February 25, 2014

"Ultimately, Judge Land hired a candidate who is ranked third in the class at a first tier law school and serves on the Law Review."

A rejection letter from a judge to an applicant for a clerkship.

What do you think of that letter?
  
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42 comments:

Moose said...

You left out "dick move" on the survey...

Ann Althouse said...

I redid the quiz to add another option, so if you did it right away, you might need to revote.

Ann Althouse said...

@Moose As you see, I was redoing it when you were writing it. See if option #3 fits your theory.

damikesc said...

So, the judge couldn't score the editor of the Review.

Seems like a loser.

Gabriel Hanna said...

If it were me, I'd want to know what kind of candidate I'd lost out to and that they were top ranked.

First, it will help you target your resume more effectively. Second, when a person finds out later that a LESS qualified person was chosen for a position they wanted, it's infuriating. (Guess how I know.)

Bob R said...

Is he trying to discourage future applicants? What kind of HR rules do clerkships like this use? Like academia? Like federal or state government? If you are snowed under with applicants for a low tier job like that, there might be a lot of expense taking care of the paperwork.(There would be at VT.) Still, this seems a bad way to do it. You aren't only pissing off applicants, but their mentors and other connections.

Bob R said...

I think it would be less harsh if it were more specific - "We are very happy that XXX of UUU has accepted our offer." Let the rejected applicant fill in the blanks. That way he/she is losing to an actual person rather than a resume.

Marshal said...

It's not a big deal, far less than I expected from the lead-in.

Michael K said...

I went through something like this applying for residencies 50 years ago. One letter I got from John Kirlin a famous heart surgeon at U of Alabama, said "I just found your letter from two years ago on my desk…"

I guess I should have spent the money on a plane ticket.

MadisonMan said...

What's a typical Law rejection letter look like? I'm with Marshal -- I expected a lot more than what I saw.

Birches said...

Meh. Truth hurts sometimes.

Charles said...

I suspect that one of the requirements for the clerkship was writing letters to the unsuccessful applicants.

traditionalguy said...

Macon has always been a snoby community and is not friendly to unconnected lawyers. Sherman's Army of the West made a feint at Macon but went to Milledgeville, then the State Capitol, on hs March to the Sea. Macon had 10,00 Confederate troops for a defense stand by Wheeler's calvary, Hardee's Corps and Beauregard's. But Sherman's Army got by Macon without a fight to the great pride of Macon the guys who never engaged.

I guarantee you this pick was not meritocratic. The letter is a cover story. In Georgia the Judge's own Law School, UGA, is considered a top tier law school, not that Emory University agrees with that.





FWBuff said...

As the maid in "Mary Poppins" so succinctly stated: "The position 'as been filled."

Lord Ben said...

I had a rejection letter once that went into a few details about the guy\gal who got it instead.

When it comes to information like this More>Less.

I appreciated knowing. I like honesty in my qualifications more than trying to make me feel better about myself. I didn't want a pat on the shoulder, I wanted a job.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

Maybe Olympic figure skating should keep the scores secret. Just announce the winner when it's all done. Why do we need the details?

missred said...

Typical rejection letter. Nothing new here.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Gabriel might have a point. It might forestall "you didn't hire me because I'm black/transgendered/Quaker" actions and complaints.

Fritz said...

Budding lawyers feelings must be protected at any expense.

It was an honest letter.

Titus said...

You should never be that specific in a rejection letter to a candidate.

EDH said...

The Cracker Emcee said...
It might forestall "you didn't hire me because I'm black/ transgendered/ Quaker" actions and complaints.

Indeed, maybe Land realized that what seemed like a ridiculous claim only four or five years ago may gain mainstream acceptance as time goes on.

Land was in the spotlight in late 2009 when he tried the case Rhodes v. Macdonald, in which an Army physician attempted to secure a restraining order against her being deployed to Iraq, on the argument that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and was ineligible to serve as President. Land rejected the argument as frivolous. Within hours of Land's decision, the physician's attorney, Orly Taitz, told the news site Talking Points Memo that she felt Land's refusal to hear her case was an act of treason. Two days later, she filed a motion to stay Rhodes' deployment pending rehearing of the dismissal order. She repeated her treason allegations against Land and made several other intemperate statements, including claims that Land was aiding and abetting purported aspirations of "dictatorship" by Obama. Land rejected the motion as frivolous and ordered her to show cause why she should not be fined $10,000 for abuse of judicial process.

Titus said...

What is the starting salary for a law clerk in bumfuck Georgia?

Peter said...

I'd figure in this job market you're lucky to even get a rejection letter (instead of no response). If the letter briefly describes the qualifications of the winning candidate, so much the better.

Drago said...

Titus: "What is the starting salary for a law clerk in bumfuck Georgia?"

Wrong question.

Typical.

The correct question is "what is the typical (and perhaps atypical) career path and potential upside for someone starting off as a law clerk in bumfuck Georgia."

Yes, it's better you stay in Massachusetts Titus. Too much ambiguity doesn't seem like it would work for you.

Drago said...

And is "bumfuck" really an appropriate term coming from Titus.

I say.

iowan2 said...

Welcome to the world child. You will find people that are actually mean just because they can. This gentleman is not one of those persons. If this causes even a momentary stutter in you psyche you are not cut out for life outside of cloistered academia.

hombre said...

I had the misfortune to clerk for the Senior Judge of the Eastern District of California out of law school.

"Misfortune" because he was intelligent, honorable and hard-working. With few exceptions, the judges I knew and appeared before over the next thirty years failed to measure up in any of those categories. They did, however, excel in arrogance and judicial avant gardism that was an extension of the arrogance.

The letters remind me of them.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

The irritatingly-specific info is still not helpful. So I went to the wrong law school and didn't rank high enough in my class?

"Dick move" it is (with apologies to the men); there is absolutely no reason to include that information except to hurt. I've been on a search committee or two, and we would never have sent out a rejection letter openly telling a losing candidate why the other person won.

David said...

Pointlessly Specific is a great category.

Got my vote.

Zach said...

Poor move by the judge.

1) 3rd in his class * 25 top tier law schools = 75 people with identical credentials. Round it up to a hundred. In football terms, that's a third round draft choice. Not good enough to justify bragging to strangers.

2) As an unsuccessful applicant, all I really need to know is whether I'm being actively considered or not. A polite but timely form letter is better than sugarcoating bad news.

3) There's a subtext here of "you got beat out by a better guy" that is just arrogant and rude. I mean, if you found somebody you like better, good for you. But trying to make me agree that the other guy is better than me is just disrespectful. One thing in favor of the old "We had many wonderful applicants..." cliche is that it doesn't try to make anybody feel like they weren't one of the wonderful applicants.

Zach said...

Poor move by the judge.

1) 3rd in his class * 25 top tier law schools = 75 people with identical credentials. Round it up to a hundred. In football terms, that's a third round draft choice. Not good enough to justify bragging to strangers.

2) As an unsuccessful applicant, all I really need to know is whether I'm being actively considered or not. A polite but timely form letter is better than sugarcoating bad news.

3) There's a subtext here of "you got beat out by a better guy" that is just arrogant and rude. I mean, if you found somebody you like better, good for you. But trying to make me agree that the other guy is better than me is just disrespectful. One thing in favor of the old "We had many wonderful applicants..." cliche is that it doesn't try to make anybody feel like they weren't one of the wonderful applicants.

Carl Pham said...

Good heavens, apparently newly hatched lawyers have incredibly thin skins. That's supposed to be a terrible cruel job rejection? Pathetic. Any 19-year-old looking for minimum-wage jobs has heard far worse about two dozen times, particularly in this economy. And, given the truly awful things lawyers say about other people -- just for money, just part of the job, hon! Don't take it personally! -- the hypocrisy reeks.

Hey, it's part of the job, law people. Don't take it personally, ok?

As for the reasoning behind the letter: the coupling of the last two sentences suggests to me (since I've been on both sides of that rejection problem) merely a sincere but ultimately clumsy attempt to make the rejected applicant feel better. The judge (or whoever wrote it for him) is trying to say hey, this was a freaking lottery ticket! Don't feel bad, you were competing with supermen, it's no shame that you lost this round.

Because, in fact, it isn't humiliating to lose a game of one-on-one to Michael Jordan, or ski downhill slower than Lindsey Vonn. (Unless, of course, you consider yourself in their class -- and one would assume the judge assumed his applicants were a little more humbler than that.)

It doesn't work, of course. It's too poorly written to be make its writer's intentions clear, and it easily comes across as snide, particularly if you have a very thin skin, are prone to feeling sorry for yourself, and don't give the guy an ounce of benefit of the doubt (so basically you probably deserve to get a letter that brings you down a peg or two, ironically). But I do not think the idea was to be nasty, or arrogant.

Zach said...

The judge (or whoever wrote it for him) is trying to say hey, this was a freaking lottery ticket! Don't feel bad, you were competing with supermen, it's no shame that you lost this round.

That's why it's a faux pas. The judge is taking it upon himself to make negative comparisons he doesn't need to make.

It's like a girl saying "Sorry, but Bob here is three inches taller than you and has a better job." Just because it's true doesn't make it polite.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Dick move" it is (with apologies to the men); there is absolutely no reason to include that information except to hurt. I've been on a search committee or two, and we would never have sent out a rejection letter openly telling a losing candidate why the other person won.
----------

The judge is telling the applicant the hire was based on qualifications, not diversity hiring. It's a good move, nothing impolite about it at all.

I've been told, to my face, that a 'minority' journalist was hired over me based on 'diversity needs' (Florida newspaper, early 9os, it's been laying off in past years).

That sucks.
Opened my eyes too...

Mary E. Glynn said...

Everybody thought a pretty blonde wite girl got where she got based on looks and white privilege...


Nevermind the years of hard work and clips -- they wanted a black person with a month-long minority journalism internship. You can see the results in 'newscoverage' today...

Michael said...

This is what we are being driven to by the victimization industry: the judge seemed to feel he needed a clearly "objective" reason. The worst part is that he may actually have hired the person with the fancy credentials over someone he thought was more creative, intuitive, personable (whatever) simply in order to be able to justify his choice if challenged. The letter is still rude, but understandable.

Nichevo said...

Well Mary, how pretty are you? Would you really want to be hired for that reason? Would you want to work for the man, or woman, who would hire you for that reason? (if so, are you doing anything tonight?) You'd work all right, whether I had any law for you to do would be another question. Careful what you wish for. Incidentally if I made it clear I would expect sex if I hired you, and of course if you agreed, is there any way that is legal? Come to think of it, why can't I bang my secretary or an associate if they're game?

Sorry you got passed over. I was highest SAT rejected at Harvard in my year. I assume...I used to assume an AA or a legacy got my spot, or someone better at gaming the admissions process...But I don't know, and it's froth on my life's wake. I hope you made out ok too.

feministe said...

On one hand, I thought the rejection letter was self-aggrandizing, not all that impressive as to the hired candidate (first-tier is way too broad to suggest that the hired candidate hailed from a particularly competitive law school), AND intended to hurt the recipients - three strikes in one. But then I realized that I was once rejected for a position where I narrowly lost out to a SCOTUS clerk - I was at once flattered to have come so close, and I took the rejection less personally after hearing that (it seemed objectively more fair to me). So sometimes more information of this sort can be beneficial to candidates - but probably not in a self-aggrandizing mass rejection letter/email.

frpeter said...

Ah, judges. I retired a while ago from a place where all those judges clerks (who during most of their tenure refuse to even acknowledge the existence of other people) send reams of resumes begging for jobs. At a retirement party, two judges asked me how I liked retirement. (My retirement is complete-no more law at all.) I told them that it was interesting-they were not as funny or interesting as they used to be. One laughed, the other (new at the job) just stared. Good times, good times.

frpeter said...

Ah, judges. I retired a while ago from a place where all those judges clerks (who during most of their tenure refuse to even acknowledge the existence of other people) send reams of resumes begging for jobs. At a retirement party, two judges asked me how I liked retirement. (My retirement is complete-no more law at all.) I told them that it was interesting-they were not as funny or interesting as they used to be. One laughed, the other (new at the job) just stared. Good times, good times.

frpeter said...

Ah, judges. I retired a while ago from a place where all those judges clerks (who during most of their tenure refuse to even acknowledge the existence of other people) send reams of resumes begging for jobs. At a retirement party, two judges asked me how I liked retirement. (My retirement is complete-no more law at all.) I told them that it was interesting-they were not as funny or interesting as they used to be. One laughed, the other (new at the job) just stared. Good times, good times.

frpeter said...

Ah, judges. I retired a while ago from a place where all those judges clerks (who during most of their tenure refuse to even acknowledge the existence of other people) send reams of resumes begging for jobs. At a retirement party, two judges asked me how I liked retirement. (My retirement is complete-no more law at all.) I told them that it was interesting-they were not as funny or interesting as they used to be. One laughed, the other (new at the job) just stared. Good times, good times.