Writing your own LOR?

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LaBelleBarrister
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Writing your own LOR?

Postby LaBelleBarrister » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:44 pm

I work for a contracting company and approached my branch manager about writing a LOR for law school on my behalf. He was more than happy to, actually, but asked that I draft the letter for him that includes the necessary information and said that he would edit and enhance it into a final document.

I have never done this before, and all of my previous people who wrote LORs on my behalf did it on their own. Are there any rules/guidelines for writing your own LOR? Have any of you done this in the past? What do you think it is important to include while writing your own LOR? What are law schools really looking for in a LOR, do you think? And lastly, how long should it be?

Thanks so much in advance, guys! :D

Ti Malice
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby Ti Malice » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:03 pm

How many academic LORs do you have? To the extent that law schools care about LORs at all, they want to see academic evaluations more than anything else. Most employer LORs are pretty useless. What are your duties in your job, and what are the most impressive things your branch manager has seen you do?

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jbagelboy
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:31 pm

Ti Malice wrote:How many academic LORs do you have? To the extent that law schools care about LORs at all, they want to see academic evaluations more than anything else. Most employer LORs are pretty useless. What are your duties in your job, and what are the most impressive things your branch manager has seen you do?


This, plus, in order for an LOR to be at all valid, you have to waive rights to see it. I'm not sure how you could ever waive rights to see an LOR and be its primary author. Seems a pretty bad ethical breach. If your manager isn't willing to pen the letter him/herself, I'd ask someone else.

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jas1503
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby jas1503 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:15 pm

I had to do the same thing for a professor who wrote my LOR.

Just write about: your strengths, your goals, your reasoning for choosing law school, and what you learned from the person who is writing your LOR.


S(he) just wants a guideline to help tailor the LOR in a way that enhances your personal statement.

bp shinners
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby bp shinners » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:47 am

jbagelboy wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:How many academic LORs do you have? To the extent that law schools care about LORs at all, they want to see academic evaluations more than anything else. Most employer LORs are pretty useless. What are your duties in your job, and what are the most impressive things your branch manager has seen you do?


This, plus, in order for an LOR to be at all valid, you have to waive rights to see it. I'm not sure how you could ever waive rights to see an LOR and be its primary author. Seems a pretty bad ethical breach. If your manager isn't willing to pen the letter him/herself, I'd ask someone else.


Waiving your rights to see something doesn't mean that you're not allowed to see it. It just means that you aren't guaranteed to ability to do so. If the writer sends you a copy, you don't have to report yourself to the Bar for an ethics violation if you open it and see it (unless they've changed the language on the waiver form recently). There might be other ethical issues (though I don't think there are), but this ain't one of 'em.

As far as writing your own letter, it happens a lot more than people think. Every year, at least a handful of students with whom I work have a professor or employer who asks them to do this. It's very common with employers, especially outside the legal world, because they don't know what to write and don't have the time to look it up, and they don't want to write something that's wholly irrelevant.

If you feel wonky about writing the letter, providing a general outline of the information to be submitted usually works (so an outline of the skills you'd like him to discuss in each paragraph, along with some info about law school letters of rec in general). If he asks for more than that, you can write a draft of the essay (though be careful that it's not the in the same voice that you use to write your PS).

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jbagelboy
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:15 pm

bp shinners wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:How many academic LORs do you have? To the extent that law schools care about LORs at all, they want to see academic evaluations more than anything else. Most employer LORs are pretty useless. What are your duties in your job, and what are the most impressive things your branch manager has seen you do?


This, plus, in order for an LOR to be at all valid, you have to waive rights to see it. I'm not sure how you could ever waive rights to see an LOR and be its primary author. Seems a pretty bad ethical breach. If your manager isn't willing to pen the letter him/herself, I'd ask someone else.


Waiving your rights to see something doesn't mean that you're not allowed to see it. It just means that you aren't guaranteed to ability to do so. If the writer sends you a copy, you don't have to report yourself to the Bar for an ethics violation if you open it and see it (unless they've changed the language on the waiver form recently). There might be other ethical issues (though I don't think there are), but this ain't one of 'em.

As far as writing your own letter, it happens a lot more than people think. Every year, at least a handful of students with whom I work have a professor or employer who asks them to do this. It's very common with employers, especially outside the legal world, because they don't know what to write and don't have the time to look it up, and they don't want to write something that's wholly irrelevant.

If you feel wonky about writing the letter, providing a general outline of the information to be submitted usually works (so an outline of the skills you'd like him to discuss in each paragraph, along with some info about law school letters of rec in general). If he asks for more than that, you can write a draft of the essay (though be careful that it's not the in the same voice that you use to write your PS).


You might be right about the technicalities of "Waiving rights", in which case I apologize, but it's still a shit deal IMO. Not only is this self-inscribing concept gross to me, the quality will almost always be lower than what the professor/employer could produce themselves, so long as you chose your writers wisely. Rarely will the individual him/herself be of significance, so what they say about your work is most crucial. I could not write about myself and come up with better verbiage than my professors could. I did not read their letters, but I know their content was more specific, more genuine, and more complimentary than I could have written about myself, and gave an honest portrayal from someone in a supervisory position of my competency, hard work, intellectualism and professionalism.

Moreover, there isn't a format to these letters that you can "provide". There's no "wholly irrelevant" statements. As far as I'm concerned, the LORS aren't about why you would be a good lawyer. It's about the quality of your work and you as an individual from the eyes of that person. Often professors will want to see a draft of your personal statement or cover letter to get a better idea of what a particular position or program is, but everyone knows about law school. Again, if your recommendation cannot be produced by the individual in question, whether it be because they are too busy, they don't know you well enough, or they don't have much to say about your work, I would suggest finding an alternative.

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guano
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby guano » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:52 pm

I strongly suggest getting a co-worker to write it.
Many adcoms take it with a grain of salt if your LOR is in the same voice as your PS.

That being said, by and large, most schools don't really care about your LORs (unless there's something wrong with them), as long as you have the numbers

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JDndMSW
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby JDndMSW » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:54 pm

Stop being an ass hat jbagelboy. No not everyone knows about law school. Not everyone comes from your elitist ivory tower.
OP if you are uncomfortable writing the letter ask if it would be ok with outlining accomplishments and skills that you have. Offer to send your PS and transcripts. I don't see anything ethical about this because your LOR writer will be the one who goes over it, edits it and by submitting it is saying that he endorses you for those reasons. As long as you aren't submitting it to lsac yourself don't worry. The writer may be still uncomfortable with writing theses types of letters. I had to write my first ones this letter and it took me a long time and I was very anxious about it. Good luck.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:59 pm

Having the applicant draft the letter for the recommender is really common (it may even happen to you in law school) and completely appropriate. Whether the letter will be any good or not depends entirely on the applicant drafting it and what they have to talk about. (And clearly you don't write it in the same voice as your PS. I don't draft stuff for my judge in the same voice I write with here. But also, the recommender edits the final version anyway.)

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jbagelboy
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:01 pm

JDndMSW wrote:Stop being an ass hat jbagelboy. No not everyone knows about law school. Not everyone comes from your elitist ivory tower.
OP if you are uncomfortable writing the letter ask if it would be ok with outlining accomplishments and skills that you have. Offer to send your PS and transcripts. I don't see anything ethical about this because your LOR writer will be the one who goes over it, edits it and by submitting it is saying that he endorses you for those reasons. As long as you aren't submitting it to lsac yourself don't worry. The writer may be still uncomfortable with writing theses types of letters. I had to write my first ones this letter and it took me a long time and I was very anxious about it. Good luck.


I offered to send transcripts, PS, resume, ect. too. Of course it could help frame your application to your profs/employers rec, and help them avoid stating something inaccurate. From what I read from the OP, we are discussing a different sort of involvement. Providing those basics as reference is different from writing the letter yourself or dictating what the reasons are that you are recommendable in lieu of the writer providing their own.

Nothing I said is elitist. To whatever extent letters of recommendation still matter for law school admissions, they are about candid portrayals of your work and who you are intellectually, ethically, ect. from someone who knows you well enough to make an informed statement. They are not lists of accomplishments or reasons why you would be a good lawyer. That's what you are already providing, and a letter that follows your own instruction will have at best zero impact (which is usually fine if your LSAT/GPA are up to par).

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JDndMSW
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby JDndMSW » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:05 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:How many academic LORs do you have? To the extent that law schools care about LORs at all, they want to see academic evaluations more than anything else. Most employer LORs are pretty useless. What are your duties in your job, and what are the most impressive things your branch manager has seen you do?


This, plus, in order for an LOR to be at all valid, you have to waive rights to see it. I'm not sure how you could ever waive rights to see an LOR and be its primary author. Seems a pretty bad ethical breach. If your manager isn't willing to pen the letter him/herself, I'd ask someone else.


Waiving your rights to see something doesn't mean that you're not allowed to see it. It just means that you aren't guaranteed to ability to do so. If the writer sends you a copy, you don't have to report yourself to the Bar for an ethics violation if you open it and see it (unless they've changed the language on the waiver form recently). There might be other ethical issues (though I don't think there are), but this ain't one of 'em.

As far as writing your own letter, it happens a lot more than people think. Every year, at least a handful of students with whom I work have a professor or employer who asks them to do this. It's very common with employers, especially outside the legal world, because they don't know what to write and don't have the time to look it up, and they don't want to write something that's wholly irrelevant.

If you feel wonky about writing the letter, providing a general outline of the information to be submitted usually works (so an outline of the skills you'd like him to discuss in each paragraph, along with some info about law school letters of rec in general). If he asks for more than that, you can write a draft of the essay (though be careful that it's not the in the same voice that you use to write your PS).


You might be right about the technicalities of "Waiving rights", in which case I apologize, but it's still a shit deal IMO. Not only is self-inscribing concept gross to me, the quality will almost always be lower than what the professor/employer could produce themselves, so long as you chose your writers wisely Rarely will the individual him/herself be of significance, so what they say about your work is most crucial. I could not write about myself and come up with better verbiage than my professors could. I did not read their letters, but I know their content was more specific, more genuine, and more complimentary than I could have written about myself, and gave an honest portrayal from someone in a supervisory position of my competency, hard work, intellectualism and professionalism.

Moreover, there isn't a format to these letters that you can "provide". There's no "wholly irrelevant" statements. As far as I'm concerned, the LORS aren't about why you would be a good lawyer. It's about the quality of your work and you as an individual from the eyes of that person. Often professors will want to see a draft of your personal statement or cover letter to get a better idea of what a particular position or program is, but everyone knows about law school. Again, if your recommendation cannot be produced by the individual in question, whether it be because they are too busy, they don't know you well enough, or they don't have much to say about your work, I would suggest finding an alternative.


Ass hat

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:15 pm

jbagelboy wrote:I offered to send transcripts, PS, resume, ect. too. Of course it could help frame your application to your profs/employers rec, and help them avoid stating something inaccurate. From what I read from the OP, we are discussing a different sort of involvement. Providing those basics as reference is different from writing the letter yourself or dictating what the reasons are that you are recommendable in lieu of the writer providing their own.

Nothing I said is elitist. To whatever extent letters of recommendation still matter for law school admissions, they are about candid portrayals of your work and who you are intellectually, ethically, ect. from someone who knows you well enough to make an informed statement. They are not lists of accomplishments or reasons why you would be a good lawyer. That's what you are already providing, and a letter that follows your own instruction will have at best zero impact (which is usually fine if your LSAT/GPA are up to par).

Dude, that horse you're riding is awfully tall. If you don't want to draft your own letters, figure out what you're doing to do when someone agrees to write for you if you draft it. But whether you agree with it or not, it's an accepted practice that saves recommenders time, and produces perfectly reasonable LORs. (Yet again: the recommender gets to edit the damn thing and endorses it by signing it.)

To OP: schools are most interested in your intellectual ability - research, writing, involvement in class - so a branch manager isn't going to be able to comment on that as effectively. Whatever are the closest analogues to that are probably what you'd want to emphasize - in the work context, probably stuff about work ethic, organization, professionalism, problem-solving ability, ability to work with others. Specifics make a LOR strong, so if you can, provide specific examples of each of these things. You could also include internal notes to your recommender in the draft asking them to insert better/other examples they might have from working with you. Also, you might insert a section assessing how you compare to the other employees your recommender has supervised, and ask your recommender to fill that in with their assessment if it's a strong one (say, top 10% of employees on these various qualities?). Specific comparisons like that are really helpful (more so in academic letters, of course, but can't hurt here). You can give the recommender an out to delete that portion if they don't feel they can say that honestly.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:33 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:I offered to send transcripts, PS, resume, ect. too. Of course it could help frame your application to your profs/employers rec, and help them avoid stating something inaccurate. From what I read from the OP, we are discussing a different sort of involvement. Providing those basics as reference is different from writing the letter yourself or dictating what the reasons are that you are recommendable in lieu of the writer providing their own.

Nothing I said is elitist. To whatever extent letters of recommendation still matter for law school admissions, they are about candid portrayals of your work and who you are intellectually, ethically, ect. from someone who knows you well enough to make an informed statement. They are not lists of accomplishments or reasons why you would be a good lawyer. That's what you are already providing, and a letter that follows your own instruction will have at best zero impact (which is usually fine if your LSAT/GPA are up to par).

Dude, that horse you're riding is awfully tall. If you don't want to draft your own letters, figure out what you're doing to do when someone agrees to write for you if you draft it. But whether you agree with it or not, it's an accepted practice that saves recommenders time, and produces perfectly reasonable LORs. (Yet again: the recommender gets to edit the damn thing and endorses it by signing it.)


Clearly, my views and experience are not shared or understood ITT. I would never have considered writing my own letter. It invalidates the entire concept. The relationships I have with my closest professors would preclude that from ever occurring in the first place. Granted however, everyone has different circumstances and OP can make a choice to approach the issue as he/she chooses based on his/her preference.

I will now gladly make my exit, seeing as I have no dog in this fight. No hard feelings to either of you, apologies if my comments rubbed you the wrong way.

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guano
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby guano » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:00 pm

Bagelboy:

A friend of mine worked for a boss that had her wrote a first draft for almost everything. It was expected of her to write the first draft, even for LORs. If her boss gave her an assignment and she refused, how would that look?

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Lexaholik
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby Lexaholik » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:48 pm

LaBelleBarrister wrote:I work for a contracting company and approached my branch manager about writing a LOR for law school on my behalf. He was more than happy to, actually, but asked that I draft the letter for him that includes the necessary information and said that he would edit and enhance it into a final document.

I have never done this before, and all of my previous people who wrote LORs on my behalf did it on their own. Are there any rules/guidelines for writing your own LOR? Have any of you done this in the past? What do you think it is important to include while writing your own LOR? What are law schools really looking for in a LOR, do you think? And lastly, how long should it be?

Thanks so much in advance, guys! :D


there are no guidelines, although i would say that if you have a hard time writing a strong letter on your own behalf, i don't know how you're going to be able to write a strong advocacy brief as a lawyer. you should jump at this opportunity, write something awesome, and then send it to your recommender while allowing htem to edit the letter as they see fit.

some of you in this thread are taking this too seriously. where's the rule that says it's unethical to draft your own recommendation letter? you may not realize this but tons of court briefs supposedly written by partners are actually drafted by armies of associates. does that mean the partner is being unethical when he signs his name at the bottom?

also, law schools know what's up with these rec letters which is why even getting an amazing, flowery rec won't do you much good in the whole game.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:19 pm

jbagelboy wrote:It invalidates the entire concept.

Really, the thing is, it only invalidates *your* entire concept. Which is fine, of course - no one's making you do this. Just suggesting that your perspective is more subjective than you're acknowledging. (Offered in a friendly tone and no hard feelings and so on. :) )

CourCour
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Re: Writing your own LOR?

Postby CourCour » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:24 pm

I agree on what focus should be: research, writing, communications skills, work ethic. Try to show instead of tell. Use stories. Don't be truly ridiculous but don't self edit the enthusiasm out of the LOR because you feel self conscious about it. You're going to feel ackward no matter what.




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