Asking for LOR - Advice?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
kpowderly
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Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby kpowderly » Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:04 pm

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Last edited by kpowderly on Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tekrul
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Re: Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby Tekrul » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:42 am

I'd ask him if he would feel comfortable writing you a strong LOR. Given that he does not know you well, due to the nature of the class, I'd ask in person, provide him with copies of your best work from class, provide him a cover letter explaining why you want to go to law school, what you'd like him to address in the LOR, and advising him of deadlines. Give him a pre-addressed, stamped envelope - make everything easy. This is going to be almost like a first impression on your professor, present yourself well and have everything prepared in a professional manner.

Just fyi, in order to print out the LOR form for him, you'll have to fill out his information including mailing address and contact info - try to get this from your university's directory. He can make changes on the form if there are any errors, so I'd just fill it out even before you ask him. It'll save you a second trip back to him to drop it off after you've gotten his permission.

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onesmallstep
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Re: Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby onesmallstep » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:14 am

Related to this topic -
I'm having difficulty choosing my second recommender. The class was a seminar class (10-15 students), so it was small enough for the professor to get to know each student, but it was the TA who graded all of our papers, and therefore I visited the TA whenever I wanted to discuss a paper or needed help with writing a paper. The TA was also there for in-class discussions, but basically just sat next to the professor and kept quiet while the professor led the discussion. I've asked the professor to write a recommendation letter for me in the past for an honors program, which I got into. Given her past success in getting me into this selective program, I am pretty strongly inclined to ask the professor again, but for law school I heard that I should ask someone who has mostly observed me in an academic setting, which my TA could arguably fit the bill better. Who should I ask?

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onesmallstep
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Re: Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby onesmallstep » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:07 am

*bump*

Ti Malice
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Re: Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:07 pm

kpowderly wrote:So in trying to secure my LORs I've pretty much decided on 4 different people - one professor I've already secured, and then two attorneys, one I'm currently interning with and one I'm interning with in the fall. However, I know that I need another professor, so I'm looking for advice on how to ask/if I should ask/who I should ask. (also I'd like to hear if you think that's enough LORs, two professors and two intern advisors - I think it is, right?)


Forget about the attorneys. To the extent they care about LORs at all, law schools value the thoughts of those who have observed you directly in academic settings. (The exception to that rule is for people who have (a) had substantive, interesting long-term work experience and who (b) have bosses/supervisors capable of saying something better than bland and generic positives.) LORs from attorneys you've interned for will just be useless fluff and will not help you at all. One dean has explicitly said on her blog that including these sorts of LORs says negative things about an applicant's judgment.

My thought is on a professor I've taken a class with this past fall and spring, and will be taking another class of his this upcoming fall. I've gotten As in both classes. Sounds like a good person to ask, right? My concern though is that I don't really know him that well. The classes I've taken with him aren't really the types that have a lot of classroom discussion and there isn't much to talk about outside of class or in office hours. I've tried my best though; I've emailed him many times just sharing articles I've found interesting or asking for an opinion on something, etc. But he has so many students and most of our communication has been through email, so I'm not sure he would put two and two together and realize who I am if we were to talk in person.

Still, he's an incredibly nice guy, I've gotten two As from him, and have saved all my papers I've written for him, that I also received all As on. So should I go for it and ask him?


Yes. You don't have to be drinking buddies with the prof to get a good LOR. Go meet with him in person, tell him which classes you had with him, and talk a bit about your interests and goals. The graded papers are really the key here. He can form opinions on everything that really matters in a recommendation from re-reading your written work. Take a copy of your résumé as well. If you have a solid draft of your personal statement, take that too (if not, no big deal). If you have an impressive transcript overall, you can give him an unofficial copy (also not essential).

Should I email him or wait until August and ask in person?


Always go in person. It's much easier for a prof to feel less pressure to get it done in a timely fashion, among other things, if you just send an email request. On average, profs probably write more perfunctory letters for people they don't know who don't even show their faces at some point than they do for people who stop in for a face-to-face visit. Since you say he's really nice, it shouldn't be hard to have a pleasant meeting with him.

After he reviews the materials you give him, my usual advice would be that it's important to ask him, "Do you feel that you'd be able to write me a strong recommendation?" It's certainly important if you're picking between multiple professors. You've indicated that you don't really have other candidates, though, so I'm not sure what you would do if he indicated otherwise. But at least asking is further indication that it really matters to you that he make an effort to write a good LOR.

Edit: grammar fail
Last edited by Ti Malice on Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kpowderly
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Re: Asking for LOR - Advice?

Postby kpowderly » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:15 pm

Thank you so much for the responses and advice. I'll take all of this into consideration and I'm sure it will help!




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