Recommender FAQ

Hot Topics

Technical

Letters/Recommendation

Hot Topics

  • Why haven't I received an Evite email?

    • Have you already received an Evite? Recommenders receive only ONE Evite email upon the first time any applicant selects you as a recommender. Recommenders do not receive a new Evite every year or every time an applicant uses them because Evite emails reset passwords.
    • Has the applicant applied to a position? For new recommenders, the trigger for an Evite to be sent is when an applicant creates an application for a clerkship or staff attorney position. As each letter of recommendation is associated with a specific application, an applicant must apply to a position before you will receive a request.
    • The Evite may have been filtered by your email server. Please check the junk, trash, bulk, or spam folder(s) in your email account. As the Evite is sent from a server, anti-spam filters sometimes block the Evites and may place the email in a folder other than your Inbox. Look for an email from "oscar@symplicity.gov" with the subject line having the recommenders first and last names followed by "Clerkship Recommendation Requested."
  • Will OSCAR send me an email each time a recommendation request is made?

    No. OSCAR sends you ONE Evite email the first time any applicant requests a letter of recommendation from you through OSCAR. If you want OSCAR to send you an email notification for new recommendation requests and/or pending requests, you can change your account preferences under the My Account tab.

  • Why do I see two types of recommendation requests?

    Applicants use OSCAR to apply to judges for clerkships and/or to staff attorney offices for staff attorney positions. If a requester is applying to a clerkship and a staff attorney position, you will see two requests. To fill a recommendation request, click on Fill Recommendation Requests in the main navigation menu. Next, choose either the Clerkship Recommendations tab or the Staff Attorney Recommendations tab.

  • Can I use the same letters for both judges and staff attorney offices?

    It depends on whether you are uploading a PDF letter or creating a letter using OSCAR's online editor. OSCAR does not distinguish between judge and staff attorney office letters for those uploaded as PDF files, so you can apply the same letter to either category. If you create a letter in OSCAR using the online editor, OSCAR will insert a different salutation block and provide different merge codes depending on whether you are filling a recommendation letter request for a clerkship or staff attorney position.

  • Who can upload letters of recommendation to OSCAR?

    • Only recommenders, faculty assistants, and OSCAR law school administrators can upload letters of recommendation into OSCAR.
    • The OSCAR program does not support the uploading of recommendation letters by applicants. The OSCAR Working Group, a group of federal judges and law school representatives, explicitly designed the system so that recommendation letters remain confidential and are not visible to applicants.
    • The Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) does not support applicants circumventing this process by uploading their own letters of recommendation into OSCAR and does not upload letters on behalf of recommenders.
  • Who do I contact if I have other questions?

    Call the OSCAR Program Office at 866-666-2120 (toll free), Monday through Friday, between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. You can also send questions via email at oscar-support@ao.uscourts.gov.

Technical

  • What file types can be uploaded into OSCAR?

    OSCAR only allows PDF documents to be uploaded into the system. Recommenders can also create letters within OSCAR using the built-in online editor. Recommenders can paste text from a word processing document into the online editor using the Paste as Plain Text feature, which eliminates most hidden codes found within word processing documents.

  • Where can I find help and information on using OSCAR?

    Log into OSCAR and click on the Resources tab towards the top of the screen. The Resources tab provides you access to tip sheets and video tutorials on how to perform certain functions. OSCAR also provides online help available on the Help tab located toward the top of the screen.

  • My name/email address is misspelled. How can this be fixed?

    You can edit your name and contact information by going to the My Account tab after you log into OSCAR.

    To edit your email address, please contact the OSCAR Program Office at oscar-support@ao.uscourts.gov.

Letters/Recommendations

  • Can I check that my letters using merge codes are correctly formatted before submitting them?

    Yes, OSCAR allows you to preview your letters of recommendation as finished PDF files before you click the Submit Recommendation button. Above the Submit Recommendation button, there is a section titled "Attach to Applications" with a numeric list of all the judges or staff attorney offices who will receive this letter. Between the number and the judge's or staff attorney office's name, there is a small PDF icon. Click on this PDF icon to launch Adobe Reader in a new window. You will now see your letter as the judge or staff attorney office will see it; OSCAR will replace the merge codes with the requested data (e.g. the name of the judge).

    • If the merge codes did not display correctly, close the Adobe Reader window and click the Edit Recommendation button in OSCAR to return to the previous screen.
    • If you are satisfied, close the Adobe Reader window and click the Submit Recommendation button.

    NOTE: You must select the Submit Recommendation button to fill the recommendation request.

  • Why aren't the merge codes working for me?

    Merge codes are computer commands, and users must enter them precisely as they are written. The easiest way to fix this issue is to copy the desired merge codes from the Merge Fields listed to the right and paste them into the online editor.

    NOTE: Merge codes only work for those letters entered in the online editor. Merge codes do not work for uploaded PDF files.

  • Can I receive a notification for new requests for letters of recommendation and/or pending requests?

    Yes. In the My Account tab, OSCAR provides two e-mail notification settings that enable you to receive an email notification:

    • For new recommendation requests, select Daily, Weekly, or Never.
    • For a weekly reminder of pending requests, select Yes or No.

    Click the Update Email Notifications button to save your notification selections.

  • I accidentally uploaded the wrong letter. What can I do?

    If the applicant has NOT finalized the application to release it to the judge or staff attorney office, you can delete the letter and upload the letter again:

    • Click on the View Completed Recommendations tab, located at the top of the screen.
    • When the screen refreshes, click on the Clerkship Recommendations or Staff Attorney Recommendations tab.
    • OSCAR will display a list showing all the letters of recommendation that have been filled, first by applicants name and then by judge. Locate the application.
    • Check the box(es) in the left-hand column.
    • Click Delete Recommendations in the Batch Options menu.
    • OSCAR will delete the letters and return the requests to the Fill Recommendation Requests tab where you can upload new letters.
    • Edit or Delete How to Edit or Delete a Completed Letter of Recommendation [VIDEO]
  • How do I see my pending recommendations?

    Click on the Fill Recommendation Requests tab located at the top of the screen to access the clerkship recommendations and staff attorney recommendations. When the screen refreshes, OSCAR will display the names of applicants and the number of new and/or outstanding recommendation requests. For additional information on filling recommendation requests, refer to the following tip sheet(s):

  • How do I submit letters of recommendation?

    Refer to the following tip sheet(s) and video tutorials:

  • An applicant is going to submit more applications. Will my letter be automatically associated with all future requests from the applicant?

    Yes. Follow the normal steps of uploading a letter into the OSCAR system. On the final step, recommenders will have the opportunity to set that letter to automatically fill all future recommendation requests for that applicant.

  • Can I use the same recommendation letter(s) already uploaded?

    Yes. If the letter was uploaded as a PDF or saved as an online editor Template, then the letter may be easily associated with the new requests.

  • How can I create a Template?

    You can save a letter as a template for future use when you enter the letter into the online editor under the Recommendations Requests tab. To do this, enter a name for the letter in the Label field. After you click the Confirm Recommendation button, the letter will be saved as a template. Templates are accessible under the My Templates tab, where you can view, edit, and create letter of recommendation templates. When you fill additional recommendation requests, OSCAR will give you the option to select one of these letter of recommendation templates rather than entering a new letter.

    For additional instructions, refer to the following tip sheets and video tutorials:

  • Can I submit a recommendation letter after the applicant finalizes an application?

    Recommenders can upload letters of recommendation to applications after the applicant finalizes the applications to release them to judges and staff attorneys and up to 30 days after the position close date. Note: OSCAR will display to the judges or staff attorney offices that the letters are pending until they are uploaded.

  • Can I modify a letter of recommendation after the applicant finalizes the application?

    No. Once the applicant finalizes the application to release it to the judge or staff attorney office, those uploaded recommendation letters are locked. However, if a finalized application still has pending requests for letters of recommendation, you can upload the requested letters up to 30 days after the position is closed.

  • Can I have a letter of recommendation automatically attach to future recommendation requests from the applicant?

    Yes. OSCAR allows you to designate your recommendation letter to automatically append to additional applications from that applicant. You can set an expiration date for the letter to append or you can allow the letter to continue attaching to new applications indefinitely.

  • If I made a mistake on setting the recommendation letter to automatically attach to future recommendation requests, can I change the setting?

    Yes. OSCAR allows you to change your setting for letters you set to automatically attach to additional applications from an applicant. For instructions, refer to this tip sheet: