Law Clerk – Probate and Family Court -2024-2025
Title: Law Clerk - Probate & Family Court - 2024-2025
Pay Grade: Grade 16
Departmental Mission Statement: To deliver timely justice to the public by providing equal access to a fair, equitable and efficient forum to resolve family and probate legal matters and to assist and protect all individuals, families and children in an impartial and respectful manner.
This position currently offers a hybrid work schedule.
This clerkship term is from September 1, 2024 - August 31, 2025
This is a posting to serve as a Probate & Family Court Law Clerk in either Eastern or Western Massachusetts.
Eastern Massachusetts may be assigned to Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester.
Western Massachusetts may be assigned to Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin.
All applicants must upload a resume with the online application. The resume must be in PDF format and its filename must start with the applicant's last name. Applicants must indicate whether they would like to be considered for a law clerk position in either eastern Massachusetts or western Massachusetts.
In addition to the submission of their resume and application online at the Trial Court website, applicants are also required to submit a current transcript (official or unofficial) and a writing sample in response to the fact pattern as listed in this posting. The transcript and writing sample must be emailed by midnight of September 17, 2023 to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Letters of recommendation are not requested or required. Applicants selected for interviews may be asked to submit additional materials, including a statement of interest, an official law school transcript, and an additional writing sample.
Position Summary:The law clerk position is responsible for performing legal research and writing assignments to assist the judges of the Probate and Family Court. The term runs until August 31, 2025. There may be the opportunity to apply for an additional one-year clerkship term. Law clerks work directly with the judges, and under the supervision of the Manager of Legal Research Services, the Managing Attorney, and the Chief Justice.
A reliable car and the willingness to travel to courthouses throughout the Commonwealth are requirements of the position.
A judicial clerkship in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court offers a unique, exciting and rewarding environment in which to begin a legal career. The Probate and Family Court hears cases on subjects relating to all aspects of a person's life, from birth to death. Law clerks in the Probate and Family Court are exposed to a wide variety of family, probate and equity issues; including adoption, paternity, custody, divorce, guardianships, legal bioethics, petitions to partition real estate, trust reformations and will contests. The law in these areas is constantly evolving and cases of first impressionoften confront the court, making a clerkship experience in the Probate and Family Court interesting and challenging.Cutting edge issues such as the changing definition of family are not uncommon.
Law clerks apply to serve in either eastern or western Massachusetts. The majority of opportunities to serve are in eastern Massachusetts. All law clerks are assigned to rotations by the Manager of Legal Research Services, with the final approval of the Chief Justice.
Law clerks based in eastern Massachusetts may be assigned to any of the Probate and Family Court divisions within or east of Worcester County. These are Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester. Law clerks based in western Massachusetts may be assigned to any of the Probate and Family Court divisions west of Worcester County. These are Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin. The rotation system gives law clerks the opportunity to work with numerous judges and to gain a broader understanding of the work of the Probate and Family Court.
- Attending hearings, portions of trials, and other courtroom proceedings, as needed
- Discussing legal issues with judges
- Performing careful and accurate legal research and analysis, using both online and book resources
- Clearly and concisely conveying results of research and analysis to judges, orally and in writing
- Preparing well-written and error-free legal research memoranda, and drafting findings of fact, conclusions of law, rationales, judgments and memoranda of decision
- Completing assignments in a timely manner and within deadlines established by judges
- Performing additional legal research and analysis and further review and revision of written work products as appropriate
- Rotating among various Probate and Family Court locations every six months, as assigned by the Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court
- Accurately and timely submitting all required administrative forms, such as work logs and case lists, among others
- Maintaining law clerk offices and work areas, including updating pocket parts of books as necessary
- Performing related tasks as required
Minimum Requirements: These are the minimum requirements necessary to apply for a position of Law Clerk:
- Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school or eligibility to sit for the Massachusetts bar exam, as of the start of the clerkship
- Excellent legal writing and communication skills
- Excellent legal research and analytical skills, using both online and book resources
- High professional and ethical standards
- Access to a reliable car and the willingness and ability to travel to courthouses as assigned
- Experience and knowledge in the use of personal computers, including word processing programs such as Microsoft Word and legal research services such as Lexis and Westlaw
- Demonstrated ability to follow written and oral instructions
- Demonstrated ability to manage, prioritize, and complete simultaneous assignments from various judges
- Demonstrated ability to work well independently while maintaining productivity and demonstrating good judgment
- Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines and otherwise complete assignments in a timely manner
- Demonstrated ability to work well with others in a professional setting, including judges, managers, court staff, and other law clerks
- Genuine commitment to serving the full term of the clerkship
Additional preferred qualifications include:
- Membership in the Massachusetts Bar and intent to practice law in Massachusetts
- Substantial legal research and writing experience, including prior experience as a judicial intern for a Probate and Family Court judge
- Courses in probate and/or family law, research assistant positions, prior work experience in the areas of probate and family law and clinical placements
- Familiarity with legal research resources beyond Westlaw and Lexis
- Demonstrated commitment to government or public service
- The Probate and Family Court invites well-rounded and distinguished recent law school graduates and practicing attorneys to apply for the clerkship positions. Solid academic credentials are important, however, there are no rigid requirements regarding class rank or standing.
- All law clerks must reside in Massachusetts for the duration of the law clerk term.
Writing Sample Instructions:
Please draft a response to the fact pattern listed below in the format of a memorandum of law.The writing sample must be typed, double-spaced, and cannot exceed six pages. Apply Massachusetts statutory and case law to each fact pattern and follow the Blue Book system of citation.The writing sample and the transcript must be emailed by midnight of September 17, 2023 to: email@example.com .
Writing Prompt For 2024 - 2025 Law Clerk Application
Greg and Tanya were married on November 30, 2002. They met while vacationing at the White Lotus Hotel in Hawaii. When their relationship began, Greg, who was forty-six years old, worked at the Bureau of Land Management. Tanya, who was forty-one years old, had never worked as she inherited her family's fortune at a young age. The day before their marriage, at Tanya's request, the parties signed an antenuptial agreement ("the prenup"). The prenup contained, among other things, provisions for the treatment of property and waivers of alimony. Regarding real property, the prenup provided that any real property acquired during the marriage shall be titled in both parties' names. The prenup further provided that in the event of divorce, the parties shall each retain the property held in his or her individual name and shall equally divide any property jointly titled. During the marriage, the parties acquired homes in Chatham, Massachusetts and Glendale, California. Although Greg was involved in the purchase of the California property, he did not contribute any of his individual funds and, without his knowledge, the title was in Tanya's sole name. Again without Greg's knowledge, the title to the Massachusetts property was put into a partnership, Pond View Associates, of which Tanya has a one-third interest. The parties traveled to Sicily together to select furnishings for the Massachusetts property. Greg quit his job at the Bureau of Land Management so that he could be available to travel with Tanya, including on these trips to Sicily. He transferred the funds in his Federal pension to a private retirement account. Greg contributed approximately $50,000 of his retirement funds towards the purchase of furnishings for the Massachusetts property. Tanya and Greg spent annual summer vacations at the Massachusetts property. On July 12, 2022, Greg filed a complaint for divorce seeking an equitable division of the marital estate, including Tanya's interests in the two properties purchased during the marriage. Greg does not own any property titled in his own name, the parties have no joint financial accounts, and the only financial accounts Greg holds in his individual name are a retirement account with a current value of $100,000 and a savings account with a current balance of $20,000. The assets held in Tanya's individual name exceed $130 million. Tanya counterclaimed seeking enforcement of the prenup. Judge Di Grasso allowed Greg's motion to bifurcate the case to determine first the validity of the prenup. Judge Di Grasso entered a pretrial order identifying as the sole contested issue for trial the validity of the prenup. On the day of trial, over Tanya's objection, Judge Di Grasso modified the pretrial order to allow Greg to present a new, unrelated issue for trial. The bifurcated trial was heard by Judge Di Grasso on June 17, 2023. Greg was permitted to present a complaint for contempt, alleging that Tanya was in violation of a temporary order requiring her to provide certain items of personal property to Greg. Judge Di Grasso denied Tanya's request for a continuance and discovery on that issue.
Judge Di Grasso has already decided that the prenup was fair and reasonable at the time of execution, but he has come to you seeking advice on the following:
Is the prenup conscionable at the time of the divorce, or does the prenup essentially strip Greg of substantially all of his marital interests and should not be enforced? Did Judge Di Grasso's decision to modify the pretrial order on the day of trial to add a new, unrelated issue, while denying Tanya's requests for a continuance and discovery on the new issue, deprive Tanya of due process insofar as she did not receive notice and the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner? Assuming Judge Di Grasso determines that the prenup is unenforceable, under Massachusetts divorce law, are Tanya's interests in the Massachusetts and California properties part of the marital estate despite title not being held jointly by the parties? What factors should Judge Di Grasso consider in dividing the marital estate during the second portion of the bifurcated trial?
Closing Date/Time: 2023-12-07