Whom Should You Ask?
In general, the most effective letters are written by faculty members who know you well and respect your academic skills, such as your academic advisor, thesis advisor, a professor who has taught you in two or more courses, or one who has worked with you on a faculty committee. Choose at least one referee from this group, and a second, if possible. Another good option might be an internship supervisor who observed your work closely over the summer, is a member of the legal profession, and can speak to your law-related skills. Avoid personal connections and people with a high profile who don't know you well.
How Many Do you Need?
Typically, law schools require from 2 - 4 letters, but you should check your target schools' websites for their specific requirements. Stick to the minimum number unless an additional letter offers a significantly different angle or perspective. CAS makes possible to label and designate letters according to your wishes, if you would like to ask certain people to write tailored letters to specific schools (e.g., an attorney who supervised you and is an alumnus of that school).
What's the Protocol when Requesting Letters?
When requesting letters of recommendation, meet with each person in person or via zoom or phone to discuss the request. (Don't ask for recommendations by email.) Many referees find it helpful to know why you are asking them specifically and to discuss your goals and relevant traits. When you meet, be ready to:
- Share the names of the people who you are asking and explain to each how they could contribute to the overall picture.
- Outline the specific traits, behaviors, and experiences you would like each to focus on as they relate to law.
- Brainstorm together ways they have been able to observe these traits that you hope they will touch on in the letter.
- Provide a copy of your personal statement so they know about your motivation to attend law school and are aware of key points about why you feel qualified to do so.
- Give them a copy of your resume and a "A" paper or exam that they graded to remind them of your intellectual strengths.
After you meet, send them an email message:
- outlining the key points you're hoping they will include,
- stating your working deadline (NOT the last minute!), and
- providing them recommendation forms through the CAS and outlining the process they will use to submit it to the LSAC,
Even if requested, don't agree to draft the letter for yourself, which is a form of misconduct in the eyes of the Law School Admission Council.