Targeted Letters of Recommendation

Still Confused?

Get in touch with us for
professional guidance.

Confused Student

Targeted Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are one-size-fits-all affairs, right? If you apply to ten schools, you send ten copies of each of the same two letters. That is how it has always been, and that is how it must be ever after. 

Says who?

Who said that, after getting yourself tens of thousands of dollars in debt getting an education, any professor could only write one letter per student? Who said you couldn’t ask your professor to write different letters to different schools highlighting different things about you?

Nobody, that’s who.

You can and should ask professors to tailor letters to different schools. Now, maybe you aren’t going to send targeted LORs to all ten (or however many) schools you apply to, but why not your top three choices? Law schools like to feel appreciated, and having an academic peer direct a letter to that school personally can be compelling. And it shows that you went the extra mile to get such a letter.

So, how do I get one of these targeted LORs?

First, make sure you know the professor well enough to know that they won’t be put off by such a request. Really, they should be flattered, but tailoring letters takes a little more time, and some professors are easy to annoy. Not cool, but it is what it is.

Now, having said that, before you approach your professor, have your personal statement tailored to the schools you are asking for a targeted LOR to. Show the professor that you’ve done your homework at this school and that you have the right experience to contribute meaningfully at that school, and ask them if they’d be willing to speak about your potential for success in participating in the activities that you discuss in your personal statement.

Then your professor can and should talk about your successes as a student and how those successes make your professor confident that you’ll have the same kind of success.

Here’s an example:

[LAW SCHOOL] Admissions Committee

Carla Jones asked me to write a letter of recommendation prepared specifically for [LAW SCHOOL]. I was happy to do it because her immense enthusiasm for continuing her education as a 1L at your institution is undoubtedly matched by her preparation for the challenge.

I have taught Carla twice during her time here at [UNDERGRADUATE SCHOOL], first in my Sociology 101 course, an introductory survey class with more than 100 students, and then again a year later in an upper-division research course a tenth of that size entitled Societal Progress and Those Left Behind.

In both of those venues, Carla’s participation was invaluable. My classes involve a fair amount of open discussion among students, and Carla was always eager to participate, in possession of valuable insight she was happy to share, and, most importantly, welcoming of other points of view. Her responses to essay assignments were well-thought-out and well-researched, and it was clear that she proofread her work to ensure a final product that was polished and without distracting errors.

I also served as the faculty advisor for the Pre-Law Society when Carla was the Events Chair. She brought the same collaborative spirit to that role as she brought to the classroom. From organizing social events and speakers to helping to run member meetings, Carla always took care of her responsibilities and somehow managed to find time to help others meet theirs.

Carla has told me she intends to edit and write for the law school’s Technology Law Journal and compete on the moot court team. I can’t imagine a better-prepared candidate for those programs: Carla’s research paper in the Societal Progress course researched the effect of federal, state, and local investment in providing technology resources to K-12 students in the United States. She argued passionately and rationally for building on progress already made, including through legal advocacy and new laws. She is already thoughtful and well-educated on the issues that she will work through at [LAW SCHOOL].

For all those reasons, I’m confident that Carla is an excellent choice for [LAW SCHOOL]’s incoming 1L class, and I encourage the admissions committee to take the opportunity to have Carla as a star student for the next three years and an exemplary alum for a lifetime thereafter.

Best Regards,

Professor X

Posted in
Branden Frankel, Esq.

Let Personal Statement University Put You on the Path to the Law School of Your Dreams:

Application Consulting - Work with a 15-year veteran of law school admissions who's helped thousands of people get admitted.
Essay Editing - Whether it's a personal statement, diversity statement, addendum, or another essay, we'll make sure it's polished and targeted.
The World's Only Interactive Personal Statement Course - Learn everything you need to know to get admitted - and find the right schools for you - for just $99.