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lawgirl101

Is it bad to send more reference letters than what is requested by the application?

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In my articling applications, if I have three really great reference letters, and the application only asks for two letters, is it bad to just include the third too? Will this be frowned upon? 


Particularly wondering for a MAG articling position, however would be open to know what people think about a firm articling application too. Is there a difference between the two?

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If the application asks for two just submit two. Most people can get three references that they personally think are really good. A third won’t help your application.

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Failing to follow instructions is a bad way to make a first impression with a legal employer. 

I would probably bin your application. 

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On 7/3/2019 at 6:26 PM, lawgirl101 said:

In my articling applications, if I have three really great reference letters, and the application only asks for two letters, is it bad to just include the third too? Will this be frowned upon? 


Particularly wondering for a MAG articling position, however would be open to know what people think about a firm articling application too. Is there a difference between the two?

The recruiter’s first thought will be that you didn’t read the posting. I doubt that’s the impression you want to give.

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On 7/3/2019 at 6:26 PM, lawgirl101 said:

In my articling applications, if I have three really great reference letters, and the application only asks for two letters, is it bad to just include the third too? Will this be frowned upon? 


Particularly wondering for a MAG articling position, however would be open to know what people think about a firm articling application too. Is there a difference between the two?

Follow the instructions..

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I think this depends on the wording of the instructions. If it says "up to" or "maximum" 2 letters etc. then obviously don't go over it. If it's in a list of application requirements, but it's ambiguous as to whether more would be okay, I don't think it would tank your application if you sent three.

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On 7/7/2019 at 11:43 AM, kiamia said:

I think this depends on the wording of the instructions. If it says "up to" or "maximum" 2 letters etc. then obviously don't go over it. If it's in a list of application requirements, but it's ambiguous as to whether more would be okay, I don't think it would tank your application if you sent three.

I have to go with the crowd here. If the posting says "Two letters of reference" and an applicant sends three or four, I don't know if I would bin their application, but to me it would probably be a negative. 

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You could always put a line in there somewhere saying, "Additional references available upon request", but I would agree with the majority - follow the instructions in the job post. As someone who has reviewed articling student applications,  I don't know how impressed I'd be if applicants started submitting all sorts of "extras", expecting me to have all the time in the world to review them. It also comes off as somewhat unfair to the applicants who followed the instructions, who might otherwise have all sorts of "extras" (extra reference letters, extra writing samples, etc.). 

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I've sent three for applications that wanted two and still got the interview (I believe the DOJ being one of these). Not saying you should follow my footsteps but I highly doubt they'll throw out your application. I think it's more of a minimum to deter people who don't have any. 

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Following instructions for apps will never become a problem.  Not following instructions may. Why take the chance? Follow the instructions. When an employer asks for two LORs, it isn't a request for a minimum of two. It's a request for two LORs.

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Purely as a matter of personal opinion (as I am a fresh call who was never in a position of reviewing job applications), I do not see anything wrong with putting a comment in a cover letter / e-mail to the effect of: "Please find enclosed the requested materials, A, B and C. For your added consideration, I also enclose [reference letters 3 and 4]." It shows that I clearly read the postings instructions, but want to go above and beyond to sell myself for this position.

I would especially do this for places that request specific reference materials, but not reference letters, and I want to include those letters anyway. For places that request a specific number of reference letters, I'd be more hesitant, but may still do it (for example: if my '3rd best reference,' in terms of quality, is from a lawyer for whom I did work in a practice area relevant to the job I'm applying for). 

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I mean if you're a good candidate for a job they're not gonna throw out your app because god forbid you have three great recommendations instead of two. And if they do.. Then they've got other issues. But once again, erring on the side of caution might be best. I'm not an employer and I can't speak for any place. 

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Following instructions is always a good idea. In my eyes, instructions are there for a reason and not following them is a sign of either stupidity or arrogance, or both.

We once had an individual directly email multiple partners with their application, instead of following the prescribed method of submissions. Sure they stood out from the crowd, but in a way that did not get them an interview.

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I'm putting together applications for 2L summer positions. Any advice on the number of reference letters that is appropriate when letters aren't explicitly requested? I don't want to overdo it. Thanks!

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19 hours ago, Laracroft said:

I'm putting together applications for 2L summer positions. Any advice on the number of reference letters that is appropriate when letters aren't explicitly requested? I don't want to overdo it. Thanks!

Again, purely speaking as a matter of personal opinion as someone who has no experience in recruitment: if you have three letters,  include them, even if (hopefully just one) is mediocre or generic. If you have more than three, I would only include 4 or more if all the letters are very strong.

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38 minutes ago, TheLegalSeagull said:

Again, purely speaking as a matter of personal opinion as someone who has no experience in recruitment: if you have three letters,  include them, even if (hopefully just one) is mediocre or generic. If you have more than three, I would only include 4 or more if all the letters are very strong.

This is bad advice. Why even include a mediocre or generic letter of reference at all? If the application asks for two, pick and send two. Then at least you control the process. If you send more, you run the risk of a recruiter ignoring the application because it failed to follow instructions, or deciding to read two of the three. Then you've lost control over your own application.

This debate is academic anyway because the people that could conceivably have three game-changing LORs are not going to struggle looking for a job to begin with. Much like ECs, people constantly overrate the value of LORs, and a ton of firms don't even accept or consider them for good reason.

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31 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

This is bad advice. Why even include a mediocre or generic letter of reference at all? If the application asks for two, pick and send two. Then at least you control the process. If you send more, you run the risk of a recruiter ignoring the application because it failed to follow instructions, or deciding to read two of the three. Then you've lost control over your own application.

This debate is academic anyway because the people that could conceivably have three game-changing LORs are not going to struggle looking for a job to begin with. Much like ECs, people constantly overrate the value of LORs, and a ton of firms don't even accept or consider them for good reason.

If you read carefully, you would see I am responding to a post which asks about how many LOR should one send as a general rule of thumb, without being excessive, wherever a posting does not refer to LORs at all.  So my opinion (on this specific question, not the original post) is based on my personal view that sending 3 LORs and 2 generic LORs is no better than simply sending 3 good LORs, but sending some LOR - even if not a glowing one - is better than sending nothing (although others may reasonably disagree - this is just what I think is a reasonable view).
 

Edited by TheLegalSeagull

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23 hours ago, Durga said:

I mean if you're a good candidate for a job they're not gonna throw out your app because god forbid you have three great recommendations instead of two. And if they do.. Then they've got other issues.

As several people have pointed out, the problem is that the employers want you to follow the instructions. Following instructions is very important. A lawyer needs an articling student to follow instructions, because, if the student missed the instructions or ignored them, then there's a good chance they're going to fuck something up. Fucking up is bad. Lawyers don't want students who will fuck up. If you don't want to look like you'll fuck up a lot, follow the instructions. 

Also, it's one more letter from an applicant's perspective. Lots of articling posts get hundreds of applications. If everyone sent an extra letter, then the lawyers would have hundreds of extra letters in front of them. They don't want that. 

Edited by realpseudonym

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24 minutes ago, TheLegalSeagull said:

If you read carefully, you would see I am responding to a post which asks about how many LOR should one send as a general rule of thumb, without being excessive, wherever a posting does not refer to LORs at all.  So my opinion (on this specific question, not the original post) is based on my personal view that sending 3 LORs and 2 generic LORs is no better than simply sending 3 good LORs, but sending some LOR - even if not a glowing one - is better than sending nothing (although others may reasonably disagree - this is just what I think is a reasonable view).
 

If the application doesn't request any you shouldn't send any. It's quite simple.

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I don't think reference letters count for much - anyone can find someone to write them a nice reference letter.  But would I notice if we specifically said "send no more than 2 reference letters" and you sent in three? Absolutely.

I don't care that your first year contracts prof thinks you're a swell guy, I am much more interested in whether you know how to follow instructions.

Edited by beyondsection17

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