demonstrate the ability to cover travel to and from Johannesburg and living expenses whilst working at the Court.
In some cases a judge may request that a telephone interview be held with the applicant.