Fall Applicants — Now is the Time to Request Letters of Recommendation

Hopefully, you were able to attend Monday’s “Applying to Law School Workshop.”  If not, one of the items you missed concerned how to request a letter of recommendation.  Here is a quick recap.

  1. What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR)? A very important part of the application process, LORs should highlight your academic strengths and your personal qualities that will contribute to your success as a law student and as a lawyer.
  2. Who should you ask to submit an LOR on your behalf? Your letters should be written by professors or supervisors who are both in a position to evaluate your work and capable of expressing enthusiasm about your relevant talents and abilities.
  3. What is the best way to approach a possible letter writer? Make an appointment with your recommender to discuss your request. Explain your interest in law school and provide helpful information to assist the writer. This might include a copy of your transcript, a personal résumé that lists academic distinctions and accomplishments, and a copy of your personal statement or an explanation of why you want to attend law school. You may also wish to provide your grade point average and your LSAT score.  If you are unsure as to what the writer needs, ask him or her. 
  4. What constitutes a good LOR? The most effective LORs are those submitted by experienced professors or supervisors who know you well enough to describe your academic, personal, or professional achievements and potential with candor, detail, and objectivity. They will have a basis for comparison to other students/employees and will be able to describe your strengths and skills that are most important to the law schools — i.e., writing, research, communication, problem solving and exposure to the law, just to name a few identified by the American Bar Association in their Statement on Preparing for Law School, as key in preparation for law school. Contrary to (mistaken) popular belief, a famous faculty member, family friend or well-respected judge who cannot speak to relevant skills is not a good choice to submit an LOR. 
  5. When should I request the LOR? If you are applying this coming fall, you should make your request NOW If you wait until fall, other students will be ahead of you in line.  And what if your letter writer is supposed to be on sabbatical? By making your request now, you give your letter writer the opportunity to spend time crafting a strong LOR over the summer and having it ready to go when you start working on your applications early in the fall.  REMEMBER: law school admissions are rolling, which means the law schools can evaluate and make decisions on your completed applications upon receipt.  As such, it is better to be an early filer in a rolling admissions process. By asking early, you (hopefully) avoid the situation where you have completed all required application elements within your control but are waiting for an LOR before you can submit your applications. 
  6. What do I do if I am graduating and planning to apply to law school in a year or two? Stay in touch with people whom you think would be able to submit a strong LOR on your behalf.  Several of the law schools that require applicants to submit LORs prefer to have at least one of those letters come from faculty, even if you are not coming straight from undergrad to law school.  
  7. How does the recommender submit the LOR?  The process is handled through the applicant’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account which is set up via the Law School Admission Counsel (LSAC) website.  Every law school applicant is required to apply to law school through their CAS account.  Click on this link to learn more the LOR process.   You can also check out our Compass page for a very helpful handout on this topic. 

As always, if you have questions feel free to schedule an appointment with a pre-law advisor by calling the PLAS Office at 333-9669.