How Much Do Career Law Clerks Make?

June 26, 2023 - 1:13 am - 3 min read


Career law clerks play a crucial role in the functioning of the legal system. They are responsible for performing research, preparing legal documents, and providing administrative support to judges and attorneys. Law clerks come from a variety of educational backgrounds and are often looking for a challenging and intellectually-stimulating career. One of the most compelling aspects of a career in law is the potential to earn a high salary. In this article, we will explore the compensation of career law clerks and provide an overview of the factors that influence their pay.

Salary Overview

The salary of a career law clerk can vary significantly based on their experience, location, and the type of legal organization they work for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for legal support workers, including law clerks, was $47,300 in May 2019. However, this figure can range from as low as $22,740 for those in the 10th percentile to as high as $83,510 for those in the 90th percentile.


One of the most significant factors that impact the salary of a career law clerk is their location. In general, those working in large urban areas tend to earn more than their counterparts in rural settings. For example, law clerks working in San Francisco can earn an average of $74,400 per year, while those in Shreveport, LA, earn an average of $36,520 per year.


Experience is another important factor that can influence a career law clerk’s earning potential. As law clerks gain more experience and take on more responsibilities, their salary is likely to increase. For example, a law clerk with less than one year of experience may earn an average salary of $38,000, while one with more than five years of experience can earn an average salary of $63,000.

Type of Legal Organization

The type of legal organization a career law clerk works for also impacts their salary. Law clerks working for private law firms generally earn more than those working for government agencies or non-profit organizations. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a law clerk working for a private law firm is $60,000 per year, while those working for state or federal court systems earn an average of $44,000 per year.

Educational Background

While a law degree is not always required for a career as a law clerk, it is often preferred. Law clerks with a J.D. or other advanced legal degree typically command a higher salary than those without one. Entry-level law clerks with a J.D. can expect to earn an average starting salary of around $50,000 per year, while those with a master’s degree in law (LL.M.) can earn an average starting salary of around $65,000 per year.


In conclusion, the salary of a career law clerk can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including location, experience, type of legal organization, and educational background. While the median salary for legal support workers is around $47,300 per year, those in the 90th percentile can earn more than $83,000 per year. For those interested in pursuing a career as a law clerk, it is essential to consider the many factors that influence pay and to choose a career path that aligns with their interests, skillset, and financial goals.


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