How important are LORs?

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How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:48 pm

Most of the judges I'm applying to only ask for 2 LORs. I have one very strong LOR, and one very weak/generic LOR. Will only having 1 great LOR be a big negative and should I try to find another prof that could write me a stronger LOR than the one I currently have as a 2nd? Thanks!

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Most of the judges I'm applying to only ask for 2 LORs. I have one very strong LOR, and one very weak/generic LOR. Will only having 1 great LOR be a big negative and should I try to find another prof that could write me a stronger LOR than the one I currently have as a 2nd? Thanks!


I got my clerkship because of my LORs.

So, take that as you may.

3L_At_Law
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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby 3L_At_Law » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:39 pm

If you could find a stronger LOR, why wouldn't you? That being said, and as the previous post said, my LORs (3 strong ones) played a huge role in me landing my clerkship.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:21 pm

3L_At_Law wrote:If you could find a stronger LOR, why wouldn't you? That being said, and as the previous post said, my LORs (3 strong ones) played a huge role in me landing my clerkship.


I should probably re-frame my question. Is it necessarily a bad thing if only 1 out of my 2 LORs I use in my package are really strong? I have 3 LORs right now, but only 1 is great. The other 2 are just average.

BlackAndOrange84
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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
3L_At_Law wrote:If you could find a stronger LOR, why wouldn't you? That being said, and as the previous post said, my LORs (3 strong ones) played a huge role in me landing my clerkship.


I should probably re-frame my question. Is it necessarily a bad thing if only 1 out of my 2 LORs I use in my package are really strong? I have 3 LORs right now, but only 1 is great. The other 2 are just average.


I feel like I've read in previous posts on this forum that faint praise can be damning. I'd look through the clerks answering questions thread or do a search.

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BVest
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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby BVest » Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:11 am

Just another anecdote: I apparently had two strong and one average LOR (I never saw them, but my clerkship advisor did). The average LOR got me one of my interviews; the recommender is a long-time prof whom the judge had as a student and later consulted with as a practicing attorney.

(I can't say for certain that got me the interview, but about half the interview was about him so I'm pretty sure).

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Emma.
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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Emma. » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:04 pm

In both chambers I've worked in, LORs were super important, and if 2 out of 3 of your recommendations are weak/generic/lukewarm that'd hurt you for sure. One out of three cover letters being somewhat generic isn't a big deal, since some profs just don't know how to write a strong letter. But if two of your letters are essentially "student seems like a decent human and did well in my exam" we'd probably take that as a bad sign.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:35 pm

Emma. wrote:In both chambers I've worked in, LORs were super important, and if 2 out of 3 of your recommendations are weak/generic/lukewarm that'd hurt you for sure. One out of three cover letters being somewhat generic isn't a big deal, since some profs just don't know how to write a strong letter. But if two of your letters are essentially "student seems like a decent human and did well in my exam" we'd probably take that as a bad sign.

Just to pile on another anecdote, my judge most valued a phone call from someone he knew personally. Less helpful (but still valuable) was a strong, personalized LOR. If you had one or both of those things, one or two generic/lukewarm LORs wouldn't hurt you. They wouldn't help, but they wouldn't hurt.

I'll say this: if you have the option of submitting either two or three letters, and if one of your three letters is generic and lukewarm, just submit two. You should only submit a generic LOR if you must do so to satisfy an application requirement.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:29 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Emma. wrote:In both chambers I've worked in, LORs were super important, and if 2 out of 3 of your recommendations are weak/generic/lukewarm that'd hurt you for sure. One out of three cover letters being somewhat generic isn't a big deal, since some profs just don't know how to write a strong letter. But if two of your letters are essentially "student seems like a decent human and did well in my exam" we'd probably take that as a bad sign.

Just to pile on another anecdote, my judge most valued a phone call from someone he knew personally. Less helpful (but still valuable) was a strong, personalized LOR. If you had one or both of those things, one or two generic/lukewarm LORs wouldn't hurt you. They wouldn't help, but they wouldn't hurt.

I'll say this: if you have the option of submitting either two or three letters, and if one of your three letters is generic and lukewarm, just submit two. You should only submit a generic LOR if you must do so to satisfy an application requirement.


Agree with all of this. Both of my clerkships had a but for cause of phone calls and LOR. The main thing there is that a call or amazing LOR gets you noticed out of a gigantic stack of apps. It won't get you hired on its own, but you'll get serious consideration.

Beyond minimum requirements, then, you should always prioritize fewer great recommendations than more less good ones. Think of it this way: if you present 2 amazing recs, for all the judge knows, you could have even more profs who would be willing to sing your praises. If you present 3 recs and one is very mediocre, it's clear you had nothing better, and it dilutes the overall presentation of your application, esp. if that third isn't a huge name or somehow connected to the judge.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:31 pm

OP here, thanks all for the input, it was very helpful.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
3L_At_Law wrote:If you could find a stronger LOR, why wouldn't you? That being said, and as the previous post said, my LORs (3 strong ones) played a huge role in me landing my clerkship.


I should probably re-frame my question. Is it necessarily a bad thing if only 1 out of my 2 LORs I use in my package are really strong? I have 3 LORs right now, but only 1 is great. The other 2 are just average.


It's not necessarily a bad thing in that it won't hurt you. But it's effectively as if you don't have a LOR, IMO. When I review apps for clerks (I'm a d. ct. clerk and have been involved with hiring two clerks), I pay a lot of attn to the LORs because the judge puts an emphasis on them and I'm the anon above who got hired because of my LORs. I think LORs that speak to your actual abilities related to clerking can speak volumes. Also, I personally give 0 shits about whether you got an A in your huge bar subject class and were "always prepared" and "answered questions well" and "were very thoughtful" in your comments. This is what 99% of lukewarm professor references say. I will, however, give a lot of credence to profs who have seen your written work product and praise your scholarly treats.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby MarkfromWI » Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:26 pm

Sorry to hijack the thread a bit, but how important is it who the author is? My career services office has been stuffing it down my throat that I should do everything I can to get letters from 3 profs, at least two of whom should be tenured. The problem is that as a transfer this has been really tough. As of right now I've got 1 from a tenured prof at new school, one from an adjunct prof at new school - I CALI'd his 60+ student course and he's a very well known and respected practitioner in the market, and the third would be from the managing partner of the firm I worked at 1L summer. I think these will give me the best substantive letters possible, but I'm worried because it's going against everything that's been said by the people who supposedly "know" about the app process.

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Re: How important are LORs?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:01 pm

MarkfromWI wrote:Sorry to hijack the thread a bit, but how important is it who the author is? My career services office has been stuffing it down my throat that I should do everything I can to get letters from 3 profs, at least two of whom should be tenured. The problem is that as a transfer this has been really tough. As of right now I've got 1 from a tenured prof at new school, one from an adjunct prof at new school - I CALI'd his 60+ student course and he's a very well known and respected practitioner in the market, and the third would be from the managing partner of the firm I worked at 1L summer. I think these will give me the best substantive letters possible, but I'm worried because it's going against everything that's been said by the people who supposedly "know" about the app process.


D. ct. clerk.

Unless your prof can speak directly to your writing, analytical abilities, and personality, IDGAF who it is. Doing well in a big core subject class doesn't tell me a whole lot as to whether you'd be a good clerk (assuming the exam is a typical in-class exam). If all Cass Sunstein can say is "This student got an A in my class and was well prepared and is very smart," then it's slightly above useless IMO. If, say, your small seminar class professor who practices in the field the class, gave you an A on your seminar paper, got to know you somewhat as a human being, and had great things to say, that is significantly more useful.




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