Michael Moffitt: Student References
Please ask me before you list me as a reference in employment applications. With matters related to references, email is the easiest method for me. I enjoy telling prospective employers about my students, so I am extraordinarily likely to agree to be a reference, and I ask for your help in making me as effective as possible.
When I agree to be a reference for you, please provide me with the following:
- A signed "Information Release Form," available through Career Services. The University requires me to have one of these forms before serving as a reference. Its function is primarily to prevent the absurd situation of you suing me for talking to employers about you – when you have already asked me to be a reference.
- A current copy of your resume.
- A current copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine).
- A short summary of your professional ambitions, to the extent you think it would be helpful for me to have that information. If I can help make the case to an employer that your skills and interests match well with their needs, I'll be a better reference.
- A brief overview of the aspects of your skills and interests on which you hope I will focus. Employers care about a broad range of things when hiring a law student. If you have a few specific things on which you would like me to focus, please let me know. (For example, tell me if you are hoping that I will discuss your writing ability, your creativity, your analytic ability, your good sense of humor, your snowboarding abilities, or your thorough research – whatever fits best.)
- Specifics about our interactions. The best references are ones in which the person writing the reference talks about specifics. “He’s great” has very little impact because the reader will immediately forget it. “He made this great presentation in class about variations in pinochle bidding strategies and seamlessly linked it to theories of subject matter jurisdiction.” is something that will make my reference (and therefore you) stand out. Help me by reminding me of as many specifics as you can.
Please provide all of this to me electronically, if at all possible. The one potential difficulty will be the Information Release Form, which you should feel free to sign and put in my faculty mailbox.
If you are asking me to write a letter to a prospective employer or judge, please provide me with:
- The correct name and contact information, including phone number (if available)
- The deadline by which you hope they will receive the letter
- Any other information specifically related to this employer you think I ought to know in writing the letter
As a policy, I am happy to send out individualized letters of reference, rather than writing "To Whom It May Concern" letters.
I look forward to talking with employers about you. Good luck with your search!