In general, I am more than happy to write letters of recommendation! This page (inspired by Dr. Brandon Stewart who himself borrows from Dr. Gary King) contains information that you should know as you decide whether I should write a letter on your behalf. You should reach out to me as soon as you know that you will be asking for a letter. Then, send the requested material (see below!) as PDF files contained in a single email.
Step 1: Am I the right person to write you a letter?
The best letters of recommendation do more than just strongly endorse a person for a particular opportunity (all letters do that!) Instead, they must speak to the applicant's skillset and ability in a unique way, possible through having worked closely together in some capacity: multiple classes together, collaborating on research, assisting outside of class on projects, or something else.
Consequently, you should ask yourself if I am the right person to write this letter for you. Would I be able to write a non-generic, personalized letter? Can I attest to your skillset and ability in a way that a random person off the street would be unable to do? Would I be able to convincingly portray your abilities to the reader? Have you conducted yourself professionally and with integrity in all of our previous interactions (i.e., showed up to class regularly and on time, not engaged in academic dishonesty, etc.)?
If the answer to these questions is "no," then perhaps another person is better suited to write you the strongest letter possible. However, if the answer is "yes," you should read on. One other note: I only write letters of recommendation for students who have waived their right to view the letter (meaning, the letter remains confidential) and will submit the letter to the organization(s) on your behalf.
Step 2: What you need to do
Once you've settled on me writing a letter for you, email me right away to set up a meeting (either in my office or on Zoom). If your letter is for law school, no meeting is necessary (see below). At the meeting, we will discuss the opportunity, why you are pursuing it, and how the opportunity will advance your career/goals. After the meeting, you should write everything up that we discussed in (roughly) one paragraph and send it to me in an email. In the same email, you should send:
An unofficial transcript (DegreeWorks audit is fine!)
Any statements that will be accompanying your application for the opportunity (such as personal statements, statement of interest, research statement, research proposals, etc.)
A list of 3 adjectives that describes you along with an example/anecdote of each (that I have witnessed!)
Any application-specific guidelines for letter writers (such as page limits, formatting requirements, where to submit, etc.)
One-paragraph of why you are applying for the opportunity and how it will help you achieve your career goals (written up from our meeting)
If your letter is for law school, write one paragraph about why you want to attend law school, what area(s) of law interests you, and what you hope to achieve in your career.
Step 3: Follow-Up
Once I have all of the above information, I will write and submit the letter on your behalf. Please give me at least two weeks to write the letter. You should feel free to remind me if you've not heard anything within one week of the deadline. I will email you once the letter has been submitted, so if you've not heard from me, do not assume it was sent! Follow-up.
Please be sure to follow-up and nudge me if you've not heard from me!