Clerkship Recs

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Who should I ask?

1L Summer Boss
Prof--class with a P, but liked me
Prof--class with a DS, but no relationship
No votes
Total votes: 6

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Clerkship Recs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:20 am

I'm having trouble figuring who to ask as my third clerkship rec. I go to HLS, so grades are P/H/DS standard. My grades are weak, but I have a specific research interest, and am going to be targeting judges who are interested in the same research area(not really interested in clerking otherwise, anyway). If anyone has any advice from my options, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

The two I already have:
--Prof in a class I got a P in who is also a mentor. I'm doing my research with this prof as independent writing credits. This rec will be strong.
--Prof in a class I got an H in my 1L year and whose office hours I occasionally stopped by (mostly to ask about life/career advice). I wasn't really an academic standout in this class, but she did agree to write one for me. This rec will probably be generic.

Possible other options:
--My boss from my 1L summer job. Boss gave me very strong reviews for the summer, and compared me favorably to first-year associates he had trained at his biglaw firm. His rec would be very strong.
--Prof in a class I got a P in, but who liked me, and called on me a lot. Prof agreed to be a reference for me for 1L summer jobs, and writes recs a lot, but I haven't kept in touch since I took his class 1st semester. I went to office hours a few times. This rec will possibly be positive, but not super strong.
--Prof in a class I got a DS in...but who might possibly realize that I spent class time screwing around on gchat instead of paying attention. I didn't really participate in class, though he knew who I was and said hi to me before every class since I sat in the front. He had favorites in that class, and I was not one of them. I never went to office hours. This rec might be bad, or good, depending, I don't know.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkship Recs

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:31 am

I would go with the 1L summer boss. I think the strength of the recommendation is more important than who it's from; a letter that raves about you and offers specifics about why you're great is the most helpful regardless of how that person knows you. And you sound unsure about the DS prof. Also, I have seen judges who prefer to have a recommendation from at least one practitioner/work experience, rather than all profs (I think this is especially important if you're a K-JD, which you may not be, of course). That said, if either the DS prof or the P prof works in this specific research area you're hanging your hat on, that might make a difference (but again, a strong and specific letter is better than something generic from the world's leading expert in what you want to do).

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerkship Recs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:16 pm

While I definitely agree that a strong, personalized recommendation (even from a professor in whose class you earned a P) is always better than a generic rec, I would at least feel out the DS professor. Some professors will make efforts to write great recs, especially if you rocked the exam, even if they did not interact with you much during class. To do this, they'll usually ask for responses to a list of questions covering things like professional aspirations, why you want to clerk, etc. Of course, all of this should be vetted through a face-to-face meeting.

As a reference point, I took a class with a professor during my 2L year at HLS. Might have volunteered an opinion once during the entire semester; all other participation was through cold-calling. I got a DS in the class, but I didn't bother to ask him for a rec during the fall 2012 clerkship application cycle, as I already had recs from a 2L SA mentor, a 1L professor with whom I had a good relationship, and a professor with whom I took another 2L class. Despite having several interviews with district court judges that cycle, I came up empty-handed. Re-applied in the spring for 2013 clerkships, though, and this time around, I asked the DS professor for a rec (replacing the 2L professor rec, which was almost certainly quite generic). Despite barely knowing who I was, the DS professor asked me a lot of detailed questions, wrote what I believe to be a great rec, and even put in calls for me.

Result: Clerking in 2013 in SDNY/EDNY/DDC.

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Re: Clerkship Recs

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:42 pm

You should ask all of them for recommendations in hopes that someone is going to volunteer to make calls for you.

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Re: Clerkship Recs

Postby run26.2 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:29 pm

I agree with the anon above re: feeling out the prof that gave you a DS.

You have a lot of time before your applications are due. You could try spending some time getting to know that prof, i.e. discussing your goals in clerking, discussing how your research interest fits into that, etc. I did this with one of my recommenders who taught a class in which I did well. Although it took some time, I believe it resulted in a strong recommendation. And it came about even though the prof initially was hesitant to write the rec because the prof didn't feel that he knew me well enough.

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