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Law School Admissions Tip: Learn the Top Recommender Qualities

Posted in Test Prep on September 15, 2010 by

Every other Wednesday, our friends at Clear Admit will share one of their excellent tips for navigating the law school admissions process. For more advice, be sure to check out their blog.

In early summer, we shared with you our advice about identifying the types of people you should select to be your recommenders. Today we’d like to describe the qualities your recommenders should have, as this will help you select the professors, TAs and employers who will most effectively promote your candidacy in letters of recommendation and the LOR service that LSAC introduced this year.

Most importantly, recommenders should be able to speak to your record of academic success and intellectual ability, as well as your critical thinking skills and written and oral communication abilities.  These are the top attributes that law schools are interested in learning about through your recommendation letters, so it’s important that your recommenders can positively discuss your skills and interests regarding these subjects.

To that end, your recommenders should be able to supply specific examples and anecdotes illustrating how you have exhibited the skills and qualities they mention.  Since the most persuasive recommendation letters are those which contain concrete examples of your abilities, it’s important that you select recommenders who know you well and can provide detailed accounts about your academic and/or professional work, success, and potential.  General statements about your ability to examine multiple sides of an issue, for example, without concrete examples of occasions when you’ve used this skill to great success are unhelpful in persuasively demonstrating your strengths, and aren’t likely to advance the adcom’s understanding of what you have to offer to their law school’s incoming class.

Finally, while you want your recommenders to support the points about your strengths, successes and interests that you make in your personal statement and additional essays, you may also want to select recommenders who can speak to special circumstances that could stand out as a damaging factor of your candidacy.  For example, if you have a professor who counseled you through a difficult academic time, this professor could do some “damage control” by assuring the adcom of your excellent academic aptitude and the ways in which you continue to improve.

We hope these tips are helpful for those who are in the process of selecting their recommenders!