FAQ: Letters of Recommendation for Judicial Clerkships?

At last week’s introductory workshop on judicial clerkships, Professor Amy Wildermuth answered several questions regarding letters of recommendation for students applying for judicial clerkships.  Most judicial clerk applications require three letters of recommendation, and Professor Wildermuth recommends that at least two of these letters (if not all three) be written by the student’s law professors.  The Legal Methods professors make especially good recommenders because they know their students’ research and writing abilities well.  Get to know additional professors, especially in the classes where you excel, because you will need several letters.  Professor Wildermuth stressed that S.J. Quinney professors are very interested in writing letters for their students and have been coached on the particulars of what makes a good letter of recommendation for a judicial clerkship.  Although a student may feel shy about asking their professors for letters of recommendation, you need to do it!  Below are few more tips.

1.  Meet with your letter writer before the letter is written so that he/she knows enough about you to write a great letter, and be sure to give them a copy of your updated résumé.  Also allow the recommender enough time to write a good letter, so don’t wait until your deadlines approach to ask.

2.  Before your meeting, think about the reasons why you want to clerk so that you can explain these to your letter writer.

3.  Let your letter writer know some other things that are interesting about you.  He/she may want to include these in the letter, especially if it establishes a common interest you and the judge share.

4.  If you did a clinical externship with a judge, be aware that the judge may not agree to write a letter of recommendation for you.  This does not reflect your performance, just the fact that judges don’t always feel comfortable recommending a student to their peers.  However, the judge may agree to have their clerk write a letter for you, as long as the judge is given an opportunity to approve the content.

5.  Thank your recommenders for writing the letters!  The recommenders also appreciate being kept informed of your progress.

6.  The letters of recommendation for Judges using OSCAR will be submitted electronically.  If your recommender is having issues with OSCAR, the “go to” person is Trina Rich, administrative assistant for academic affairs.

For more tips from current judicial clerks and 3L’s who will be clerking after they graduate, read the new display on the PDO bulletin board outside our office.  Be sure to attend tomorrow’s workshop “Clerks on Clerkships” at 12:15 in Room 107 as well!