Applying to law school -- but the recommendations might say something else!
August 16, 2008 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out whether I need to ask for new recommendations for law school! Would old ones (two years old) be too general if they do not indicate my new-found but serious interest in law?

Here's the story: I'm two years out of undergrad. Right after I graduated I had three professors who were familiar with my good schoolwork my senior year write recommendations for me (they're all now stored in the Interfolio system after our school switched to them). At the time I was getting these recommendations to have on file for use when I thought I would apply to grad. school a few years down the road; I also had a vague interest in international affairs or public policy and communicated this to my recommenders.

Now, after working at a nonprofit for a year, I've decided to apply to law school, with the goal of working in public service. If I managed to get the Interfolio recommendations from two years switched over to LSAC, would it be a good idea to use one or two of them, even though they'd be pretty general and might indicate interest in subjects other than law? (I obviously plan to waive my rights to see them so that all recommenders can express themselves freely.)

I also plan on getting a recommendation from an attorney who supervised a lot of my work at the nonprofit, so I'd just need one or two quality recommendations from professors.

Further, I have since occasionally corresponded with one of the professors who wrote one of the original recommendations -- telling him of my interest in being an attorney in public service, and the professor confirming that interest, saying that he thought it sounded like a good choice. I could ask him for a new recommendation now that he's more filled in on my reasons and thinks it's a good path for me, but was curious what all the AskMeFites thought... thanks for your help!

[I have indeed reviewed previous threads on recommendations, but my precise question wasn't addressed.]
posted by midatlanticwanderer to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would say that more recent and more specific letters are going to be better. I was out of undergrad for three years before I went to law school so I didn't even bother getting college professor letters. My letters were from recent employers and lawyers I knew or had worked with. To make it easier for the people providing the recommendation, I wrote them myself and asked each person to review and sign. This also enabled me to craft the letter for what I thought the admissions people wanted to see.

Good luck! Law school is great (not being sarcastic).
posted by Miastar at 12:56 PM on August 16, 2008

Definitely return to your recommenders and ask them to revisit your recommendations. You can't control how law-specific they make them, but there is little downside. They should be willing, at a minimum, to slap a new date on them -- the hard work is done -- and simply making them up to date will dispel any impression that an old letter is being used to cover some intervening issues.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2008

Pick one of the professors and tell him you want him to write you a recommendation for law school. Include the highlights of your work with him in undergrad and what you've been doing since then. Easy as pie!
posted by lockestockbarrel at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: Good thinking, thanks everyone!
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 6:34 PM on August 16, 2008

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