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Letter of Reference Question

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3. Letters of Reference

At least two letters of reference are required and we strongly recommend that at least one be an academic reference.  Letters of reference are confidential and must be submitted by the referee directly to OLSAS. You should select referees who have extensive personal knowledge of you and can make statements concerning your:

  • Character
  • Personal qualities
  • Academic capabilities
  • Performance in an employment and/or volunteer capacity
  • Special circumstances, if applicable


Osgoode asks for a minimum of two letters of reference, with the STRONG recommendation that one be an academic reference. I have been out of undergrad for several years, and while I can probably get a few professors to write something, its been long enough that they won't be glowing or very detailed. I can get very strong recommendations from my supervisor, manager and the the owner of the company I work for also (Not directly related to law, more skills based). However, I am wondering if I could use a 3rd cousin, who is a very prominent lawyer in Ontario, and former professor (at osgoode) for an additional recommendation, are family/relative references not allowed? Will it look bad? Does it matter either way? And yes we have the same last name.

Edited by flawyer

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I think it would seem odd to use a cousin as a reference, as it doesn’t appear you worked under them or took classes with them, so I think it might come off weird. 

Also, one of my friends (who applied last year to Osgoode) did not give any academic references initially, and was contacted by Osgoode later in the cycle and requested to add an academic reference. Just an idea that it may actually be necessary, even if it just says ‘recommended’. 

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I don't see your cousin adding anything if you didn't take their class. If you had it would probably be okay (admissions committee probably wouldn't jump to "family member" if you were one of their students) but what are they going to provide other than a character reference? I have a feeling the admissions committee would see right through that.

Just find the one professor who you think remembers you the most and ask them. Remind them of what you did in their course - I even attached a paper that I had received a high mark on. Once you say you're applying to law school they'll understand. Profs write reference letters all the time, they know the drill and how hard it is to find suitable references. If you don't feel it'll be a strong reference list it as your third reference on OLSAS and use your employers for the other two. That way the admissions committee will definitely read the two letters you're confident about and will check the third one just to see if you have an academic reference, which is apparently a requirement.


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