DA's Office LOR

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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Aurelius85
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DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:51 pm

Hey everybody,

I'd appreciate it if I could get some advice on how to approach and ask for a Letter of Recommendation, but before delve into it, let me give you some background. I plan on attending law school in the fall of 2016 and I'm currently preparing for the LSAT. I graduated from college in 2007, so it's been quite a few years since I was in school and therefore I don't have any connections to former professors. I've been working at an small IP law firm in Southern California for the last 2 years and have been interning with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office since October 2013. Later this year I will be interning/clerking with the US Attorney's Office during the summer and fall. In addition to my work experience, I also have plenty of volunteer work (multiple years with the OC Rescue Mission and Big Bros Big Sisters) which may seem insignificant but it shows I'm interested in public/community service. I plan on pursuing and focusing on criminal law with the hope that after school I can work in the public sector (DOJ, State Attorney's Office, perhaps even DA) at some point during my career. Please bear with me, most of my plans aren't set in stone just yet, I'm still learning about some of the less talked about nuances and challenges that prospective law students encounter when they begin contemplating a career path. Nevertheless, I hope this thread will receive some good, thoughtful posts that address my question rather than periphery issues such as why I'm not pursuing biglaw.

As I mentioned before, I've been interning/clerking with the Los Angeles DA's Office for the last 15 months. During this time, I've been exposed to and worked on a variety of cases and themes ranging from simple assaults to drug related crimes to murders. Interestingly, I haven't worked under one or two specific DDA's, rather I've assisted and supported numerous DDA's in a central department that deals with all types of felonies. Obviously, what I can and can't do has limited my ability to assist this office. For instance, I obviously haven't drafted any motions, done any in-depth legal research, or argued anything in court. Nevertheless, despite this limitation, I have done a great deal of pre-trial and in-trial work such as: screened footage of crimes; transcribed calls; visited crime scenes; reviewed/synthesized prelim transcripts and then briefed DDAs; transcribed and translated jail calls; translated on behalf of witnesses; prepared and reviewed discovery; used Lexis (legal research) to answer case questions/issues, shepardized cases, prepared legal memos; briefed DDA's after synthesizing case info; and contacted investigating officers/lab technicians/witnesses. In addition to this, whenever I wasn't working on anything, I would sit in and listen to prelims and trials; estimating conservatively, I think I've listened to more than 25 prelims and listened to parts of at least 25 felony trials. I plan on finishing this internship/clerkship this coming January and I would like to ask for a LOR, but here-in-lies the issue: how do I approach a very busy DDA and ask him for a LOR?

A few weeks ago I approached the Deputy DA who interviewed me, brought me in, and gave me my first assignment, and I asked him if he could write me a LOR. Although he didn't refuse to write it, he did tell me that he would prefer if I wrote it and then he signed it since he's been terribly busy. As many of you know, law school admission officers can spot a self-written or a haphazard LOR a mile away. If I were to write the LOR, I'd not only run the risk of having my application completely disregarded but I would also compromise my personal statement. If I pressure this specific DDA, it's likely that he would do less than good job on the letter. So that's the issue...how or what can I do to ensure that I obtain a well written LOR with content that will make an impression with law school admission officers? Should I ask another DDA who I'm close with and who has assigned me tons of work? Or should I ask one of the calendar DA's who I not only get along with but who has recently assigned me work?

Following the advice of a friend who graduated from law school, I put together a list of the cases that I've worked with and what I did in those cases, plus I also drafted a list of all the tasks and duties I performed during my internship/clerkship. These two lists will not only facilitate the work of whoever will be writing my LOR but it also ensure that my LOR is strong, substantial, and specific. Is there anything else that I need to provide to ensure that my LOR will make a statement or leave a great impression on whoever reads it? What should I tell my recommender about what I would like included in my letter? Anything? Is there anything else I'm missing?

If anyone has any questions or needs more info, don't hesitate to post and I'll do my best to respond ASAP. I would like to ask for a LOR at the beginning of January and give my recommender at least 3 or 4 weeks to draft it; so, there is some urgency on my part to get as much info or advice from people as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.

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ChemEng1642
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby ChemEng1642 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:58 pm

...quick summary?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:06 pm

Where did you get the impression that adcomms can spot a self-written (or haphazard[?]) LOR a mile away, or that having one will torpedo your application/compromise your PS?

Short answer: ask one of the other people you've worked with.

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b123
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby b123 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:07 pm

tl;dr: OP is getting LOR's ready for law school applications. He interned in a DA's office and approached his supervisor about a LOR. The supervising attorney asked OP to write the LOR and he would just sign it. OP is worried that writing it himself will either be a dead giveaway for admissions counselors or, at the very least, cause him to sacrifice personal integrity. What should he do?

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:09 pm

ChemEng1642 wrote:...quick summary?


I need a LOR from the DA's Office where I've been clerking for 15mos. I haven't written any motions or argued in court, but I have done plenty of pre-trial and in-trial work for numerous DDA's. The DDA who brought me in is very busy and told me that he would prefer if I wrote the LOR and he signed it. Obviously that's not viable, so should I approach another DDA and ask him or possibly ask a Calendar DA whom I know very well to write it? I have completed two lists which include all the cases that I've worked on and all my duties and tasks during my clerkship. Is there anything else I can draft that could help my recommender write my LOR? Is there anything I should tell my recommender to include before he begins writing my LOR? Am I missing anything? Sorry for the long read, sometimes I get carried away.

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JAJAcinco
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby JAJAcinco » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:13 pm

How would it compromise your personal statement if you do the first draft of the LOR? Many practitiioners and professors prefer to let the student do the first draft (although, this is for LORs once you are a law student.). Its easier for them and rest assured, they will feel free to modify/tweak as much as they see fit. Its been a couple years since I applied, but unless LSAC specifically prohibits you from even drafting the letter, I wouldn't stress it to hard.

If LSAC would bar this kind of thing, then I would explain the situation and your concerns to the DDA. If its any consolation, the LORs don't mean very much in the admissions cycle. [Insert TLS mantra regarding GPA and LSAT]

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:15 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Where did you get the impression that adcomms can spot a self-written (or haphazard[?]) LOR a mile away, or that having one will torpedo your application/compromise your PS?

Short answer: ask one of the other people you've worked with.


Several of the certified law clerks who I befriended during my clerkship told me that it's not a very good idea to write your own LOR because adcomms are experienced and have seen it all. In addition, if my LOR and personal statement have similarities in structure or in word preference, I would assume that my application will be compromised or at least looked upon unfavorably.

Are you certain that it won't? Is it worth it to try to write my own LOR?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:18 pm

It's fairly common for letter-writers to ask applicants to write the rough draft of the letter, is all - they will usually edit it before sending it. If you're worried about similarities btw your letters and your PS, then write the letter differently. I've never seen anyone suggest that drafting your LOR compromises your application in any way.

Edited to add: but if you don't want to draft the letter, that's fine, too. Just ask one of the other people you've worked with.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:23 pm

JAJAcinco wrote:How would it compromise your personal statement if you do the first draft of the LOR? Many practitiioners and professors prefer to let the student do the first draft (although, this is for LORs once you are a law student.). Its easier for them and rest assured, they will feel free to modify/tweak as much as they see fit. Its been a couple years since I applied, but unless LSAC specifically prohibits you from even drafting the letter, I wouldn't stress it to hard.

If LSAC would bar this kind of thing, then I would explain the situation and your concerns to the DDA. If its any consolation, the LORs don't mean very much in the admissions cycle. [Insert TLS mantra regarding GPA and LSAT]


Sounds reasonable...I could definitely try that. I guess that slipped my mind because one of my friends did suggest that. I'll consider and contemplate it these next few days. Is 3 or 4 weeks enough to give my recommender plenty of time to tweak my letter? Is there anything you can think of that I should include which could give my LOR a boost given my unique experience?

I know LORs aren't very important but I've spent 15mos with the DA and I should at least try to show how valuable and influential that experience was in my decision to apply to law school.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:24 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:It's fairly common for letter-writers to ask applicants to write the rough draft of the letter, is all - they will usually edit it before sending it. If you're worried about similarities btw your letters and your PS, then write the letter differently. I've never seen anyone suggest that drafting your LOR compromises your application in any way.

Edited to add: but if you don't want to draft the letter, that's fine, too. Just ask one of the other people you've worked with.


Fair enough, good idea, I'll consider that. Thanks.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:33 pm

In terms of the DDA tweaking a self written LOR, is there anything I should suggest to whichever one of the DA's will be tweaking my letter? Maybe I'm just obsessing over this...my apologies.

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banjo
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby banjo » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:37 pm

If you're really worried, you can ask a friend/sibling to draft it. Not sure if any rules prohibit this though.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:52 pm

banjo wrote:If you're really worried, you can ask a friend/sibling to draft it. Not sure if any rules prohibit this though.


Probably not, adcomms would have a hard time finding out unless my friend were to apply to the same school. The only thing is that I would have to provide a lot of info to whoever would write it and I wouldn't feel very confident. But...it's a thought, thanks.

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ChemEng1642
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby ChemEng1642 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:36 pm

Aurelius85 wrote:
ChemEng1642 wrote:...quick summary?


I need a LOR from the DA's Office where I've been clerking for 15mos. I haven't written any motions or argued in court, but I have done plenty of pre-trial and in-trial work for numerous DDA's. The DDA who brought me in is very busy and told me that he would prefer if I wrote the LOR and he signed it. Obviously that's not viable, so should I approach another DDA and ask him or possibly ask a Calendar DA whom I know very well to write it? I have completed two lists which include all the cases that I've worked on and all my duties and tasks during my clerkship. Is there anything else I can draft that could help my recommender write my LOR? Is there anything I should tell my recommender to include before he begins writing my LOR? Am I missing anything? Sorry for the long read, sometimes I get carried away.


Mm I would be hesitant to write a straight up draft because I would be worried that the recommender is just going to sign it. You don't want to be in the position where you wrote a rough draft for him because you thought he was going to edit it and turns out that's all he submitted. I would do bullet points so that it is easy for the recommender to write but also clear that he needs to actually write it. I would also go beyond duties and tasks in these bullet points - this isn't the time to be shy! If you think you did something very well make sure you include that too (without sounding pompous of course). Definitely stay away from the first guy. This may sound petty, but I would be hesitant to get a recommendation letter from someone who tells me they don't have time to write one for me because to me it screams "my letter for you won't be great" - not because of my opinion of you but because I won't have time to write a good one. I would also go with the person that knows your work best.

But I'm an 0L who hasn't seen the full results of this cycle so take this with a grain of salt.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 5:26 am

ChemEng1642 wrote:
Aurelius85 wrote:
ChemEng1642 wrote:...quick summary?


I need a LOR from the DA's Office where I've been clerking for 15mos. I haven't written any motions or argued in court, but I have done plenty of pre-trial and in-trial work for numerous DDA's. The DDA who brought me in is very busy and told me that he would prefer if I wrote the LOR and he signed it. Obviously that's not viable, so should I approach another DDA and ask him or possibly ask a Calendar DA whom I know very well to write it? I have completed two lists which include all the cases that I've worked on and all my duties and tasks during my clerkship. Is there anything else I can draft that could help my recommender write my LOR? Is there anything I should tell my recommender to include before he begins writing my LOR? Am I missing anything? Sorry for the long read, sometimes I get carried away.


Mm I would be hesitant to write a straight up draft because I would be worried that the recommender is just going to sign it. You don't want to be in the position where you wrote a rough draft for him because you thought he was going to edit it and turns out that's all he submitted. I would do bullet points so that it is easy for the recommender to write but also clear that he needs to actually write it. I would also go beyond duties and tasks in these bullet points - this isn't the time to be shy! If you think you did something very well make sure you include that too (without sounding pompous of course). Definitely stay away from the first guy. This may sound petty, but I would be hesitant to get a recommendation letter from someone who tells me they don't have time to write one for me because to me it screams "my letter for you won't be great" - not because of my opinion of you but because I won't have time to write a good one. I would also go with the person that knows your work best.

But I'm an 0L who hasn't seen the full results of this cycle so take this with a grain of salt.


You're spot on man, I totally agree. When he told me that he would prefer if I wrote it because he was too busy, I knew it wasn't worth me asking any further. I'm going to have to either find someone else, I have two people in mind, per my original post: a calendar DA with decades of experience and a trial DDA who's gotten some high profile cases; or, I'm gonna have to provide this DA with a rough draft and ask him to do his best to change it. I'm going to think about it but I'm leaning towards the former. I feel like they at least owe me this. After all, I spent 15mos working for free and covering my own transportation costs: they owe me this. I will definitely highlight some of my best work. The first thing that pops into my mind is all the discovery prep and review work I did. I've already done the bullet points indicating the tasks I took part in and the cases and work I did, but thanks for confirming it. Thanks for the advice.

BTW, can anyone suggest any websites that have stellar or at least solid sample LOR templates? I want be able to look at and examine a solid LOR template before I decide whether to draft one just in case my recommender asks for one. Thanks ahead of time.

Thank you all for responding.

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Aurelius85
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Re: DA's Office LOR

Postby Aurelius85 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:45 am

I'm bumping my thread hoping a few of you guys can point me in the direction of some solid sites or links that have sample letter of recommendation templates. I'm thinking of drafting one within the next few weeks and I could use a few endorsed sites that have examples of what a great LOR looks like. Thanks everyone.




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