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Reference Letter Format
Free Sample Letter of Recommendation

Free Reference Letter Template

An invariable component to certain job applications, e.g. federal judicial clerkships, is the inclusion of reference or recommender letters. It is the responsibility of the applicant to cultivate relationships with key individuals such as faculty members or employers in order to secure such references. Sometimes the reference will ask the student to construct a draft from which they will personalize their letter. Sample paragraphs - introductory, descriptive, and concluding - tailored to the judicial clerkship process are available below. The examples can be adapted for use in other job pursuits as well.  These examples can used by students or the recommenders. 

Introductory Paragraph Samples

  • John Doe has asked me to write a letter of recommendation concerning his possible employment as a judicial clerk, and I am pleased to do so.
  • I have been asked to write a letter in support of John Doe’s application for a position as a judicial clerk in your chambers.
  • I am pleased to recommend Jane Doe for a judicial clerkship position.
  • I am writing on behalf of Mr. John Doe who is applying for a judicial clerkship with you. Joe was a student in my _______ class during his first year of law school.
  • It is indeed a pleasure to write in support of Jane Doe’s application for a position as a judicial clerk in your chambers.

Descriptive Paragraph Samples

  • John Doe is well-liked by his classmates and has demonstrated on several occasions that he is willing to do more than is required. He has conducted class review sessions, and all the indications that I received suggest that he did an outstanding job. His work on law review is additional evidence of his positive attitude toward the study of law, and his work as a member of the student ambassadors demonstrates both his willingness to contribute and the high esteem in which he is generally held.
  • John Doe was a student of mine in _______ during the 2003-04 academic year. Although I had over a hundred and fifty students in ____ that year, I clearly remember his performance as a student. The extent of my contact with him makes me confident in my assessment of his abilities.
  • I have come to know Jane as a student in my ______ course. Without question, she was one of the top three students taking the course. This course places the primary responsibility of “putting the black-letter law together” on the student so that class time can be devoted to developing the student’s analytical skills through the case method. Jane demonstrated depth in her understanding of the cases and sophistication in her employment of legal doctrine.
  • Jane’s resume clearly demonstrates her academic qualifications, which are outstanding. Beyond that, in my course she demonstrated a healthy, perceptive skepticism in her approach to the subject matter. In a large class, her comments and questions always pointedly and helpfully relevant. She did not occupy class time unduly with her interests, but per word uttered in class, I can think of no student who contributed more to the success of the course.
  • John’s performance and contribution in class were superior. In my judgment, he is a bright, articulate and incisive student. Although somewhat reserved, he is not timid in taking positions or expressing himself. He was one of the few students that year who received extra credit on his final grade based on the quality of his classroom participation. John’s performance on his final exams was excellent and he ranked near the top of the class.  
  • John was a student in my ______ class during his second year of law school. Because there were fewer than 40 students in the class, I had the opportunity to become more fully acquainted with John and the other students than did professors teaching larger sized classes. I was very impressed with John’s performance in class, in his legal writing assignments, and on his examinations. Although John is a quiet person, he made many significant contributions to our class discussions. He was always well prepared and took a keep interest in our class discussions. All of John’s _______ assignments were well written and his final legal memorandum was one of the top two or three I received that year. John received a grade of 88 on his final exam which was one of the highest grades received.
  • Beyond that, Jane’s experience as a teaching assistant in journalism is apparent in all her writings. Law school blue books are not known for their literary quality; Jane’s are the exception. In sum, I can think of few students who would be able to offer more to a judge in search of a clerk.
  • Jane is active in various student organizations. She works very well with others probably because she is a sincere and honest person. She is enthusiastic and hard working and is very much respected by the faculty and students alike. She is a mature person who takes her responsibilities seriously.
  • Jane is one of the top students in my class. She received the highest grade in the class during the fall semester; one of the highest grades I have ever awarded. Jane’s class participation indicates an enthusiasm for the study of law and a skill in legal reasoning. Jane is also active in several student organizations, including the Pro Bono Student’s Association, and works part time for a local law firm. Jane is well liked by her fellow students.
  • John was a student in my _____ class this last semester. His frequent and enthusiastic participation in class discussion as well as his probing inquiries outside of class demonstrated the seriousness and dedication with which he approaches the study of law. On a personal note, John possesses a quick wit and a warm personality.
  • Jane is an intelligent and conscientious student. The written work she did for my class (four assignments) was always well above average. She displayed an ability to express her ideas clearly and concisely on paper. Although I have not seen Jane deliver an argument in a moot court setting, I do know that she is very articulate in the classroom setting.
  • On a more personal basis, I have found Jane to be a vivacious, yet gracious individual with a warm smile and a delightful sense of humor and perspective. She is one of those rare individuals that one senses is headed for certain success.
  • As a student in my _____ class, John has distinguished himself with consistency of preparation, obvious grasp of issues, clarity of reasoning, and an ability to express himself in front of his classmates. He was always keenly interested in subject matter, and was quick to initiate discussion of important topics. His examination results were consistent with his high class standing.
  • I have known Jane Doe for over a year and have been very impressed by her intelligence and enthusiasm. She is a very bright, well-read individual who strives for excellence in all she does. She is articulate, and displays the ability to think clearly and creatively on her feet. She is very motivated and approaches work in a conscientious and hard-working manner. She has a sincere desire to continue her education and has the intelligence and motivation to perform at a high level. 
  • Jane Doe has compiled a remarkable record at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. Scholastically, she has achieved the highest laurels. She has been an editor of the Law Review and has been extremely active in curricular and extracurricular affairs. She has achieved a status of renown among her peers and a reputation for excellence with the faculty and the administration.

Concluding Paragraph Samples

  • Jane Doe can be best described as intelligent, sincere and hard working. As a former law clerk to a federal district judge, I know that she has the ability and desire to be a very capable judicial clerk. I highly recommend Jane for a clerkship in your chambers.
  • For all these reasons, I can highly recommend Jane Doe without reservation for your program. I know that she will perform well and be an asset to your program. Please feel free to contact me regarding this letter or my impressions of Jane.
  • In summary, I believe that John would be an excellent choice as a judicial clerk. He has demonstrated a high level of competence and exhibits a temperament that ideally suits him for the position he seeks. I recommend him to you without reservation.
  • I am extremely supportive of John Doe, and I am confident that he would make an outstanding judicial clerk in your chambers. I highly recommend him to you, and if I may be of further assistance please telephone or write me.
  • Few predictions can be made with absolute assuredness. In this instance, I am absolutely certain that your choice of Jane Doe as your clerk will be a decision you will long cherish having made.
  • John Doe is a well rounded person and a fine and dedicated student. He is certain to be an asset to your chambers and I highly recommend that you consider him seriously for a position as your clerk.
  • John has informed me that he has an interest in the judicial system. On the personal side, John is personable, one in whose company it is comfortable to be. He would be an asset to the legal profession in any capacity. I am certain that he would be a worthy addition to your staff. I recommend him wholeheartedly.

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