Observations of an Appellate Judge:The Use of Law Clerks
Time-judicial time-is our most valuable commodity. We must employ it effectively and efficiently if we are to keep abreast of new developments in the law, new areas of litigation, and modern procedural improvements and to dispose of increasing backlogs of appealed cases. Circuit judges, each authorized two law clerks, have become increasingly dependent upon the help of their staffs to meet the demands of their expanding workload. The role of the law clerk is to aid the experienced judge in his ultimate task, decision-making. An appellate judge will have a varied background of skills and experience. Often he brings to his task the skills of an advocate, having used discovery procedures before trial, sought witnesses, examined and cross-examined, summed up,received favorable and unfavorable results and as a lawyer gone through the appellate process for himself. His background may include service as prosecutor, defense counsel, corporate executive, legislator, governor, community leader, military commander, law teacher, or trial judge.