College of Arts and Sciences
Applying to Law School

Recommendations

  • Similar to the personal statement, a letter of recommendation and/or the new evaluation form is one of the best ways that a law school can gain an understanding of who you are as an individual. Recommendations are also helpful in providing law schools with an understanding of what kind of student you are in the classroom. Most law schools require 2-3 letters of recommendation and/or evaluation forms and LSDAS will process up to three.

    I read each recommendation with three questions in mind: 1) How well does the writer know the applicant and the applicant's academic record? 2) What does the writer have to say about the applicant's abilities and characteristics which are important for success in law school and the profession? 3) In the final analysis, how enthusiastic is the writer's support for the candidate's admission to this particular law school?

    - Richard Badger, Assistant Dean, University of Chicago Law School

     

    As you start to think about who might write your letters of recommendation or complete the evaluation form, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

    Letter of Recommendation or Evaluation Form?

    Click here to learn more about the difference between the Letter of Recommendation and the Evaluation Form. 

    How well does my recommender know me?

    Your recommender should be someone with who you’ve had contact inside and outside of the classroom. In most cases, your recommenders should be professors, but for those who are taking a gap year(s),you could include a recommendation from an employer or supervisor if needed.

    The best way to form relationships with your professors is to:

    • Participate in class
    • Produce quality work
    • Take an active interest in the subject that the professor teachers
    • Take time to ask questions after class
    • Visit the professor during office hours
    • Participate in extra-curricular programs that the professor is involved in (if possible)

    Of course, you want to be sincere in your efforts and genuinely interested in the course and subject. It's best to take initiative early and start building relationships with professors during your freshman year. Remember, professors have chosen their profession because they want to have meaningful contact with students and help them achieve their goals, so they will appreciate you pro-actively taking the first step to establish a relationship. A professor will not be able to write a recommendation that sticks out from the crowd if they don't know you.

    What can my recommender say about my abilities and characteristics, which are important for success in law school and the profession?

    As mentioned above, it's best to have your professors write your letters of recommendation, since law schools are most interested in what kind of student you will be. Professors are the most qualified to talk directly about your writing skills, ability to analyze an issue, and the quality of your work. When considering who to ask, focus on professors with whom you've taken more than one class and who can comment on your reading and writing abilities; analysis and research skills; and critical thinking skills. These are the characteristics most valued in law school. If you've had a meaningful work experience or internship, you can also ask a supervisor to write a recommendation, but make sure you educate him/her as to what law schools look for in a recommendation.

    How enthusiastic is my recommender’s support for my admission to a particular law school?

    By being active in class, getting to know your professors, and producing quality work, a recommender's enthusiasm will take care of itself.

    If you didn’t do that well academically, this would be another opportunity to get a good recommendation from an employer, supervisor, or your academic advisor. However, as stated above, if the recommender if not familiar with writing recommendations, you’ll need to educate him/her as to what law schools are looking for in a letter.

    What information do I need to give to my recommender?

    • An unofficial transcript
    • Papers or exams that you did in the professor's class
    • A copy of your resume
    • A draft of your personal statement
    • Reference Letter Request form