Law School Discussion

writing your own LOR

writing your own LOR
« on: September 15, 2008, 10:19:28 AM »
Hey y'all,

Someone I worked for said she would be happy to submit an LOR for me, as long as I wrote it.  I know this is in some ways a really cool opportunity- I get to put whatever I want into the letter!  But I cannot get this dang letter done.

My starting point has been of course to include all the standard things that should be included in LORs, following Ms. Ivey's advice to the T.  But what should the format be like?  Is there a standard, or does it not matter?  Then, the really hard thing is (like anyone) I feel ridiculous putting all these positive comments about myself!  I have a healthy sense of self-confidence, but I think it's that I have no idea if what I'm writing is in the mainstream, in terms of how recommendations look. 

Has anyone else had to do this (write your own recommendation)?  If so, did you use any resources to guide that process?  I would really welcome any ideas and suggestions!!

Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2008, 08:29:46 AM »
anyone have any ideas?  now that lsat is over, the rest of the app will be in full focus  ???


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Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2008, 12:17:45 PM »
A lawyer I worked for said the same thing I wrote it.  Just think of something you did that was really good it can jsut be a little thing.  For example we were doing a client interview when I first started working for him and I came up wiht a list of questions (what they were I have no idea), but I remember he was really impressed by them.  Once I got started the rest just flowed out.  After I finished he edited it for me and made it even better.  Maybe you should just ask the person the recommender a time you really impressed them and go with that. 

Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2008, 11:55:00 AM »
I was told the same thing, and my other recomender went so crazy with compliments that whoever reads it will probably think I wrote it myself.  To write mine I just tried to think of someone who I know and respect, I wrote like I was writing that letter for them and changed the names and accomplishments.


Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2008, 09:58:21 AM »
i gave each person i asked for LORs from a copy of this page, it will help you:

Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2008, 10:55:50 AM »
thank y'all so much for all the help!!  i hope others who have to do this also go through all your resources & ideas.

i ended up picking like 2 of the areas that anna ivey recommended highlighting, i think analytical ability & written communication.  i broadly described what i did in the position (i wrote the recommendation on behalf of my grad school practicum supervisor) then picked an anecdote or 2 to show how i used those 2 particular skills. 

of course i wrote positively about myself, but i was really trying to limit any hint of excessive praise.  after reading some of my other lor's, from profs who wrote them themselves, i kind of wish i would've been a bit less modest.  who knows, maybe the "recommender" will edit my letter further.

you know the frustrating thing is that this letter is the ONE that i am waiting on, as the person has sat on it for a week.  kind of frustrating when she doesn't even really have to do anything, plus those other 2 recommenders were really prompt & wrote their own letters.

anyway thank y'all again for all your help!!! 

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Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2008, 08:24:05 PM »
I seriously think people who tell you to write your own LOR are people who have no business writing you one in the first place.

Re: writing your own LOR
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2008, 12:32:11 PM »
I agree with amplified - but the reality is that some of the profs/supervisors write so many of these things that you might be better of really writing the letter for them, but do it this way, set up an appointment, take them to lunch with the sole purpose of having them discuss you and to collaborate on the letter, but then you write it for them - that way their voice and thoughts can come through.If they are willing to write a letter, give them as much support as possible that is tailored to you and them - don't just print out a page from some website, take the time to write to them using the information you have gathered.  The more you put effort into supporting them in this endeavor, the more you will get from them or at least from the ones who are most worth asking.

Here is a suggested items and an outline that I pulled from a few sources, including some law school sites and Ivey's book:

Law schools are looking for information that discusses an applicant’s specific qualifications and accomplishments.  The most effective letters are written with candor, detail, and objectivity about your achievements and potential to succeed in their law school.
Questions that can help frame the recommendation:
1.Relationship, past and present.
2.Comments on analytical and expressive abilities, study/work habits, and/or personal motivation.
3.What special interests, personal qualities or background distinguish you from others?
4.What observations do they have of your character and integrity?
5.Relevant insights they can offer about you that are not likely to be available from other sources.
6.How do you compare with other promising contemporaries?
7.Can they evaluate your academic promise in a rigorous professional program?
8.What was the nature of any work you have collaborated on, can they evaluate the quality of the work/collaborative abilities.
9.Comments on any contributions you have made to the community you have in common/how you have made a difference.

Of course the recommender's personal style will be the strongest influencer as to what you include, but here is a common format for these letters:

•Express pleasure at having the opportunity to recommend you.
•Indicate how long and in what capacities they have known you.
•Let them know that they do not hesitate to recommend you for law school. Then explain why – elaborating from items in points 2, 3 and/or 4,5,6 from above.
•Explore one or two experiences you have shared, perhaps even comparing you to others in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd – creating a standard for comparison in some way. This uses items from 6,7,8,9
•Finish with information on how they may contact the recommender if they need to clarify anything or require additional information.

Helpful details that may or may not be obvious:
•Begin the letter of recommendation with ”Dear Law School Admissions Committee.”
•If they have letterhead, use it, Law schools like the letters on letterhead,some actually require it. 
•Oh, and make sure they sign the letter – apparently Law Services gets a lot of unsigned letters that they have to send back. (duh)