GETTING STRONG RECOMMENDATIONS
- Start early.
First, it’s courteous to give plenty of notice. It can take time to write a great recommendation letter, and recommenders need to carve out space in their schedules. Plan ahead so you’re not asking during a particularly busy time of the year such as exams, the first week of class, etc. Additionally, you want your prospective recommenders to have plenty of time to think about your accomplishments and to write you a thoughtful letter (rather just throwing one together quickly).
- Give yourself multiple options.
Just because you ask someone for a recommendation doesn’t mean that he or she is obligated to provide one! If a prospective recommender declines or seems lukewarm, you’ll need to reach out to other prospective recommenders, so think about other potential sources for recommendations beyond your top 2 or 3 choices.
- Get personal.
It goes without saying that you need to be confident that the recommendation will be positive. But beyond that, you want a recommendation that matters. Reach out to professors and employers who have interacted with you – they’ve seen your work and can speak to your specific strengths. These people can give more than just employment dates and class grades; they can advocate for you. They can provide examples of how you’ve stood out: a great paper you’ve written, a project that you led, how dependable you were in a high-pressure situation, how your performance compared that of other employees or students.
- Help them out.
Don’t just ask for a letter and leave it at that. Talk to your recommenders about your plans and goals. (They should at least know that you’re planning to attend law school!) Provide your resume and a relevant writing sample/class project/example of your work to remind them of your accomplishments, and let them know how to submit the letter to LSAC.
- Send a thank you note!
It’s just polite. And you might want a future recommendation from the same person, so make sure to let him or her know how much you appreciate their support as you prepare for your legal education.