Letters of Recommendation

The best recommendations come from professors who know your work well and can give specific examples of your exemplary qualities.

Law schools normally ask for a minimum of two letters of recommendation. The best recommendations come from instructors who know your academic work well, who can evaluate your intellectual capabilities and potential to study law, and who can give specific examples of your stellar qualities. Try to get at least one letter from a professor in your major.

Only if you have been out of school for at least two to three years should you submit a work-related recommendation in lieu of an academic recommendation. (For more information on recommendations when you have been out of school for a while, see our page on Taking Time Off.) However, you may want to supplement the required number of recommendations with one from an employer, internship supervisor or coach if that person is going to say something significantly different from your academic recommenders. The CAS letter of recommendation service has information on the minimum and maximum number of letters each school will accept—read the directions carefully, and don’t exceed the limit.

The academic rank and title of the recommender is less important than the quality of the recommendation. Admissions committees are not impressed with letters from famous politicians or judges that are overly effusive and have little content. The admissions committee will wonder why you couldn’t get a recommendation from an instructor who knows your academic work.  An enthusiastic and detailed letter from a graduate student Teaching Assistant is often more persuasive than a lukewarm boilerplate letter from a well known professor.

Meet in person with all potential recommenders. Approach them well in advance of any deadlines. Ask them if they feel they know you well enough, and have a high enough opinion of you to write a positive, contentful letter. Offer to provide them with additional information such as your transcript, a draft of your personal statement, a resume, or copies of papers or exams you submitted in their course. If the person is new to writing recommendations for law school, s/he might want to check out our Tips for Recommenders page.  Make sure you let each recommender know when you hope to complete your applications.

All schools ask that you send your recommendations through CAS. Your recommenders only need to send or upload one letter to LSAC which will forward your letters of recommendation to the schools you apply to.  Ask your recommender whether s/he prefers to send a hard copy or upload an electronic version, and then follow the appropriate procedures. (Please note that you cannot access the LSAC LOR forms until you have registered with—i.e., paid for—CAS.)

With all recommendations, you will be asked if you waive the right to see the letter. Law schools admissions officials tend to believe that letters are more candid when applicants waive this right.

Note: LSAC ended its “Evaluation” service as of August 6th, 2016. Know that any references you may see to “Evaluations” are out of date, and should be ignored.

Tips for Recommenders

If you are a graduate student, faculty member or employer who is new to writing recommendations in general, or to writing law school recommendations in particular, this page is for you. Law school admission committees look to recommendations first to confirm their sense of the student’s academic potential, and...read more »