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How To: Letters of Recommendation

Published May 18, 2017

Excellent letters of recommendation stem from good relationships. Good relationships experience growth, change, and shared experiences. For law school, strong academic letters of recommendation are crucial in the application process. 

Having a professor write about your ability to learn, grow, and succeed will help improve the strength of your application. Let it be clear that you do not necessarily have to get A+ in class to receive a good recommendation from your professor. Sometimes students who struggle at first or overcome obstacles are the ones who have the best recommendations because they show strength, perseverance, or improvement. Applicants should make sure they only request recommendations from people they trust since they will typically not see the letter before it is sent. Don’t ask someone with name recognition (congressman, senator, famous person) to write you a LOR if they don’t know you personally, the name recognition will not do anything for you.

Letters of recommendation are a very important part of the application and should be taken seriously. Be considerate to your recommender and to yourself by giving your recommender information on your goals, accomplishments, and experiences that have shaped who you are. If it is someone you are close with and feel they know you very well, a phone call or an email asking them to write it is suffice. If you are not as close with your recommender, request to meet with them or take them out for coffee to go over the qualities you want them to highlight in their recommendation.

If you have a weak LSAT or GPA, it is very important that your recommender focus on your academic ability in their letter. Additionally, recommenders are typically faculty or adjuncts who are very busy, make sure to ask for the recommendation with plenty of time for them to submit it. It is better to err on the side of giving them too much time than not enough time. With that said, make sure your recommender is clear on the procedures for submitting their letter through LSAC.

Here are some characteristics your letters of recommendation should highlight: hard-working, focused, committed, driven, grit, moral/integrity, ability to overcome obstacles, passion for service, outstanding skills or academic ability, leadership.

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Amber Melvin '13 is the Marketing and Recruitment Coodinator for the Office of Admissions.

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