By Alexis Cristo
Are you thinking about applying to law school for next fall? If so, you need to start thinking about all the pieces of the application puzzle, including letters of recommendation.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from prospective students is “Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?” This is a good question and an important one to consider. Here are four tips on who to ask:
Tip #1: Recent college graduates should get a faculty recommendation.
If you are planning to attend law school immediately or within one year after college, it is highly recommended that you have a faculty letter of recommendation. Your professors and college advisors know you best and are best able to describe your abilities, unless you have been working full time during college. For those who have been out of school for two or more years, an employer letter of recommendation is completely appropriate and may be more relevant. Of course, this is not a steadfast rule. Perhaps you had a successful summer internship during college and that employer knows you very well. On the other hand, even after several years in the workforce you may still have established long term relationships with a college faculty member.
Tip #2: A good recommender knows you well.
Who has seen you grow the most? Is there a particular class that you struggled in but were ultimately able to overcome a hardship and succeed? Did you flourish in a particular school or work project that was overseen by a supervisor? Consider who knows you and has seen your grow throughout your academic or professional career. Remember, it’s not always important to ask the professor you received an A from or the supervisor who has worked with you on one successful project. You need to think about who knows you the most and has seen you develop intellectually and personally.
Tip #3: Be sure your recommendation speaks well of you.
Who can speak favorably of your skills and personality? This may seem obvious but when you are thinking about who to ask for a letter of recommendation, be sure they will have something positive to say about you. In fact, when you ask someone to write a letter for you, it’s ok to ask them if they would be willing and able to write a favorable letter.
Tip #4: Be prepared and keep in touch with your recommenders.
Once you figure out who you will ask to write your letters of recommendation, make sure you make the task easy for them. Log in to your LSAC.org account to find the instructions on where the letters should be sent. Ask your recommenders early and give them plenty of time to prepare the letters. Once the letters are written, send them a thank you email/note. Finally, keep them updated! Let them know the results of your applications and your ultimate plans for law school.
Alexis Cristo is the Associate Director of Law Admission at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. She also is a double Suffolk University alumna, earning her BS in ‘07 and JD in’12. Before joining Suffolk Law Admission, she worked in private practice in Boston. Learn more about Suffolk Law at suffolk.edu/applytolaw.