Judge's associate

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In a court of law in Australia, a judge's associate is a trained lawyer who assists the judge with administrative and legal work. This may involve providing draft judgements, proof reading a judge's work and liaising with counsel. Associates may also call out for the litigants when it is time to appear before the court.[1]


In Australia, the position of law clerk is known either as "Associate" (in the High Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia and most State Supreme Courts) or "Tipstaff" (in the Supreme Court of New South Wales). The positions usually run for one-year, although they are sometimes extended to two years (this is more common in the Supreme Courts).

The duties of associates and tipstaves can include research, reviewing draft judgments and providing feedback or criticism to the judge, reading and summarising court materials, attending to the judge in court, and also assisting with chambers, administrative or personal tasks. On occasion, some associates and tipstaves are asked to write draft judgments, or parts of judgments. However, these duties can vary between different courts, and also depend on the individual judge.

In the High Court, each of the seven High Court judges has two associates at any given time. Usually, one associate is based permanently in Canberra, the capital of Australia and the seat of the Court, and one travels with the judge when the Court is on circuit to the other capital cities of Australia. The traveling associate in practice is usually based in the judge's home city. Associateships at the High Court are extremely competitive and usually go to the top graduates from the top law schools of Australia. Each judge has his or her own method for interviewing and appointing associates. Previous associates have written that the nature of the associate's role is different from that of a law clerk in the United States.[2]

The judges of the Federal Court and the Supreme Courts of each State (and Territory) have one associate each. These positions are also very competitive.

There are also research positions available at the superior courts in Australia and the High Court. These positions are similarly staffed by recent law graduates and young lawyers.

England and Wales[edit]

In country causes the record etc. had to be entered, and the cause set down for trial, with the judge's associate.[3]

For the penalty for the recording, by a judge's associate, of appearances by a party when the party did not in fact appear, see section 3 of the 3 Geo 2 c 25 (1729 or 1730),[4] which was replaced by section 39 of the Juries Act 1825, which is repealed (see the Courts Act 1971).

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, a judge's associate was a court stenographer. A judge's associate recorded the evidence given in court either in shorthand or with a typewriter.[5]

A judge's associate is referred to in court as "Your Honour's associate".[6]

A judge's associate was allowed to make part of his salary by supplying copies of the Judge's notes to litigants. Mr Taylor, Member of Parliament for Christchurch City said that this practice should be abolished and that judge's associates should be paid a fixed salary instead.[7]


  1. ^ Australian Law Students' Association Judges' Associate Handbook
  2. ^ See, e.g., Katherine G Young, 'Open Chambers: High Court Associates and Supreme Court Clerks Compared' (2007) 31 Melbourne University Law Review 646, 657-61.
  3. ^ William Robert Cole. The Law and Practice in Ejectment. H Sweet. London. 1857. p 273
  4. ^ Statutes at Large. King's Printer. London. 1764. p 26
  5. ^ James Donovan. Courtroom Procedure in New Zealand: A Practitioners survival kit. CCH New Zealand Ltd. 2008. pp 8 and 9
  6. ^ James Donovan. Courtroom Procedure in New Zealand: A Practitioners survival kit. CCH New Zealand Ltd. 2008. p 23
  7. ^ Parliamentary debates. Volume 125. 1908. Page 369.