Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

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Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:12 pm

I'm a 2L, just had a class in the fall with a professor who happens to be a COA judge. I got an A in the class. I went to office hours a few times, and she knows who I am. Is it weird/strange/inappropriate to ask her for a rec for district court apps? Is this something sitting judges don't generally do, or is it worth just asking?

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L, just had a class in the fall with a professor who happens to be a COA judge. I got an A in the class. I went to office hours a few times, and she knows who I am. Is it weird/strange/inappropriate to ask her for a rec for district court apps? Is this something sitting judges don't generally do, or is it worth just asking?


definitely okay. I had a former CoA judge write a letter... didn't even phase me that it would be weird.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L, just had a class in the fall with a professor who happens to be a COA judge. I got an A in the class. I went to office hours a few times, and she knows who I am. Is it weird/strange/inappropriate to ask her for a rec for district court apps? Is this something sitting judges don't generally do, or is it worth just asking?

There's nothing unusual about asking a sitting judge to write you a letter of rec. If the judge/prof is willing to write you a strong letter, then you should do it.

ETA: I can't stress this enough: if you get the sense that the judge isn't enthusiastic about you but is willing to write you a letter anyway, ask someone else. When I clerked, the worst rec letters I saw were generally from high-profile folks who didn't know the applicant well and who just went through the motions. A detailed, enthusiastic letter from an unknown adjunct professor will do WAY more for you than a perfunctory letter from a well-known judge.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L, just had a class in the fall with a professor who happens to be a COA judge. I got an A in the class. I went to office hours a few times, and she knows who I am. Is it weird/strange/inappropriate to ask her for a rec for district court apps? Is this something sitting judges don't generally do, or is it worth just asking?

Totally reasonable to ask as long as she can write you a good letter. If the judge isn't comfortable doing it for whatever reason, she'll let you know.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:40 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L, just had a class in the fall with a professor who happens to be a COA judge. I got an A in the class. I went to office hours a few times, and she knows who I am. Is it weird/strange/inappropriate to ask her for a rec for district court apps? Is this something sitting judges don't generally do, or is it worth just asking?

There's nothing unusual about asking a sitting judge to write you a letter of rec. If the judge/prof is willing to write you a strong letter, then you should do it.

ETA: I can't stress this enough: if you get the sense that the judge isn't enthusiastic about you but is willing to write you a letter anyway, ask someone else. When I clerked, the worst rec letters I saw were generally from high-profile folks who didn't know the applicant well and who just went through the motions. A detailed, enthusiastic letter from an unknown adjunct professor will do WAY more for you than a perfunctory letter from a well-known judge.


Thank you for the advice everyone! Yes, I definitely will ask and get a sense if it's going to be strong. I know this judge has been vocal about upping the school's clerkship rate, so I wouldn't be surprised for them to be supportive, but I appreciate the warning.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:07 pm

I'll note that I have heard multiple judges, including one I clerked for, who strongly prefer not to write letters (I heard him explain this in chambers about others, not me, so it wasn't due to any lack of willingness to endorse) and prefers phone calls, at least if it is to anyone whose organization could be before the court or is a lower sitting judge (some sort of worry about it being interpreted as an order, if i remember correctly). Not particularly relevant to this scenario, just a consideration given the other responses.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll note that I have heard multiple judges, including one I clerked for, who strongly prefer not to write letters (I heard him explain this in chambers about others, not me, so it wasn't due to any lack of willingness to endorse) and prefers phone calls, at least if it is to anyone whose organization could be before the court or is a lower sitting judge (some sort of worry about it being interpreted as an order, if i remember correctly). Not particularly relevant to this scenario, just a consideration given the other responses.

I've also heard of reluctance for a judge to recommend to another judge on the same court because of the "he wasn't good enough for me to hire him, but he's probably good enough for your chambers" thing. (Also not particularly relevant here, and maybe not that common.)

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:25 pm

OP here with update. COA Judge said he doesn't write letters for students, because the students usually don't end up getting hired: "The reader is likely to ask, 'If he's so good, why hasn't he hired him?'" He said that I should just list his name as a reference with his court phone # and that seems to be successful for students

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby rpupkin » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here with update. COA Judge said he doesn't write letters for students, because the students usually don't end up getting hired: "The reader is likely to ask, 'If he's so good, why hasn't he hired him?'" He said that I should just list his name as a reference with his court phone # and that seems to be successful for students

That's ridiculous; the judge is just rationalizing his own laziness. But at least you asked. Good luck!

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby mjb447 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here with update. COA Judge said he doesn't write letters for students, because the students usually don't end up getting hired: "The reader is likely to ask, 'If he's so good, why hasn't he hired him?'" He said that I should just list his name as a reference with his court phone # and that seems to be successful for students

Those concerns are totally vitiated if he's just a reference, though. :roll:

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:13 pm

mjb447 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here with update. COA Judge said he doesn't write letters for students, because the students usually don't end up getting hired: "The reader is likely to ask, 'If he's so good, why hasn't he hired him?'" He said that I should just list his name as a reference with his court phone # and that seems to be successful for students

Those concerns are totally vitiated if he's just a reference, though. :roll:


Yeah, I think he wants me to stress the professor/student relationship

You did well in my course, however, and I can offer this help, which has worked better in the past for a good number of students: you can list my name on your resume, with my court phone (xxx-xxx), and refer to me in your cover letter, as your teacher, indicating that I have expressed a willingness to accept phone calls.

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Re: Asking a Professor who is a COA Judge for a Rec?

Postby Moonraker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll note that I have heard multiple judges, including one I clerked for, who strongly prefer not to write letters (I heard him explain this in chambers about others, not me, so it wasn't due to any lack of willingness to endorse) and prefers phone calls, at least if it is to anyone whose organization could be before the court or is a lower sitting judge (some sort of worry about it being interpreted as an order, if i remember correctly). Not particularly relevant to this scenario, just a consideration given the other responses.


This, I think it is heightened if within the same circuit or district.



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