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Letters of recommendation (LORs) can be quite influential in admissions decisions. With this in mind, we encourage you to consider the following:
When should you begin thinking about LORs?
Begin early in your academic career. Give your professors a chance to know you by going to office hours, asking meaningful questions, actively participating in class discussions, and seeking advice and then demonstrating that you can follow it. Cultivate these relationships by staying in contact with these professors even after the class has ended and potentially taking a second class from the same instructor.
- Plan to acquire recommendations by the end of your junior year if you are applying in your senior year. If plan to take time off before applying, request your letters of recommendation before you graduate.
Whom should you ask to write your LORs?
Most schools specifically request, or prefer, recommendations from someone who can evaluate your academic performance. We recommend that you request a minimum of two academic references from professors or GSIs.
Choose someone who knows you well. The prestige of the letter writer will have little influence if the letter is superficial and fails to evaluate your academic ability or professional contributions or potential.
- Additional letters of reference from employers/supervisors will help to round out your application. (Check with each school to verify that they will accept more than two references.) If you graduated two or more years ago, a letter of recommendation from your employer or supervisor is expected.
How should you ask him or her?
Whenever possible, you should ask to meet with the letter writer in person. This will give you the opportunity to access his or her enthusiasm for you as an applicant. When in doubt, politely ask if he or she is able to write a strong recommendation for you.
Bring relevant materials such as a résumé, brief statement explaining why you are interested in law school, and a writing sample, if available. Your recommender may not want these items, but it is best to be prepared.
- Be sure to discuss a specific deadline for submitting the letter.
What are the characteristics of a good LOR?
● The letter should specifically assess your academic achievement and potential, contributions to class discussion, capacity for analytical thinking, and writing ability. Additional comments that reflect on your character, maturity,insight, organization, commitment, etc. are also valuable.
● Whenever possible, the letter should include concrete examples, such as performance on a particularly challenging or presentation.
How should the letters be sent?
● Most law schools require that applicants use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to process all aspects of the application.
● Enter your recommenders’ information into your CAS account. You will have the option of sending an email directly from your CAS account. Your recommender will then submit their letter directly to CAS.
● The Law School Admission Council, which oversees CAS, provides details about how to manage your letters of recommendation.