Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are required for almost every law school application and can be an important part of your application. Each school's application information should state the number of required letters, typically 2 or 3. If you have more letters than you need, you can consider submitting an extra one if it is strong and doesn't just duplicate your other letters.  

Who to ask? Most schools want to know about academic potential, so at least one letter from a faculty member is usually required. Ask faculty who know you well and who know you have the skills needed for law school. It is a good idea to get to know your professors early in your undergraduate career. Be active in class, take more than one class from professors, do research or an independent study, and go to office hours. You want more than a letter that just says you took a class from this professor. You might also include a letter from someone from your job or internship who knew you well. Don't use letters from family or friends or from political figures who don't know you.  

Set up an appointment to talk about your request in person. Ask the potential recommender if he/she is willing to write you a strong letter in support of your application. Remember, people do not HAVE to write you a letter and they may turn you down. Be ready to talk about why you think you would do well in law school and about your skills and positive characteristics. Show that you have done your research into law school and that you have a reasonable chance of being admitted. Bring copies of useful information, such as your resume and personal statement. Give professors a list of classes and anything else that you took with them and the dates. Talk to them about the kinds of things they might write in a letter. If there are problems in your background, a letter writer that you trust may be able to help explain and/or mitigate them (if you feel comfortable talking to them and having them write about the issue).  

Very important - be sure to ask early enough that the person has plenty of time to write a letter. The end of the semester can be a very busy time for most faculty, early fall is a better time to ask.  Be sure to make the letter writer aware of all deadlines. This is especially important if recommenders are planning on mailing a paper letter. In that case, plan on things taking even longer.  

Should you waive your right to see your letter? This is your choice. In general, most schools prefer confidential letters. The belief is that a recommender will be more honest when they are not worried about the letter being seen by the student. If you are uncertain whether a recommender would write a positive or a negative letter, you should spend some time talking to him/her about it. If you cannot do this or you still are uncertain, it is probably better to get a letter from someone else.  

Information about the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Service (LOR). Some law schools require you to use this service, most accept it but do not require it. Check each law schools application process to find out.