Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for the response. Yes, that's the gist of my question.
Now that judges are increasingly moving off plan, I realize that I have a small amount of time to get to a good enough position with enough professors (i.e. take a class and/or RA) that would elicit a solid recommendation and/or a phone call (unless I apply as an alum). I've thought of cold emailing alums, but that feels a bit unseemly to me since it's such a naked proposition. It's just such an opaque situation aside from the 5-6 obvious faculty names that I'm not really sure how to navigate the process.
It depends how you do it. If you send an email that says, "Dear Alum, I'm interested in clerking for your judge and was wondering who your recommenders were," then yes, it's a pretty naked proposition. (I know that's a caricature, just bear with it for the sake of illustration.) But if you instead send an email that says, "Dear Alum, I'm potentially interested in clerking for Judge X and would be grateful if you could tell me more about your experience clerking for him/her," then any non-dick current/former clerk is at least going to chat with you. During that conversation you can try to ask about the role that recommendations play in the hiring process. As long as your questions are reasonably open-ended, you're not going to offend the alum and will perhaps get really useful information. True, you may just get vague platitudes or obvious advice ("Judge X really likes recommendations from professors who know you well."), but that's not much of a downside.
I understand your trepidation, but have you every been on the other side of such a situation? I.e., had someone come to you for advice because of your inside knowledge? Unless they're particularly toolish or rude, it's fun and flattering to be the expert. I think most alums are happy help those who respectfully seek that help.