So I know that you are (hopefully) in full LSAT prep-mode, but I wanted to try and possibly lighten your mood by talking about that beautiful time in your life that will be known as post-LSAT time. During that time you will be writing your personal statement(s), filling out your law school applications and getting those recommendations from your professors, employers, deans, advisors, etc. I’d like to focus today on those recommendations. Don’t write them off thinking they are out of your hands. Whether or not you get a stellar recommendation is completely up to you. Sure, at the end of the day, you don’t put the pen to paper, but you can make the best impression possible by asking only specific people who you know will produce a well-worded positive recommendation. I’ve compiled some “must dos” to guarantee a wonderful recommendation letter outcome. Let’s dive in!
(1) Be certain that the letter of recommendation will be positive.
Some people do write un-exemplary recommendations. Don’t just go to a well-known professor at your school who has no real connection to you and ask for a recommendation. Many will turn you down, but some will actually take the time to write something less than positive. And let me tell you, that is the kiss of death for your law school application. Choose your recommenders wisely and meticulously.
(2) Do not inundate the admissions officers with recommendations.
Most schools request 2 to 3 letters of recommendation. If you do some research you’ll see that many admissions officers prefer two, unless you truly believe that the third one will actually add another dimension to the application you are presenting.
(3) Start the relationship early.
I know sometimes it’s hard to come up with a reason to talk to your professors, but it’s so essential to get a good rec. Many professors have hundreds of students each semester. You have to stand out. Here’s what you do. Pick two days of the week (make sure they work with your professors office hours) and split up the professors you’re hoping will eventually give you a rec. Just stop by their office on those days and either come up with a few questions from your lecture (even if you already know the answer), or just chat with them about how they came to be a professor and/or how they came to be in the legal world (if at all).
(4) Choose the right people
I know this goes back to (1), but it’s so important to choose the right recommender. Not only must they write a positive letter, but they also need to know you. They need to know specific qualities and characteristics you have, to show that they’ve really taken an interest in you. They must also be able to write well. You may be surprised, but even the people you look up to might not be able to eloquently articulate why you are a good candidate for a specific school. And most of all, you should stay away from the mild-mannered recommender. You want someone who can effusively describe your wonderful qualities. We don’t want any of your strengths down-played!
Your recommendation, though not as important as your LSAT score, is still high up there in terms of consequence. One could say that it is necessary, but not sufficient. And remember to always leave a good impression. It’s good etiquette and just plain polite to write a thank you letter and/or bring a gift. A bottle of wine, a muffin basket or a gift card is a nice way to thank someone for taking the time out of their day to help you reach your goals. Don’t you think? Alright, get back to that LSAT prep, and think fondly on the time you will be living the “post-LSAT” life.