Constitutional Court Of South Africa: Invitation For Applications For Foreign Law Clerks

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 1 April 2015.
South Africa continues to be regarded as one
of the most intriguing and compelling examples of constitutionalism in the
transition to democracy.  Its Constitution
is viewed as one of the world’s most progressive founding charters.
Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, is the guardian of that
promise.  It has, in a range of
ground-breaking decisions, given content to the Constitution’s guarantees by,
for instance, ruling the death penalty unconstitutional; upholding full
equality for gay and lesbian people; declaring that resident non-citizens are
entitled to social benefits; and ordering the government to make
anti-retroviral treatment available to pregnant mothers living with HIV/AIDS.
A highly
respected commentator, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme
Court, stated the following in the context of a discussion of new democracies:
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if
I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012.  I might 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 to the Constitutional Court.  Working alongside two South African law
clerks, foreign law clerks assist a specific judge in performing his or her
The responsibilities of foreign law clerks are
essentially the same as those of their South African counterparts and similar
to judicial clerks elsewhere in the common law world.  These include extensive legal research and
writing, as well as the formulation, drafting, and editing of judgments.  The Court itself is highly collaborative,
allowing for substantial engagement among clerks from all chambers.
Foreign clerks
are usually only appointed to serve one six-month term.  However, some may serve for longer subject to
agreement and, at times, in more than one Chambers.
law clerks are not remunerated by the Court.  Therefore, it is essential that they seek
their own funding to cover their expenses, 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 in the
final year of study for such a degree. 
Further, they must be fluent in English, the primary language of the
Applicants should also demonstrate an interest
in constitutional, comparative and international law.  Academic excellence, relevant research
experience, and one to two years of work experience (especially clerking for
another court) are all preferred.
Substantial knowledge
of South African law is not a prerequisite, but familiarity with South Africa’s
history and contemporary affairs is highly valued.
Application Process
Applications for
foreign clerks will be considered on a rolling basis subject to some important
deadlines.  Applications for the first
round of 2015 hiring will be accepted from 1 February to 31 March 2015.  Applicants should propose start dates that
would begin prior to December 2016. 
The Court will also accept applications during a second round of hiring
from 1 July to 31 August 2015, at which time existing applicants are welcome to
revise or supplement their applications. 
Due to the high number of applications, the Court will only respond to successful
Applications must include the following: (1) a
cover letter describing the applicant’s interest in the Court’s work that must
specify a proposed start date (or range of start dates) for which he or she
would like to be considered; (2) a full curriculum vitae; (3) copies of all
post-secondary academic records (unofficial transcripts are permitted); (4) a
legal writing sample of approximately 6-12 pages; and (5) at least two
reference letters (at least one academic and one professional).  Please note that applicants may either have
references send the letters directly to the Court or applicants may compile the
letters and send a complete application to the Court themselves.
Applications should be submitted to Mr Mosala
Sello in the Chambers of Justice Johann van der Westhuizen, who will
respond with an email in due course acknowledging receipt of each application:
Constitutional Court of South Africa
Attn: Mr Mosala Sello
Private Bag X1
Mr Mosala Sello

Further details on the programme may be found
on the Constitutional Court website:  Applicants
requiring additional information are welcome to contact Mr Sello via email ([email protected]) or telephone (+27
11 359 7427).
Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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