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a network of constitutionalists from countries throughout the world

Invitation for Applications for Foreign Law Clerks: Constitutional Court of South Africa, February 2017

The Justices of the Constitutional Court of South Africa are pleased to invite applications from outstanding recent law graduates and young lawyers interested in serving as foreign law clerks. Candidates may be appointed to start as soon as July 2017.


South Africa continues to be regarded as an intriguing example of constitutionalism in the transition to democracy. Its Constitution is viewed as one of the world’s most progressive founding charters.

As the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court is the guardian of that promise. It has, in a range of ground-breaking decisions, given content to the Constitution’s guarantees. The Court has found the death penalty unconstitutional, upheld full equality for gay and lesbian people, declared that resident non-citizens are entitled to social benefits, ordered the government to make anti-retroviral treatment available to pregnant mothers living with HIV/AIDS and mandated full equality for those disadvantaged by past discrimination.

In 2012, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court, said she would not commend the US Constitution to those drafting a constitution, but rather ‘look at the Constitution of South Africa’:

That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights [and] had an independent judiciary. . . . It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.

About the Position of a Foreign Law Clerk

Each year, 15 to 20 young lawyers from around the world serve as foreign law clerks. Working alongside two South African law clerks, each foreign law clerk assists a specific judge in performing his or her duties.

The responsibilities of foreign law clerks are essentially the same as those of their South African counterparts and similar to judicial clerks or researchers elsewhere in the common law world. Foreign law clerks conduct extensive legal research and writing and assist in the formulation, drafting, and editing of judgments. The Court itself is highly collaborative, allowing for substantial engagement between clerks from all chambers.

Foreign clerks are usually appointed to serve for only one six-month term. However, some may serve for longer subject to agreement by the judge or may serve more than one judge.

Foreign law clerks are not remunerated. They have to secure their own funding to cover their expenses for the duration of the clerkship, including food, accommodation, travel to and from South Africa, visas and travel to and from work daily.


Foreign law clerk applicants must be in possession of an LLB degree or an equivalent degree (such as a JD) or be in their final year of study. They must also be fluent in English, the primary language of the Court.

Applicants should demonstrate an interest in constitutional, comparative and international law. Academic excellence, research experience, and one to two years’ work experience are all preferred. Clerking in another court is a particular advantage.

Substantial knowledge of South African law is not required, but familiarity with South Africa’s history and contemporary affairs is highly valued.

Application Process

Applications by foreign clerks are considered on a rolling basis. However, most applications are considered in May. Though there is no cut-off, foreign clerks should preferably submit applications before 31 March. Two groups of law clerks begin work at the Constitutional Court each year (January and July). Foreign applicants should indicate their preferred starting group (including the year). Proposed start dates should be before December 2018. All applications will be kept on file for one year.

Applications must include:

(1) a cover letter that describes the applicant’s interest in the Court’s work and that includes a proposed start date (or range of start dates);
(2) a full curriculum vitae;
(3) copies of all post-secondary academic records (unofficial transcripts are permitted);
(4) a legal writing sample of about 6-12 pages; and
(5) names of at least two referees (one academic and one professional), though attached reference letters are preferred.

Applications should be submitted to Ms Elizabeth Moloto, who will acknowledge receipt:


Constitutional Court of South Africa
Attn: Ms Elizabeth Moloto
Private Bag X1


Ms Elizabeth Moloto

Further details are on Applicants are welcome to contact Ms Elizabeth Moloto via email ( or +27 11 359 7444).

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2017 by in Jobs, South Africa, Uncategorized and tagged , .
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