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Surry to fund law clerk

Surry County will begin contributing $5,600 per year to fund a law clerk in the Sixth Judicial Circuit per an Oct. 7 vote of the county’s Board of Supervisors.

The Circuit includes seven localities, among them Surry. For the past 18 years, the cost of the law clerk position has been divided equally among only two: Prince George County and the city of Hopewell.

The position, which is intended to be filled by a recent law school graduate who has just passed or is waiting to take the bar exam, involves assisting the court’s judges with legal research and writing.

“Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to attract applicants to the law clerk position at the current salary of $45,000,” Judge W. Edward Tomko III wrote to County Administrator Melissa Rollins on Sept. 1.

“I would note that most applicants, burdened with student loans, cannot afford to accept a position making what we currently offer,” Tomko added. “In fact, we have advertised for three months at various law schools without receiving a single application.”

To remedy this, he proposes advertising a salary of $57,000 with an additional $200 monthly stipend for mileage reimbursement, since the circuit encompasses a large geographic area spanning west from Surry to Hopewell and south all the way to the city of Emporia and Greensville and Brunswick counties.

Prince George and Hopewell have agreed to continue funding the position at their current levels, which will cover roughly two-thirds of the higher salary, according to Tomko’s letter.

The request for funding was included in Surry County’s Oct. 7 meeting’s consent items, which the Board voted unanimously to approve.