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Carpenters have a rule of thumb before sawing a piece of wood: "Measure twice; cut once."
It works for many ventures, including the adventure of law school. For aspiring law students seeking letters of recommendation, it starts with thinking twice. Here are a couple of tips:
First, choose wisely when it comes to selecting professors to write your letters. Second, never draft the letter for them.
We all know what happened to the man who drank from the wrong cup in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Don't be that guy.
The point is, the path to law school requires good choices. It starts with choosing people who can write good letters of recommendation.
There are guidelines, including the Law School Admission Council rules against any misleading information. That includes "submission of an altered, nonauthentic, or unauthorized letter of recommendation."
In other words, don't pick a professor to sign or rubber-stamp a pre-drafted "nonauthentic" letter for you. If they are too busy to write the letter themselves, they are too busy.
Don't Write the Letter
U.S. News & World Report, the primary source for law school rankings, says law school admissions committees can spot bad letters. But prospective law students can help recommenders write good ones by giving clear directions.
"The recommender should know that he or she needs to provide detailed impressions of you and your work based on your joint experiences, and your guidelines should specify that," U.S. News suggests.
In a good letter, the recommender should also compare the student to classmates or peers. That will give a more objective evaluation than some student-written letters of recommendation.
At the end of the day, one good letter can make all the difference.