Nathan J. Paulson, 70, a retired clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and a former associate dean of the Antioch School of Law here, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Orlando, Fla.

A native of New York City, Mr. Paulson earned a bachelor's and law degrees from New York University. Before moving to this area in 1946, he was a member of the legal staff of the New York City Department of Investigation and served as an assistant corporation counsel for the city of New York.

From 1941 to 1945, Mr. Paulson maintained a private law practice here. He then was appointed an assistant U.S. District Attorney in the appellate division. In 1955, he became chief of the U.S. Attorney's Appellate section. He was appointed chief deputy clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District in 1962.

The following year, Mr. Paulson was appointed clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District by Chief Judge David L. Bazelon, a position he held until his retirement in 1972.

Mr. Paulson then joined the Antioch School of Law and headed the school's teaching firm, formerly the Urban Law Institute, for the next three years.

He had served as the elected secretary of the Judicial Conference of the D.C. Circuit from 1963 to 1972 and was an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown and Howard University law schools for several years in the 1960s. g

A former Alexandria resident, Mr. Paulson was a past chairman of the Alexandria Republican Committee and a former vice president of the Alexandria Republican Club. He and his wife, the former Jean Freudenheim, moved to Orlando, Fla., in 1979. Mr. Paulson was a member of the D.c., American, Virginia and Federal Bar Association and the American Judicature Bar Association.

Besides his wife, survivors include two daughters, Hope Carman of Nashville, Tenn., and Nancy Geiger of Gainesville, Fla.; a son, Dr. John D., of Annandale; a brother, David, of New York City; a sister Betty Woolfe of Harrington Park, N.J., and six grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society or to the Hospice of Orlando, in Orlando, Fla.