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Law School Letters of Reference from Professors

There's probably one group of people that hates dealing with letters of recommendation even more than applicants, and that is the professors who are asked to write them. As an applicant, you only have to worry about rounding up one set of letters for yourself. College professors however are forced to deal with dozens, if not scores of letter recommendation requests at any one time.

And whereas you stand to gain a huge leg up from a strategically crafted letter to a targeted law school the only reward your helpful professor is likely to receive are additional letters of reference requests. Here are some steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself and your selfless advocate, and increase your chances of receiving strong recommendations that are submitted on time.

Give your recommender plenty of advance time to write your letter. Try not to ask for a letter of reference any later than six weeks prior to your application deadline. This of course requires that you also have your applications near its final state as you will want your letter of reference to tie together the elements you've included.

Tell your recommender, in writing, what schools and programs you're applying to, and why. No matter how many times you may talk about specific elements you wish have included in your letter, verbal requests can still be forgotten. If you want your letter to address some specific point about your academic performance, make a note of it in writing.

Remind your recommender what classes you took with them and when. Give them a copy of important work you’ve completed and remind them of your performance in their class. You must remember that while you have just one professor to remember from the class, your professor has to remember anywhere from a dozen to several hundred students. Even if your professor says he or she remembers you, it doesn't hurt to help them by providing specifics of your background, interests and class participation.

Ask your recommender if they want a copy of your resume or transcripts as well. If so, provide them. Try to ask for letters to all the programs you are applying to at the same time and provide your professor with a written list that includes the contact information and deadline for each program, formatting it in an easy-to-scan 'checklist' format.

Fill out as much of the letter of recommendation cover sheets as you can before giving them to your recommender. Don't make more work for something doing you a favor. Type in your name and other identifying information on your own. If your professors are required to mail letters directly to the schools, provide them with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and make sure you list the professor's return address and not your own. Finally, follow up with sincere thank-you note

Do you have questions about your letters of reference? Call us at 1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) and we'll be glad to help you however we can!

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