How to Write a Letter of Recommendation to a Friend for Legal Status

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If a friend asks you to write a letter of recommendation for a court hearing, it is important to know how to properly write the document. A letter of recommendation may also be called a court character reference letter and is used to describe the writer’s relationship with the friend and to vouch for the person. A letter of recommendation should only be written for someone you know really well and are willing to vouch for.

Agree to write the letter. If you are asked to write this type of letter, be sure that you know the person well enough to write a positive recommendation. After you agree to write it, you must understand the purpose it serves. If it is for legal status, the judge may want information from a close source regarding the person’s character about a certain subject. These letters are often required prior to a court sentencing hearing or for child custody issues.

Read More: How to Write a Personal Reference Letter to a Judge for Someone on Trial

Address the letter. Find out from your friend who to address the letter to. Begin the letter with the date and by writing “Dear” followed by the person’s name or the name of the court.

Introduce yourself. The first section in a letter of recommendation is to describe who you are and what your relationship is with the person in question. Tell about yourself by including your name, your qualifications, any titles you hold and how you know the person. The information you include in your introduction helps build your credibility with the court.

Describe your friend. State your friend’s name and the length of time you have known him or her. Specify positive attributes about your friend including achievements, skills and qualifications. Include character traits about the person that you feel describe him or her very well, such as “hardworking, honest and caring.”

Offer a recommendation. State clearly what you recommend for this person. For legal status, such as a sentencing hearing, describe reasons why you would recommend community-service hours versus a prison sentence. Include any other details about your friend that offer a positive reference.

Close the letter. Include your contact information and tell the reader that he should not hesitate to call you if he has further questions. Sign the letter “Sincerely” followed by your name.


  • A letter of reference for this purpose should be approximately one to two pages long. Include a story, if possible, that illustrates the person's character.

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