Home Blog Q&A: Requesting a Law School Letter of Recommendation

Q&A: Requesting a Law School Letter of Recommendation

August 13, 2020
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As you apply to an LL.M. program, there’s one thing to expect from every law school: They want to learn more about you, both as a person and as a professional. One way to do that is through letters of recommendation.

Even before you have decided on the right school for you, it is best to assume that you will need to have at least one to apply. Applicants to our online LL.M. in Intellectual Property often have similar questions as they secure their law school letter of recommendation, so we have collected some of the more common questions we receive to help as you apply.

When do I request a law school recommendation letter?

The first step is to review the application deadlines for the program you are applying to and decide which term you want to start in. The earlier you can develop a plan for collecting all of your application materials, the better it will be for you and the recommenders you ask.

This should be one of the first items on the required documents list you start working on.You want to give yourself as much time as possible for the application process, so be sure to give the person writing your letter the same courtesy. Doing this benefits you as well as the writer. The writer will have more time to outline a thoughtful letter, crafted to highlight your readiness for the program. It will also be a demonstration of how much you value and respect their help (and gives you additional time to find a backup in case your first choice says no).

Who should write your law school recommendation letter?

There are no absolute rules when deciding who will be the best person to write an impactful letter on your behalf. When applying to an LL.M. program, there are certain criteria to consider when making that decision.

Often, a school will give you suggestions on who they would prefer to hear from. If that information is not available, do not hesitate to reach out to the admissions office or ask an advisor to see if they can provide you with any additional guidance or insight.

Often, LL.M. programs want to hear from a manager or colleague who can speak to your experience and talent as a lawyer and a peer. Many schools, including Cardozo, will also accept a letter of recommendation from a law school professor.

At the Cardozo School of Law, only one letter is required to apply to the online LL.M. in Intellectual Property program. Choosing between an academic and professional reference is up to you, but focus on someone who you have a strong and positive relationship with. The individual who writes your law school recommendation letter should be someone who can speak to your thoughtfulness, your ambition, and your contributions to work or projects.

How do you ask your letter writer for their time?

This is the benefit of asking early. Finding the right person who also has the time to help may not be as easy as it initially seems. Even if you are still asking which degree program is right for you, do not hesitate to ask the recommender now. They may decline, or they may let you know that they have an upcoming project or trip planned, making them unavailable only for a certain period of time.

If you’re fortunate, the person you ask is someone who you regularly see or work with and who might already know about your plans to earn an LL.M. Asking them can be a casual part of an everyday conversation. When you ask someone who you have not had contact with for some time, whether it’s a law professor or previous supervisor, a perfect way to broach the topic is a brief, friendly, but still formal email.

Most recommenders will be honored and happy to have the opportunity to help you achieve a personal and professional goal.

Where should you or your recommender send your letter?

This answer is different for every law school. Some schools ask that a recommendation is submitted to their online application system, while other law schools utilize outside partners, like the LSAC LLM Credential Assembly Service (LLM CAS). You or the letter writer can upload the document directly online, but some systems prefer to reach out to the recommender on its own. Other schools though ask that the letter be sent directly to their admissions office.

Cardozo allows students to utilize LLM CAS or send it directly to Cardozo’s LL.M. Admissions Office by mail. If you choose the hard copy route, be sure to let your letter writer know that Cardozo requires the original letter of recommendation on letterhead and with the original signature. In both routes, be sure to be clear and upfront with your recommender about deadlines and any requirements for the letter.

Start Your LL.M. Application Today to Cardozo

Transform your career with an online LL.M. in Intellectual Property. Designed for lawyers who are ready to join a growing and in-demand practice of law, the program provides a flexible option for those who want to continue working and to skip the additional costs of a traditional program.

Take a look at the application requirements for the online LL.M. program, and read our blog post about writing your law school resume.