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Welcome to the CLEO Diversity in Legal Education Blog! On this site we will talk about the reality of a prelaw education, the programs that CLEO sponsors, and the challenges and triumphs you encounter as you diversify the legal field. CLEO staff and colleagues will share practical insights and discuss how to become a competitive law school applicant.
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CLEO's Achieving Success in the Application Process (ASAP) program can help you master every aspect of your application including Letters of Recommendation. Apply online today!
There are three (3) key parts a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) needs to have if it is going to do anything other than fatten up your application. It needs WHO - WHAT - WHEN. Keep in mind, admissions staff read hundreds of applications, and in this case more is not better. Effective, efficient, and engaging is better!
Start with WHO: A good LOR writer is someone who understands academic progress and can accurately & concisely evaluate your in-class success. Remember, law schools are educational institutions and they measure success in terms of GPA, LSAT scores, Bar Passage rates, and the size of their graduating class. Choose a writer who speaks their "language". Law schools also reward contribution - which means involvement in student organizations, writing for college and department journals, and engaging in "major" related internships.
Explore the WHAT: Content is King when applying to law school. Don't waste precious space in an application repeating yourself. Personal Statements, resumes, and addenda should always add new perspectives on your experience.
Your LOR should focus on skills that predict success in law school. Encourage writers to focus on academic excellence, organizational skills, and contribution to your community. Details and specific examples will always hold the attention of the reader better than vague references.
Your LOR writer may need to review your resume, personal statement, transcript, or class assignments with comments in order to flesh-out a detailed letter. Be sure to have these things available for the writer along with the dates, location, and special circumstances in which you interacted with the writer.
Now for WHEN: You need a LOR that is timely. So, choose writers carefully but quickly - applications are due soon! A LOR that describes events from years ago does not address the person that you are today - the candidate being evaluated by the law school. But, if a LOR relating to your recent past can illuminate changes in your life - ask the LOR writer to tie that experience to what s/he knows about you today.
Finally, use your resources: The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) provides excellent services including the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to process your application and attachments efficiently. LSAC will also help you identify what your law school specifically requires in your application.
Keep in mind, that if an individual is judged by the company they keep . . . then it is safe to assume law school applicants are judged by the LOR writers they choose. What is your choice saying about you?
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