College of Arts and Sciences
Pre-Law Program

Writing a Recommendation

  • The letter of recommendation is a valued aspect of a student’s law school application, as it is often the best indicator of who the student really is inside the classroom. If a student approaches you about writing a letter of recommendation, consider the following:

    Prior to Writing the Recommendation

    Determine if you are the best individual to write the recommendation

    Are you confident in your own judgment about the student?  How closely do you know the student’s work and performance?  Have you had any informal contact with the student?  If you feel that you do not know the abilities of the student well enough to write a letter for them, it is best to encourage the student to find another reference.

    If you feel you know enough about the student and his/her academic performance, but not enough outside of the classroom, ask the student for a copy of his/her personal statement or resume.  Ask the student questions to determine his/her values and goals for the future and their career.

    Draw up a timeline

    The student should provide you with an application deadline. Work with the student to determine a timeline for completing your recommendation. The student should provide you with ample time to write the recommendation. Maintain open communication as to whether or not the time duration is manageable. The student should give you directions regarding how to send or submit the letter electronically directly to LSAC.

    Before you write the letter you should have the student complete a Seattle University  Reference Letter Request  form.

    Writing the Recommendation

    Be Specific

    Describe the relationship that you have with the student.Your course or program may be designed in a way that allows you to assess the skills and abilities of a student in ways others cannot.Cite examples of the work the student has been a part of and how he/she set him/herself apart from others in the course.

    Highlight skills and characteristics that are important for success in law school and the profession

    • Writing
    • Analytical thinking
    • Critical thinking
    • Reading
    • Self-discipline/work ethic

    Highlight the student's personality

    The personal statement and letter of recommendation are typically the only chance an applicant has to"interview" for admission. Spend some time writing about the leadership qualities,motivation, values and determination of the particular student.

    Consider your enthusiasm

    While law school admissions decisions rely heavily on the transcript and LSAT scores of each student,the level of support you provide for the student can set the student apart from his/her peers. The letter of recommendation shows the admissions committee what traits a student can bring to the classroom beyond the numbers.