Law School Recommendation Letter


Basic Guidelines
When asking someone for a recommendation, you should submit to them the following:

Your name and contact information: In the event that the recommender has questions or difficulties he/ she should be able to easily reach you for quick clarification or discussion.

The recommendation forms: Many applications have pre-printed recommendation forms for you to give the evaluator. All information except that pertaining to the actual recommendation should be filled out by the student in advance. Make certain that you complete the basic information portions of the form, including your name, social security number, and date. This seems trivial but it saves the recommender time and minimizes delay in sending out the recommendation.

Information and support materials: When asking faculty, you should also include a list of all classes you took with that person, including the semester you took each course. This allows the recommender to quickly access records and ensures that the he/she does not inadvertently overlook any classes you took. A formal resume is not necessary but if you have one, include it. If not, write down some basic information about yourself for the recommender. Do not assume that writer will either automatically recall or will research the classes you took and the specifics of your academic record. You may also want to include a partial transcript or summary. The more specific the evaluation, the more favorably it will be viewed by the admission committee. It will be easier for the recommender to write a detailed letter if the information is at his/her fingertips. Remind the recommender of your performance in past classes by submitting copies, if available, of any graded work from classes taken under their instruction. If you have some examples of your work from outside classes, it is acceptable also to include a copy for the recommender to quickly review.

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Clear instructions on the deadline and where the letter is to be directed: You should take care to provide the address to which the letter is to be directed. You should include pre-addressed envelopes and provide any necessary postage when appropriate. For law school admission, letters sent to the LSDAS will not be accepted without an accompanying form. Under normal circumstance, letters of recommendation should not be given to the student directly. If, however, the school requires you to forward letters as part of a single application package, request that your recommenders enclose the letter in a sealed envelope that is signed across the flap. This removes any questions about the letter’s authenticity and saves the delay of having to resubmit materials.

Waiving Your Right to See a Recommendation
Many law and graduate school admission forms require the student to sign a statement either waiving or reserving one’s right to see the recommendation. You have the choice, but the recommender should be aware if you have not waived your right. As such, the waiver section should be filled out and signed before being given to the evaluator. Many recommenders feel more comfortable writing a letter when confidentiality of their statements is ensured. This is not an indication that they are including unfavorable information, but rather allows uninhibited review. A letter might be more generic (and thus less effective) if the writer knows the student has access to the statement. Refusal to waive inspection rights may be interpreted as a lack of confidence on your part. The decision to waive or not waive is yours. However, if you are not certain that you will be positively evaluated by a particular recommender you should probably ask someone else.