Law School Recommendation Letter Advice

LSAT Blog Law School Recommendation Letter Advice
The below excerpt about choosing recommenders for your law school recommendation letters is from A Guide to Law School Recommendations.


Balancing the Pool of Recommenders

You’ve undoubtedly heard that your letters of recommendation should be academically‐focused, and that’s true.  It’s also not enough information. What exactly that batch of academically‐focused letters of recommendation looks like depends on a number of factors, including whether the applicant is a current student, a recent graduate or has been in the workforce for a significant period of time and the scope of the applicant’s academic pursuits and what kind of range can be achieved within that pool.  This will, of course, be affected by the number of letters of recommendation a school requires or allows, which means that different combinations may be necessary for different schools.

For example, if you’re a current student majoring in Political Science, you might find it easiest to round up three letters from Political Science professors within your particular emphasis.  And it might turn out that that’s the best thing to do, all other factors considered.  But ideally you’d get one letter from a Political Science professor and one from a Writing instructor and one from your Critical Reasoning professor—or some such combination.

Or, the letters might actually come from three professors in the same department, but one might be a professor in whose class you did an extensive research project, and another might have supervised an internship on a political campaign and another might have taught a seminar which was heavily dependent on group discussion.  The upshot is that “academic” covers a broad range of skills and characteristics, and law school calls upon several of them.  The best combination of letters will highlight different skills and attributes in different contexts, letting the committee see your range and that you have things to offer across the board rather than in one narrow area.

If you’re a recent student, it’s generally still best to have most or all of your letters come from professors.  Depending on what you’ve been doing in the year or two that you’ve been out of school, it may make sense to obtain one letter from your current employer.  For instance, if you’ve been working in a research capacity, writing critical analysis or in some other way using the skills that will be relevant to law school, incorporating one letter from life after college will bring your recommendations current and demonstrate that you can apply the skills your professors speak of in other contexts.

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  1. What if I don't want my current employer to know I am applying to law school? Is it okay if I don't get a letter of reccomendation then?

  2. I asked my Business Law professor for a LOR, she said she would do one for me, but she made a very good point that she had 160 students and how can she get to know someone intimately enough to give them justice by providing them a LOR. After that I agreed and asked two other lawyers I have known for 5+ years and just forgot about the LOR from a professor. I am going on 49 years old and just now finishing my BA and will be hopefully going to LS in 2013 cycle.

  3. Anon1, it's not critical to get a letter of recommendation from your current employer--many applicants find themselves in exactly your situation. The key is balance; make sure that letters are from people with recent experience of your work/scholarship and that they cover a range of skills/perspectives. Anon2, you raise a very good point here that I hope will help those students who are reading this post earlier in the process: getting a good letter of recommendation from a professor does require personal knowledge, which means that it's well worth the effort to develop those relationships from the beginning of your college career. There's no substitute for personal relationships, but the package you prepare for your recommenders can be a powerful supplemental tool with a willing writer.