Law School applications can be time consuming and stress inducing. It is crucial that you get stellar law school recommendations from whoever is writing your letters. In order to ensure your recommendations are the best they can possibly be and that they reflect all your strengths in the best possible way, you need to chose your recommenders carefully, give them plenty of time to write the letter, and give them as much information as possible about your background and what law schools are looking for in a recommendation letter. Make it as easy as possible for them to write you a law school recommendation letter.
Be prepared to follow each of the “letter of recommendation” requests below with a phone call or in person meeting to further discuss what you would like the recommender to ask. Don’t be surprised if they ask you directly: “What should I write about you?” Be prepared with themes and examples for them that will tie in with the rest of your application and present you as a perfect law school candidate. It is also a good idea to attach your resume to these requests so the person writing your recommendation has accurate knowledge of your experience, as you will present it to the law school.
When sending these requests via e-mail, keep the subject line simple and direct. An example would be: “Recommendation Letter for Law School.”
Template 1:This template can be sent to a professor. In this case, the writer had fallen out of touch with the professor, having been out of college for two years. The professor was chosen as someone to write a recommendation because she is now working at the applicant’s first choice school and knew the applicant well during college. The applicant received strong grades in this professor’s classes and is confident that the professor can attest to her strong academic aptitude as well as her ability to succeed in law school and the legal profession. Fill in your own information where the “xxxx” appear and make sure to customize each paragraph to your experience. My comments appear in [brackets].
Dear Professor XXXX,
I hope this note finds you well and that you are enjoying some nice weather in Los Angeles. We are under a snowstorm in Boston – the second one in two weeks. I’m sure you don’t miss it! [The first sentence or two provide a way to open the letter in a lighthearted way.]
I am writing to ask if you would be willing, time permitting, to write a letter of recommendation for me for my application to law school. At Boston College, your classes were on my favorites list and hugely contributed to my development and growth as an individual. Although it has been some time since you moved to the University of XXX, I wanted to ask you first for a letter because I believe you were familiar with my approach and dedication to academics. [In this paragraph make sure you clearly state what you are asking and why.]
Law schools value letters from professors that can contribute to their evaluation of whether I would be an asset to the school and whether I would have the academic fortitude to withstand the demanding curriculum. [This gives the professor an idea of what to write about.]
I am currently applying to law schools for admission in September 200X. My top choice is the University of X as I have been intending to move to XXXX for some time now. Combined with its ideal location, University of X is a top choice for me for a number of reasons. It is a top law school with distinguished professors and a wide-ranging curriculum. I am particularly interested in doing a joint degree program to also receive an MBA; if I were admitted, I would be applying for the joint degree program during my first year of law school. University of X also stands out from other schools because of its strong Clinical Law Program where students have the ability to contribute to the community by working with real-life clients during law school.
I became interested in law school over the past year and a half as xxxxx [explain why you are interested in law school]. The more I learned through my own conversations with lawyers, the more I became convinced that this was the right path for me. Although I haven’t yet decided what type of law I would focus on, I would like to use my education to continue working with xxxxx [write something about what you would like to do with your law degree].
Over the last two years I have been working for [take the next 2-3 paragraphs as needed and depending on how much this professor knows about you, to describe what you have been doing since college and how this experience will be an asset for you in law school. What have you learned? What skills have you developed? Talk about skills specifically required by law schools – leadership, community involvement, analytical and communication skills… do your research and tailor your description of yourself in a way that will allow the professor to paint a solid picture of you as a candidate for admission.]
Thank you in advance for your time, and consideration. I also wanted to extend an additional thank you for the time I spent under your instruction. I really enjoyed your courses and often go back to my notes and my books. I am not sure when my next trip to XXX will be. I hope that we will get a chance to meet for tea or coffee if you are available. [Don’t forget to profusely thank the recommender whether they end up writing the letter or not.]
If you are available to write a recommendation letter, please let me know and I can send you further information. [Be prompt and follow up with all the appropriate forms, steps and stamped envelopes] My applications are due by xxxx.
I look forward to hearing from you and I wish you a very Happy New Year!
All the best,
[In your signature provide your contact information]
Template 2:The e-mail template letter of recommendation request below is directed to a colleague. If your place of work does not know of your intention to apply to law school, this is an ideal template because it does not state that you will necessarily leave the company. This letter would work well for a peer or a superior who is not your manager but knows your work and professional aptitude well.
First off, Happy New Year! I hope you had a great night celebrating and that you are enjoying the time off! [Come up with some type of opening sentence as introduction to the e-mail]
I am writing to ask if you could, time-permitting, write a recommendation letter for my application to Law School for September 200X. I became interested in law school xxxxx. The more I learned about law school and the more I thought about my career objectives, the more I became convinced that pursuing a degree in law would be a good path for me.
[Take the next 2 paragraphs to describe why you think you would be a good candidate and what you intend to do with your law degree, if you know this. If not, don’t be afraid to say that although you haven’t yet decided what area of law you want to focus on, you believe that a law degree will help you develop in a certain way, or help you achieve certain personal and career goals.]
Having received my LSAT score, I have decided to apply to the following schools: XXX, XXX, XXX, and XXX. Whether I go to school in September depends on a number of factors. First, obviously, is whether I am accepted to one of these schools. Secondly, I would need to carefully examine financial aid as well as my work in our company. Despite this, I feel it is important to keep some options open at this stage and I feel confident that going to law school, whether it’s next year or some time down the line, would be a good path for me. [This paragraph leaves it open whether you are going to leave the company or not to avoid stirring any trouble for you internally, while also showing the recommender your commitment to a career in law at some point.]
The deadline for the law schools to receive the letters of recommendation is xxxx. If you feel that you would have enough time to write a letter of recommendation, I can give you the addressed envelopes next week. The way it works is that the recommender writes her letter and sends it to the law school service that compiles each person’s application. Once that service receives the letter, they send it to all the law schools I am applying to. Therefore, the letters need not be specific to each school and you need not worry about mailing different copies – it can be one general letter that will be sent to each of them by this service. [This describes the letter of recommendation law school process to make it easier for the person writing the letter and show the person that they should not procrastinate if they take on this commitment. Always give the person a deadline that is well in advance of the actual application deadline, time permitting.]
I wanted to ask you to write this letter because of the range of work we have done together over the last years in different capacities as well as the respect I have for your work and opinion. I feel that you would be able to write about my analytical, problem-solving and communication skills, my professional aptitude and diligence as well as my ability to work well with and provide high quality service to diverse, global clients, handle heavy work loads and my potential to be successful in law school and beyond.
Basically, law schools are looking to get a well-rounded picture of each candidate. In recommendation letters, the Law School Admission Committees prefer specific examples and details about each candidate. They are also looking for people who will make a unique contribution to the diversity of their campus and to the school’s community based on the candidate’s past experience and future potential in excelling in a career that will use the law degree. [These last two paragraphs describe what law schools look for in letters of recommendation and guides the person writing the law school letter of recommendation on what to write; you are also telling them why you chose them to represent you.]
I know this is going to be a busy month at work so I understand if it won’t be possible to do this – either way, I appreciate your help!
Thank you very much for your help.
[In your signature provide your contact information]