LORs

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worldtraveler
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LORs

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:05 pm

I just put together this article about getting LORs. Feel free to provide feedback or point out anything I missed. I tried to cover everything but I'm sure I missed something.

20 Frequently Asked Questions about Letters of Recommendation

1. What is a letter of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a roughly one-page letter written by a professor, teaching assistant or work supervisor that tells a law school about your past achievements and your ability to succeed in law school.

2. How many LORs do I need?
It depends on the school, but the majority of law schools require two. Some only require one, and a few do require three.

3. Who should write my LORs?
The most ideal person to write for you is a professor who knows you very well. Perhaps your senior thesis advisor or a professor who you got to know well during office hours would be a good fit. The longer and better you have known the person, the better it is for you.

4. What if I don’t know any professors very well?
If you don’t know professors well, and you are still a student, then it’s time to start talking to them! Get to know a professor that you like, and seek out a letter from that person. If that isn’t an option, think about classes where you got an A or a certain professor that always seemed friendly and approachable. Asking a graduate teaching assistant or lecturer is fine as well.

5. I have been out of school for years, and I don’t remember any of my professors. What should I do?
If you are out of school and have been working, it’s also okay to ask your employer or supervisor to write a letter for you. It is better if you can find at least one academic letter, so see if any of your old professors are still teaching and try to contact them. If you refresh their memory as to who you are, they may be willing to write for you.

6. I’ve met a famous person once and they said they could write one. Is this a good idea?
No, it’s not. The content of the letter matters more than how famous the writer is. If it is a well-known person that also knows you quite well and can attest to your academic potential, then it’s fine. If not, seek one from someone else.

7. My professor said I could write my own letter and he/she would sign it? Is this a good idea?
No, it’s not a good idea. Everyone has a unique writing style, and a school could notice that the writing style in your personal statement and LOR are very similar. If possible, find a different letter writer.

8. How do I ask someone to write for me?
Ideally, go in person to ask. Go to office hours or make an appointment. If this isn’t feasible, asking through e-mail is fine.
9. What should I give my LOR writer when I ask them?
The most important thing to give an LOR writer is a signed copy of the LOR form from LSAC. It’s available on http://www.lsac.org. Both you and the letter writer need to sign it. Give your writers a signed copy when you meet with them.
Additionally, you should give your LOR writers some information about you. Give them a copy of your resume, a draft of your personal statement, and your diversity statement if you have one. Rough drafts are fine if you aren’t finished. The more information you can give them, the easier their job is.

10. When should I ask for a letter? How long should I wait for them to write it?
Ask as soon as you can. Asking the summer before you apply is probably best. As for how long they need to write it, each professor is different. Some will give it to you a week later and some will take 6 months. Giving them a deadline of about 2 months should be sufficient. It is a good idea to give a deadline before you actually intend to apply. That way in case a letter is a bit late, you have time to remind them to send it in.

11. What should an LOR say?
To be general, it should say positive things about you. The more specific the LOR writer can be the better. For example, it is more useful to say “Student X always raised engaging and thoughtful questions in class, and his final paper was well-researched and one of the finest pieces of writing I have seen in my years of teaching” than “Student X was a very good student.”

12. How long should an LOR be?
It should be roughly one page.

13. My LOR writer is taking forever. What do I do?
You can send a polite reminder. Remember, professors are busy and they may have forgotten. Send a polite e-mail asking if they think it will be done soon. If you are not getting a response, perhaps think about getting another writer.

14. What does the LOR writer do after writing it?
The writer sends it directly to LSAC. The mailing address is on the signed form that you gave to them. They can also fax it to LSAC.

15. Do I get to see the letter?
On the form from LSAC, there is a box you check waiving your right to see the letter. The letter is sent to LSAC and you should not see it. LSAC’s policy is very strict about this.

16. Can I ask a professor from study abroad/another country?
Yes, you can. However, keep in mind that professors from another country might not be familiar with the American education system, and they may not have written a letter like this before. Make sure they are comfortable writing it. It may be a good idea to show them a sample.
17. What if my LOR is not in English?
It probably won’t help you, as few law school admissions representatives will be able to read it. Use English LORs only.

18. If the application asks for 2 letters, is it better to send 3?
If you have 3 spectacular letters to send, then go ahead. However, it is better to send 2 excellent LORs than 3 mediocre ones. The quality is more important than the quantity.

19. If I am waitlisted, can I send an additional LOR?
Yes, you certainly can. However, you should send it directly to the school and not through LSAC.

20. Is there a maximum number of letters I can send?
Try to stick to the guidelines of the application. If they ask for one, sending two or perhaps three is okay. More than that is not.

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buddyblack
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Re: LORs

Postby buddyblack » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:15 pm

worldtraveler wrote:15. Do I get to see the letter?
On the form from LSAC, there is a box you check waiving your right to see the letter. The letter is sent to LSAC and you should not see it. LSAC’s policy is very strict about this.


You might want to mention that waiving confidentiality is not required, though it does seem to be strongly preferred by Admissions Officers.

Also, there isn't a box you check for this - you sign the form beneath a statement explicitly waiving your right to see that LOR.

jrock12
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Re: LORs

Postby jrock12 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:17 pm

i like it...my only comment is on #5. i could be biased because of the research I did/conversations i had with my pre-law advisor (who i personally thought was spectacular), but i think if you are out of school for 5 years or less, it is absolutely imperative to get at least 1 academic LOR

i was exactly 4 years out of school when i started my cycle and i was able to get 2 academic LORs...i'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but i just feel like i have seen a number of posts recently from people who are just starting their cycle and they seem to miss this point (some even 2-3 years out who feel that they dont need to get any academic LORs)

just my $0.02

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jackassjim
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Re: LORs

Postby jackassjim » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:25 pm

you could also give your prof a copy of your transcript, and a copy of any substantial piece of writing you have done in their class.

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t-bone
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Re: LORs

Postby t-bone » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:41 pm

How do you think it looks to have profs from different fields writing letters of rec.?
I ask b/c I have credits from 2 different schools, and at my first school, the best person I can think of for a rec is my math teacher, whom I took for 2 classes. She is the teacher at that school that knows my aptitude best, but is it going to be a problem b/c its math?
My other 2 letters will come from a history teacher, and a poli sci teacher that also served as my advisor.

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jackassjim
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Re: LORs

Postby jackassjim » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:54 pm

t-bone wrote:How do you think it looks to have profs from different fields writing letters of rec.?
I ask b/c I have credits from 2 different schools, and at my first school, the best person I can think of for a rec is my math teacher, whom I took for 2 classes. She is the teacher at that school that knows my aptitude best, but is it going to be a problem b/c its math?
My other 2 letters will come from a history teacher, and a poli sci teacher that also served as my advisor.


Of course it's great. Law is a new discipline, and you demonstrate that you can excel in a variety of discipline. It's a short step to take to say that you should be good in law too. As long as you write a focused PS, you'll be perfectly fine.

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t-bone
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Re: LORs

Postby t-bone » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:27 pm

Thanks, that was what I was thinking. I just wondered if anyone had some constructive criticism to offer.

taylor
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Re: LORs

Postby taylor » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:49 pm

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Last edited by taylor on Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

taylor
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Re: LORs

Postby taylor » Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:06 am

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Last edited by taylor on Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Son of Cicero
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Re: LORs

Postby Son of Cicero » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:30 am

taylor wrote:
buddyblack wrote:19. If I am waitlisted, can I send an additional LOR?
Yes, you certainly can. However, you should send it directly to the school and not through LSAC.


Why can't you go through LSAC? I was planning on having 3 people write letters and send them to LSAC and if I am waitlisted I will send out the extra one the school. Should I ask the extra letter writer to hold on to a copy and request it when I get waitlisted. That seems strange to ask someone...

You can go through LSAC. Once you have been waitlisted and have commitment deadlines approaching at other schools, you'll want to make sure your preferred school is getting any new information as quickly as possible. Under these circumstances, it is unwise to wait around while LSAC slowly processes your new letter. You can choose which of your filed LORs will go to each school when you first apply, so it's best to go ahead and get the letter now and just have LSAC store it until you are ready to dispatch a supplementary LOR.

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worldtraveler
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Re: LORs

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:35 am

Son of Cicero wrote:
taylor wrote:
buddyblack wrote:19. If I am waitlisted, can I send an additional LOR?
Yes, you certainly can. However, you should send it directly to the school and not through LSAC.


Why can't you go through LSAC? I was planning on having 3 people write letters and send them to LSAC and if I am waitlisted I will send out the extra one the school. Should I ask the extra letter writer to hold on to a copy and request it when I get waitlisted. That seems strange to ask someone...

You can go through LSAC. Once you have been waitlisted and have commitment deadlines approaching at other schools, you'll want to make sure your preferred school is getting any new information as quickly as possible. Under these circumstances, it is unwise to wait around while LSAC slowly processes your new letter. You can choose which of your filed LORs will go to each school when you first apply, so it's best to go ahead and get the letter now and just have LSAC store it until you are ready to dispatch a supplementary LOR.


Yeah we tried to figure this out in TLSchat and the consensus seems that using LSAC to send the letter is okay but it may take a bit long. The consensus seems that getting the letter processed by LSAC when you are pressed for time is a bad idea, but if you have it ready to go already, then it's fine. It's probably still advisable to send an LOCI to the school or contact them in some way directly.

JacKS
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Re: LORs

Postby JacKS » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:42 pm

Does LSAC have a limit as to how many LORs you can submit?

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Ken
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Re: LORs

Postby Ken » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:39 am

Great article - THANK YOU!

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t_flores08
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Re: LORs

Postby t_flores08 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:57 pm

My boss wrote me a LOR and informed me that it is about 2 pages. Is this frowned upon? I know most letters are about one page, will admissions see this as excessive on my recommender's behalf?

examplepdf
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Re: LORs

Postby examplepdf » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:29 pm

I have two LORs lined up, one from a prof and one from my current supervisor. However, I wrote my PS mostly about how working on the Obama campaign made me want to study law, and I'm worried that not having an LOR from a someone on the campaign will look bad. Thoughts?

Also: if I do send in a third LOR, I was thinking of doing something kind of nontraditional -- I wrote about managing 10 organizers on the campaign, and I thought it would be neat to send in an LOR from one of them. Because honestly, even though I was technically their boss, my whole job revolved around making their lives/jobs easier. Could I add a (very brief) addendum about why I sent in an LOR from someone I managed, instead of the other way around? Or is this idea just really stupid, and not neat at all?

examplepdf
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Re: LORs

Postby examplepdf » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:02 am

anyone..? am i an idiot?

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ChattTNdt
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Re: LORs

Postby ChattTNdt » Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 am

If they choose to fax in your LOR, do they just fax their letter and then fax LSAC's form (signed by me)? I've heard fax is processed much quicker.

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The Kid
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Re: LORs

Postby The Kid » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:23 pm

Is it ok if my ex-boss write my letter?

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Rand M.
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Re: LORs

Postby Rand M. » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:25 pm

ChattTNdt wrote:If they choose to fax in your LOR, do they just fax their letter and then fax LSAC's form (signed by me)? I've heard fax is processed much quicker.


That's exactly what they would do. And yes, faxing is much faster, like by weeks. My four LORs each had one day of turn-around because they were faxed. I have heard of times up to 2-3 weeks after they receive it if you mail it.

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Canarsie
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Re: LORs

Postby Canarsie » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:29 pm

I want to ask a work supervisor for a LOR. I know he'll write a glowing letter (in fact I've helped him edit letters for previous students) and he has worked with me for four years, including a promotion.

The caveat... he is not a very good writer. I know this for sure since I edit his letters, and while he says great things about the subjects, his style is distracting and error-ridden.

Should I still have him write me a letter? Will adcomms look past my boss's minor comma-related errors and basic vocabulary and see the content shine through?

Thanks.

alex.feuerman
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Re: LORs

Postby alex.feuerman » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:27 am

Ok so I was only planning to submit one LOR (Fordham and NYU), but my ex-boss sent me a copy and it's got BLATANT grammatical errors....this is the head of a T&E Department in NYC. SIGH...
An old professor is writing me another one but in the description I wrote "For Columbia law school".Can I send this letter to Fordham and NYU as well? Will they see the description??

Let me know thanks.

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acs507
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Re: LORs

Postby acs507 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:54 pm

alex.feuerman wrote:Ok so I was only planning to submit one LOR (Fordham and NYU), but my ex-boss sent me a copy and it's got BLATANT grammatical errors....this is the head of a T&E Department in NYC. SIGH...
An old professor is writing me another one but in the description I wrote "For Columbia law school".Can I send this letter to Fordham and NYU as well? Will they see the description??

Let me know thanks.


I have this same question. I have a recommendation that is labelled as for a specific law school, but my recommender said he wrote it so that it could be used for all law schools. Will they see this description?




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