Letters of Recommendation Question

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
bdeans91
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Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby bdeans91 » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:37 am

The search for LOR wasn't working for some reason, so I will ask these questions you may have heard before.

1) IS it necessary to be a research assistant to the prof in order to build the relationship for an LOR, or will class participation/office hours visits/success in the class suffice?

I am asking this because I found the perfect prof. in my major but I am not well versed in the area of his current research so I will not be of help to him (you need to know how to write Java for some reason).

2) How early is acceptable for an LOR?

What if it was written two years before you apply for LS? Does it matter?

3) Of 2-4 LORs, how many need to be profs?

I am asking this because I may have some legal internships during undergrad that I would want to use as LORs, don't ask how, but I will basically be doing grunt work that you don't need to pass the bar or have a JD to do.

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joebloe
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby joebloe » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:50 am

You can do research, but it's not necessary. Participate, go to office hours, and be generally memorable (in a good way). I don't know how far ahead of time you can ask, but it would make sense if adcomms gave weight to more recent letters.

Not all your letters need to be profs- and if you were many years out of UG, it's not uncommon to have zero prof letters. The minimum prof number varies, I think from 0-2, but I don't think schools will reject you out of hand just for not having enough prof recommendations.

Finally, whatever you wind up doing, your GPA matters more.

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TommyK
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby TommyK » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:59 am

You found the perfect prof?

The perfect prof has significantly less to do with research area, prestige, tenure, or anything like that, and significantly more to do with how well he can speak to your abilities that will transfer over to law school.

I'm concerned by how you worded that, that you may be seeking somebody who has a name/title as opposed to somebody with whom you have a relationship and will be able to offer some valuable (and flattering) insight of your abilities.

I'll disagree with joebloe - even if you're out of undergrad for several years, you should still do your best to track down a professor LOR. I've been out of undergrad for 7 years and I was able to find one that remembered me well and you should beat the bushes to find one. Schools REALLY want an academic reference, regardless of your time since undergrad. However, once you're out of undergrad for a few years, it's not uncommon to have an employer write the other one.

The LORs will stay on your LSAC credentialing service. The only problem I foresee is that LSAC recently introduced the evaluation part of the LOR process, which is not required by schools right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if many schools started requiring them. So if you plan on holding off on law school for a few years, but want to collect the LORs, I would collect evaluations as well.

I see the LORs as having diminishing returns beyond two and I probably wouldn't submit four.

bdeans91
Posts: 88
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby bdeans91 » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:05 am

Alright. This is relatively new to me because I am one of those kids who never raises hand in lecture and just gets good grades (note: not a weird antisocial kid either)... Thanks for the tips guys.

And the perfect prof statement was based on pedigree but also more subjective and personal factors... More like the first prof I have been genuinely interested in getting an LOR from.

TommyK, it seems that you made a significant relationship with this prof of yours. How do you go about that while still maintaining a professional student-teacher relationship?

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TommyK
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby TommyK » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:17 am

bdeans91 wrote:Alright. This is relatively new to me because I am one of those kids who never raises hand in lecture and just gets good grades (note: not a weird antisocial kid either)... Thanks for the tips guys.

And the perfect prof statement was based on pedigree but also more subjective and personal factors... More like the first prof I have been genuinely interested in getting an LOR from.

TommyK, it seems that you made a significant relationship with this prof of yours. How do you go about that while still maintaining a professional student-teacher relationship?


It was my senior capstone course. The course had about 12 of us in there. It revolved around discussion and 100% of the grade was based on a paper we wrote at the end. The paper required a lot of research in government documents so I hoped he'd be able to speak to my writing ability as well as my researching abilities. He liked my paper a lot and wanted to publish it with me.

I was far from a stellar student, but that class structure suited me and he respected me. Other people might have other suggestions, but I wouldn't care too much about the professor's pedigree (that he went to harvard for his Ph.D., etc.). I would look for a class that is taught in the socratic method, or the professor has an ability to talk about your research abilities. (Not so much because these things are related to law school closely, but because they give direct avenues for the professor to get to know you.)

But to answer your question, I didn't do anything to maintain the relationship. I wish I had. I was really fortunate that when I stopped by his office hours 7 years later unannounced, he said, "TommyK" without missing a beat. Not sure what I would have done otherwise. I probably would have brought my paper, asked him to assess my abilities after reading that, and seen if he would have been comfortable with it. But when you spend a semester with somebody and develop a relationship with the person, you usually remember them even a decade later.

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cinephile
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Re: Letters of Recommendation Question

Postby cinephile » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:37 am

bdeans91 wrote:The search for LOR wasn't working for some reason, so I will ask these questions you may have heard before.

1) IS it necessary to be a research assistant to the prof in order to build the relationship for an LOR, or will class participation/office hours visits/success in the class suffice?


It is necessary to have a relationship with the professor to get a decent LOR, but that doesn't mean you need to be an RA or TA for this prof. I picked my recommenders from a couple of small seminars I took where it was up to the students to guide this discussion. Because of this, these profs got to know me and my ideas/ability to express myself really well.

If you really like this professor, maybe you could take another class with him/her before graduation.




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