Mom as a Recommender?

Yesterday we received a question regarding letters of recommendation:

My son is applying to law school. I am a senior civil services officer of the Delhi Government in India, and I wish to know whether, if I write a recommendation for my son, it will be accepted and considered seriously. I think I know him better than any other person and I can be very objective in my assessment.

It's not surprising that this mom -- like many moms-- wants to do everything she can to help her son with his application But a letter of recommendation from mom or dad is not going to help this student, at least with U.S. law schools. In fact, a letter from a relative is more likely to raise eyebrows in admissions offices.

First, parents would never be deemed "objective" sources of information concerning their children, even if parents recognize their children's weaknesses.

Moreover, law schools want academic references. Recently I posted a blog titled "Law School Letters of Recommendation: Act Now!" I discussed the importance of finding recommenders who will be able to discuss your academic abilities, since these are considered the best predictors of law school success: intellect, analytical ability, research skills, oral and written communication skills. Focus on obtaining letters from two professors who can discuss these skills with detailed examples of your work in their classes; you can refresh their memories by providing copies of your essays and exams.

This mom is well-meaning, but her help will be most effective if she provides support and encouragement directly to her son, and steers clear of the admissions officers.

Nicole Vikan is a graduate of NYU Law School. She spent her first law school summer at a large law firm, and her second summer in the Homicide Investigation Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. She returned to the District Attorney's Office after graduation and spent five years as a criminal prosecutor, handling cases such as robbery and assault. Nicole then joined Fordham Law School's Career Planning Center, where she advised students seeking employment in the private and public sectors. She is currently a career counselor at Georgetown Law Center's Office of Public Interest and Community Service. As part of the Anna Ivey team, Nicole works with law school applicants and people exploring legal careers.