How to Get Great Letters of Recommendation for Law School (Part 1)

Hopefully you've been nice to your professors and bosses, since you're going to need several of them to write letters of recommendation for your law school application.

Check each application to see how many letters are required, but you generally need between two and four. If at all possible, the majority should come from academic references. If you've been out of school for a while, it's fine to include a letter from an employer, along with the academic letters, but try not to rely solely on employer recommendations.

Find the Ideal Recommender

What are you looking for in a recommender? Most critically, they need to know and like you. Ideally you've cultivated relationships with your professors, so there are a few who know you well and would be obvious candidates to help with your letters. Don't be shy about asking for help! Writing letters of recommendation is part of a professor's job, and most are happy to help.

I Can't Think of Anyone!

If you can't come up with anyone, think about the smaller classes you took, particularly if they were discussion courses. Would any of these professors be good candidates to write a letter on your behalf? If you're still in school, could you set up an independent study _or work on a _thesis project with a professor you like? Worst case, how about taking another course or two with one of your favorite professors and dropping by their office hours a few times during the semester? That's a great way to get to know your professors, as well.

Be Sure You'll Get a Good Recommendation

Once you've figured out who you want to approach, make sure you'll get a good recommendation. If you ask for a LOR and get anything other than "of course, I'd be happy to help," be careful. You don't want a lukewarm recommendation, so aim to give the professor an easy way out, if they seem less than enthusiastic. If they seem reluctant, something the lines of "I know you don't know me that well, so I understand if you're not comfortable writing a letter for me" can save you from a tepid recommendation. Getting enthusiastic recommenders who recognize your awesomeness is worth the effort! You want someone on your team, so find someone who thinks you're really great.

What Next?

Stay tuned for part two of How to Get Great Law School LORs, where we'll talk about the logistics of helping your recommenders give you the best possible recommendation. Want more advice on applying to law school? Check out Applying to Law School 101.

Having trouble deciding which law school is right for you? Check out our Law School Wizard for personalized recommendations!

Previously: 6 Savvy Ways to Make the Most of LinkedIn

Next: How to Get Great Letters of Recommendation for Law School (Part 2)