LOR emphasis

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
sangr
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LOR emphasis

Postby sangr » Sun May 02, 2010 3:55 am

ok so i asked my professor to write an LOR, then he asked me for

my resume and whatevers needed.

So in terms of whatevers needed.. should I request that he write about my writing skills/ intellectual prowess?

what exactly is the MAIN focal point about an LOR?

i dont know what the heck hes gonna do with my resume cuz theres nothing law related...
so i dont want him goin off about useless points (interning at a hotel, etc)..if that IS useless..

thanks!

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vanwinkle
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby vanwinkle » Sun May 02, 2010 3:59 am

The main focal point of an LOR is that you're able to find 2 or 3 people who're in positions of authority and are willing to vouch for your character. It's a fairly simple requirement and has two possible outcomes:

Good LORs: They don't hurt your application.
Weak, scathing, disapproving, or otherwise bad LORs: They murder your cycle and leave you weeping.

Really, as long as they don't say anything negative about you, you'll be fine.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby quickquestionthanks » Sun May 02, 2010 4:14 am

Above is true. I would add that the LORs can help balance your application, especially if you're a few years out of school or a non-traditional candidate.

I had a lowish GPA, so I had a professor who really liked me and respected me as a thinker write an LOR, and a somewhat high profile employer write about my work ethic.

If your personal statement is about your personal life or community service, I'd ask your professor to speak about your academic prowess, etc. In my experience, professors are fine with the student giving topic suggestions.

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Knock
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby Knock » Sun May 02, 2010 4:15 am

vanwinkle wrote:The main focal point of an LOR is that you're able to find 2 or 3 people who're in positions of authority and are willing to vouch for your character. It's a fairly simple requirement and has two possible outcomes:

Good LORs: They don't hurt your application.
Weak, scathing, disapproving, or otherwise bad LORs: They murder your cycle and leave you weeping.

Really, as long as they don't say anything negative about you, you'll be fine.


good post. I need to get on my LOR's too.

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Sun May 02, 2010 7:44 pm

sangr wrote:ok so i asked my professor to write an LOR, then he asked me for

my resume and whatevers needed.

So in terms of whatevers needed.. should I request that he write about my writing skills/ intellectual prowess?

what exactly is the MAIN focal point about an LOR?


i dont know what the heck hes gonna do with my resume cuz theres nothing law related...
so i dont want him goin off about useless points (interning at a hotel, etc)..if that IS useless..

thanks!


Yes yes yes! Tell him exactly what to write about, give him a frame so he does not step outside the borders and screw you up!

Let me run and go find what I said to my professors after verifying on the phone, live, that they would actually be able to give me GREAT letters of recommendation in the first place. Thank God no one I contacted thus far sounded wishy washy, but had they, I would have found someone else and let them off the hook.

brb

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Sun May 02, 2010 8:04 pm

OP check your pm.

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Sun May 02, 2010 8:22 pm

Okay decided to post out here as well...here's an excerpt of my letter, cause multiple sources I read said to get specific as far as making it clear what the professors need to address. Including a weakness. Also note in the last paragraph what you need to be sending to your professors, not just your resume. I sent the transcript in word with the class I took with them highlighted and its grade, the better to jog their memory. They can either have taught you for more than one class but you got a higher grade in one, or they teach many...or taught many since you last had them.

February 5, 2010

Dear Professor XXX,
As you might remember, I was a student in your XXX class at XXX University in the [INSERT SEMESTER HERE] of [INSERT YEAR HERE]. I greatly enjoyed your course and received a high grade in it.
Law schools have a rigorous application process and require an excellent letter of recommendation from a professor. I would be honored if you would be willing to write a very strong letter of recommendation for me. Please call me with any questions you might have about what needs to be in the letter or how to sign, seal, and deliver the letter. Explanations of the vital importance of law school letters of recommendation and points to use in framing a letter that will give me an edge over all other applicants are included in the following link on how to write a law school letter of recommendation:
--LinkRemoved--
Generally the letter needs to give your opinion of my intellect, writing ability, and analytical ability, as well as any opinion you have on my ability to overcome adverse circumstances, as well as specific examples you have seen in your class or otherwise where I have produced or said or done something that substantiates your opinion. It also needs to address whether and why you think I will be successful during the rigors of law school.
Please also address one weakness you feel I need to work on or have worked on over time (for example, XYZ; however, you could balance this out with the fact that I XXYYZZ).
I will be waiving my right to see these letters before you send them in to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). However, I will need three extra copies of the letter because I intend to apply to scholarships as well and I have already seen that some of them will require this. If you could make sure to save the original in your email or on a disk or hard drive in case it is needed again later on, I would really appreciate it. A cover sheet signed by me that I will download from the LSAC and mail to you must be in the envelope with the letter going to the LSAC for them to attach your letter to my electronic records. Please make sure not to seal that letter without putting this form inside. Of course the letter must in all cases be on school letterhead and include some mention of your credentials. Once sealed all must have your signature across the seal. The letter should be about 1.5 to 2 pages total.
Attached in a .zip folder are my transcripts, my secondary essay explaining why I am choosing law (the main essay, the personal statement, is still in the works), my resume, and two of my final projects from the [INSERT SEMESTER HERE] of [INSERT YEAR HERE]. I will need the letter by [INSERT DAY AND DATE HERE]. Later on, schools may have separate forms that also need to be filled out; I will send these to you if or as needed. Thank you in advance!



These are professors I had already warned that the law school recommendations have very nitpicky rules and specifications...so none of them would have been surprised by the level of detail in my request.

And I don't have to wonder what exactly they wrote, because if they followed this and the information in the link, they wrote what needed to be written...and the attached final projects/cases I emailed with this letter certainly gave examples then and there of everything in bold underline (except adverse circumstance, which they know from remembering me as a person, which is why I made sure talk to them on the phone first).

If you are in your UG's city, go see them. I am not so I had to do phone then email. But in this email I had also attached a pic of me since more than a year has passed since I graduated, that way they could put a solid face with the voice from the phone. Just covering every base possible.

And be prepared for you to give them a one month deadline and them to take 2, 3, and 4 months to get it done. And I would find it rude to rush them, so if you are applying in fall, definitely get these all done and showing up in LSDAS before the summer is out.

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malfurion
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby malfurion » Sun May 02, 2010 9:02 pm

Maybe I'm off base here, but I couldn't imagine trying to tell a recommender what to write in their letter like that. Seems like it would come across as insulting at worst, and high-maintenance (?) at best. If the person is a professor, they've done this many times before. By "whatever needed" I would assume he was talking about the specifics of what forms he needed to fill out, whether he needed to submit via email/website/hardcopy, etc.

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Sun May 02, 2010 9:56 pm

malfurion wrote:Maybe I'm off base here, but I couldn't imagine trying to tell a recommender what to write in their letter like that. Seems like it would come across as insulting at worst, and high-maintenance (?) at best. If the person is a professor, they've done this many times before. By "whatever needed" I would assume he was talking about the specifics of what forms he needed to fill out, whether he needed to submit via email/website/hardcopy, etc.


Law school recommendations want more than regular recommendations. I find that excessive as well but since I have to waive my right to see it, I am going to make sure they are very clear on what it is suppose to address, because if not it could be about ANYthing.

And as I said, I briefly covered this in my conversation with them, and told them I would send the details of it (including things I am sure are not common such as signing across the seal of the envelope, which LSAC requires) to their email...that way they know they don't have to remember all that in their heads. My research showed that professors actually want you to make this as EASY for them as possible, and as I was out of school for a little while now...I can't expect them to to just manufacture greatness off the tops of their heads without a well-defined context.

Matter of fact despite all the detail one of them kept playing phone tag with me to get straight exactly how he was suppose to sign/seal/mail cause he didn't want to screw it up.

I can't see what they write, and my gpa is above a 3.0 but low for law school purposes so everything else needs to be very nice.

And two of them are foreigners like me, and one is is a prof that doesn't really act like a prof. (seems kind of younger than the other PhD holders)...they tend to be ok with less PC pussyfooting around subjects. Trust me I know my audience, they are fine with how I talk....so no they won't be insulted, if anything it will be nice that I save them the time and energy of having to brainstorm several paragraphs of praise.

Diff. strokes for diff. folks though. The OP was clearly completely lost and I know this is one area no one gives concrete answers, and I don't like that. So I helped him the way I helped myself. I don't have to worry what my LORs say because I made it easy for them, and I only asked professors in classes where there are clearly examples of me standing out from the crowd. I was either one of a few As or the best student in the class.

And, I addressed what materials need to be included in your request to the professor...and even drew attention to it (last paragraph of the letter, and in the email they would have seen the .zip file anyway to know I sent a bunch of stuff). So I have answered everything he needed.

smittytron3k
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby smittytron3k » Sun May 02, 2010 10:03 pm

instead of that overwrought and high-maintenance letter try this:

"Dear Professor Smith,

My name is John Doe. I was in your US History Class Fall 2008 and am currently applying to law school. I am wondering if you would be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation on my behalf. I would be happy to talk about specifics by email or come in to your office at your convenience. Thank you and I hope all is well.

Best,

John"

also for fucks sake law school recs do not have "very nitpicky specifications" other than including the form from the LSAC for tracking purposes. if they do no one told me about them and i got into HYS (thinly veiled brag).

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Knock
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby Knock » Sun May 02, 2010 11:57 pm

legalized wrote:
malfurion wrote:Maybe I'm off base here, but I couldn't imagine trying to tell a recommender what to write in their letter like that. Seems like it would come across as insulting at worst, and high-maintenance (?) at best. If the person is a professor, they've done this many times before. By "whatever needed" I would assume he was talking about the specifics of what forms he needed to fill out, whether he needed to submit via email/website/hardcopy, etc.


Law school recommendations want more than regular recommendations. I find that excessive as well but since I have to waive my right to see it, I am going to make sure they are very clear on what it is suppose to address, because if not it could be about ANYthing.

And as I said, I briefly covered this in my conversation with them, and told them I would send the details of it (including things I am sure are not common such as signing across the seal of the envelope, which LSAC requires) to their email...that way they know they don't have to remember all that in their heads. My research showed that professors actually want you to make this as EASY for them as possible, and as I was out of school for a little while now...I can't expect them to to just manufacture greatness off the tops of their heads without a well-defined context.

Matter of fact despite all the detail one of them kept playing phone tag with me to get straight exactly how he was suppose to sign/seal/mail cause he didn't want to screw it up.

I can't see what they write, and my gpa is above a 3.0 but low for law school purposes so everything else needs to be very nice.

And two of them are foreigners like me, and one is is a prof that doesn't really act like a prof. (seems kind of younger than the other PhD holders)...they tend to be ok with less PC pussyfooting around subjects. Trust me I know my audience, they are fine with how I talk....so no they won't be insulted, if anything it will be nice that I save them the time and energy of having to brainstorm several paragraphs of praise.

Diff. strokes for diff. folks though. The OP was clearly completely lost and I know this is one area no one gives concrete answers, and I don't like that. So I helped him the way I helped myself. I don't have to worry what my LORs say because I made it easy for them, and I only asked professors in classes where there are clearly examples of me standing out from the crowd. I was either one of a few As or the best student in the class.

And, I addressed what materials need to be included in your request to the professor...and even drew attention to it (last paragraph of the letter, and in the email they would have seen the .zip file anyway to know I sent a bunch of stuff). So I have answered everything he needed.


For me at least, this and your previous post were EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much! I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing with me (in pm if you like) the full letter since I believe you said that was an excerpt. Also, could you possibly go into detail with what materials you included in your request to your professor.

Thanks again, I really appreciate it! I was feeling a little lost and confused concerning the whole LOR aspect of my application, but you have really helped me out.

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Mon May 03, 2010 9:47 am

Knockglock wrote:
legalized wrote:
malfurion wrote:Maybe I'm off base here, but I couldn't imagine trying to tell a recommender what to write in their letter like that. Seems like it would come across as insulting at worst, and high-maintenance (?) at best. If the person is a professor, they've done this many times before. By "whatever needed" I would assume he was talking about the specifics of what forms he needed to fill out, whether he needed to submit via email/website/hardcopy, etc.


Law school recommendations want more than regular recommendations. I find that excessive as well but since I have to waive my right to see it, I am going to make sure they are very clear on what it is suppose to address, because if not it could be about ANYthing.

And as I said, I briefly covered this in my conversation with them, and told them I would send the details of it (including things I am sure are not common such as signing across the seal of the envelope, which LSAC requires) to their email...that way they know they don't have to remember all that in their heads. My research showed that professors actually want you to make this as EASY for them as possible, and as I was out of school for a little while now...I can't expect them to to just manufacture greatness off the tops of their heads without a well-defined context.

Matter of fact despite all the detail one of them kept playing phone tag with me to get straight exactly how he was suppose to sign/seal/mail cause he didn't want to screw it up.

I can't see what they write, and my gpa is above a 3.0 but low for law school purposes so everything else needs to be very nice.

And two of them are foreigners like me, and one is is a prof that doesn't really act like a prof. (seems kind of younger than the other PhD holders)...they tend to be ok with less PC pussyfooting around subjects. Trust me I know my audience, they are fine with how I talk....so no they won't be insulted, if anything it will be nice that I save them the time and energy of having to brainstorm several paragraphs of praise.

Diff. strokes for diff. folks though. The OP was clearly completely lost and I know this is one area no one gives concrete answers, and I don't like that. So I helped him the way I helped myself. I don't have to worry what my LORs say because I made it easy for them, and I only asked professors in classes where there are clearly examples of me standing out from the crowd. I was either one of a few As or the best student in the class.

And, I addressed what materials need to be included in your request to the professor...and even drew attention to it (last paragraph of the letter, and in the email they would have seen the .zip file anyway to know I sent a bunch of stuff). So I have answered everything he needed.


For me at least, this and your previous post were EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much! I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing with me (in pm if you like) the full letter since I believe you said that was an excerpt. Also, could you possibly go into detail with what materials you included in your request to your professor.

Thanks again, I really appreciate it! I was feeling a little lost and confused concerning the whole LOR aspect of my application, but you have really helped me out.


I know, and you're welcome. :)

@ smitty: congrats on HYS even though it was a brag. But the example lines you gave ask the professor to talk about the specifics by email or in person and leaves it up to the professor...hello, instead of asking if he wants specifics by email, I just gave him specifics after making sure to talk by phone first and ok it there. How is what you are suggesting any different from what I already did, aside from dragging out the process by a few more emails? It's like people who leave a voicemail saying they have something to tell you...why leave a voicemail if you not going to state why it is you actually called? Maybe that roundabout way worked for you, but then again maybe you got into HYS on the strength of GPA/LSAT alone and had mediocre LORs, we don't know. If you are giving them the details in an extra email or in another conversation in person as your example suggests, that is actually in the end the same as me talking to them on the phone first and giving them the details in that first email. Either way the points in my email have to be discussed, yes? So I get to the point ASAP. Again, keep in mind a live phone conversation including all the general small talk and catching up was done before that email you're reading. So take it in context they knew a detailed email was coming.

Law schools, from the research I've done on ls LORs, have specific things they ARE looking for in the LORs, not just that you have one. So yeah, you can have an ok one that's as generic as that letter you put up there, or you can have one that has some fire under its tail because you gave the professor some scope and an end goal to work with... Instead of emailing to ask to come by and talk to them about if they will write it, track down their phone number or office hours and get them to ok doing your letter live. Then email confirming that and giving them the extra materials they should have. Not to mention creating a paper trail for yourself in case you need to figure out who you asked, who you sent what materials, and how long it's been since you asked them. I know you men don't walk around with planners (many of you, anyway) so how else you going to track who got what if you can't search your email inbox and check dates and attachments?

I gave them what I want in my LOR...no vagueness or wishywashy-ness. If it's high maintenance that's how it is but then again this whole ls process is high maintenance, and I don't want easygoing LORs, I want high maintenance LORs. Some of us need to do more work to stand out in this process than do others. People can of course adjust what I said according to how they feel their audience will take it but if you are cool with the professor in the first place and simply make him aware that you are going to send a detailed explanation of what the letter should have since you won't be reading it over, they will not be caught off guard by it.

And we are future lawyers since when is there such a thing as too much detail? lol

Back to knockglock. Click the hyperlink and check out what they say (the one in my post)...what I sent as my "LOR packet":
Attached in a .zip folder are my transcripts, my secondary essay explaining why I am choosing law (the main essay, the personal statement, is still in the works), my resume, and two of my final projects from the [INSERT SEMESTER HERE] of [INSERT YEAR HERE]


The final project is any term report or individual case study you had to do in their class at the end of the semester (or even from another class if their class had nothing more than an in-class final exam to cap it off). Or any major write-up you had for their class, final or not.

Since some email systems reject emails over a certain size, I recommend putting them in one folder by themselves, then making it a .zip folder so you can attach the folder as if it's one file.

And just like when mailing off any other important document(s), copy yourself on it so you have it exactly as you sent it to them, and in case they don't get the email or accidentally delete it or what have you.
Last edited by legalized on Mon May 03, 2010 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

legalized
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby legalized » Mon May 03, 2010 9:48 am

Knockglock wrote:
legalized wrote:
malfurion wrote:Maybe I'm off base here, but I couldn't imagine trying to tell a recommender what to write in their letter like that. Seems like it would come across as insulting at worst, and high-maintenance (?) at best. If the person is a professor, they've done this many times before. By "whatever needed" I would assume he was talking about the specifics of what forms he needed to fill out, whether he needed to submit via email/website/hardcopy, etc.


Law school recommendations want more than regular recommendations. I find that excessive as well but since I have to waive my right to see it, I am going to make sure they are very clear on what it is suppose to address, because if not it could be about ANYthing.

And as I said, I briefly covered this in my conversation with them, and told them I would send the details of it (including things I am sure are not common such as signing across the seal of the envelope, which LSAC requires) to their email...that way they know they don't have to remember all that in their heads. My research showed that professors actually want you to make this as EASY for them as possible, and as I was out of school for a little while now...I can't expect them to to just manufacture greatness off the tops of their heads without a well-defined context.

Matter of fact despite all the detail one of them kept playing phone tag with me to get straight exactly how he was suppose to sign/seal/mail cause he didn't want to screw it up.

I can't see what they write, and my gpa is above a 3.0 but low for law school purposes so everything else needs to be very nice.

And two of them are foreigners like me, and one is is a prof that doesn't really act like a prof. (seems kind of younger than the other PhD holders)...they tend to be ok with less PC pussyfooting around subjects. Trust me I know my audience, they are fine with how I talk....so no they won't be insulted, if anything it will be nice that I save them the time and energy of having to brainstorm several paragraphs of praise.

Diff. strokes for diff. folks though. The OP was clearly completely lost and I know this is one area no one gives concrete answers, and I don't like that. So I helped him the way I helped myself. I don't have to worry what my LORs say because I made it easy for them, and I only asked professors in classes where there are clearly examples of me standing out from the crowd. I was either one of a few As or the best student in the class.

And, I addressed what materials need to be included in your request to the professor...and even drew attention to it (last paragraph of the letter, and in the email they would have seen the .zip file anyway to know I sent a bunch of stuff). So I have answered everything he needed.


For me at least, this and your previous post were EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much! I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing with me (in pm if you like) the full letter since I believe you said that was an excerpt. Also, could you possibly go into detail with what materials you included in your request to your professor.

Thanks again, I really appreciate it! I was feeling a little lost and confused concerning the whole LOR aspect of my application, but you have really helped me out.


Oh, and that is the full letter, sorry. Excerpt wasn't right, I was only planning on posting a piece of it originally. I just removed info I felt was too identifying ([AND PUT THIS INSTEAD]).

All the same, main thing to keep in mind is to talk to them in real time first, either by phone or in person. Then LET THEM KNOW to expect a detailed email covering everything required for the letter. Don't just blindside them with this long specific email out of nowhere. lol. Then it would be presumptuous and maybe not go over well. :)

And make sure, in this age of viruses and trojans, that you identify the types of attachments you sent them and what they are (in the body of your email). .Zip is not a filename everybody recognizes, and it is just not safe to be opening attachments these days without knowing what they are.

Or, if you are in the same town as the professors, go see them and bring all your materials so you get it all out the way in that one visit. This includes bringing the LSDAS pre-filled cover sheet printed out from LSAC.org with that professor's info on it!

Go read the LOR section of lsac.org for instructions on how to do that. Read the whole site while you're there. I'm serious.

xqhp82
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby xqhp82 » Mon May 03, 2010 10:45 am

one question: does LSAC receive LORs before august/september when the application cycle begins? I'm applying this coming fall, but term is almost finishing now and summer vacation won't finish until early October, which means that I won't be at school for 4 months. If I start to ask professors now and say they get it done in June/July, can they send it to LSAC straight away and so I can have the letters secured in my account early?

cavebat2000
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Re: LOR emphasis

Postby cavebat2000 » Mon May 03, 2010 10:56 am

I'd insert another category or two into Mr. Vanwinkle's.

Good:What he said...
Bad: What he said...
GREAT: What you want...
AMAZING: What you want but probably won't get...

Great LORs are written by people who know you well, are themselves accomplished and capable of writing an excellent LOR, and can say things about you like "Very rarely will I have a student this smart and capable in my class" or "He expressed the kind of leadership that even gave me, an old cynic, hope again."

Amazing LORS are just great LORS written by a legal celebrity or someone very well known in the legal community. Your probably not going to get one of these.

Anyway, there are more options than zen master Vanwinkle says.




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