Below is a list of possible clerkship questions that require legal research knowledge to answer effectively. Below each question are some strategies for helping you prepare for that particular line of questioning.
1. To determine this, you need to find the current consolidated version of the Act which governs the court itself.
2. Bring a copy of the Act with you. Highlight and ensure that you are able to articulate the relevant portions of the Act pertaining to:
3. The court’s website may also have a summary that may provide a simpler description.
This question would pertain to the organizational structure of the court including the number of judges, the number of judges required to sit / hear a particular matter; the Chief Justice, role and appointment process, etc. This information may be available from the court website and/or the governing Act.
How are courts organized in this jurisdiction, generally?
The Court website will often have an organizational chart or commentary explaining how the courts are organized.
Visit the legislation website for the jurisdiction in question. Use the name of the court as it appears in its enabling Act as your search term (ie “Court of Appeal”). Select a few prominent statutes and review carefully to ensure accuracy.
You have two primary tools at your disposal to prepare for this question:
RSS feeds is also available for some courts – this allows you to receive new judgments directly to your inbox. Visit the relevant court website and look for any available news feeds/newsletter subscriptions.
All three major caselaw databases allow you to narrow any search by court and by date of decision. They also allow you to filter your results to “most cited” to get an idea of what the most significant cases are.
Textbooks on a particular area of law will also list significant decisions.
If a significant recent amendment to an Act occurred within the past 3-5 years, there may be some good law journal articles on the subject matter. Law Journal articles can be found on WestlawNext Canada and on Quicklaw.
For very recent amendments, try blog postings, law firm newsletters and legislative summaries provided by the Legislature website.
The steps that are normally taken are:
When preparing your notes for the interview, be sure to include specific database names, depending on the jurisdiction you are in.
Review the ministry/office/tribunal website to locate a summary. Locate the current consolidated version of the enabling Act and related regulations. Review related questions in this document.
What enforcement mechanisms does the director/office have?
Review the enabling Act and any procedural rules.
Use an alternate source like CanLII, or visit the law library of a local university or court house. They provide most relevant textbooks, loose-leaf services, encyclopedias, journals and primary source materials.