Letters of Recommendation for Law School (FAQ)
How important are letters?
Usually LSAT scores and grades factor in most heavily; however, strong letters of recommendation are important for your law school application.
How many letters of recommendation do I need?
Generally two to three. Send the number of letters requested by each law school.
Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation?
The best letter writers are those that know you well and can provide an evaluation of your ability to perform and succeed at law school. The following make the best letter writers:
A professor at UCSC, particularly one who can address your reading, writing, critical thinking and analytic skills.
A professor at another school you attended.
A professional who has supervised you in a job or internship in the legal field.
How do I approach potential letter writers?
Set up an appointment to discuss your request in person. Second best, talk with your proposed letter writer on the phone. Do not make the initial request via email. Be prepared to articulate your interest and reasons for attending law school. Ask potential letter writers if they are willing to write you a strong letter. If you sense reluctance or the answer is “no”, move on and ask someone else.
When should I approach letter writers?
Approach them at least two months before you need the letter.
What if I plan to take some time off before I go to law school?
If you plan to take some time off before going to graduate school you can open an LSAC account and pay for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). You can then have your letter writers send letters to your LSAC CAS account and they will be stored in your CAS account until you are ready to apply to law school.
How do I get my letters sent to my LSAC/CAS account?
Follow the instructions in your LSAC.org account to submit your requests for letters. Once you have entered your recommender information you may submit your request for a letter from your LSAC.org account. An e-mail that includes the prefilled LOR (Letter of Recommendation) form will be sent to the recommender. Or, you may print out your prefilled LOR form to give to your recommender. The form will be barcoded and prepopulated with your information and your recommender's information. Allow two weeks from the time of receipt for LSAC to process your letters. If you have questions about any of the above, call a LSAC Candidate Service Representative:
Phone: 215.968.1001 and press 0 to speak to a representative
Hours: September to February, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 7:00 pm (ET); March to August, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:45 pm (ET). Our busiest day is Monday; avoid delays by calling later in the week.
How can I go about getting good letters of recommendation?
Make an effort to get to know your professors and/or supervisors. Speak up in class, select courses with small class sizes, take more than one class from a professor, do research for a professor, take on optional projects, and regularly attend office hours. Also provide your letter writers with ample information about you. This way, you will get a letter that includes concrete details about you.
What information do my letter writers need to write good letters?
1. A cover note to your letter writer that includes:
* Information on how to get in touch with you in case they need to reach you
* What you would like emphasized in each letter
* A list of law schools to which you are applying and due dates, with the earliest due date at the top
* Any other information that is relevant
* Open and close your note with thanks and that this letter is important to your professional future.
2. Your unofficial transcripts (note courses you took with them)
3. A draft of your personal statement.
4. A copy of your best work in the course (with instructor comments on it), lab evaluations, projects, etc.
6. Your resume
7. Make sure that you letter writer has the LSAC recommender form to send with the letter, or the email request from LSAC in order to send the form in to your LSAC account electronically.
My Teaching Assistant really knows me; can I use a letter from him/her?
Yes, you can, but as a general rule, it is better to have letters written by professors rather than TAs. The professor may be in a better position to evaluate you and to compare you to current and previous classes of students. TAs often write fine letters and frequently write parts or all of letters which professors sign. Be sure to check with the professor before taking this approach.