A strong law school letter of recommendation can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.
A good letter of recommendation provides detailed and accurate information about your accomplishments and what makes you a qualified law school candidate. These claims should be supported by examples - or, as we attorney’s like to say, evidence.
Use these quick tips to get the most effective letters of recommendation for your law school application.
Tip #1: Get Academic Recommendations
The admissions committee prefers academic recommendations. Law schools value an endorsement by a professor because your skills as a student are being evaluated.
But, don’t worry if you only have recommendations from professionals, or a mix of academic and professional. Get as many good academic recommendations as possible. Look elsewhere when needed.
Tip #2: Find Recommenders Who Feel Confident about Providing a Strong Letter of Recommendation
Only use recommenders who are 100% sure they can give a strong recommendation. This ensures you get quality letters of recommendation for your application.
When reaching out to recommenders, ask them outright if they feel confident writing a strong letter of recommendation on your behalf.
Give the recommender the opportunity to politely decline if they are not comfortable. If they express doubt, thank them for their consideration and move on to another prospective recommender.
Not sure how to contact a recommender with whom you’ve fallen out of touch? Check out How to Get a Strong Law School Letter of Recommendation Even if You Lost Contact.
Tip #3: Get Specific in Your Letters of Recommendation
Many recommenders will show you their letter of recommendation - check it for specificity.
Look for examples of your achievements and comparisons to other students. A generic letter that could apply to any applicant is not helpful to the admissions committee.
You may suggest changes to the letter, but only if the writer asks for your input. Do this by rewriting the letter and submitting it in an editable format. Always be tactful, polite and appreciative.
Bonus Tip: You May be Asked to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation
Don’t be caught by surprise if a recommender asks you to write your own letter of recommendation. This is not unusual.
Here are a few key points to include when writing your own letter of recommendation:
Write from the perspective of your recommender. Think about how they perceived your work.
Include details about your relationship with the recommender and how long you have known each other.
List your strongest skills and support each claim with an example.
End the letter with the contact information for the reference.
Send your draft letter in an editable form. The recommender can add or delete sections and sign when finished. Write well to make a good impression.
Remember to thank your recommenders for their support!