References and Recommendation Letters
Only submit a reference list to an employer when requested. Employers may request references at the time of application or following an interview. When going for an interview, bring a reference list with you. Presenting a reference list immediately when asked will show an excellent level of preparedness.
- Your reference list should include your contact information at the top of the page.
- List 3-5 references, including contact information for each.
- Include the reference's connection to you if not apparent from the information provided.
Select references who can speak about your responsibility and intellectual level. "Glamour" references with big names who don't know you well are strongly disfavored.
- A combination of faculty (preferably law school professors) and former employers is best.
- Be sure that the references listed on your reference list are aware that you are giving their names out. You do not want them to be surprised when contacted. It is also considerate to provide them with your most current resume.
- When possible, tailor your references to the specific employer (geographic or practice area ties).
Recommendation letter are more rarely requested than references. Opportunities that frequently request recommendation letters include judicial clerkships and public interest fellowships.
When possible, recommendation letters should be tailored to the specific application/employer. As such, try to avoid "To whom it may concern" letters.
Give AMPLE time to your recommenders - several weeks at a minimum. Provide your recommender with:
- Accurate and thorough address and contact information,
- Copy of the job description or fellowship opportunity,
- Current resume and any other application materials (ex. writing sample and cover letter).