Most law schools require 2-3 letters of recommendation. At least one letter should be from a faculty member who is able to make specific observations about your personal and academic achievements and your potential for graduate study. Other possibilities for letters include a mentor, an internship or project supervisor, or an employer. Begin early to establish a network of professors and supervisors (for volunteer or paid work) who are familiar with your work. It is important to choose recommenders who know you well.
GETTING TO KNOW PROFESSORS
Most professors sincerely want to get to know their students. Besides impressive letters of recommendation, getting to know your professors can have other advantages including: Higher grades, individualized instruction and independent study, and a more personal interactive learning experience. Getting to know professors may seem a little intimidating, but it really isn’t that hard. The following are some strategies for utilizing professors’ office hours effectively:
- Thoroughly read the syllabus the first week of class. If any of the information seems vague or unclear, and the professor doesn’t address it in class, this would be a good time to drop by his or her office hours to get clarification.
- Before an assignment is due bring a draft to the professor for consultation. This will help you stay on task, as well as demonstrate your interest. Possible questions include: Is it clear and understandable? Am I going in the right direction? Does it meet the expectations of the assignment?
- Before the first exam, ask the professor about the format of the exam and for any suggestions on the best way to prepare for his or her style of exam.
- Near the end of the term, in addition to asking for help as in number 2 and 3 above, ask about other courses the professor recommends and/or what kinds of jobs people find who major in that area of study.
- Remember to practice moderation! Do not prevail upon the professor so often that you become a pest. Make sure you space your visits out with a couple weeks in between.
- Attend short programs by the professor
- Work as a research assistant for the professor
- Keep in touch with the professor after the class is over
- Take more than one class from the professor