What is the Clackamas County DA’s Office “Law Clerk Program” all about?
Formally begun in 2004, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office started hiring certified law students to work on misdemeanor prosecutions. Over the years it has evolved into an annual program that begins in February with the hiring of five law students right after the Lewis and Clark Public Law job fair. We also present our program to Willamette Law School and have hired from as far away as Wake Forest University, North Carolina.
Of the five law students, one will be a first year law student whose focus and background demonstrates a strong interest in criminal prosecution. This individual is committing to a two year assignment. This first year law clerk will be assigned to a variety of tasks from assisting senior lawyers on major crimes to organizing the law clerks’ schedules and docket appearances. The first year law student will do a significant amount of legal research and writing on complex motions and projects under the supervision and mentorship of the Misdemeanor team leader.
The remaining four law students hired will be second year law students who can be certified to make court appearances beginning in June. These students are individuals who show an interest in criminal law and an inclination to practice law in a courtroom. Students hired will begin working full time in June starting with two weeks of prosecution boot camp. Training is provided by the returning law clerk, team members and the team leader. Each student is given a training manual compiled by the returning law clerk that includes: copies of all the power point training slides, plea guidelines, sample documents, civil commitment reference guides, community court instructions, intake procedures and DUII review. New hires will shadow lawyers for several days before making their first court appearances starting with arraignments. Each CLS (Certified Law Student) is assigned a Mentor who reviews their work and ensures they are ready before jumping into court for appearances and eventually jury trials.
Once fully trained, each CLS will be assigned his or her own caseload from one of the departing Clerks. Additionally, they will be assigned intake (police reports) to review on a daily basis. Each CLS will be responsible for making the charging decision, plea offer and plea negotiations, witness and victim contact, responding to and filing motions. This also includes preparing and trying jury cases once the CLS has demonstrated they are ready. Caseloads start with shoplifts, trespass and driving while suspended and each CLS will be responsible for between 50 and 100 cases. Once proficiency has been demonstrated the CLS will also be assigned DUIIs and Hit and Runs.
Our CLS are treated just like lawyers in our office. They are assigned a private office, provided with a laptop, phone number and email address. After working full time throughout the summer they will work part-time the following school year. Clerks that are eligible can earn school credit as they work as an extern and all of our clerks are work study eligible.
The mission of the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Clerk Program is to provide a hands-on learning experience and invaluable opportunity to current law students to prepare them for a professional career in the legal field.
An important part of the CLS program is our annual participation in the Law Softball League. Our CLS Clerks team up with many of our office’s Deputy District Attorneys to participate in a softball league against Portland teams comprised of fellow attorneys. The season lasts from June through the end of July and offers a good opportunity for our CLS Clerks to interact with our office’s attorneys outside the office.
For any questions regarding the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office Clerk Program please contact Supervising District Attorney and Clerk Program Director Bryan Brock at 503-723-2920 or BryanBro@clackamas.us