Letters of Recommendation

By spring of your junior year, you should have a sense of who can write a good recommendation for you. Most law schools ask for two academic letters of recommendation and most will not mind receiving a third. (A fourth letter is not usually welcome as admissions committees are reading thousands of applicant files.)

Timing

Even though you may not plan on attending law school immediately after graduation you should try and get your recommendations on file before you depart campus — it's a lot more convenient that way, and, you will be fresh in the mind of your letter writer. After being away from Princeton for several years your recommender may not remember you as well. Letters need not be written in the year that they are used, so having a two-year old letter in your file will be perfectly acceptable to law schools.

Not applying senior year?

If not applying your senior year, you may store your letters at Career Services. Or, you may set up your CAS account at LSAC and have your letters sent directly to LSAC. If storing your letters at Career Services you will need to provide your letter writer(s) with a Career Services Letter of Recommendation Form. If your letters are being sent directly to the LSAC you must print the LSAC Letter of Recommendation Form and provide, as a courtesy, an addressed/stamped envelope to your letter writer(s). Ultimately, your letters must be sent to LSAC for inclusion in your report. In addition, since it sometimes takes a few months for a recommender to get around to writing your letter, give plenty of lead time on your requests.

Selecting Writers

In selecting someone to write such a letter, you want to choose someone who will be able to speak positively of your academic skills and abilities, and is willing to do so in detail. If possible, the recommender might also address your character, motivation, maturity and the difficulty of your courses as well as the importance and the time-consuming nature of your extracurricular activities.

Help them help you.

Once a person has agreed to write a letter on your behalf, it is a good idea to ask if it would be helpful if you provide some information, e.g., a resume or a few paragraphs on why you are pursuing law school. At least one letter should be from a faculty member in your department. The additional letter(s) may be from a preceptor or faculty member from another department. Lawyers, law school alumni and the like are generally only useful if they are well known to the school (major donors?) or if they are especially distinguished or accomplished in some way and know you well enough to write a meaningful recommendation.

Confidentiality

While no school requires you to waive your right to review your own letters of recommendation, a number of admissions officers admit that they tend to view confidential letters as somewhat more candid, and therefore more useful. While it's not a major issue, any competitive advantage to your candidacy — like enhanced credibility of your recommendations due to their confidentiality — is worth it.

Dean's Forms

Also known as the "College Questionnaire," these forms are not completed by a dean, but by the PreLaw Advisor. The sole issue addressed on this form is your disciplinary action and academic probation record. If your record is clear, that is noted on the form and the form is returned with no other comments. Please be sure to provide stamped and addressed envelopes when you send these forms to Lyon Zabsky, PreLaw Advisor.