Letters of Recommendation

How to Decide Who to Ask:

Do not use references from your friends or relatives, or recommendations from people who do not really know you. A common mistake made by applicants is to think that the prestige or position of the writer is more important that what the person is able to say about the applicant.

A recommendation that is able to compare you to another that has provided his/her sucess, has the making of being an outstanding recommendation.

A recommendation that is purely laudatory can lose some of its credibility and be viewed with some skepticism. A Small flaw embedded along with much praise is likely to be viewed as more real.

The Process:

Provide the writers with a package of information which should include:

  • A resume
  • Information about your grade point average, LSAT score, unusual circumstances or trends
  • Highlights of significant experiences and/or awards, responsibilities, above average leadership responsibilities
  • Copies of papers you did, if any, with comments by the writer of your recommendation.

Make an appointment to meet with the writers in person and be prepared to discuss why you want to go to law school and what you are hoping to do with a law degree.

Be active in expressing what you are hoping the writer will include in the recommendation. A professor's letter should evaluate rather than descriptive. The response will be a good indicator as to whether or not this is likely to be a useful recommendation for you. IT is appropriate to ask if the writer is able to write a positive letter on your behalf. If you are unable to get a firm yes, then it is better to look elsewhere.

Essentially, a good recommendation will convey the writer's enthusiasm and support for you as an applicant to law school. Provide an envelope stamped and addressed to Credential Assembly Service as a courtesy and to facilitate the process for your recommender.

Allow at least 4 or 5 weeks for the tasks to be completed by the writer.

Remember to write a thank you note or stop by in person to express your appreciation.

To the Reference:

  1. The law school admissions process is very competitive. Please write as specific a letter as possible, bearing in mind that a law school admissions committee wants to know primarily how well the student reads and writes, if the student is capable of adapting to the discipline of law school, and will the student reflect favorably on their law school.
  2. Be specific about the student's coursework. Was the course a demanding one? How well did the student perform on both oral and written assignments? Did the student do anything in particular which stands outs in your mind; e.g. did the student write a term paper or essay which you considered superior? Is so, indicate the topic and why it was a superior work. Note the student's potential for intellectual development.
  3. Indicate how long and in what capacity you have known the student. If you are familiar with non-academic achievements (e.g., extra-curricular activities), please note these. Also note other background characteristics which may be useful (e.g., work experience, bilingual ability). Convey facts, not judgements alone. Do not use unsupported adjectives.
  4. Please forward your letter directly to the Creditential Assembly Services on the form provided by the student.
  5. Keep a copy of every letter of recommendation you write.