Students applying to law school directly after graduation or within a few years of graduating should include at least two letters of recommendation from professors. Most schools allow you to submit three letters and in that case, your third letter might come from an employer or internship supervisor.
Letters of recommendation are organized through the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) run by the Law School Admission Council. Students need to set up an account with the LSAC both to register for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and to apply to law schools. Once students have a CAS account, they can send electronic requests for letters to their recommenders or download recommendation forms that they then submit to their recommenders. The recommender usually writes one general letter of recommendation and uses the electronic link to send the letter to CAS. Alternatively, the recommender can send their letter along with the recommendation form the student provides, directly to the CAS. Students are notified once the letter has been processed and is in their file. They can then direct the letter to any law school to which they are applying.
Tips for Applicants
Whom to Ask?
- Current students typically should obtain at least two academic references.
- The longer the applicant has been out of college, the more reasonable it is to seek only one academic reference and one or more from employers or supervisors. But, generally there should be at least one letter that speaks to the applicant's academic abilities and potential.
- Prior to asking for the letter, get to know a couple of your professors.
- Take more than one class with a professor that teaches a subject that is interesting to you.
- Go to the professor's office hours with questions from class, to ask them about their research, or for academic advice.
Asking for a Letter of Recommendation
- In choosing a recommender, think about professors or supervisors with whom you would feel comfortable chatting during office hours.
- Ask for a recommendation in a way that gives the professor a graceful way to decline if they are not able to write a strong letter on your behalf.
- One way might be to ask if the professor would feel comfortable writing a "strong letter of recommendation" for you. This gives them the opportunity to say that they could write a letter, but that there is likely a professor the student knows who could write a stronger letter.
- Since law schools will take letters for which students have waived their right to access (an option on the form you provide to the recommender) more seriously, you want to make sure you are asking for letters from professors/supervisors who will write good letters on your behalf.
- Provide the professor with as much information as possible.
- Provide information on your overall GPA and LSAT score(s). You might also let them know the law schools to which you plan to apply.
- You should offer to provide papers written for the professor's class, information on which semester(s) you took their course(s), your grade in that/those course(s), and a resume.
- If you have completed your personal statement prior to requesting letters of recommendation, you might also provide the professor with a copy of your statement. This is not absolutely necessary, but it might help the professor know a little more about you and personalize their letter.
- At a minimum, provide your recommenders with information on what you do outside of the classroom, or outside of work if they are a supervisor.
- Give recommenders at least two weeks to write the letters and provide them with a deadline by which you want the letter in the mail. In determining this deadline, consider that it will take up to a week (maybe more during December and January) to reach CAS, get processed and be available in your account
- Write a thank you note shortly before the deadline you provided. Not only is this a courtesy, it can be a reminder to complete the recommendation.