How many letters of recommendation will I need to get for law school? Should at least one be from a professor?


Derek Meeker, Former Dean of Admissions for UPenn Law School & prior Recruiting Manager for global law firm

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Most law schools require a minimum of two letters of recommendation. If you are applying to law school directly from college or within a few years after graduating, you should have two letters from professors. Because you are applying to a rigorous professional academic program, most law schools want letters from people who taught you and can comment with specificity on your academic ability, particularly with regard to the skills that are necessary for success in law school (e.g., writing, critical thinking and reading, analytical, and oral communication skills, work ethic, initiative, class participation, ability to work well with teams, etc.). Thus, if you are currently a senior in college, but planning to apply to law school at some point in the future, it is a very good idea to secure letters NOW from professors (while their knowledge of you is fresh) so that you have the letters on file. If you have been out of college for several years, professional letters of recommendation from employers are typically sufficient. Also, many schools will allow you to submit up to three or even four letters of recommendation. The ideal situation is to have a diverse portfolio, e.g., two academic letters, a professional letter from a supervisor at a job or internship, and perhaps even a letter from an advisor who can speak to your service and leadership on campus, or a supervisor who can speak to your volunteer work or community service. But always remember: quality trumps quantity. Just because a school will allow you to submit more than two letters doesn't mean you should. A mediocre letter will not benefit your application, and could even hurt it. Any letters that you submit should be from people who know you well and can write a detailed letter with specific examples of your academic potential, work product, character, service, etc. Letters from family friends, high-ranking political figures, or celebrities will do nothing for your application if the person writing the letter doesn't know you well and cannot discuss your potential for success in law school.

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