Law School LOR: supportive & professional vs neutral & academic

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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Law School LOR: supportive & professional vs neutral & academic

Post by HLawSc » Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:50 am

Hi folks,

I am currently preparing for my law school applications this fall/winter and dealing with the Letter of Recommendation part.

So far, I decided to apply for JD/MBA programs, and already found 2 recommenders from my professional environment with whom I've closely worked with in projects. Both know me well personally, we have an excellent relationship and I am sure that I will get excellent LORs from them. I also informed them regarding the fact that they should adjust the law-school-LORs so that there is a focus on my academic abilities (analytical, writing, reading skills etc.).

However, I found out that law schools generally prefer academic over professional recommendation letters. E.g. Harvard requires at least one academic LOR, and Yale explicitly states that they strongly prefer academic over professional LORs (even if applicant has been several years out of school).

Although it's only 1.5 years since I graduated, I don't feel very comfortable with having an academic source as my recommender. I have a Master's degree in engineering from a top US university, but that's precisely where I found out that I did not like this profession at all. It was a time where I suffered from a lot of anxiety, did not really participate in class and really struggled to keep pace in group projects. Therefore, I feel that, if any professor or instructor will be willing to provide me with a LOR, it will not be a very impressive one (and, worst case, it will have negative formulations and hurt my chances of being admitted).

Regarding my undergrad professors: it's been 2.5 years since my graduation, and it was a European mass university where students don't really get a chance to know their professors personally. I also had a very bad relationship with my thesis supervisor back then. Therefore, I don't think a recommender from undergrad would be helpful at all.

Do you think I should stick with my current recommenders from my professional environment for both JD and MBA part? Or should I also try to add at least one academic recommender to the JD part of my application, although it will probably be not an excellent one?

The Lsat Airbender

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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:34 pm

Re: Law School LOR: supportive & professional vs neutral & academic

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Thu Apr 01, 2021 7:50 pm

There's no good answer here. If you don't submit an academic rec, schools like Harvard and Yale will assume that you weren't able to get a good one, especially since you finished undergrad so recently.

I would try and reach out to undergraduate/master's professors despite your reservations. You presumably did well in at least a few of your classes and professors are surprisingly good at remembering their best students. With some coaching they might get you a good rec or two.

If you structure the ask properly (i.e., make it clear they can/should decline if they can't write a strong letter), then there's not much risk of getting a truly harmful letter. And if everyone says no then you're back at square one anyway.

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