Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: Letters of Recommendation

Tiger professorHopefully you’ve been nice to your professors and bosses, since you’re going to need several of them to write letters of recommendation for you.

Check each application to see how many letters are required, but you generally need between two and four. If at all possible, the majority should come from academic references.

If you’ve been out of school for a while, it’s fine to include a letter from an employer, along with the academic letters, but try not to rely solely on employer recommendations.

Find the Ideal Recommender

What are you looking for in a recommender? Most critically, they need to know and like you.

Ideally you’ve cultivated relationships your professors, so there are a few who know you well and would be obvious candidates to help with your letters.

If you can’t come up with anyone, think about the smaller classes you took, particularly if they were discussion courses. Would any of these professors be good candidates to write a letter on your behalf?

If you’re still in school, could you set up an independent study or take an additional course with a professor you like? Dropping by office hours a couple of times during the semester is a great way to get to know your professors, as well.

Spell Out Exactly What They Need to Do

Once you’ve nailed down your recommenders, it’s your responsibility to ensure they know exactly what they need to do, and in what timeframe.

You have to register for the LSAC reporting service before any letters can be submitted on your behalf, so do this as early as possible to avoid inconveniencing your recommenders.

If possible, get the contact information for each recommender’s assistant, so you can follow up and make sure everything is submitted in a timely manner.

Provide a Copy of Your Application

Your letters of recommendation will be most convincing if they echo the themes of your application.

How can you accomplish this? The easiest thing to do is to give each recommender a copy of your application essay, so it’s clear why you’re applying to law school. It’s also helpful to have a conversation about your goals and plans, of course, but leave something in writing that your recommender can consult after you’re gone.

Start Early and Expect Delays

It’s inevitable that many of your recommenders will procrastinate. Be prepared for this eventuality by asking well in advance and setting your personal deadlines well before the application deadlines.

Keep in mind that it will take at least two weeks to process your letters after they’re submitted to LSAC, so you don’t want to leave this task until the last minute!

How to Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In

Find out how to make every component of your law school application the best it can be:

Want more detailed information on LORs, including scripts to ask a professor to write a letter on your behalf? Check out this guide to asking law school professors for LORs.

Return to Applying to Law School 101.

Need advice on letters of recommendation? Leave questions in the comments!

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