Vanderbilt Law Review


George R. Smith

First Page



Not all appellate judges make the drafting of tentative opinions a part of their law clerks' duties. The practice, however, is increasing, perhaps as a result of the mounting case loads that now occupy the time of most appellate courts. Opinion writing by law clerks is certainly so widespread today that no symposium devoted to the duties of law clerks would be complete without some discussion of the subject. Except for the matter of final responsibility for the opinion, the problems that confront a law clerk in the preparation of an opinion include those that confront the judge himself in the same task. In addition, the clerk encounters difficulties that understandably attend any attempt to turn out a literary product that someone else can be expected to adopt as his own, with or without revision. This article will treat the subject of opinion writing primarily from the law clerk's point of view, using a step-by-step chronological approach.