Oregon State University

Recommendations & Statements

 Letters of recommendation are required for almost every law school application and are considered a very important part of the application process.  Although LSAT score and GPA are weighted more heavily in the admissions decisions, excellent letters of recommendation could be a deciding factor between you and another similarly ranked student.  Letters of recommendation can strengthen your application and help to defuse potential weaknesses.  Most law schools require two or three letters of recommendation.

             Choosing your references

  • Someone who knows you well
  • Someone with the title "Professor"
  • Someone who is a professor at the school granting your baccalaureate degree
  • Someone with an advanced degree who has supervised you in a meaningful job or internship
  • Someone who has academically evaluated you in an upper-division class
  • Note: law schools discourage letters from friends, political figures, judges and the like. Including letters like this might be detrimental to your application

            Getting a good letter of reference

  • Ask Early - Professors and supervisors want to help you succeed and are pleased to write on your behalf but they are also involved in many different activities. Be courteous of their time and approach them at least two months in advance of when you need the letter
  • Provide Information - You can help your references write a good letter by giving them a portfolio that includes the following:  
    • A cover letter that includes your contact information, what you would like emphasized in the letter, a list of schools you are applying to and their application deadlines, and appreciation of their time and effort
    • Recommendation forms in which you have completed applicant information, the recommender's name, title, and contact information. If you are using the LSDAS provide the recommender with their official Letter of Recommendation form
    • An unofficial transcript
    • A draft of your personal statement
    • A resume
    • Stamped and addressed enveloped to send letters directly to the LSDAS

Personal Statement
Your personal statement is a crucial part of your application, displaying your ability to write clearly and intelligently.  It is also an opportunity to tell the admissions committee something about yourself beyond your LSAT score and GPA.  Most law schools have their own guidelines and topics for the personal statement, but most require that you draw upon information from your academic and personal background, work experience, and extracurricular activities.

Getting Started

  • Gather information about yourself - work, school, community involvement; volunteer opportunities and projects you have participated in, and unique talents and interests.
  • Consider how you would want to discuss personal challenges and experiences, including travel, disability, and goals you have accomplished

What to say

  • Follow the directions outlined by each school.
  • Discuss why you want to study law and have a particular interest in each school
  • Tailor your statement for the school to which you are applying but avoid emphasizing this over your experiences, attributes, and goals

The best statements follow the school's instructions but are also tied together by a theme and a logical progression of ideas.  They employ perfect grammar and are written in a clear, direct fashion that avoids pretentious language.  The statement should not be a list of your accomplishments but an essay that describes a unique episode or two from your experience that demonstrate your motivation for pursuing a legal career along with positive and interesting aspects of your personality.

Unless otherwise indicated, a personal statement should be no more than 2 pages, double-spaced.

 

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