hahaha, awesome by the end of the summer, you will be able to lexis yourself all the time... it doesnt get much better then that.
1. no2. yea, its weird that that clerks have any influence, but it would be impossible for the judge to do it all on their own if you think of the amount of cases coming through the courts. What I meant was that you would be able to lexis briefs that you wrote. you wouldnt have your name on it, but its a cool feeling when stuff you wrote is in a legal database.
Every court gets a lot of routine questions. A judge will take the more challenging cases and work on them him/herself, and farm out the simpler cases to clerks. I don't think any opinion goes out without being read by a judge to check that it's OK. If it's a routine question, there's really no big disadvantage to having clerks do the work and then check if s/he has done it correctly.
But the judge has much more experience than the clerk. The clerk may present the judge with a wrong view, or a one-sided view of the situation, but the judge will see through that.A former supreme-court clerk who gave a talk at my school got a question about this. His answer (paraphrased): "At the beginning I thought I had a lot of influence, because the Justice always seemed to agree with what I said. But I found soon enough that in reality I had no influence at all. If the Justice had a different opinion, I could say what I wanted, but I wasn't going to change his mind."