Law School Discussion

What If I Can't Find Recommenders?

What If I Can't Find Recommenders?
« on: February 25, 2009, 05:15:26 PM »
I posted a similar thread a couple years back, before I quit studying for the LSAT. I'm studying again now.

Here's my situation: I've basically taken a few years off to get my sh*t together. I finished school three years ago and I've been unemployed for just as long (not counting some freelance web design work).

I'm pretty sure my old professors have long ago forgotten who I am and I have no managers or supervisors I can turn to.

Any advice is appreciated.

Re: What If I Can't Find Recommenders?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 05:23:59 PM »
You should go and try to re-establish connections with professors with whom you had a good relationship before like, immediately. 

Re: What If I Can't Find Recommenders?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2009, 05:29:18 PM »
Do you have a couple of profs that you took more than one class from?  Maybe you still have some of the coursework?  If you do, I'd go and talk to them, bring copies of the coursework with you and talk to them about a recommendation.  Give the papers or whatever to the prof to jog their memory.  (Make sure you chat them up enough and give them time to remember you-- they'll likely guess you're there for a LOR, but it'll be more polite if you don't present that way).

Have you done any volunteer work in the past few years that you'd be able to get a recommendation from?

Good luck- tough situation.

Re: What If I Can't Find Recommenders?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 06:17:24 PM »
Can you take a couple courses again at a local college?  A lot of times, if you already have a B.A., most states schools (particularly if you're a resident) have very lax admission standards.  Go part time with in-state tuition, take two courses, get a couple A's and request LoRs.  Not those 300 seminar classes, but something at least slightly analytical with a low enough class size where the prof will learn your name.

LoRs are important and they're not.  They're important in the sense where if you just get a very general "He got an A, he must have done alright", this looks poorly.  However, I doubt there's much of a difference (in terms of influencing the strength of your application) between a pretty good and an excellent rec. 

So, if you can take just a couple of quick classes, it might be worth the investment.

Re: What If I Can't Find Recommenders?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 06:27:29 PM »
One option is to follow what the others have said below. Gather your academic work, resume and law school essays and have your former profs do a mock interview (it worked for me) with questions you have written up for them to ask you. This will give them a sense of you. But it won't be as good as them having interacted with you on a regular basis while you were in school. Other than that, I would recommend waiting two years if you cannot get solid references now.

Depending on when you want to start law school, you may be able to build a relationship with a supervisor. Try working for Teach for America or City schools love those organizations. It's "community service", but you get paid a stipend for it. And it will allow you to get good references if you do good work. Also, consider volunteering with AmeriCorps or the United Way for at least two years.

If you have no community service and you are not a URM or disadvantaged White student, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle anyways, as schools look for that. Community service is pretty much expected unless you can demonstrate that it was not possible for you to do it, especially at elite law schools. Besides other soft factors, how do you think they separate all of those 3.7+/168+ applicants?

You can also go back to school for a quarter or two to get some additional courses in and get LOR's from thos profs. Try to take more than one course with at least one of the profs. Do a long-term research assistantship, that's another option.

Good luck! :)