LOR from Employer vs Professor

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby bernard97 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:46 pm

I'm planning on applying for law school this cycle and I've been trying to decide what I should do with my letters of recommendation. I'm aware of the accepted rule of getting two letters from professors if you are heading to school straight out of undergrad, but I am a little concerned with the quality of recommendations I would get that way.

I have one letter from a professor who I know very well, and another letter from my internship supervisor from this past summer. I assume both are very well written and shine me in a great light because they both think very highly of me.

I know I can get a letter from another professor, but unfortunately I just don't know any others as well. This is one of those disadvantages of going to a large state school. Do you think I should just stick with the two I currently have or attempt to find what could possibly be a subpar letter from another professor?

Thanks for all of your input!

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby sarahh » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:12 pm

I would go with the professor for the second letter. If you are going straight from undergrad, I think having a non-academic letter will stick out in a negative way. On the other hand, having an average letter from a professor probably won't hurt you. And I think you can get a decent letter even if you don't know the professor well. Schedule an appointment so you can provide more information about yourself. Give him/her with copies of your work from the class, your personal statement, and resume. Save the internship letter for if you get waitlisted.

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby 4for44 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:28 pm

Having only one academic letter can mean 3 things to adcomms if you are straight out of undergrad.
1) While your GPA may be high, you cant find 2 professors to rave about you. (i.e. you may have coasted)
2) You didn't pay for application help, and were never told it would matter (i.e. you dont fit in this category, you are on TLS)
3) You think that your WE recommender can offer a more diverse view off you as an individual, more so than any professor, and rather than waste adcomms time with 2 letters about academic prowess, you wanted them to see another side of you. (this is risky in that the recommendation better be awesome.)

I don't fully understand the "we want to see your are diverse, but give us similar LORs" argument... but thats why I'm submitting not reviewing apps I guess :)

FWIW I am currently applying with 3 rec, only one professor, and using #3 as my rationale... lets hope it works... haha

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby 1Levening2013 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:41 pm

you'll definitely want 2 from professors, and if you want to (are required to) include a third, then you can use the one from your boss...people on here do not say this b/c its what they think is right, they say it b/c it is the standard...someone was asking a similar question yesterday, and here is what i posted...

fwiw...i was 5 years out when i applied, and i had no strong ties to any professors from UG. you just need to man up, write them an email, tell them a little bit about yourself and what you're doing, attach your resume and hopefully an old paper or something that you did for their class. if you really want to impress/if its possible, go visit with them back at your college for a short meeting--this could make the difference b/w an original or generic letter

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby wjun15 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:07 pm

i graduated winter of 09'. am i considered "straight outta undergrad" in this case? I have only one from professor and can get one from ex-employer

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:08 pm

sarahhope82 wrote:I would go with the professor for the second letter. If you are going straight from undergrad, I think having a non-academic letter will stick out in a negative way.

I think this is true.

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Re: LOR from Employer vs Professor

Postby acrossthelake » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:55 pm


Should I use non-academic references?
This is going to be school-dependant and something you might consider asking individual schools about. If you don't want to call, scour for Dean interviews. For example, this response from Yale:
"Academic references are going to carry the most weight. Period. Particularly if you have a weaker part of your application, you really need to have phenomenal academic references who are willing to vouch for your performance as a student. If you’ve been out of school for a few years, I would suggest going back to your college professors and seeing if anyone would be willing to write one for you. If you think you’re going to be out of school for a while before you apply to law school, then plan ahead and get some professors to write you letters of recommendations now and place them on file with your undergraduate institution or set up an LSDAS account and let LSAC store them for you for up to five years.

I think only as a last resort -- you’ve been out of school for 10 years, none of your college professors remember you, etc. -- only then should you seek out employer recommendations that will speak to the kinds of things that an academic reference will. So, you’d want your employer to address writing and analytical skill, your intellectual curiosity, etc. Obviously, the closer they can be to the legal field, the better it will be for you. So if you’ve been a paralegal in a law office or worked for a judge, then that might be helpful, again, as a last resort."--Dean Asha from AdmissionsDean --LinkRemoved-- ... a-rangappa

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