Letters of Recommendation
Most law schools require you to submit at least two letters of recommendation. If no letters are required, you may choose to submit them if you think they will enhance your admissions package. The golden rule here is to request letters of recommendation from individuals who know you and your work well.
In general, admissions officers prefer letters of recommendation from members of the academic community. Professors who have taught you in class or supervised your research should best be able to assess and discuss your academic performance and your potential for success in law school. Admissions officers particularly value letters that contain specific examples or instances of your strengths or skills. Also, letters that place you in the broader context of your class or your school tend to be most useful. If possible, a letter of recommendation from a professor in your major should be provided. On the contrary, letters of recommendation from individuals who are well-known, but who do not know you well, are not particularly helpful to admissions officers and will not receive much attention. Letters of recommendation from individuals who know you from outside experiences, such as extra-curricular activities or work experiences, may be helpful to the extent that these letters address personal characteristics and strengths.
Because letters of recommendation are an important part of your application package, you should take care in (1) selecting the individuals (preferably professors) from whom you will request a letter and (2) providing information that will assist the individual in preparing a letter that will enhance your application. Following are some suggestions that might assist you in your effort:
- Choose a professor who knows you and your work well.
- Schedule time to meet with the professor to inform her of your plans to attend law school. (It is inadvisable, and disrespectful, to simply thrust a reference form or request upon a professor as she is leaving class.)
- Be respectful and direct in your request for a letter of recommendation. Explain briefly why you have chosen her to prepare a letter and discuss the relevant time frame for completing the letter. Ask the professor if she feels comfortable with your request. If the professor raises concerns about her ability to prepare a positive letter of recommendation or of meeting the time frame for completion, you should thank her for her consideration, and then choose another professor.
- Provide the professor with as much information as reasonable to assist her in preparing the letter. Typically, a copy of your transcript, resume, and personal statement are helpful. A copy of any papers or exams that you completed also might serve to refresh her memory of your work.
- Provide the professor with the Letter of Recommendation Form from the LSAC Registration Book or directly from LSAC's Web site at www.lsac.org. Please complete all sections of the form (such as your name and social security number) that do not require her attention. Present all of the materials to her in a file folder that is labeled and well organized.
- If the law schools to which you are applying require you to use the LSAC's Letter of Recommendation Service (LOR Service) provided through the Credential Assembly Service (LSDAS), follow the procedures specified by LSAC (as briefly described herein). To submit a letter, you must provide a prefilled Letter of Recommendation Form (obtained from the LSAC website) to each recommender. Each recommender must sign the Form, and send the completed Form along with her letter of recommendation to LSAC, which will forward the letter to each of the law schools you have indicated on your Registration Form. Each letter of recommendation must be received by LSAC at least two (2) weeks prior to a school's application deadline. Because many schools review completed application files on a rolling basis, you should seek to have your file, including the letters of recommendation, completed as early in the admissions process as possible. (You may wish to explain to each recommender the importance of submitting the letter of recommendation to the LSAC at her earliest convenience.) The LSAC will send an acknowledgement to the recommender. You can check the status of your letters of recommendation by reviewing your Monthly Activity Update report. Letters of recommendation to schools that do not use the LOR Service must be sent directly to the law schools. Please verify whether the individual schools to which you are applying require your letters of recommendation to be submitted through the LOR Service.