Getting your letters to the Law Schools (in brief).
[For many applicants, this is the most confusing aspect in the application process. Do not hesitate to ask your HPPLC Prelaw Advisor if you encounter problems.]
I. The HPPLC/Interfolio Recommendation Service Partnership:
The Health Professions and Prelaw Center offers an optional Letter of Recommendation Service for Indiana University students through a partnership with Interfolio, the premier web-based credentials service used by many of the country's leading universities. Interfolio allows you to collect recommendations over time from professors as you go through your undergraduate years, and will send them to the CAS when the time comes. With an Interfolio account you can "affiliate" with the HPPLC office. Then HPPLC advisors can access your Interfolio account and review your letters, and, for example, check them for errors (e.g., referring to John Jones as “she”; mentioning the wrong law school). Note: we cannot comment on the quality of your letters per se.
To help you decide if it makes sense for you to use Interfolio, and a list of possible disadvantages as well as advantages, click HERE.
Interfolio does NOT replace the Credential Assembly Service. It is only in addition to the CAS, which is mandatory. This bears repeating as it is often misunderstood. If you open a file with Interfolio you will still have to pay for and send all of your letters to the CAS--no exceptions. See below for more information on the CAS. Note that while HPPLC advisors can access your Interfolio account (with your permission only), they cannot access the letters in your CAS account under any circumstances.
For more information on the HPPLC / Interfolio Partnership, click HERE.
II. The Credential Assembly Service Basics:
The Credential Assembly Serivice ("CAS") provides a way of centralizing and standardizing undergraduate academic records, including LORs and transcripts, to simplify the admissions process (from the law schools' perspective, that is). For the applicant, it is a confusing and expensive process. Official information about it can be found at www.lsac.org. HPPLC's step-by-step instructions for setting up your account can be found by clicking HERE.
All applicants to law school MUST use the CAS, even if you have a file with HPPLC. No exceptions. They create a "Candidate Report" for each applicant that includes the LSAT score, writing portion of the LSAT, copies of your transcript, the LSAC's standardized transcript analysis, and your LOR. You do not and cannot tell the CAS where to send its report. It will be contacted by each law school individually after the school receives your application.
You must double-check everything. Confirm that the CAS has received and processed everything you've sent them; that they have sent everything you've submitted to the law schools; that the law schools have received everything. Seemingly innocent, undetected clerical errors on their part have resulted in missed deadlines and admission denials. Please be thorough!! Please keep in mind that YOU will be held responsible for the mistakes of others.
If you have questions or encounter problems, contact a HPPLC Prelaw Advisor.
Note: registration for the CAS is separate from registering for the LSAT. Each requires a separate registration; the fee for each is about the same. Just because you have an LSAC account number does NOT mean you are registered for the CAS! You do not need to register for both the LSAT and CAS at the same time, although you certainly may. The absolute latest you should register for the CAS is about four to six weeks prior to mailing your applications. Note that the CAS may take two to three weeks to process your material, and they occasionally (but rarely) make mistakes, which take time for you to discover, and then correct.
You can create an account with the LSAC and get a head start on many tasks required by the CAS before you pay the fee. To create your own LSAC account, click here.
It is often necessary to call the CAS and speak to a human being in order to resolve questions and problems with your account. Please do NOT hesitate to do this! Having a valid file with them is essential to being admitted anywhere. Call 215.968.1001 (options 5, then 0, to speak to a representative).
You must arrange to have your transcripts and letters of recommendation sent to the CAS. This section will focus on LOR. Detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to submit transcripts, LOR, and how to set up your law school applications online are available HERE or by email from your HPPLC Prelaw Advisor.
The CAS needs only ONE copy of each LOR and transcript—they will make copies and send the items to each of the law schools to which you apply. The CAS will not accept these documents directly from applicants, so the registrar (re: transcripts) and your letter-writers (or HPPLC if you have a file there—see below) must send this material directly to the CAS.
All other documentation (e.g., personal statement, resume, addenda letters, etc.) should be sent by you directly and separately to each individual law school along with your other application material. Most applicants use the electronic application feature of their LSAC account to apply.
The CAS will accept an unlimited number of LOR. You will later assign specific letters from your CAS account to go to each of your schools, depending on the number they will take. Most schools will ask for 2 or 3 letters, although many will read 4 (or more).
NOTE: Each LOR submitted to the CAS must be accompanied by the CAS's own LOR form, which contains, among other information, contact information of the writer . The CAS requires that their LOR form (which you must print out from your account) accompany every letter. If a letter arrives without this form, it will be returned to the writer. [Note that currently there can be problems printing out this form with a MAC computer.]
Sending Your Letters to the CAS
If you do NOT have a LOR file with Interfolio, You can make this request by email from your CAS dashboard, or in person. If you make the request in person, make sure you give the CAS LOR form to EACH of your writers, and make sure that the writers mail the form together with their letter (in the same envelope) directly to the CAS. The mailing address to is located at the top of the LOR form. Detailed instructions on how to do this are available HERE.
If you request a LOR from a writer using your CAS dashboard, this form is automatically included and your writer will upload the letter directly to your CAS account.
If you DO have a file with Interfolio, You will use your Interfolio dashboard to request a letter from your writers. In the email they receive, they will be given simple instructions on how to either 1. send their letter by postal mail, in which case you must supply then with a matching Interfolio form that they will include with the letter; or 2. upload their letter directly to your Interfolio account--if this method is used, the aforementioned form is automatically included. Note that their letter must contain an actual (not electronic) signature.
For basic information about whether Interfolio is right for you (not everyone needs it), click HERE.
If you have an account with Interfolio, see the following documents for requesting letters from your writers:
Once your LOR are in your Interfolio file, you will need to upload the CAS form to your Interfolio account--one for each letter. Then you will arrange to send your letters and their matching forms to your CAS account:
The above represents a brief and necessarily incomplete introduction to the issue of LOR for law schools. Do not expect everything to make sense at this point! If you have questions or encounter problems in dealing with any of these organizations, we urge you to contact a HPPLC Prelaw Advisor (a quick email note is fine) and resolve the issue ASAP. Remember, when applying to law school, you must do everything right, and do it early. YOU will be held responsible for the mistakes and delays caused by others.
Remember that HPPLC is here to help you succeed! Please make an appointment to meet with a HPPLC Prelaw Advisor at some point to go over your individual needs and situation.