Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: What to do if I have no good recommenders?  (Read 1793 times)

LawSchoolDunce

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
    • Law School Dunce
    • Email
What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« on: November 30, 2006, 07:22:38 PM »
My family has been in an f'ed up financial situation for the past 4 years or so. Because of this, I worked full-time and attended Hunter College at night. Due to my personal time constraints and the fact that Hunter is a urban/commuting school, I didn't really have a chance to cultivate the sort of personal relationship with professors that seems to be necessary for law school recommendations (if I'm to believe everything I've read in these boards and other places).

Even the professors that I had for more than one class didn't really get to know me personally (or vice-versa). My favorite professor, who mostly knew me based on my class performance, would only have written a general recommendation, I think. Incidentally, I did approach him and he told me to find a tenured professor to do it because it would look better than a recommendation from an adjunct (I think this may have been his polite way of declining).

I don't know what to do. From what I understand, general recommendations are worthless. I can't get one from my employer of the past several years because I left the job on bad terms.

Are there alternatives?

ě

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 4603
  • non sequitur
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006, 07:25:33 PM »
A general one beats none, and if the professor is kinda nice he might not reveal that he doesn't know you very well.

keepup

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 739
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2006, 12:45:02 PM »
Even if you didnt have a personal relationship with any of your professors...couldnt you ask a professor whose class you got an A in? Perhaps an upper level course in your major? Just a suggestion..I wish you the best of luck.

Zam

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3096
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006, 01:02:51 PM »
People always advocate recommenders who know you on a personal level. Frankly, I think this is kind of a crock. You want someone who knows about your intelligence and work ethic. If you've spent a lot of quality time sharing your mutual tap dancing hobby that's nice and could possibly add another dimension to the rec, but it's not necessary.

Ask the professor again, tell him that you really enjoyed his class and explain your situation. (Kind of like you did in this thread). Give him an out, tell him to think about it for a few days and let you know by __day. Also, let him read your essays and explain to him why you are going to law school.

Good luck!

iscoredawaitlist

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2575
  • The beagle puppy of anticipation
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2006, 01:55:09 PM »
People always advocate recommenders who know you on a personal level. Frankly, I think this is kind of a crock. You want someone who knows about your intelligence and work ethic. If you've spent a lot of quality time sharing your mutual tap dancing hobby that's nice and could possibly add another dimension to the rec, but it's not necessary.

Ask the professor again, tell him that you really enjoyed his class and explain your situation. (Kind of like you did in this thread). Give him an out, tell him to think about it for a few days and let you know by __day. Also, let him read your essays and explain to him why you are going to law school.

Good luck!

i agree although i think that personal relationships can be a huge boon at times (more willing to write about you, possibly can better judge your abilities, etc), but law schools know that not everyone is going to have a chance to be chummy with a prof.

LawSchoolDunce

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
    • Law School Dunce
    • Email
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2006, 02:22:27 PM »
I can no longer ask that one professor for a recommendation because he moved to Austin, Texas over the summer (something about being attacked by a homeless person in Central Park turned him off of NYC for good).

I recently handed in a final assignment that's been due for over a year. The professor was very nice about it (I had a personal situation) and he agreed to write a recommendation for me. To make the recommendation good, I was thinking about giving him the following materials:

-A few different PS's (I haven't decided which I'm going to go with yet)
-The assignments I did for his class
-A 1-2 page(s) personal bio
-My resume
-The addendums I'm including with my applications


Is there anything I should add or omit from the above list?

Zam

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3096
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2006, 02:32:03 PM »
That list seems pretty comprehensive. Just make sure you give everything a spelling and grammar check before you hand it over, and get it to the prof. soon, and you should be in business.

parsley

  • Guest
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2006, 01:36:22 PM »
Quote
I recently handed in a final assignment that's been due for over a year. The professor was very nice about it (I had a personal situation) and he agreed to write a recommendation for me.

Um, no. This sounds like a TERRIBLE person to write your LOR.  It's been due for over a year??? Personal situation or no, nice or no, this is NOT the person to write you a glowing letter about your ability to handle the workload at law school.

Also, the Tenure V. Adjunct thing was a BS reason.  The guy just didn't want to write it for you.

You need at least ONE academic LOR.  I'd get someone who doesn't know you but you did well in the class and turned in assignments on time rather than the one who knows you from being a slacker.

ě

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 4603
  • non sequitur
    • View Profile
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2006, 04:05:01 PM »
Although I initially agree that this professor is not the best choice, it will be perfectly fine if you make sure to read the LOR before sending it. In some cases this mean you will explicitly not waive your rights, other professors (both of mine) allowed me to look over the letter before it was mailed. It is quite possible this professor is willing to write you a very good letter even though you may not have performed optimal in his class.

parsley

  • Guest
Re: What to do if I have no good recommenders?
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2006, 04:26:29 PM »
Refusing to waive your rights doesn't mean you get to see it before the professor sends it in.

I think the OP should get one of the "damning with faint praise" anonymous good student letters rather than the "damning with bad things" risk of this recommender.

The only context the OP used to describe this prof is that of a teacher who was understanding about you turning in an assignment one year later to complete the class.  That really is a less than ideal LOR situation. 

Also, I did not go to office hours for any professor at all. Ever.  But I managed to develop good relationships with several professors in small discussion classes through active participation.  OP, did you take any seminars?  10-20 people?  You can distinguish yourself beyond academics even without hanging around faculty lounge!

Sounds like you're in a bind and desperate for anybody to write the letter.  But that doesn't mean you should jump at the first person who says yes!