More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Law School Recommendation Letters

Marching forward in my little series about preparing yourself for killer law school applications this fall, here is a post devoted just to recommendations. (If you missed the previous installments, here are one, two, and three.) Judging from the emails we receive for the blog, this is a very popular topic.

Early summer is the right time to start thinking about whom you're going to ask for your recommendations, because recommendations can take a while to wrangle. It takes time to select appropriate recommenders and talk to them about their suitability and willingness to write you a letter. Then it takes time for them to write the letters, and for you to chase down the ones who have gone AWOL (I've seen recommenders go AWOL with depressing regularity). Then LSAC asks for two weeks to process your letters once your recommenders have put their letters in the mail (snail-mail!) and the letters show up at LSAC. And you'll have to know LSAC's recommendation rules cold, because when applications get held up or fail to go complete, it's often because either the applicant or the recommender didn't follow the rules for submitting recommendation forms. All in all, it can take a long time to get your recommendations done. Do not put this off.

Feeling out your prospective recommenders now will also help you plan your timeline appropriately. Some recommenders ask for a copy (or at least a working draft) of your application essay, and if that's the case, you'll have to budget enough lead time to get your essay in good shape before your recommender starts writing his or her letter.

Here are several blasts from the past to get your started:

Still have questions relating to recommendations? Shoot them my way! But before you do, pretend you're already in law school, and apply the rules (deduced from the posts above) to the facts (your own situation) and tell me your best attempt to answer your own question. I'll critique it and point you in the right direction.

Happy summer!

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. Read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated as an e-book. Follow Anna on Twitter (@annaivey), or come introduce yourself and join the conversation on Facebook.