What do I ask my recommenders to write?
The following are acceptable topic areas:
- Length of time and in what capacity the recommender has known you.
- Writing ability, speaking ability, and other academic strengths you possess.
- Advantages you may bring to law school.
- Capacity for original thought, growth potential, and the ability to analyze and critically assess information.
- Special characteristics you may possess such as motivation, judgment, maturity, and creativity.
This information should be in the form of a letter, on letterhead, and with an original signature, unless otherwise specified in the application packet. Most law schools use the Letter of Recommendation service provided by LSDAS. LSDAS will add your letters of recommendation to your Law Report. For more information, visit the LSAC web site Are school-specific letters better?
Yes and no. Letters of recommendation are down on the list of important admissions factors, after the LSAT score, GPA, and personal statement. They are usually used in close calls, or to differentiate folks in the “middle of the pack.” If you have someone who knows you well who can personalize your letter (like an alum from the particular law school), that’s great. Send his or her letter separately to that law school. If you simply want to change the heading on each letter to reflect the name of another school, it is not really necessary to do so, and the general or generic letter will do. These letters aren’t really personalized, after all. A truly personal letter is one tailored to a particular school for a particular reason. Most of your letters will not be of this type, but if you have one, then use it. Remember to waive your right to see your letters of recommendation; waived letters are considered much more credible. When should I ask my recommenders for their letters?
Your first contact should be early. It is not out of the question to give your recommender one to three months notice. Once you have signed up for LSDAS and found out what each law school expects, you will need to provide your recommenders with the necessary paperwork. Letter of Recommendation forms can be downloaded from the LSAC Web site.
Allow at least one month for your recommenders to write a letter; check in with them (occasionally) to gently remind them of your deadlines and to provide additional information, if needed. Keep in mind that LSDAS may take up to two weeks to process your letters of recommendation. You want to have your letters of recommendation available to be sent with the rest of the information within your Law Report (LSAT score and transcripts).Sbould I waive my right-of-access to the letters of recommendation?
The Federal Education Right to Privacy Act provides students with the legal right-of-access to letters of recommendation written on their behalf unless the right-of-access is waived. Thus, you have the choice about whether to waive your right to look at your letters of recommendation. However, it isn't really a choice, because a letter that is not confidential is basically discredited by law schools. Your recommender should be able to write the letter in confidence, and you should waive your right to see it. We recommend that you always waive your rights to read a letter of recommendation. If you have reservations about what a recommender might say about you, discuss it (diplomatically) with that person. If you still have doubts, don't ask that person to write your letter of recommendation.