Law School Discussion

"Awesome/Great" LORs and PS

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2005, 10:34:04 PM »
If you're curious how to tell, see this link: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/admissions/2005/11/19#a11

Too bad I signed that "I never get to read this letter" line on the LSAC form. doh!

hm.. how do i check whether or not i checked the box? and if it turns out that i didn't, when do i get to read theM? :)

Law2k6

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Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2005, 11:58:17 PM »
If you're curious how to tell, see this link: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/admissions/2005/11/19#a11

Too bad I signed that "I never get to read this letter" line on the LSAC form. doh!

hm.. how do i check whether or not i checked the box? and if it turns out that i didn't, when do i get to read theM? :)

There's a way to indicate on that cover sheet you print out and give to your profs whether or not you waive your access to the letters...likewise, many schools ask the same thing. I'm not sure how to gain access, since I waived my rights. (I heard it looks better if you do that because (a) it shows confidence, (b) it means the writers can be more candid.)

thescreed

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2005, 12:18:35 AM »
I don't think it can be really great unless the professor says something along the lines of "best in my career." Anything less than that can't be better than good, because there are thousands of professors out there who work hard to advance their students' careers, and nobody asks for a LOR unless they're certain it will be positive -- ergo, there will be huge numbers of "glowing" LORs.

Non-academic LORs, I'm sure, are more hit and miss. Most supervisors don't get to know 100+ underlings per year the way professors do, so they're not in as good a position to judge over the entire applicant pool.

All that said, I've seen two of my letters, one good (from a great source) and one great. Confidence is extremely high on the letters from profs. Yet I don't think they will make much of a difference . . .

Law2k6

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Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2005, 12:26:35 AM »
I don't think it can be really great unless the professor says something along the lines of "best in my career." Anything less than that can't be better than good, because there are thousands of professors out there who work hard to advance their students' careers, and nobody asks for a LOR unless they're certain it will be positive -- ergo, there will be huge numbers of "glowing" LORs.

Non-academic LORs, I'm sure, are more hit and miss. Most supervisors don't get to know 100+ underlings per year the way professors do, so they're not in as good a position to judge over the entire applicant pool.

All that said, I've seen two of my letters, one good (from a great source) and one great. Confidence is extremely high on the letters from profs. Yet I don't think they will make much of a difference . . .

You're probably right. I think letters matter when the numbers aren't enough. If an adcomm has two people with comparable numbers and EC activities but one has great LORs and the other has average LORs, they'd go with the person who has better letters. Like you say, all letters are good. What prof would want to sink his student?

snikrep

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2005, 12:46:59 AM »
Yeah, all these, "brightest person I ever knew" kind of makes me suspicious... if they're a teacher and the brightest person they "ever knew" is a student they've only met after how many years of studying in college, graduate school, researching, etc. - how pathetic is that?!

I mean, if it's really true, you'd think that would make it into their obituary someday: "Dr. Wispen met the smartest person of his life in the sophomore philosophy class he tought at age 55.  Soon after, he recommended this person to Harvard Law School, and never saw her again.  He told this story for the next 40 years, even on his deathbed, recalling that lone, brilliant genius."

thescreed

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2005, 01:08:00 AM »
Yeah, all these, "brightest person I ever knew" kind of makes me suspicious...

I'd be suspicious, too, if it was phrased like that. But there is a huge difference between "brightest person I ever knew" and "one of the best students I've encountered to date in my career." It's the latter that makes a great LOR.

snikrep

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2005, 01:28:06 AM »
I think I will have great lors.  One of the people I'm asking wrote me one for a scholarship last year, which I got to read.  It was really glowing.  I had some great ones in high school too.  One teacher said "the most innately bright person I've ever met", which I think is awesome.  My ps will probably be good. I write great short essays and my ps for college was kept by my guidance counselor and is used with my permission as an example now. 

That's what I was referring to...

Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2005, 02:42:12 AM »
I think mine is pretty good, enough to grab attention I hope-talk 4 small(15-30) people classes with prof. Has a PhD, JD, etc etc, worked for LA city attorney and retired and then became a professor. He and I are good friends on first-name basis, and he wrote my recommendation to become an RA.
My other ones are from a professor I knew in a small seminar and an English prof who I took a few small classes with and offered to write me one if I ever wanted one and thinks that I am challenging and engaged.

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Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2005, 02:57:14 AM »
I think a lot of people posting in this thread are missing the point. People will always ask for a letter from someone they know will write something very good about them. How would you know if your letters are "outstanding" and better than the vast majority of law school applicants?

As far as the PS goes, I think it's a reflects the special qualities of the applicant. If your PS shows something very unique about you that youre trying to show the adcomm it's probably a good PS. In my opinion a good personal statement is a statement that concisely and clearly tells the adcomm what it is youre trying to tell them about you.

Law2k6

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Re: "Awesome/Great" LORs and PS
« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2005, 05:03:06 PM »
I think a lot of people posting in this thread are missing the point. People will always ask for a letter from someone they know will write something very good about them. How would you know if your letters are "outstanding" and better than the vast majority of law school applicants?

Right. Basically, we can't know unless we read a bunch of letters written for other people and for ourselves. However, some elements that make a letter better are:

- Mentioning specific examples that illustrate characteristics. Rather than saying "Joe is smart" saying "Joe consistently received the highest grades in my classes." Or give examples of how the student showed leadership or other characteristics instead of just saying "Sally is a good leader."
- Writing specifically about traits important for law, such as strong analytical skills.
- Comparing the student to other students, such as "one of the 10 most dedicated students in my 30 years of teaching."

In a sense, a LORs should be viewed like interviews, where the adcomm is interviewing the prof. so see what he thinks of the applicant. The writers should answer questions like, "what are some ways Bob demonstrated his ability to think critically?" The "how", "why", and "in what ways" are much better questions to answer than "what do you think about ____?"

I suggest How To Get Into The Top Law Schools (Revised) by J.D., Richard Montauk for a good discussion of this subject. Seriously, I wonder how many people get to see their letters. Is it common? And beyond that, how many people get to read other people's letters?