Law school letters of recommendation are the one part of your law school application that you won’t get to see before submitting your materials. While it’s important to choose someone who can speak positively about you, you can also do a number of things to ensure that you get standout letters.
1. Offer speaking points.
Letter writers all have a lot to balance on their plates – your professors, for example, are probably overcommitted. In addition to doing research for their upcoming history book, they’re also writing articles for journal publication and teaching you in class.
That said, they probably don’t remember every detail about you… particularly when you factor in the hundreds of other students they teach. Even if you know your professors well, you want to be sure that they’re aware of your strengths before writing recommendations on your behalf.
Draft some concise speaking points about your performance in their class or on their research team. Give specific examples.
2. Share why you’re interested in law.
Your manager at work might not know why you’re on a path toward law or why law school is the right next step for you. But a letter that clearly shows support for your interest in law will be that much stronger.
A 30-minute meeting can help ensure that you get a chance to share with your letter writers how law matches your career interests and what you’ve been involved with outside of work or school to support your goals for law school. In other words, provide your letter writers more context about why you’re interested in a legal career.
3. Quality matters over quantity.
Oftentimes, schools will allow you to submit anywhere from two to four letters of recommendation. Don’t feel the need to provide the maximum number of letters if you don’t know enough people to get four outstanding letters. Even if you do have four contacts who could write you excellent letters, you might want to submit different letters to different schools. For instance, if one of your professors was a graduate of one of the law schools to which you’re applying, you might target that letter specifically to that school. LSAC has a really helpful page on how to direct your law school letters of recommendation to specific schools.
Just remember, turning to professors who can only write about you generically or vaguely is not a smart idea, even if that will mean you’ll have additional letters in your admissions file.
4. Provide your application materials.
Allowing your letter writers to see your resume and application essays (such as your personal statement and optional essay) will help them better understand your motivation for going to law school. These materials can also offer insight that will likely result in stronger letters of recommendation.
For example, if your recommenders see that you’ve emphasized your research abilities and accomplishments in your resume, they can help further highlight that strength in your letters.
Looking for advice on who to ask for a letter of recommendation? Check out our post here.