In Switzerland, law clerks hold an important position, which is a particularity of the Swiss judicial system. Law clerks have a wide range of tasks. For instance, they are involved in the instruction of the cases, as well as in the decision-making process. The number of law clerks is continuously increasing, which is namely due to the growing caseload. Nowadays, at many courts in Switzerland there are more law clerks than judges. The result of this development is that judges have a different role than in the past. Despite the crucial role of law clerks, science has paid little attention to their function. This article aims to describe the important role of law clerks from a legal point of view. It also enumerates concerns connected to the position of law clerks. Methodologically, the paper is based on a document analysis and on the results of a quantitative survey. Specifically, the article will discuss the following question: Is the Swiss legal system – where law clerks are key-players – a reasonable solution in order to cope with the increasing caseload in an efficient way?
The paper is divided into six parts:
1. Introduction 2. The Swiss judicial system 3. Definition and function of law clerks 4. Development and legal issues 5. Performance targets for law clerks 6. Conclusion and research needs