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CorporateSpence

Law School References

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Just wondering as to everyone's thoughts on the importance of references. For most schools they are a compulsory part of the application, but are they given much weight in the final decision?

 

 

 

Also, if you used a professor as an academic reference, how well did you know him/her? I'm in an UG program in which the classes are sometimes rather large and I don't have too many profs who know me on a first name basis. None of these could vouch for me in an outside of the classroom context. Is this standard for most applicants, or should I really start with the apple polishing?! :b

 

 

 

Thx

 

CorporateSpence

 

 

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Yes, definitely start with the apple polishing. A number of schools require two references, usually academic. There are are many schools that are number schools primarily, such as UBC, Alberta, Manitoba, York, TO, Queen's, Western. If you have the numbers you will get in as long as your reference provides modest approval. Schools that more seriously look at your references and personal statement are Ottawa, Windsor, Calgary, Victoria. There are another 3 or 4 schools that I have not mentioned as I don't know them well enough.

 

You really need to go to each schoo's web site and read carefully what they say about references and the admission requirements.

 

 

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UVic doesn't require letters of reference and they do not consider them in the normal admissions process. I believe this may be the same for U of T?? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

 

 

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UofT is optional. If you submit one, I think they'll look at it if needed. I didn't submit any.

 

 

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I had the same problem when I begun the admissions' process last fall. Most of my 1st and 2nd year classes were very large. Of the few that were smaller, one professor had left for parts unknown, and another taught a class where my performace was good but consisted solely of a midterm and final (not much to put into a reference letter). I ended picking an English elective since I'd written many essays and done well (prof remembered my work), as well as a generic science class (Chemistry) since it was the focus of my studies. Solid but probably not outstanding reference letters.

 

 

 

In hindsight, I probably wouldn't have 'apple polished' but would have taken a more active role - gone to see professors (traditionally I've only gone maybe once or twice per class with a few questions before an exam) and just overall made an effort to be seen in a positive light (give the prof a chance to associate your face with your good work).

 

 

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It looks like I'm going to have to make a bigger effort to be "visable". I'm assuming most profs have to write these things a few times a year and it isn't a big deal when they get requests.

 

 

 

CorporateSpence

 

 

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I just wanted to encourage anyone looking for a reference letter to choose profs they are sure have a genuine desire to help. If you have the choice between going for a well-known prof who only sort-of knows you and a lesser-known one who you know is really going to make an effort on your behalf, go for the latter.

 

 

 

This year when my office was hiring new staff, we had two women apply who both had a reference letter from the same prof. And guess what? It was the exact same letter. Word for word, except for their names and which class he knew them from. It was a very well-respected prof and a very unconvincing and mediocre letter, and it didn't do much to help either woman's application.

 

 

 

A letter full of genuine and specific praise will be a lot more useful to your application than a lacklustre letter from a big name.

 

 

 

It also helps to give your referee a CV and a general outline of your goals, personality, specific circumstances, interests and activities, etc.

 

 

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