The law clerks provide legal assistance to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Under the supervision of the judges, the clerks work individually on appeals and other matters. They also work collaboratively on special and larger-scale projects.
The clerks’ responsibilities at the Court involve them in many areas of the law. Since the clerks actively participate in the assignment of their cases, there are opportunities for them to focus on areas of interest and to explore previously unfamiliar areas of the law.
The clerks are asked to prepare research memoranda, often on challenging, emerging and unsettled points of law. They generally attend the hearings of the cases to which they have been assigned. As well, when assisting the Chambers judge, the clerks often attend Court of Appeal Chambers. This allows the clerks to observe counsel arguing matters on which the clerks have reviewed the written submissions and may have conducted detailed research.
In working for and interacting with all the judges, and by being exposed to so many issues and counsel, the clerks gain valuable insight into appellate decision-making, effective written and oral advocacy, and the judicial process.
How to Apply
The application process for the 2024-25 Court of Appeal clerkship opportunities is now open. Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. AST on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.
As part of the application process, candidates must submit:
- A cover letter;
- A Curriculum Vitae (CV);
- An official law school transcript supplied by the institution;
- A writing sample; and
- Three letters of reference. If reference letters are submitted by email, the letters must be signed, in PDF format, and submitted by the person providing the reference. Alternatively, hard copies of documents may be mailed or hand-delivered. Please do not staple your documents.
Emailed documents must be in PDF format. If submitting your cover letter and Curriculum Vitae (CV) by email, the subject line should read:
LAST NAME, First Name - Clerking Application (for example: MACDONALD, Catherine - Clerking Application)
Please submit applications to:
Nova Scotia Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
1815 Upper Water St.
Halifax, NS B3J 1S7
Receipt of all applications will be acknowledged. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Interviews will be held in November and may be conducted by telephone if distance inhibits travel or in other exceptional circumstances. Successful candidates are advised shortly after the interview process is complete.
Place of Work
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal sits at the Law Courts at 1815 Upper Water Street in Halifax. The building is in the downtown core, overlooking Halifax Harbour. The clerks’ offices are situated on the 7th Floor, near the Judges' Library and the office of the librarian.
Period of Employment
The period of employment is for one year. Start dates are generally in July and August, although there may be some flexibility.
The primary duty of the law clerks is to provide legal assistance to the Court of Appeal on a variety of legal subjects. Other duties include:
- Conducting detailed research and preparing memoranda of law, as requested by the judges;
- Reviewing appeal materials in preparation for the hearing and, if requested, after the hearing to summarize evidence and prepare memoranda of law;
- Observing the handling of cases in the Court of Appeal and developing an understanding of the process;
- Assisting the Chambers judge and reviewing files before or after Chambers sessions, and providing research as required by the Chambers judge;
- Participating in office meetings and discussions with the judges, both individually and in groups, as determined by the judges;
- Involvement in the organization and coordination of special study projects on certain points of law; and
- Assisting in the preparation of materials for judges’ seminars and related issues.
The law clerks may also be asked to provide administrative assistance to the Court, including:
- Managing the database of court decisions, on a relief basis;
- Supervising the work of part-time student clerks;
- Coordinating class visits to the Court; and
- Acting as the backup to the Publications Manager in the release of court decisions.
All applicants must have graduated from a recognized law school. Preference will be given to candidates who are admitted as a member of the Bar of a province or territory of Canada; however, all interested graduates are encouraged to apply. The ability to read and work in French is not essential but considered an asset.
Number of Positions Available
The number of law clerks may vary. Typically, up to three positions will be filled each year.
Salaries and Benefits
The salary and benefits for Court of Appeal law clerks in 2024/2025 has not yet been confirmed. Below is the salary information for the previous year:
In 2023, a candidate who was admitted as a member of the Bar of one of the provinces or territories of Canada made $69,243.61 per annum, while a law graduate not yet admitted to the Bar of one of the provinces or territories of Canada made $46,410.00.
Except as provided by agreement or by the Labour Standards Code of Nova Scotia or other applicable legislation, law clerks are not entitled to any benefits and do not come within the Civil Service Act or other legislation relating to persons in the public service. Law clerks will receive 15 vacation days per annum.
If a candidate for a law clerk position is not already admitted as a member of the Bar of a province or territory of Canada, the clerkship may count for a portion of the candidate's articling requirements, depending on the province or territory in which he or she wishes to be called.
For more information on articling requirements, the candidate should contact the law society of the province or territory in which he or she intends to be called.
Law Society Requirements in Nova Scotia
A one-year clerkship at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal will count towards six months of a student-at-law’s articling requirements. The law clerk will have to complete another six months of articles at a law firm, pass the licensing exam, and complete other practical requirements to be admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar. Timing and completion of these other requirements must be arranged independently by the law clerk.
For details, please contact the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society or the law society of the province or territory in which you wish to be called.