LOR Ethics Question

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

Should I revise my UG essays?

No. Your UG essays are like your UG GPA: set in stone.
1
17%
Maybe. Your professor remembers who you are now; ask him what he prefers.
0
No votes
Yes. Let him know you've revised the essays, but otherwise leave your professor alone. You've bugged him enough already.
1
17%
Yes. Don't even bother telling him you've made changes. It's no big deal.
4
67%
 
Total votes: 6

ethical?
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:45 pm

LOR Ethics Question

Postby ethical? » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:20 pm

First, a little bit of background:

I've been out of undergrad for some time and am a splitter, not an extreme splitter but a splitter nonetheless. Yesterday I met with a former professor to ask for a LOR. I'd already emailed this professor twice before but received no response. In my emails, I had mentioned that I was a former student who wanted to discuss the prospects of his writing me a LOR but that making his office hours, which are scheduled once a week in the afternoon, would be difficult because I live over an hour away from my alma mater and have work in the afternoon. The professor states he is willing to make special appointments under his office hours listing on my UG's website, so I didn't feel that it was inappropriate to ask if he could aside some time on a morning that he had free for me to come see him. Anyways, he never replied, and I finally bit the bullet, took some time off work, and attended his regular office hours yesterday. I brought with me my resume, my unofficial transcripts, a signed LSAC recommender form, and copies of the essays I had written for his class.

My time with my professor was very brief. It went something like this:

P: I didn't remember your name when I read your email, but I remember your face. What grade did you get in my class?
Me: An A.
P: (Without looking at any of the papers I had brought with me.) Well, my standard is if you got an A, I'll write you a letter. When do you need it written by?
Me: August. I'm afraid I no longer have the copies of my essays with their original grades and comments.
P: That won't be a problem. You've only taken one class with me, but I like to be able to say I'm broadly familiar with a student's work when I recommend him. Also, I'm terrible at keeping track of papers. Go home, find one other essay from another class that you've taken, and then mail it to me along with the rest of the papers you have here. Then I will write your letter.

I know that this professor is not going to be writing me the best letter in the world. But even though he was brief, he was unequivocal in his willingness to write the letter once he learned of my grade, so I'm hoping the letter will suffice. Of all my professors, this is the one who I actually had the most interaction with and in whose class I probably did my strongest work. My other academic LOR will be written by a TA who I had several classes with and who thinks very highly of me. I will also have one professional LOR to round out my application. I scored 170+ on the LSAT so my goal is T14.

Now to get to my semi-ethics related question. I am a better writer now than I was as an undergraduate. Looking over my old work, I see misplaced modifiers, incorrect punctuation, typos, and all sorts of other grammatical issues that stand in the way of the essays' coherency. Since I don't have the graded copies anyways, would it be wrong to send my professor revised editions of these essays? These essays already received A's when they were first graded. The content would not change and the revisions I would make should, if anything, make his job easier when he sits down to read these 20+ pages. On the one hand, I feel like revising the essays makes sense because they would be more indicative of the quality of work I will actually produce in law school. On the other hand, doing this without telling him seems a little bit like I'm misrepresenting myself. I am considering emailing him once more and asking him directly what he would prefer. Back when I was actually in his class he was very accommodating, but the trouble I've had recently when emailing him makes me hesitant. I certainly don't want to end up with a LOR with lines like "This student did very strong analytical work in my class but can be indecisive and require too much hand holding at times."

What do you all think?

miamiman
Posts: 1486
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:55 pm

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby miamiman » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:25 pm

If this is as signifcant an ethics dilemma as you can present, you're in great shape

memaha
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:23 am

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby memaha » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:26 pm

Wait, why are you trying to get a LOR from him if you already know he isn't going to be writing that great of a letter? From what I read and researched, most adcomms don't mind if your academic LORs are from TAs... they would prefer someone who knew you better over someone with a better title.

ethical?
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:45 pm

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby ethical? » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:30 pm

miamiman wrote:If this is as signifcant an ethics dilemma as you can present, you're in great shape


Yeah, I know it's not something huge; certainly not something I would worry about during character & fitness review. I guess my question should really be what's the most adept way of handling the situation without being dishonest so that my former prof will write me the best letter possible?
Last edited by ethical? on Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

februaryftw
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:01 pm

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby februaryftw » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:41 pm

Rather than ask what he'd prefer, maybe send him revised papers with the acknowledgment of the changes: "I read over the papers and found some typos and small grammatical errors, and have corrected them. If you'd like to see the originals instead, please let me know. Again, the papers received As in their original form..." Just a thought.

I don't think you should correct them and not tell him, though. The revised work might be more indicative of your abilities, but if he thinks it was from years back he might be more impressed than if he knows they were rvevised...

ethical?
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:45 pm

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby ethical? » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:46 pm

memaha wrote:Wait, why are you trying to get a LOR from him if you already know he isn't going to be writing that great of a letter? From what I read and researched, most adcomms don't mind if your academic LORs are from TAs... they would prefer someone who knew you better over someone with a better title.


I'm choosing him because, although the letter won't be great, I feel he will write the greatest letter out of the options I have available. I'm not enough years out of UG to justify not having 2 from academic references. I do think the letter will be somewhat better than a standard BS "I don't really know this student so I'm gonna be really vague in my praise" letter because the class I had with him was really small (less than 20 students) compared to most classes at my huge UG. Also, I have one or two TAs who might write better letters than this prof, but they would only be marginally better. It is only this one TA, who I am already going to get a letter from, who will write me a really great academic letter. Also, those TAs are all from classes I took during my first two years because I have a pretty decent downward trend over my last two. Thus, I am opting for this prof to write the letter because I a) to an extent do want at least one of my letters to have the "prestige" factor of being written by an actual prof and b) I want to show law schools that despite my downward trend I was at least doing high quality work in some of the courses actually related to major.

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neimanmarxist
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Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby neimanmarxist » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:48 pm

yes. i think you should just let him know . be like "oh, i found a few little errors and decided to fix them." then thank him profusely for writing for you, repeatedly if at all possible.

do you think you could get a rec from your boss too, if you get along with him or her? you have 2 academic recs but it might help to have something from someone who knows you now. You've got your academic bases covered but this is something to think about.

ethical?
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:45 pm

Re: LOR Ethics Question

Postby ethical? » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:50 pm

neimanmarxist wrote:yes. i think you should just let him know . be like "oh, i found a few little errors and decided to fix them." then thank him profusely for writing for you, repeatedly if at all possible.

do you think you could get a rec from your boss too, if you get along with him or her? you have 2 academic recs but it might help to have something from someone who knows you now. You've got your academic bases covered but this is something to think about.


Yes, I've already got the professional LOR covered. Thanks for the input.




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