Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Prof. Brian Leiter, a professor at UT with a weblog of his own, writes about the "recommendation letter code" and how they're all too inflated and over-the-top. He links to an interesting article here with more on the topic. Leiter and the article are both referring to recommendations for professor-ships, but it's all the same. Reading this stuff inspires me to parody.

Recommendation Letter For Law Firm Job from Law Professor

Dear Hiring Partner,

I teach a hundred and fifty students a year, and am lucky to remember six or seven names outside of class. So when Jack Simmons came to my office and asked me to write him a letter of reference, I must admit I had no idea who he was. I did not know if he was a 1L, 2L, or 3L, whether I had taught him in Contracts, Corporations, or in my Tennis workshops on the weekends, or whether perhaps I had once seen him in the library and had accidentally acknowledged his existence. Nevertheless, when he told me how much he had enjoyed having me as a professor, and especially how I went out of my way to be accessible to students and really get to know them as people -- and when he handed me a copy of my book and asked me to autograph it for him -- I instantly remembered the fine young man who had been one of the star pupils in my class last semester. Some professors employ the Socratic method in class and challenge their students to think on their feet -- in those classes, professors can often get a good sense of who the brightest of the bunch are, and which students are more like dullards. I, however, enjoy hearing myself speak more than most, and so I conduct my class exclusively as a lecture and never take questions. This allows me to form impressions of my students based on looks alone. And Jack is certainly a spiffy dresser, although his hair is a bit too long and he could use those toothpaste strips that make teeth just a few shades whiter. But these flaws do not obscure the fact that he was always attentive, often on time, and sometimes awake during my class. There was no other student in his seat besides him, and that is certainly saying something if it's saying nothing at all. So, needless to say, I was as delighted as a professor who knows none of his students by name could possibly be when Bill came by and asked me for a letter of recommendation. I told Bill I would love to write on his behalf, if he could be so kind as to send me a copy of his resume. And he did -- quite promptly, I should add -- but I have unfortunately misplaced it, so I have little more to say on that subject. But I have heard of your law firm -- I make sure to keep up on events in the legal world, although I have never practiced law a day in my life and wouldn't know a motion from a magic potion, from a genuine emotion, from moisturizing lotion, from love and devotion to my profession, and I have certainly heard your firm mentioned in long lists of other firms when students I overhear talking are talking about alphabetical lists of law firms appearing on papers they may have seen. And based on this knowledge, I find it hard to believe anything more than I believe that John would make a wonderful addition to your firm and not disgrace you any more than he has disgraced the name of this school, which I don't believe he has, at least as far as I'm aware. I do so appreciate your taking the time to read my award-winning prose, and hope it has proven to show that Sam is definitely a student here, at least as far as I'm aware, and I see no reason not to offer him a job, although I currently have no openings or else I would most surely consider it.

Best wishes, and a happy Arbor Day from a colleague who never even bothered to take the bar,
Professor Harry Fitzwhipple