Pre-Law: September Edition
September 27, 2021 – Upcoming Events, Opportunities & Resources
FROM THE ADVISOR:Let’s talk about letters of recommendation since many of you are currently collecting them for your applications. Not all recommenders and not all letters are equal, but not in the ways that many of you think. To begin with, the best letters of recommendation come from professors and supervisors who know you well. Their job titles or notoriety are immaterial. An obscure junior faculty member who has intimate knowledge of your work, skills, and personality will be a more effective recommender than a famous department chair who can’t speak about you in any detail. Vague, generic letters, regardless of authorship, are frowned upon by admissions officers. Ask the people who know you and your work best, regardless of professional title or stature.
Generally, I recommend that applicants strive to have at least two letters of recommendation from professors. For those applying after graduation who have work experience, I highly recommend also having a letter from a work supervisor. Letters from professors are so important because you’re applying to graduate school and reviewers want to be certain that you’ll be a successful student. So, for those applying to start law school right after undergrad, try to have at least two professors. For those applying after working a little, try to have at least two professors and a supervisor. Certainly, you can have additional letters beyond these recommended minimums, but keep track of schools’ potential limits on letters and try not to overload reviewers with recommendations.
Finally, be aware that law school admissions officers are trying to pull the best applicants out of a massive pile of applications. Thus, an important facet of letters of recommendation is writers describing you as exemplary relative to others. The more the letter writer can pull you out of the pack by describing you as exceptional in certain ways, the more effective their letter will be. Feel free to let letter writers know this once they agree to recommend you.
I also want to point out a podcast called “Navigating Law School Admissions (new window).” It’s put on by Miriam Ingber (Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Yale Law School) and Kristi Jobson (Assistant Dean for Admissions at Harvard Law School). They provide straightforward advice for law school applicants and regularly bring in guests to discuss various aspects of the application process. There are a handful of helpful episodes available and new ones will be posted as application season rolls on.
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Article of the Week
Before Law School: Learn to Read, Write Like a Law Student
(USNews) To prepare for law school students should practice more rigorous methods of note-taking, including using color-coded highlights for different types of information. Read here. (new window)
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