DOs and DON’Ts When Choosing a Recommender

DO:
• Choose recommenders with sufficient first-person knowledge of your academic or professional abilities and characteristics. Family friends do not meet this standard unless they are also a former instructor or supervisor of yours.
• Try your best to identify two academic sources for letters of recommendation since law schools prefer this type of letter. Ideal sources include professors of one or more classes, thesis advisors, professors of independent study courses, seminar professors, or TAs for discussion sections.
• Choose recommenders who will be enthusiastic about your good qualities and will go to bat for you.

DON’T:
• Don’t choose a recommender just because of his or her title. Law schools aren’t impressed by boilerplate letters from senators, judges, CEOs, etc. The same principle applies to academics. A letter from a TA will carry more weight if the TA knows you better than the professor.
• Don’t choose someone if you are unsure whether the person will write a strong letter. Don’t be afraid to ask if the person is comfortable writing a strong letter.
• Don’t feel that you have to choose a professor/TA in your major or from a law-related course. The course subject matter is less important than the writer’s knowledge of you.