|Letters of Recommendation and the LSDAS (or “Credential Assembly Service”)
The LSAC completely changed it’s Letter of Recommendation (LOR) website and procedures on April 27, 2009. The Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) has changed its name to “Credential Assembly Service” (CAS).
Introduction: there is no longer a “generic” LOR form. Each LOR now must have its own CAS LOR form with the author’s name on it. In other words, you will need to print out a separate LOR form created specifically for each of your writers. Each LOR sent to the Credential Assembly Service needs to be accompanied by one of these CAS forms. If you have 3 LOR, you will need 3 forms—one for each letter. Below are the instructions on how to obtain them. [note that currently there are problems printing out these forms on a Mac computer].
[Preface: IF you have a LOR file with the HPPLC office, you must bring (or fax) these CAS forms to the HPPLC receptionist in Maxwell Hall 010 and s/he will put them in your HPPLC LOR file. With a HPPLC file, you do NOT give these forms to your writers. When you later forward your letters from HPPLC to the Credential Assembly Service, the secretary will make sure that the proper CAS form accompanies each letter. (Note: you will still have to give each writer either a HPPLC “faculty” or “personal” waiver form that they will return to HPPLC with their letter.)]
[IF you do NOT have a LOR file with HPPLC, then you must give this CAS LOR form to your individual LOR-writers. They in turn will mail their form together with their letter in the same envelope to the Credential Assembly Service. (Note: if you do not have a HPPLC file, you would NOT give your writers the HPPLC “waiver” form referred to in the previous paragraph.)]
Instructions: You will build your own individual “master list” of potential letter-writers on your LSAC LOR account. This list can be as long or as short as you like. Note that just listing a person does not mean that you are committed to even asking this person for a letter, let alone sending it to any particular law school. These names will be only your potential sources for future letters. Only you will see this list.
Later in the process, you will also list the law schools to which you will potentially be applying. For each individual school you will have to designate specific letters it will receive from your “master list” of all letters that you have accumulated. Thus you will decide later which letters will go to which schools. Again, the list of letter-writers that you will be building is only for potential future use. As you enter the LSAC site and attempt to follow the instructions below on your computer, these procedures should become more clear and make more sense. It is complicated, but hang in there!
First, log onto your LSAC account with your username and password: https://os.lsac.org/Release/Logon/Access.aspx.
Be sure your popup blocker is turned off for this site! For Internet Explorer, click the “Tools” folder. For Firefox, click “Tools,” then choose “Options,” then go to the “Content” tab, and uncheck the first box (entitled “Block pop-up windows”).
On the next page, see the section entitled “Credential Assembly Service.” Click the second link under this section, called “Letters of Recommendation.”
You will be taken to your personal “Letters of Recommendation” page.
Find the section on that page called “My LORs and Recommenders”.
Fill out the form that appears next—it consists basically of contact information for the writer (not you!). Note that your “description” of the letter will appear on this form, and will be seen by both the writer and law schools! Also, once you “submit” the form, you will NOT be able to edit or change any information on it, except for this description (but do NOT change this after you have given the form to the writer—the CAS may be confused if the description on the form submitted does not match with what is written online). So be very careful what you write! You only have 30 characters available for this description. The LSAC recommends that the description indicate whether or not the particular letter has been targeted for one specific law school. By far most LOR will be generic, designed to be sent to ANY law school. Then the description might be something like “For general use” or “For all law schools.” However, if you do have a letter that is designed only for one particular school, the description might read: “For DePaul Law School.” However, you can use any description that might be useful to you, for example: “Professor Simon;” “Internship;” “Middle Way House”, etc. Note that a single writer can submit more than one letter—one for all law schools and another targeted for one specific school. Again, however, each such letter must be accompanied by a unique CAS LOR form. For the LSAC’s instructions on how to complete this webform, see: http://www.lsac.org//Applying/letters-of-recommendation.asp.
When you have completed this form, click the “Submit” button.
You will then arrive back at your “Letters of Recommendation” page---but the “Recommender Name” column should now contain the name of the writer for whom you just filled out the webform. The “Letter ID/Description” column should also now contain your description of the letter, which will be in blue and underlined as a weblink. Click on this link, and the LOR form should finally appear! You can now print out a copy of this form.
If you are using the HPPLC LOR service, bring this form to our office and give it to the receptionist
If you are NOT using the HPPLC service, give the letter to your writer, who MUST send it together with the letter (in the same envelope!) to the LSDAS.
Eventually (this can be done much later)---you’ll select a tentative list of law schools to which you’ll possibly be applying, and when you “submit” these selections you’ll see this list of schools back on your “Letters of Recommendation” page.
You’ll then have to click on the “Add Term” button for each individual school and then the “term” or semester that you’ll be applying for admission (the term you want to begin your studies at the law school—usually the fall).
After you “submit” this information, you’ll be able to designate which of the letters listed on this page (your so-called “master-list”) will go to which law schools. You do this individually for each law school by clicking on each school’s “Assign Letters” tab (again, be sure your pop-up blocker has been turned off). When you do that there will be a short explanation of that school’s LOR requirements and policies (for example, the number of letters that they want you to select). Then just click on the letters from the drop-down menu on the next page, click submit, and the “Letter ID” on your “Letters of Recommendation” page will now indicate your LOR assignments for that school.
Note: most applicants will send the same letters to all schools (the one variable would be the number of letters that each school will accept).
The above will make much more sense if you actually follow along on your actual LSAC account online and try to duplicate the procedures.
If the above procedure doesn’t work, call the LSAC directly at 215.968.1001 (options 5, then 0, to speak to a human being). They should be able to walk you through it.
Please keep in mind that this system is BRAND NEW and is a work in progress. I’m sure there will be bugs and glitches that they’ll have to discover and then fix. Please let the LSAC (and HPPLC) know about any problems you encounter. Meanwhile, do not hesitate to send us your questions!