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Law Clerk - Probate and Family Court

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

TRIAL COURT MISSION 

The Trial Court is committed to: 

  • Fair and impartial administration of justice;
  • Protection of constitutional and statutory rights and liberties;
  • Equal access to justice for all in a safe and dignified environment with policies and practices that strengthen and support diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Efficient, effective, and accountable resolution of disputes;
  • Prompt and courteous service to the public by committed and dedicated professionals utilizing best practices in a manner that inspires public trust and confidence.

The Massachusetts Trial Court is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and provides equal opportunity in state employment to all persons. No person shall be denied equal access because of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, pregnancy, military or veteran status, physical/mental disability; or genetic information. If you need a reasonable accommodation, or have any questions or concerns about being afforded fair and equal treatment, please contact the HR Benefits Team at reasonableaccommodation@jud.state.ma.us.

Law Clerk - Probate and Family Court

  • 494365
  • Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • Probate & Family Court Dept
  • Law Clerk/Clerkship
  • Legal/Attorney
  • Full-time
  • Closing at: Jul 10 2022 at 23:55 EDT

Title: Law Clerk

Pay Grade: Grade 16

Starting Pay: $$68,160.35 (The stated salary is effective July 3, 2022).

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.

Organizational Profile:

http://mass.gov/courts/court-info/trial-court/pfc/

Notes: This clerkship term is from September 1, 2022 - August 31, 2023.

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 required to submit, by mail, a current transcript (official or unofficial) and two copies of a writing sample in response to the fact pattern as listed in this posting. The two copies of the writing sample and the transcript must be mailed together and postmarked by July 10th, 2022. The mailing address for the Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court is:

Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court
Three Center Plaza
Suite 210
Boston, MA 02108
ATTN: Law Clerk Program

Transcripts and writing samples that are faxed, emailed, or late will not be considered.

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, or 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, 2023. 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 impression often 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.

Duties: 

  • 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, judgements 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 four to 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 attendance
    forms, 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 WordPerfect and 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 two copies of the writing sample and the transcript must be mailed together and postmarked by July 10th, 2022. Writing samples and transcripts that are faxed, emailed, or late will not be considered.

For 2022 – 2023 Application Q1

Carrie Parker and Miranda Hobbes met while attending business school in early 2008. They dated intermittently, but cohabitated starting in January 2010. Upon graduation in 2010, Carrie received a job offer in Stockholm, Sweden. She asked Miranda to come with her and promised to take care of her. Carrie and Miranda moved to Stockholm in October 2010 and rented an apartment together in Södermalm, a trendy Stockholm neighborhood. Miranda accompanied Carrie to her business dinners, hosted dinner parties for Carrie’s bosses, and acted as tour guide on numerous occasions. Carrie proudly introduced Miranda as her “wife” to personal and professional contacts. During this time, Miranda acted as a homemaker and depended on Carrie financially while Carrie happily ensured that Miranda had everything she needed. Carrie listed Miranda as her “domestic partner” on Carrie’s employer-provided health insurance. In early January 2019, Miranda proposed to Carrie, who said “yes.” Miranda, who was now fluent in Swedish, missed her family in Western Massachusetts. The two agreed to return to the United States, but could not agree where to settle so they remained in Stockholm until shortly before their wedding. They married in Lee, Massachusetts on March 23, 2019 and spent the year following their marriage “resort-hopping” across the country. Carrie worked remotely for the same Swedish company and Miranda worked for herself as a Swedish travel expert. In March 2020, the two moved to Boston, excited to share the news that Carrie was expecting a baby boy in July. Carrie stayed in Boston, while Miranda traveled for work. On July 28, 2020, Aidan Hobbes was born. Carrie did not return to work after Aidan’s birth. In November 2020, while on vacation in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Miranda and Carrie had an argument. Later that night, Miranda confessed that she had been unfaithful to Carrie. The next day, Carrie returned to Boston and filed a complaint for divorce in the Probate and Family Court alleging an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage in November 2020. She also filed a name change petition seeking to hyphenate Aidan’s surname to include her own. The name change petition was consolidated with the divorce complaint, which came before the court for trial on February 11, 2021. Carrie argued the parties maintained an economic marital partnership from January 2010 to March 2019. She further argued that Miranda has not shown that it would be against Aidan’s best interests to hyphenate his surname. Carrie submitted proposed findings for the name change petition. At the end of trial, Miranda filed a motion to dismiss Carrie’s divorce complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The judge took the matters under advisement.

 

The judge has come to you seeking advice:

 

  • How should the judge rule on Miranda’s motion to dismiss? Does the Probate and Family Court have subject matter jurisdiction under any circumstance?
  • Did the parties enter into a pre-marital economic marital partnership? If so, for how long? How does a pre-marital economic marital partnership impact the duration of general term alimony?
  • How should the judge rule on Carrie’s name change petition? Has Miranda met her burden of proof? Can the judge adopt essentially verbatim Carrie’s proposed findings?
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