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Law School Recommendation Letter Templates – with Samples

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The law school letter of recommendation (LOR) is a document used to support a student’s application for law school, one which will often play an important role in the outcome of the individual’s acceptance. Although there are a few institutions which don’t put much weight behind the letter of recommendation, the majority of universities consider an application incomplete without two attached letters of recommendation.

These letters are most effective, if not only effective, when written by a professor or work supervisor who has had direct contact and ideally a fairly close relationship with the student. The fundamental purpose of an LOR is to give the law school admissions committee a firm understanding of the applying student’s eligibility, outside of the LSAT score and the student’s GPA. A letter of recommendation should first give confirmation of the student’s academic success and potential, and second provide testimony of any other skills, ambitions, or achievements that are indicative of a successful law student and lawyer.

Table of Contents

What to Include

Remember that law school is first and foremost an intellectual pursuit. While there are many ways to recommend someone, the main task of the law school recommendation is to underline the applicant’s likelihood to succeed in school. So, this letter should include:

  • An overview of the relationship between the recommender and the applicant
  • An summary of the applicant’s best qualities
  • Specific examples that support the letter’s claims and suggest future success in legal studies

How Many Letters of Recommendation for Law School Do I Need?

Requirements are set by the law school. In general, schools ask for at least two recommendations, and many offer the option to submit more.

But do not assume that sending more letters is necessarily better. Quality trumps quantity. Since this is a blind process, and you may not be able to preview letters before submitting them to schools, make sure that you are confident that your recommenders will provide positive endorsements.

Who to Select?

The applicant’s choice of writer is extremely important when requesting a law school letter of recommendation. The applicant should ask a professor, teacher’s assistant, or employer/work supervisor who has had direct contact with them, and who is able to attest to their potential as a law student.  Asking family friends, politicians, judges, or any professional outside a university setting is discouraged and can very often be detrimental to the success of the application. Many students will also be inclined to ask an individual based on their reputation and the prestige surrounding their professional title as opposed to how well they know the them as individuals; a letter from a teacher’s assistant who has a close relationship to the student will hold much more weight than one from a tenured professor who has had little to no contact with the student. The LOR writer must be able to provide specific examples of the student’s work and should avoid conclusory statements which lack evidence.

Who to Prepare

The student should select their references well in advance (junior year of undergrad) and give their selections proper notice (6-8 weeks) so that they can prepare for composition. If an individual has been asked to provide a letter of recommendation, he/she should first consider whether they can yield a strong letter based on the nature of their relationship to the student. If not, a direct conversation between the two should take place explaining why the letter can not be provided. If the writer complies, the student and recommender should meet to discuss the LOR. The student will ideally supply the writer with a portfolio containing the following:

  • Cover note which thanks the writer and contains the student’s contact info, the accomplishments/talents they would like emphasized, a list of schools for which they are applying (highlighting their top choice), any schools for which they will be needing a specific recommendation letter, due dates for submissions
  • A completed LSAC recommendation form
  • Unofficial transcript
  • A list of the work completed in the professor’s class
  • Copies of the student’s best work, especially that which has been graded by the instructor
  • Draft of personal statement (optional)
  • Resume

It should be noted that often universities will require students to use the Law Student Admissions Council’s Credential Assembly Service. This is a service that allows for the one time submission of all letters of recommendation and transcripts to the LSAC who will then distribute them to the law schools for which the applicant is applying. If the applicant chooses to use this service, they should provide the writer with instructions on how to submit their letters.

How to Write (Format)

The format of a law school recommendation letter follows that of a standard letter of recommendation, it will contain an introduction, body paragraph(s) (as many as is necessary), and a conclusion followed by an invitation to discuss the applicant further and the writer’s contact information. The most effective letters, as discussed, will come from a professor or direct work supervisor and the writer should explicitly detail their credentials in order to convince the admissions council that the letter is coming from a reliable source. It is important that a letter highlight the skills and character traits which are valuable in a lawyer; intelligence, communication (written and oral), leadership, creative/independent thinking. Those skills should then be supported by specific anecdotes/examples to illustrate the writer’s point. Furthermore, mild criticism can be used to strengthen the credibility of the claims provided in the letter. Comparing the pupil to his/her/their peers can often be the strongest statement within a letter.

Below we’ve detailed each section of the law school recommendation letter to provide instructions on how to produce as effective a reference as possible.

Introduction

The introduction will state the writer’s recommendation of the student, it will describe their qualifications as a reference, their relationship with the student, and why the student is deserving of a reference. The first paragraph should be concise, as the body paragraph(s) will expand on the claims relayed in the opening statements. Above the first paragraph, the greeting of “Dear Law School Admissions Committee” or “To Whom It May Concern” should be apparent. If the letter is not being emailed, but delivered by mail/in person, a letterhead with the author’s name and contact information should be included.

Example 1

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Samuel Johnson and I am providing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Jacob Rodriquez, an intern at my law firm. The selection process for an internship at Murray & Johnson is highly competitive as we take into consideration GPA, class ranking, oral and written communication skills, as well as recommendations from mentors and professors. Jacob’s resume and application enabled us to take select him immediately, after which he proceeded to exceed our expectations. I can wholeheartedly recommend this young man for law school.

The first example above is provided by an employer, seemingly a partner of the law firm at which the student in question did their internship. The paragraph states the qualifications of the writer, briefly states the qualifications of the applicant to be expanded upon later, and provides a strong recommendation as a conclusion to the introduction.

Example 2

Dear Law School Admissions Committee,

I am honored to be able to provide my recommendation for Aiko Takagaki, a student in my Honors Psychology course here at McGill University. Aiko is a disciplined, intelligent, and articulate student with boundless potential. I have taught thousands of students in my 8 years at this institution and I would place her in the top 50 undergrads. I’m certain she will continue to impress in a graduate school setting.

Our second introduction is addressed to the law school admission committee and is written by a professor from McGill University. She lists the student’s qualities, she details her teaching career, and she ranks the student in order to provide the reader with a comparison of the applicant to her peers.

Body Paragraph(s)

These paragraphs are where the writer will try to illustrate, in clear and persuasive language, exactly why the applicant would make a good candidate for law school. As the author is most likely a professor, this is an opportunity to relay how the student stood out among his/her classmates, and which instances led them to believe that the candidate possesses the characteristics of a successful lawyer. It is essential that platitudes and generalities are avoided and that the letter be as subjective as possible; this will convince the admissions council that the recommender’s argument holds water.

Example 1

Johnathon’s success as a writer is inevitable. Should he desire to pursue the career of a novelist, I will be the first in line for a copy. Should he decide on the life of an essayist, I will do everything in my power to assist him in achieving publication. And if he prefers journalism, I will subscribe to the publication for which he writes. There are very few students for whom I provide letters of recommendation as I rarely achieve a close enough relationship with a student to truly advocate for their achievements. My T.A. demanded that I review Johnathon’s work personally, in particular his essay on Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”, and from that point on, I took it upon myself to mentor this young man personally. Although I am aware of his decision to apply for law school, I am confident that he would triumph in any occupation where success is dependent on the individual’s writing prowess.

One of the most important skills that a prospective student can possess is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. The above paragraph is written from the perspective of an English professor who believes that the applicant in question is a gifted writer. This is a great example of a paragraph that will put the application over the edge for many admissions councils.

Example 2

I was fortunate to have the fore-sight to select Carolyn as our school’s representative at the UCLA conference on free expression. Students met and discussed with professionals in Law and Politics to prepare a presentation at the end of the conference. Carolyn assimilated the information provided by the experts at-hand and compounded an argument to present to the 250 students in attendance. Her presentation was well presented and received one of the conference’s two standing ovations. I was enormously proud and felt privileged to have such an intelligent young woman to represent our school.

The above paragraph highlights the student’s leadership and public speaking skills. Two qualities which law school admissions committees look for in an applicant. The writer does a good job of choosing a specific example to focus on to call attention to the potential of the undergrad.

Conclusion

The conclusion should be used to restate the writer’s admiration and support for the applicant in question. In no unclear terms, it should end on an extremely positive note while summarizing the statements made within the previous paragraphs. This is an opportunity to provide contact information, although this is not mandatory.

Example 1

In conclusion, I insist that you take into deep consideration Kyrie’s application as I am certain that he will continue to flourish at your esteemed and reputable University. I believe Kyrie already has the skill set to become a powerful attorney and I cannot recommend him enough. For more information, if necessary, feel free to contact me at the below email address.

Karen Butterfield Ph.D
Washington State University
History Department
kbutterfield@wsu.history.org

Example 2

Gary Schwartz possesses all the qualities of a practiced attorney and has done an exemplary job during his internship. His diligence, maturity, and intellect have all enabled him to provide us with an excellent service at such a young age; it’s frightening to imagine what he will be capable of given the opportunity to capitalize on an education at your institution. I urge you to consider his application seriously.

Best,

Steve Aderman
Fraser, Luna, and Willington L.L.P
370 Lexington Ave #505,
New York, NY 10017, USA
saderman.flw@gmail.com

Both of the above sample paragraphs reiterate the writer’s assertion that the pre-law undergraduate is qualified for law school, concluding the letter with a sign-off, their contact information, and an extremely positive final impression.

Sample 1 (from Employer)

Dear Law School Admissions Committee,

I enthusiastically submit this letter in support of Julie Lee’s application for admission to the class of 2022.

For the past year, I have served as Julie’s supervisor at The Brockman Insurance Agency. As an assistant bookkeeper, she balanced a part-time work schedule with class requirements during the school year and worked a full-time schedule over the summer. Though I’ve managed countless college students over my career, I have never met anyone who so exemplifies both intellect and integrity.

Last year, Julie volunteered to help with a significant administrative reorganization. Though she had no specific prior experience, she was a quick study and helped our small business to streamline operations. She is a supportive coworker, and readily shoulders extra responsibilities to help ease burdens on her busy colleagues.

I have no doubt that she will be a successful law student and attorney.

Please let me know if there is any other information that I can provide.

Sincerely,

Joyce Brockman, CPA

Sample 2 (from Attorney)

Dear Law School Admissions Committee,

I am submitting this letter in support of Trevor Johnson’s application for admission to the class of 2022.

Trevor completed an internship in my office last summer. He was a pleasure to work with and showed a natural flair for legal analysis. While most summer interns are tasked with only basic administrative responsibilities, Trevor volunteered to tackle a research project. He spent a large chunk of the period scouring old court decisions and organized his results in an easy-to-use database.

Perhaps most important of all, in Trevor I see a genuine passion for the law. He has curiosity in spades, and clearly evinces a desire to use his training to make a difference.

I wholeheartedly recommend him for acceptance..

Sincerely,

Hugh Brown, Esq.

Sample 3

To Whom It May Concern:

I am delighted to be able to provide this letter of recommendation on behalf of Alisa Nguyen as she attempts to pursue her academic career at your esteemed university. I have had close contact with Alisa as a Teacher’s Assistant in three of her courses and I am privileged to be able to call her my friend. She is without a doubt the brightest undergraduate student I’ve tutored, and possibly the most intelligent that I’ve encountered in my 7 years here at Columbia. Her tireless work ethic, in combination with her brilliant mind and almost frightening maturity, has allowed her to complete a four-year undergrad in three years and has assured me that she is optimal candidate for law school.

Alisa is a phenomenally gifted writer. In her second-year Microeconomic theory course, she produced an essay on the effects of oligopolistic cartels on the American economy and the federal government’s recent abandonment of investigation into the practices of concentrated industries. Her firm understanding of economic theory and the history of oligopolies in the United States was flabbergasting for a student of her age and education. Also, the eloquence with which she delivered her argument had me questioning whether the paper was plagiarized. The essay helped propel her to the top of the class where she stayed for the remainder of the semester.

Alisa was also a valued member of the debate team and was well respected by her peers for her competition preparation and her critical analysis of the topics at hand. This extra-curricular club allowed her to develop her public speaking skills which were essentially non-existent when she first arrived at the University. An archetypal shy student, she relied on vigilant research to bolster her confidence. Her charismatic personality developed slowly over her three-year baccalaureate degree, but she now has the communication skills to compete with the most talented public speakers that opposing universities throw at her.

What truly separates Alisa from her peers is her maturity. She speaks with the conviction of a university professor and attacks her studies with incessant discipline. This is primarily why she could complete her bachelor’s degree in such short time; she was simply responsible beyond her years. While she was initially alienated from her peers out of presumably pure intimidation and jealousy (this is my theory), she soon adapted her approach to interaction with her fellow students by simplifying her speech and altering her perceived interests. This was not out of humility or modesty, but because she required their assistance in group projects and presentations, and their treatment of her was hindering her progress through university. Outside of class, she generally chooses the company of grad students and professors as she struggles to find others her age who are at her level intellectually.

Alisa is a force to be reckoned with and a prime candidate for law school. While she hasn’t always thrived as a public speaker, she worked on her weaknesses and through diligence and persistence, turned them into her strengths. Alisa is deceptively perceptive, dangerously sharp, and undoubtedly a gifted student. I insist that you admit her into your program as I am sure that you will enjoy watching her progress as I have thus far. Feel free to contact me at anytime to discuss Ms. Nguyen further.

Best,

Rachel Moscovitch
rmoscovitch@gmail.com
(345) 834-2394


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