Page 1 of 1

Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:34 pm
by adude
anyone ever get screwed over by a reference?

I asked a prof for a reference and am really not sure what he thinks of me subjectively, although I got a good grade in his class. I have had a few good talks w/ this prof, but get the feeling that he has some reservations about me, though I can't say exactly what. Would a mediocre reference be fatal to getting a firm job despite great grades, unique resume, and decent interview?

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:40 pm
by Kiersten1985
If the professor agreed to write you a rec, he's not going to write a bad one. If he really had reserverations that he felt would make him unable to write a good one, he would have said he couldn't write one.

I'm sure you'll be fine. :)

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:42 pm
by d34d9823
Kiersten1985 wrote:If the professor agreed to write you a rec, he's not going to write a bad one. If he really had reserverations that he felt would make him unable to write a good one, he would have said he couldn't write one.

I'm sure you'll be fine. :)

I agree with this with the reservation that if you pissed him off, he may write a bad one because he thinks schools ought to be warned about you.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:46 pm
by Kiersten1985
d34dluk3 wrote:
Kiersten1985 wrote:If the professor agreed to write you a rec, he's not going to write a bad one. If he really had reserverations that he felt would make him unable to write a good one, he would have said he couldn't write one.

I'm sure you'll be fine. :)

I agree with this with the reservation that if you pissed him off, he may write a bad one because he thinks schools ought to be warned about you.


I highly doubt that any professor cares that much to "warn" a school about you. Unless you killed his cat or something haha.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:48 pm
by ggocat
Kiersten1985 wrote:
d34dluk3 wrote:
Kiersten1985 wrote:If the professor agreed to write you a rec, he's not going to write a bad one. If he really had reserverations that he felt would make him unable to write a good one, he would have said he couldn't write one.

I'm sure you'll be fine. :)

I agree with this with the reservation that if you pissed him off, he may write a bad one because he thinks schools ought to be warned about you.


I highly doubt that any professor cares that much to "warn" a school about you. Unless you killed his cat or something haha.

You guys are discussing something the OP isn't even asking.

OP is asking about references for legal employment, not letters of recommendation for law school.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:59 pm
by adude
I realize that my main question would be difficult to answer: probably few people know whether someone has given them a bad reference, since the effect would just be not getting the job. The firm wouldn't tell you if its decision not to hire was based on a bad reference. It's also unlikely that the prof would tell you if he gave you a bad ref. So I guess my question needs to be broader - have you heard of anyone in this situation i.e. everything going for them but one poor/mediocre reference? If so, how did it turn out?

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:59 pm
by Kiersten1985
True. I still say that he wouldn't have agreed to write one if it wasn't going to be a positive one. I think the worst case scenario is that it's a boilerplate type recommendation. But I don't think it would be negative.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:11 pm
by random5483
If you expect a lukewarm reference, ask another professor. I have limited legal employment/reference experience, but I did promote three times in the real world prior to joining law school. Two of my prior employers came right out and told me they hired me because of my exceptional references.


Find a professor you have talked to and who likes you. Grades matter, but a class where you got good grades and a good relationship with the professor is much better choice for a reference than one which you booked. This advice might be incorrect for letters of recommendations, but for references, you want people who will talk talk you up a lot.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:40 am
by missinglink
You should trust whatever feeling you are getting from that professor. If they seem like they'll be a weak reference, I would try to work someone else.

That said, most professors are professional about how they go about things. If they agreed to write a letter, or act as a reference, it is generally with the understanding that they won't badmouth you to prospective employers. If they didn't feel like they could act as a good reference, they wouldn't have agreed.

That's assuming they're generally profession. I'm sure there's a bad apple or two out there, but I think by and large, you should be fine if they agreed to act as a reference/write a letter.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:11 am
by Wavelet
Don't sweat it--95%+ of the law firms you'll be interviewing with are never going to call your references anyway.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:35 am
by adude
missinglink wrote:most professors are professional about how they go about things. If they agreed to write a letter, or act as a reference, it is generally with the understanding that they won't badmouth you to prospective employers. If they didn't feel like they could act as a good reference, they wouldn't have agreed.


Wavelet wrote:Don't sweat it--95%+ of the law firms you'll be interviewing with are never going to call your references anyway.


Good points. Thanks for the reassurance.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:44 pm
by JPrezy87
adude wrote:


Wavelet wrote:Don't sweat it--95%+ of the law firms you'll be interviewing with are never going to call your references anyway.


Good points. Thanks for the reassurance.[/quote]

Yea that's the case with most employers....they're not going to bother calling whoever you listed as a reference because they know you only chose people that only have good things to say about ya :lol:

Re: Bad references

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:53 pm
by Anonymous User
I've never been asked for references, so I think you're ok.

Re: Bad references

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:02 pm
by CanadianWolf
If you reference isn't enthusiastically positive, then find another reference. A cool or unenthusiastic reference can be harmful to your job prospects, especially in a down economy when employers have many qualified candidates from which to choose.