Crafting the Perfect Law School Recommendation Letter

When it comes to applying for law school, your recommendation letters can be a game-changer. They provide an external perspective on your qualifications and character, offering law schools a more holistic view of who you are. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about law school recommendation letters, from choosing the right recommender to structuring the perfect letter.

What is a Law School Recommendation Letter?

A law school recommendation letter is a document written by someone who knows you well and can vouch for your abilities, achievements, and character. This letter is typically submitted as part of your law school application to provide additional insight into your suitability for the program.

Law school recommendation letters are crucial because they add depth to your application. They allow admissions committees to see you from another person’s perspective, highlighting your strengths and providing context to your academic and professional accomplishments.

Choosing the Right Recommender

Selecting the right person to write your recommendation letter is essential. Ideally, this should be someone who has worked closely with you in an academic or professional setting, such as a professor, employer, or mentor. They should know you well enough to provide specific examples of your capabilities and character. This person should have witnessed your skills and achievements firsthand, making them a credible source of information about you.

Qualities of a Good Recommender

A good recommender should:

  • Have a strong understanding of your achievements and character.
  • Be able to provide specific examples and anecdotes.
  • Hold a position of respect and authority in their field.
  • Be willing to spend time writing a thoughtful and detailed letter.

How to Approach Potential Recommenders

Once you’ve identified the right person, the next step is to prepare them effectively. This involves approaching them professionally and providing them with all the necessary information to write a compelling letter. When asking someone to write a recommendation letter for you, it’s important to approach them professionally and courteously. Explain why you are asking them and how their insight will be valuable to your application. Make sure to ask well in advance of any deadlines.

Providing Necessary Information to Your Recommender

To help your recommender write a strong letter, provide them with all the necessary information. This may include:

  • Your resume or CV.
  • A list of your academic and professional accomplishments.
  • Specific details about the law programs you are applying to.
  • Any particular points you would like them to emphasize.

Essential Elements of a Strong Recommendation Letter

A strong recommendation letter is specific, detailed, and personal. It should provide a well-rounded view of your capabilities, achievements, and character.

Specificity and Examples

A strong recommendation letter should be specific and include detailed examples of your achievements and character. Generic statements are less effective than concrete anecdotes that illustrate your strengths.

Personal Anecdotes

Personal stories and anecdotes can make a recommendation letter more engaging and memorable. They help paint a vivid picture of who you are and what you have accomplished.

Professional Achievements and Skills

Highlighting your professional achievements and skills is crucial. Your recommender should discuss specific instances where you demonstrated key qualities such as leadership, analytical thinking, and dedication.

Structure of a Law School Recommendation Letter

The structure of a recommendation letter is important for clarity and impact. A well-organized letter makes it easier for the admissions committee to follow and understand the points being made.

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph should introduce the recommender and explain their relationship to you. It should also provide a brief overview of their qualifications to write the letter.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should delve into your specific achievements, skills, and character traits. Each paragraph should focus on a different aspect, providing detailed examples and personal anecdotes.

Closing Paragraph

The closing paragraph should summarize the key points and reiterate the recommender’s support for your application. It should also provide their contact information in case the admissions committee has any questions.

Example of a Strong Recommendation Letter

Seeing an example can be incredibly helpful. Below is a sample recommendation letter, followed by templates for different scenarios.

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am writing to recommend John Doe for admission to your esteemed law program. As John’s professor for the past two years at XYZ University, I have had the pleasure of watching him grow into a dedicated and insightful student.

John consistently demonstrated a keen intellect and an insatiable curiosity. In my Constitutional Law class, he not only excelled academically but also brought a unique perspective to class discussions. His ability to critically analyze complex legal issues and articulate his thoughts clearly was impressive. For example, during a debate on civil liberties, John presented a well-researched argument that significantly contributed to the discourse and helped his peers understand the nuances of the topic.

Beyond academics, John’s commitment to social justice and community service is commendable. He volunteered at the local legal aid clinic, where he assisted underrepresented individuals in navigating the legal system. His empathy and dedication to helping others were evident in his interactions with clients, who often expressed their gratitude for his support.

John’s leadership skills were also apparent through his role as the president of the university’s pre-law society. He organized numerous events, including guest lectures and mock trial competitions, which provided valuable learning opportunities for his peers. His ability to lead and inspire others is a testament to his potential as a future lawyer.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly support John’s application to your law program. His intellectual abilities, dedication to social justice, and leadership qualities make him an outstanding candidate. I am confident that he will excel in your program and contribute positively to your academic community.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information.

[Professor’s Name]
[Contact Information]

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even the best recommendations can be undermined by common mistakes. Being aware of these can help ensure your letter stands out for the right reasons.


Avoid making general statements that could apply to anyone. Specificity is key to making a strong impression.

Lack of Personal Connection

A recommendation letter should reflect a personal connection between the recommender and the applicant. It should be clear that the recommender knows the applicant well.

Incomplete Information

Ensure that the recommendation letter is complete and includes all necessary details about the applicant’s qualifications and achievements.

Other Tips

  • Avoid generic statements.
  • Don’t exaggerate or fabricate information.
  • Refrain from being overly critical.
  • Avoid mentioning any weaknesses unless absolutely necessary.

How to Follow Up with Recommenders

Following up with your recommenders is an essential part of the process. It helps ensure that your letters are submitted on time and shows your appreciation for their support. Follow up with your recommenders about two weeks before the deadline to ensure they have everything they need and to remind them of the upcoming due date. Always thank your recommenders for their time and effort. A handwritten note or a thoughtful email can go a long way in showing your appreciation.


A strong law school recommendation letter can be a powerful tool in your application arsenal. By choosing the right recommender, preparing them well, and ensuring the letter is detailed and specific, you can significantly enhance your chances of admission. Start early, choose wisely, and make sure to express your gratitude to those who support you along the way.


  1. Can I see my recommendation letter before it is submitted?
    • Generally, it’s best to waive your right to view the letter to ensure its authenticity.
  2. What should I do if a recommender declines my request?
    • Respect their decision and ask someone else who knows you well and is willing to support you.
  3. Is it okay to ask for a recommendation letter via email?
    • Yes, it is acceptable, but make sure to follow up with a phone call or in-person meeting if possible.
  4. How long should a recommendation letter be?
    • Typically, one to two pages is sufficient.
  5. What if my recommender misses the deadline?
    • Follow up politely and remind them of the deadline. If necessary, ask another recommender.