Trouble finding someone to write third letter of recommendation...

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Trouble finding someone to write third letter of recommendation...

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:27 pm

Hi all, does anyone have experience scraping the bottom of the barrel for a recommendations? I'm a second year at a v50 firm and currently have as recommenders 1) a partner at the firm, and 2) a professor from my 3L year. Honestly, I have no idea what to do about the third.

I was super disengaged throughout law-school so I didn't really make any connections with any professors, although I did get As in a number of classes. My current options are as follows:

1) ask my 1L torts prof whose class I *attended* and got an A in (like 4 years ago now, haven't contacted the guy since).
2) ask a senior associate at my firm, who I know would write me a killer review.
3) ask the former clerk of a judge I externed for in law school to write a letter (the judge as a matter of policy does not write letters of recommendation, but will act as a reference).

Is it super weird to have a letter come from a senior associate or former clerk? Has anyone reached out to profs they barely interacted with in law school for letter?

Laser Lady

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Re: Trouble finding someone to write third letter of recommendation...

Post by Laser Lady » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:31 am

In my opinion, the quality is of the recommendation is much more important than the identity of the recommender. It sounds like you'll get the strongest recommendation from the senior associate at your firm, so that's what I'd go with. I don't think there's anything weird about using recommendations from practitioners if you're in practice. At least in the chambers I've been in, the recommendation of someone who was very familiar with your current work would carry a lot more weight than some professor saying that it looks from your transcript like you succeeded in his class years ago, although he has no independent recollection of it.


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Re: Trouble finding someone to write third letter of recommendation...

Post by texanslimjim » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:46 pm

I agree the quality of the recommendation is important, but I think your app will be much stronger for most judges with a second professor rather than second recommender from the same law firm unless the gap in the quality of the recommendation is extreme.

Some professors are willing to write letters for students who did well in their class but they don't know very well and will take the time to learn more about you so that they can incorporate it into the letter. Other professors will refuse to write the letter, or worse write an "All I know about this guy is he got an A in my class" letter. The clerkship advising office at your law school might be able to give you specific advice about specific faculty members before you reach out.

I would not use a recommendation from a law clerk that you interned/externed for unless that law clerk has a connection to the judge you are applying to.


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Re: Trouble finding someone to write third letter of recommendation...

Post by cam1992 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:24 pm

I was recently in a very similar situation. I am a 3L who decided to apply for several clerkships for the 2021-2022 term, but, seeing as how my clerking decision came a month into my last semester, I had built almost no relationships with professors. I found that my school's clerkship office has a process where basically the clerkships coordinators check with the professors to make sure they will write a serviceable letter before you approach the professor with a formal request. For instance, I listed all the professors in whose class I received an A (really my only connection to most of them) and out of those eight professors only two felt comfortable writing letters. The process really takes away a lot of the awkwardness (until you wind up solo on an elevator with a professor who turns you down and they bring it up :oops: ). I only include this story because I had NO IDEA that this system existed. Until I had a meeting with the clerkship advisor, I was under the impression from my friends that the recs were all very personal (even though I am sure the bests recs are). I also know that at my school alumni have access to the clerkship coordinator, so it may be worth your while to check it out. Best of luck!

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