"Targeted letters."

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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FutureApplicant
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Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:14 am

"Targeted letters."

Postby FutureApplicant » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:03 am

Certain law schools in the T14 say that they place "high value" on school-specific letters of recommendation. I am considering whether or not to trouble my professors even further by asking them to write a "targeted" letter in addition to the general one. However, first I was hoping to gain insight on just what a targeted letter is supposed to be. Is it a general letter with the school's name thrown in, plus the appropriate form? Or am I asking someone to write a completely separate letter? What steps, if any, should I take as far as asking for certain targeted information (e.g., "could you please provide some commentary on how my qualifications A,B, and C would make me a great fit for the law school's X-related programs)?

Any insight would be appreciated, I'm really a bit in the dark on this aspect of the application process.

Thanks.

Aggiegrad2011
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Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:42 pm

Re: "Targeted letters."

Postby Aggiegrad2011 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:42 am

Hey there.

I struggled with this myself a couple months ago while preparing my letter writers and got a lot of great TLS advice and so I'd like to distill it down to you!

There are two approaches, generally, for targeted letters:

a. You have a general letter, within which your letter writer changes the "To whom it may concern" or whatnot to something more specific, such as, "To Berkeley Law Admissions" and then adds one or two lines about what the letter writer feels you (the applicant) will add to said law school's overall breadth. This seemed to be the most common targeted letter that I heard about in my discussions with TLS'ers.

b. The ones I went with. A fully tailored letter (or letters) which will demonstrate extensive research on your behalf about the school, and additionally, your letter writer will ideally have knowledge first-hand of the law school also. For example, my two targeted letters were for Boalt and SLS. For Boalt, I chose the professor with whom I had the closest contact for the longest period of time, and who knew I have a strong desire to work on death penalty/community law in LS and beyond, and so that seems like a natural fit in Boalt. For SLS, I chose a professor who was both a Stanford Ph.D. alum and who still has ties (and adjunct professorship) to Stanford. This put her in a unique position to comment on my ability to bring new things to the table, so to speak, at SLS.

I enclosed, with my targeted letter-writers prospectus, a list of reasons why I would like to attend either school (for the respective targeted writers), and what programs were most interesting to me, why, and how I would use the education gained at either school for the betterment of my community and myself.

They additionally wrote general "to all" LoRs for me, so when you ask someone to write both, make sure they know you very well and will do so in a timely manner for you. It is a lot of extra work for them if you're after the (b) option.

Hope this helps!

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FutureApplicant
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Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:14 am

Re: "Targeted letters."

Postby FutureApplicant » Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:11 am

Aggiegrad2011 wrote:Hey there.

I struggled with this myself a couple months ago while preparing my letter writers and got a lot of great TLS advice and so I'd like to distill it down to you!

There are two approaches, generally, for targeted letters:

a. You have a general letter, within which your letter writer changes the "To whom it may concern" or whatnot to something more specific, such as, "To Berkeley Law Admissions" and then adds one or two lines about what the letter writer feels you (the applicant) will add to said law school's overall breadth. This seemed to be the most common targeted letter that I heard about in my discussions with TLS'ers.

b. The ones I went with. A fully tailored letter (or letters) which will demonstrate extensive research on your behalf about the school, and additionally, your letter writer will ideally have knowledge first-hand of the law school also. For example, my two targeted letters were for Boalt and SLS. For Boalt, I chose the professor with whom I had the closest contact for the longest period of time, and who knew I have a strong desire to work on death penalty/community law in LS and beyond, and so that seems like a natural fit in Boalt. For SLS, I chose a professor who was both a Stanford Ph.D. alum and who still has ties (and adjunct professorship) to Stanford. This put her in a unique position to comment on my ability to bring new things to the table, so to speak, at SLS.

I enclosed, with my targeted letter-writers prospectus, a list of reasons why I would like to attend either school (for the respective targeted writers), and what programs were most interesting to me, why, and how I would use the education gained at either school for the betterment of my community and myself.

They additionally wrote general "to all" LoRs for me, so when you ask someone to write both, make sure they know you very well and will do so in a timely manner for you. It is a lot of extra work for them if you're after the (b) option.

Hope this helps!


Thanks for the great advice! Because time is short and I'm living far, far away from where I went to college (i.e. on the other side of the world), I ended up going with option (a). I'm not sure if it will really make much difference, but hope springs eternal :-)




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