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Author Topic: How to ask for a letter of rec?  (Read 10857 times)

kylot42

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How to ask for a letter of rec?
« on: October 04, 2001, 07:02:03 AM »
Okay so I know which profs I'm going to ask for letters of rec.  The problem is that, even though they know me, I nervous about asking.  Should I send them emails or go to their office hours?  Should I start with a little small talk or just straight up ask?

I'm assuming it's not going to be a big deal.  Has anyone had a professor say no?

dreampuffbaby

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2001, 08:44:09 AM »
Hi Kylot
It's always better to ask in person, especially cuz it's so much easier to say no over email. Also, dispense with the small talk. Say hello, however, of course, but get to your point soon or else you'll seem false in the end. Basically I don't see why the prof would say no unless he/she is already overwhelmed with recommendation requests, which at this point may be true, or unless he/she really doesn't think he/she can write a proper recommendation (doesn't know your work well enough, etc). So just get up the courage and just ask (yes go to office hours) and do it soon or else they'll be booked and you'll run out of options.

Harvard 1L

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2001, 10:58:56 PM »
Whatever you do, make sure you're clear and specific.  Just say something like, "I'm working on my law school applications and would like you to write a letter of recommendation for me.  Would you be willing to do that?"

If they say yes, cut to the details.  Tell them how soon you need them, who they need to be sent to (i.e., returned to you in sealed envelopes or mailed directly to schools?), and what information needs to be included in the letter itself (usually your name and social security number).  

Unless the professor knows you really well (and sometimes even in that case), he/she will probably want to briefly discuss your academic career.  I decided to make it easy on everyone; I typed out the directions about procedure (see above) as well as a list of the courses (and dates, and grades) I took with that professor.  I also gave them a list of my extracurricular activities.  Most of my recommenders said that my list made their job easier.  It also made their letters more "personal."  (Trust me... Even if you were her best student ever, if you took her class three semesters ago, she'll appreciate the reminder.)

Just to be polite, I also asked my recommenders if they had time to do this (they did) and if they felt that they could write an unqualified recommendation for me (they said they could).  You wouldn't have to ask either of these things, but I wanted to make sure that they had no hesitations about recommending me.  If they did, I would have asked someone else.

Good luck!

ben

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2002, 10:16:56 AM »
Quote
Whatever you do, make sure you're clear and specific.  Just say something like, "I'm working on my law school applications and would like you to write a letter of recommendation for me.  Would you be willing to do that?"


I disagree. This might put them in a position where they might not feel comfortable writing the letter but feel like they have to do it anyway. The result of this would be a letter that is less than enthusistic about you.

The best thing to do is to ask in a manner which gives them an easy out, e.g. if they have time to write you the letter.

CoconutX

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2002, 02:36:40 PM »
You should absolutely ask in person.  Asking by email is too cowardly and can make you appear immature.  Be straightforward when you do ask, and give them an out.  Tell them that if they don't feel comfortable writing the letters for you, that you would prefer they be honest about it.  It's much better to be rejected than to have someone write a lukewarm letter about you.  Good luck.

Kyle Krater

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2003, 05:45:53 PM »
I would not give them a way out!  You need this letter.  Show up to office hours with a personal statement and a couple research papers from that class, or even another class in order to give the instructor an idea as to how you write.  Thank them for seeing you and cut to the chase.  In my  opinion, professors would much rather have students be frank with them than blow smoke up thier rear-end.  Good luck!

Second of Eight

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2003, 07:47:23 AM »
Yes, do not give your professors a "way out" when asking for a recommendation. Tell them they must comply. Resistance is futile. Assimilation of their recommendation is inevitable.  ::)

Lia

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2003, 04:31:33 PM »
I was SOOOO nervous about asking one of my professors for a recommendation also.  I didn't have anyone else to ask because this professor I had had the past 3 semesters.  I finally got the nerve to visit him during office hours and I said, "I wanted to ask you a favor.  I am applying to law school and need a letter of recommendation".  Before I even finished my statement, he said "I would have no problem writing you a letter".  I was floored!  I don't know if I was expecting him to say no or what!  I don't remember anything after that -- I was genuinely relieved!

So, the point of the story is... it will probably turn out better than you think, but you won't know until you JUST DO IT!!!!

Good luck. ;D

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2003, 12:08:55 PM »
Get letters of reccomendations from the profs that you can trust the most to give you the best and most unique reccomendation as humanely possible.  But do not force a prof to do it, or it may end out negatively.
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1L2004

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Re: How to ask for a letter of rec?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2004, 01:44:06 AM »
This is what should be done...

1) Find professors who meet the following criteria: (a) knows something (anything) about law school, lawyers, politics, argumentation, philosophy, sociology, etc.; (b) teaches a course you actually liked and did well in. 

2) Approach the professor by scheduling a meeting to "talk about law school." Don't just pop the question...this is sort of like a proposal so take it seriously. 

3) At the meeting, ask them for an honest appraisal of your fitness for law school.  If they say you suck or show any reluctance, go elsewhere.  This question is to make sure that they are actually going to recommend that various schools admit you. 

4) Pop the question; many posters above have given excellent advice on wording. 

5) don't hand over the forms just yet.  Get back to them in a few days with a dossier.  This should include all the school-specific forms and envelopes, the LSDAS forms (so you can apply to all the places you won't mention to the prof because no one would think you're "Harvard material"), draft(s) of your personal statement(s), a resume, copies of significant work you've done in the prof's class (I included two papers, one from each class I took with a recommender - so each prof got to see the work I'd done in the other's class), a brief letter (to the prof) with info about your favorite schools and chances of getting in, the Academic Summary from LSAC, the LSAT score conversion chart for your test, the pages from the LSAT/GPA calculator with schools to which you are applying highlighted and notes on chances of admission...all this stuff allows the prof. to literally write you into the school of your choice if you have borderline numbers and they think you should still get in.  It also shows that you've done your homework and that you are serious about law school.  Remember, a personalized dossier increases the chance of a personalized rec.

That's the deal.

Also, look for diversity in recs. Don't just go to your adviser and your favorite teacher by default.  I didn't ask my adviser to recommend me because I haven't seen him in over a year. Go outside your department to get recs from the perspective of different academic disciplines...the admission folks don't want one-hit wonders (unless you're from MIT and can write a program to predict the outcome of any case...in which case flee, because some judge will lock you up and lose the paperwork).