Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

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Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:02 pm

Does anyone have any advice on post-law school letters of recommendation or writing samples?

I don't want to broadcast the fact that I'm planning on clerking ITE, but think it would probably help to have a LOR from my current biglaw firm. Right now, I have letters from a judicial externship and two professors and have no bites so far. Does it make a significant difference having a partner v. senior associate write a letter--if the senior has prior clerking experience? I feel much more comfortable asking for one from the latter group.

On this topic, how do people get writing samples from their firm as a first year? The briefs I draft get heavily edited by partners, memos are client product and confidential, and asking to use unedited drafts of briefs would require partner/client consent, which again is not something I want to ask for. I have a law school writing sample that I'm working to update but would like something more practical to use.

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:10 pm

The best letter is from whoever can speak most highly about you and is willing to vouch for you in the application process. It won't matter if it's a partner or senior associate, but a good word from the senior associate will go far with his/her judge.

Judges expect that your writing sample is self-edited (or you at least disclose the level of editing that the piece has gone under). I don't think anything from your firm would be helpful because a judge will assume that the sample is heavily edited or that you relied a lot on precedent documents. If you're within a year or two of graduation, you can get away with using a writing sample from law school.

Also: because of the economy, if your practice group is slow and will remain slow for a while, now might actually be a good time to clerk and some firms would be really supportive of that (both because they can save money by not paying you for a year, and for our own benefit). You know your firm/practice group best, of course.

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:10 pm
The best letter is from whoever can speak most highly about you and is willing to vouch for you in the application process. It won't matter if it's a partner or senior associate, but a good word from the senior associate will go far with his/her judge.
I differ a bit on this - it should come from someone with significant supervisory experience and who is your supervisor. A senior associate who just worked with you on a few matters or supervised you in a limited capacity isn't going to be super impressive (unless you are specifically applying to the judge that associate worked for). From a work reference, you ideally get someone that says something like, "I've worked with a lot of associates and this person is the best/among the best, etc.

That said, 1-2 years out of law school, a law school professor is still a perfectly acceptable recommender.

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:08 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:10 pm
The best letter is from whoever can speak most highly about you and is willing to vouch for you in the application process. It won't matter if it's a partner or senior associate, but a good word from the senior associate will go far with his/her judge.
I differ a bit on this - it should come from someone with significant supervisory experience and who is your supervisor. A senior associate who just worked with you on a few matters or supervised you in a limited capacity isn't going to be super impressive (unless you are specifically applying to the judge that associate worked for). From a work reference, you ideally get someone that says something like, "I've worked with a lot of associates and this person is the best/among the best, etc.

That said, 1-2 years out of law school, a law school professor is still a perfectly acceptable recommender.
Thanks. So my take from the posters is that seniority of the recommender is marginally relevant relative to their ability to give a glowing recommendation based on significant experience working with the recommendee. Is that right?

Also, any comment from anyone on the writing sample point?

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:13 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:08 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:10 pm
The best letter is from whoever can speak most highly about you and is willing to vouch for you in the application process. It won't matter if it's a partner or senior associate, but a good word from the senior associate will go far with his/her judge.
I differ a bit on this - it should come from someone with significant supervisory experience and who is your supervisor. A senior associate who just worked with you on a few matters or supervised you in a limited capacity isn't going to be super impressive (unless you are specifically applying to the judge that associate worked for). From a work reference, you ideally get someone that says something like, "I've worked with a lot of associates and this person is the best/among the best, etc.

That said, 1-2 years out of law school, a law school professor is still a perfectly acceptable recommender.
Thanks. So my take from the posters is that seniority of the recommender is marginally relevant relative to their ability to give a glowing recommendation based on significant experience working with the recommendee. Is that right?

Also, any comment from anyone on the writing sample point?
Yep. Re: the writing sample, if you can't find a publicly-filed document that you can say you drafted without significant edits, it's probably better to use something from law school.

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:04 pm

Former DJ clerk here who was involved with hiring several clerks. Here's my two cents. I would suggest a LOR from whoever can attest to your work with specificity. Not just "this applicant is a great associate." The more specific, the better. I can think of a handful of LORs that stood out, and they were always from people who really knew the applicant's work product. I would pay much more attention to a detailed, lengthy LOR from a senior associate than one a generic one from a partner, irrespective of who the associate and partner is.

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Re: Partner v. Senior Managing Associate Letter of Recommendation; Writing Sample

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:35 am

My view from both sides of this:

-- It was a mid-level -- not even a senior associate -- who was critical for getting me my COA clerkship. He knew my work very well and was enthusiastic about helping me, and had clerked in a similar situation as the one I was entering (think: judge going from d.ct. to coa, new appointee, etc.) so was able to put together a good narrative about why I'd be a good hire specifically for that situation.

-- Totally agree with above anon that specificity and true enthusiasm trumps just, like, partner status. FWIW from the hiring side, I felt like there were only a few categories of rec letter that made any kind of difference, and then only on the margins:

(a) Prof writes letter for like four of the top six students from School A. Rec is much more enthusiastic about Candidate B than anyone else.

(b) Prof is one of 8-10 professors that Judge looks for rec letters from.

(c) Attorney or Clinical Prof writes super detailed rec letter with concrete examples of really good work, impressive person for whatever reason, etc.

Pretty much everything else was just in a big undifferentiated lump in the middle, including a lot of letters from people who were otherwise sort of "higher status" within whatever pecking order. And of course there were bad letters, but not many from the competitive candidates.

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