DOs and DON’Ts When Writing a Personal Statement
(1) Pay Attention to Each School’s Prompt Hopefully, for most applicants, this is a no-brainer. The prompt for each school is first available in August/September when law schools release that year’s application. The prompts typically don’t change much year to year, so you can get a head start by looking at the previous year’s application. For many/most applicants, the prompts are similar enough that the same personal statement template can be used with minor adjustments for each school (see Tip #2 on personalization). For some applicants, however, the prompts are different enough that you should write multiple personal statements. Be sure that the personal statement you use for a school does in fact respond to the prompt for that school. The ability to follow directions is a necessity for law school applicants.
(2) Personalize Your Statement Most law schools want to see that you have put time and effort into researching why that school is a good fit for you. One of the ways you can demonstrate your due diligence is to include a paragraph (typically at the close of your personal statement) outlining several specific factors that have drawn you to that law school. Be specific. Important considerations to note: (a) Vague statements asserting that a law school is a good fit for you without any supporting evidence or information are useless, so do your research and work on articulating the reasons for your interest in each school. (b) You can review a school’s website to determine what you like about that school, but don’t just regurgitate information from the website. They want to know why that information is relevant to your interests and/or goals. (c) Top-ranked schools (typically, top 5 or so) pretty much know why you would like to attend, so personalization is less important unless there is something that truly differentiates that school from others to you. (d) Some schools have a separate “optional” essay allowing you to discuss why you want to attend that school. If that is the case for one of your schools, write the separate essay, and omit the personalized paragraph from your personal statement. (e) Be sure to submit the correct versions to each school. Save the school’s name in the title to help minimize any potential for error.
(3) Be Personable As you now know, one of your goals as an applicant is to let admissions committees get to know you. It is just as important that they like you. Admissions committees are in no rush to admit applicants who are arrogant, pretentious, elitist, or rude. So the tone you use in your personal statement is important. Don’t assume that you need to use a formal tone just because you think lawyers write very formally. By using a formal tone, you are actually building a wall between yourself and the admissions committee—the opposite of what you should be doing. Aim for a more conversational (but not casual) tone so that the statement flows easily for the reader. Further, forget the big words that you think make you sound smart. They actually risk making you sound arrogant, pretentious, or even unintelligent (if used improperly). Strong writing conveys intelligence without the need for big words.
(4) Tell a Story Another easy way to be both personal and personable in your personal statement is to start off with an anecdote about yourself that sets up the framework for the rest of the statement. For example, if you are highlighting certain characteristics in your statement, tell an anecdote that demonstrates those characteristics. If you are discussing a defining moment in your life, describe a scene from that experience. A well-told anecdote can immediately capture readers’ attention and draw them into your world. Even if you don’t include an anecdote in the statement, the topic that you choose should, in a sense, “tell a story” about you in a way that captures and keeps the reader’s attention.
(5) Be Concise Some schools set no limit for personal statements, but most suggest either 2–3 or 2–4 pages. Aim for two pages, double-spaced. Do not make the error of thinking that more is better. Law schools value the ability to persuasively convey information in a relatively short space. Also, keep in mind that admissions committees are reviewing thousands of applications. Don’t waste their time.
10 DON’Ts 1. DON’T just restate your résumé in narrative form. That shows no critical thinking ability. If you are going to talk about more than one achievement or experience mentioned on your résumé, then connect the dots. Find a common theme that ties those items together. 2. DON’T address your weaknesses in the personal statement. Use an addendum.The personal statement should highlight the positives about you. 3. DON’T focus on your high school activities or accomplishments. Focusing on achievements in high school can draw attention to a lack of similar achievements in college. 4. DON’T be overly dramatic. Understatement is better. 5. DON’T spend too much time talking about someone or something else. Always bring the focus back to you. 6. DON’T start your statement with a famous quotation, no matter how well you think it might fit with the theme of your personal statement. Admissions committees want to hear your words, not those of someone else. 7. DON’T use legalese or Latin phrases. 8. DON’T be careless. Be sure not to accidentally mention the wrong school in your statement. 9. DON’T use big words in an effort to impress the admissions committees. It sets the wrong tone for the statement. 10. DON’T write a position paper or opinion piece. Even written well, those types of writings are not particularly useful to admissions committees because they miss the point of the personal statement.
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⭐️How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement
Check the application of every school to which you’re applying, but in general, you should follow these guidelines.
I prefer a one-line header. Put your name on the left, your LSAC number in the middle, and the words “Personal Statement,” followed by a page number, on the right. It looks like this:
In case you’re not comfortable with Word headers, I’ve made a correctly formatted .docx file with a one-line header. Click here to download the sample text, then substitute your information for the placeholders.
You can also put all the information on the right-hand side, in three lines, like this:
If you use a three-line header on the first page, you may want to use a shorter header—name, page number—on subsequent pages.
The Essay Body
- Don’t give your essay a title.
- Use twelve-point, Times New Roman font (an eleven-point font is fine too if the application doesn't specify)
- Use one-inch margins all around.
- Double-space your essay.
- Left-align or justify your essay.
- Add half-inch indentations to each paragraph.
- Don’t add an extra return between paragraphs.
- Use one space after periods.
I’ve implemented this formatting in the personal statement format sample .
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How long should your Personal Statement be? Top 50 Law Schools PS Length and Optional Essay Instructions
The following are the instructions for the Personal Statement length and Optional Essay instructions that are contained within each application.
PS: No stated page limit
Other essays: Required 250 word statement on any topic
PS: Maximum 2 pages with 11pt font, 1” margins, double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement
PS: About two pages
Other essays: Optional diversity statement (“brief”)
PS: 2-4 pages suggested
Other essays: N/A; include diversity information in PS
PS: 2 pages double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional “Penn Core Values,” optional essay about experience on a team — all 1 page maximum double spaced
Other essays: Optional addenda (open-ended, multiple addenda accepted)
PS: Maximum 4 pages double spaced
PS: No page limit
Other essays: Optional “Why Duke,” optional diversity statement
Other essays: Supplemental essays — 8 options, choose 1 or 2 (or none). Should be about one page, 11pt font, double spaced, but no more than 2 pages. Topics: (1) Say more about your interest in the University of Michigan Law School. What do you believe Michigan has to offer to you and you to Michigan? (2) Describe your current hopes for your career after completing law school. How will your education, experience, and development so far support those plans? (3) If you do not think that your academic record or standardized test scores accurately reflect your ability to succeed in law school, please tell us why. (4) Describe a failure or setback in your life. How did you overcome it? What, if anything, would you do differently if confronted with this situation again? (5) Describe an experience that speaks to the problems and possibilities of diversity in an educational or work setting. (6) What do you think are the skills and values of a good lawyer? Which do you already possess? Which do you hope to develop? (7) How might your perspectives and experiences enrich the quality and breadth of the intellectual life of our community or enhance the legal profession? (8) Describe your educational experiences so far. What kinds of learning environments, teaching methods, student cultures, and/or evaluation processes lead you to thrive, or contrariwise, thwart your success?
PS: Recommended 1-3 pages double spaced
Other essays: Optional “Why Northwestern,” optional diversity statement — choose neither, one, or both. Length should be one or two paragraphs.
PS: Maximum 2 pages 11pt font double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement. Short answer (2-3 sentences) “Why Cornell” in app
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional 250 word response from four prompts: (1) One of the core values of Georgetown Law is that students and faculty learn from each other. As you imagine yourself as a member of the Georgetown Law community, what is one lesson that you have learned in your life that you will want to share with others? (2) What do you regret not doing? (3) What is the biggest ethical challenge you have ever faced and how did you handle it? (4) Fill a 5 1/2″ long by 2 1/2″ wide box in any way you’d like. (See online paper form for an example.) (5) Prepare a one-minute video that says something about you. Upload it to an easily accessible website and provide us the URL. (If you are using YouTube, we strongly suggest that you make your video unlisted so it will not appear in any of YouTube’s public spaces.) What you do or say is entirely up to you. Please note that we are unable to watch videos that come in any form other than a URL link.
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, maximum 3 pages 11pt font double spaced
PS: Maximum 2 pages 12pt font
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional “programmatic contribution” essay about specializations/joint degrees, optional public interest essay
PS: Maximum 2 pages
PS: Approximately 1-3 pages
Other essays: N/A
PS: Maximum 2 pages double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum 300 words)
PS: 2-5 pages double spaced
PS: 2-4 pages 12pt font double spaced
PS: Approximately 2 pages
William & Mary
PS: No stated page limit (“brief”)
Other essays: Optional essays for applicants that have a special interest in the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, Center for Legal and Court Technology, Election Law Program, Law Library, Public Service Admission Ambassador, Special Education Advocacy, Veterans Benefits, and Virginia Coastal Policy Fellowships
PS: 700 word maximum
Other essays: 500 words maximum on one of three prompts: (1) If you were asked to create a non-profit organization, what would be the organization, its mission, and its purpose; (2) How would you define “global common good”? Provide an example of how you have contributed to the “global common good”; or (3) What life events or experiences have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why?
Other essays: Optional “Why Notre Dame” essay, optional diversity essay
PS: Approximately 2 pages double spaced
PS: 2-3 pages
Indiana U Bloomington
PS: Suggested length of 500 words
PS: Generally 2-3 pages
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional essay on leadership, optional essay on public interest dedication
PS: Maximum 4 pages 10pt font double spaced. MUST include why you want to enter the legal profession and why you want to attend UNC specifically
U Wisconsin Madison
PS: 2-3 pages 12pt font double spaced 1” margins
PS: 2-3 pages double spaced
PS: Maximum 2 pages 12pt font double spaced
PS: 2-4 pages double spaced
PS: Approximately 2-3 pages double spaced
Other essays: Required “Why SMU” (1 page double spaced), diversity statement (2-3 pages double spaced) optional but required for scholarship consideration
U Colorado Boulder
PS: Maximum 1,000 words
Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum 500 words)
Washington & Lee
PS: Maximum 3 pages 12pt font double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional ethical dilemma essay (500 words maximum)
PS: Maximum 500 words
Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum two pages 12pt font double spaced)
Other essays: Required “Why George Mason” (maximum 250 words), optional diversity statement
PS: Suggested 2-3 pages double spaced
Other essays: Required “Why Tulane,” optional diversity statement
PS: Maximum 750 words
Other essays: Optional diversity statement – approximately 250 words
PS: NO personal statement — “Academic Admissions Statement” that focuses on academic interests and experiences. Maximum 4 pages 12pt font double spaced
Other essays: Optional diversity statement, maximum 2 pages 12pt font double spaced
Law School Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts
The personal statement, one of the most important parts of your law school application, is an opportunity to highlight your writing ability, your personality, and your experience. Think of it as a written interview during which you get to choose the question. What one thing do you wish the admissions evaluators knew about you?
To help you write a law school personal statement that best reflects your abilities as a potential law student, we have some recommendations below.
- Discuss possible personal statement topics with your pre-law advisor (or someone else) before you invest a lot of time writing.
- Choose a narrow topic. Offer details about a small topic rather than generalities about a broad topic. Focus on a concrete experience and the impact it has had upon you.
- Be yourself. Do not tell law schools what you think they want to hear — tell them the truth.
- Pay special attention to your first paragraph. It should immediately grab a reader’s attention. Reviewers are pressed for time and may not read beyond an uninteresting opener.
- Keep it interesting. Write with energy and use the active voice. You do not have to explain how your experience relates to your desire to attend law school. Tell a story. Paint a vivid picture. The most interesting personal statements create visuals for the reader, which make your personal statement more memorable.
- Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos. Choose your words with economy and clarity in mind, and remember that your reader has a huge stack of applications to read. A personal statement generally should be two to three double-spaced pages.
- Proofread. Ask several people to proofread your essay. Grammatical or mechanical errors are inexcusable.
- Include information from your background that sets you apart. If your ethnicity, family, religion, socioeconomic background, or similar factors are motivating you to succeed in law school, be sure to highlight them. You can do this in the personal statement itself or in a separate diversity statement. If you are writing a personal statement and a diversity statement, make sure the two essays address different topics.
- Consider your audience. Most admissions evaluators are professors, third-year law students, or admissions professionals not long out of law school. Therefore, you want to come across as an attentive student, interesting classmate, and accomplished person. Again, consider what you most want them to know, beyond the information provided in the rest of your application.
- Read the application carefully. Most law schools allow you to choose a topic, but some will require you to address a specific question. Follow whatever instructions are provided.
- Do not play a role, especially that of a lawyer or judge. And stay away from legal concepts and jargon. You run the risk of misusing them, and even if you use them properly, legal language may make you appear pompous.
- Do not tell your life story in chronological order or merely re-state your resume. Furthermore, resist the urge to tie together all of your life experiences. The essays that try to say too much end up saying nothing at all.
- Do not become a cliché. You may genuinely want to save the world. Maybe your study abroad experience transformed the way you look at the world. But these topics are overused. Before writing your essay, consider how your story is unique and highlight your individuality.
- Do not use a personal statement to explain discrepancies in your application. If your academic record is weak in comparison to your LSAT scores, or vice versa, address that issue in an addendum. Emphasize the positive in the personal statement.
- Do not offend your reader. Lawyers rarely shy away from controversial topics, but you should think twice before advocating a controversial view. You do not want to appear to be close-minded.
- If you are in the bottom of an applicant pool, do not play it safe. You have nothing to lose by making a novel statement.
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How to write a law school personal statement + examples.
Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University
Law school personal statements help show admissions committees why you’re an excellent candidate. Read on to learn how to write a personal statement for law school!
Writing a law school personal statement requires time, effort, and a lot of revision. Law school statement prompts and purposes can vary slightly depending on the school.
Their purpose could be to show your personality, describe your motivation for attending law school, explain why you want to go to a particular law school, or a mix of all three and more. This guide will help you perfect your writing with tips and law school personal statement examples.
The Best Law School Personal Statement Format
Unfortunately, there’s no universal format for a law school personal statement. Every law school has a preference (or lack thereof) on how your personal statement should be structured. We recommend always checking for personal statement directions for every school you want to apply to.
However, many law schools ask for similar elements when it comes to personal statement formats. These are some standard formatting elements to keep in mind if your school doesn’t provide specific instructions:
- Typically two pages or less in length
- Use a basic, readable font style and size (11-point is the smallest you should do, although some schools may request 12-point)
- Margins shouldn’t be less than 1 inch unless otherwise specified
- Indent new paragraphs
- Don’t return twice to begin a new paragraph
- Law schools typically ask for a header, typically including your full name, page number, LSAC number, and the words “Personal Statement” (although there can be variations to this)
How you format your header may be up to you; sometimes, law schools won't specify whether the header should be one line across the top or three lines.
This is how your header may look if you decide to keep it as one line. If you want a three-line header, it should look like this on the top-right of the page:
Remember, the best law school personal statement format is the one in application instructions. Ensure you follow all formatting requirements!
How to Title a Personal Statement (Law)
You may be tempted to give your law school statement a punchy title, just like you would for an academic essay. However, the general rule is that you shouldn’t give your law school personal statement a title.
The University of Washington states , “DON’T use quotes or give a title to your
statement.” Many other schools echo this advice. The bottom line is that although you're writing your story, your law school statement doesn't require a title. Don't add one unless the school requests it.
How to Start a Personal Statement for Law School
Acing the beginning of your law school personal statement is essential for your narrative’s success. The introduction is your chance to captivate the admissions committee and immerse them in your story. As such, you want your writing to be interesting enough to grab their attention without purposefully going for shock value.
So how do you write a law school personal statement introduction that will garner the attention it deserves? The simplest way to get the reader involved in your story is to start with a relevant anecdote that ties in with your narrative.
Consider the opening paragraph from Harvard Law graduate Cameron Clark’s law school personal statement :
“At the intersection of 21st and Speedway, I lay on the open road. My leg grazed the shoulder of a young woman lying on the ground next to me. Next to her, a man on his stomach slowed his breathing to appear as still as possible. A wide circle of onlookers formed around the dozens of us on the street. We were silent and motionless, but the black-and-white signs affirmed our existence through their decree: BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
The beginning lines of this personal statement immediately draw the reader in. Why was the writer lying on the road? Why were other people there with him, and why was a man trying to slow his breathing? We're automatically inspired to keep reading to find out more information.
That desire to keep reading is the hallmark of a masterful law school personal statement introduction. However, you don’t want to leave your reader hanging for too long. By the end of this introduction, we’re left with a partial understanding of what’s happening.
There are other ways to start a law school personal statement that doesn't drop the reader in the middle of the action. Some writers may begin their law personal statement in other ways:
- Referencing a distant memory, thought, feeling, or perspective
- Setting the scene for the opening anecdote before jumping in
- Providing more context on the time, place, or background
Many openings can blend some of these with detailed, vivid imagery. Here's a law school personal statement opening that worked at the UChicago Law :
“I fell in love for the first time when I was four. That was the year my mother signed me up for piano lessons. I can still remember touching those bright, ivory keys with reverence, feeling happy and excited that soon I would be playing those tinkling, familiar melodies (which my mother played every day on our boombox) myself.”
This opening blends referencing a distant memory and feeling mixed with vivid imagery that paints a picture in the reader's head. Keep in mind that different openers can work better than others, depending on the law school prompt.
To recap, consider these elements as you write your law school personal statement’s introduction:
- Aim for an attention-grabbing hook
- Don’t purposefully aim for shock value: it can sometimes seem unauthentic
- Use adjectives and imagery to paint a scene for your reader
- Identify which opening method works best for the law school prompt and your story
- Don’t leave the reader hanging for too long to find out what your narrative is about
- Be concise
Writing a law school personal statement introduction can be difficult, but these examples and tips can get your writing the attention it deserves.
How to Write a Law School Personal Statement
Now that you’re equipped with great advice and tips to start your law school statement, it’s time to tackle the body of your essay. These tips will show you how to write a personal statement for law school to captivate the admissions committee.
Understand the Prompt
While many law schools have similar personal statement prompts, you should carefully examine what's being asked of you before diving in. Consider these top law school personal statement prompts to see what we mean:
- Yale Law School : “The personal statement should help us learn about the personal, professional, and/or academic qualities an applicant would bring to the Law School community. Applicants often submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law school applications.”
- University of Chicago Law : “Our application does not provide a specific topic or question for the personal statement because you are the best judge of what you should write. Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you.”
- NYU Law : “Because people and their interests vary, we leave the content and length of your statement to your discretion. You may wish to complete or clarify your responses to items on the application form, bring to our attention additional information you feel should be considered, describe important or unusual aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application, or tell us what led you to apply to NYU School of Law.”
Like all law personal statements, these three prompts are pretty open-ended. However, your Yale personal statement should focus on how you’d contribute to a law school community through professional and academic experience and qualities.
For UChicago Law, you don’t even need to write about a law-related topic if you don’t want to. However, when it comes to a school like NYU Law , you probably want to mix your qualities, experiences, and what led you to apply.
Differing prompts are the reason you’ll need to create multiple copies of your personal statement!
Follow Formatting Directions
Pay extra attention to each school's formatting directions. While we've discussed basic guidelines for law school personal statement formats, it's essential to check if there is anything different you need to do.
While working on your rough drafts, copy and paste the prompt and directions at the top of the page, so you don't forget.
Brainstorm Narratives/Anecdotes Based on the Prompt
You may have more wiggle room with some prompts than others regarding content. However, asking yourself these questions can generally help you direct your personal statement for any law school:
- What major personal challenges or recent hardships have you faced?
- What was one transformative event that impacted your life’s course or perspective?
- What are your hobbies or special interests?
- What achievements are you most proud of that aren’t stated in your application?
- What experience or event changed your values or way of thinking?
- What’s something you’re passionate about that you got involved in? What was the result of your passion?
- How did your distinct upbringing, background, or culture put you on the path to law school?
- What personal or professional experiences show who you are?
Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. Consider your personal and professional experiences that have brought you to this point, and determine which answers would make the most compelling story.
Pettit College of Law recommends you "go through your transcripts, application, and resume. Are there any gaps or missing details that your personal statement could cover?” If you've listed something on your resume that isn't further discussed, it could make a potential personal statement topic.
Do More Than Recount: Reflect
Recounting an event in a summarized way is only one piece of your law school personal statement. Even if you’re telling an outlandish or objectively interesting story, stopping there doesn’t show admissions committees what they need to know to judge your candidacy.
The University of Washington suggests that “describing the event should only be about 1/3 of your essay. The rest should be a reflection on how it changed you and how it shaped the person you are today. ” Don’t get stuck in the tangible details of your anecdote; show what the experience meant to you.
Beth O'Neil , Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UC Berkeley School of Law, said, " Applicants also tend to state and not evaluate. They give a recitation of their experience but no evaluation of what effect that particular experience had on them, no assessment of what certain experiences or honors meant."
Consider What Qualities You Want to Show
No matter what direction you want to take your law school personal statement, you should consider which qualities your narrative puts on display. Weaving your good character into your essay can be difficult. Outwardly claiming, "I'm a great leader!" doesn't add much value.
However, telling a story about a time you rose to the occasion to lead a group successfully toward a common goal shows strong leadership. "Show, don't tell" may be an overused statement, but it's a popular sentiment for a reason.
Of course, leadership ability isn't the only quality admissions committees seek. Consider the qualities you possess and those you'd expect to find in a great lawyer, and check to see the overlap. Some qualities you could show include:
Evaluate the anecdotes you chose after your brainstorming session and see if any of these qualities or others align with your narrative.
Keep Your Writing Concise
Learning how to write a personal statement for law school means understanding how to write for concision. Most prompts won't have a word limit but ask you to cap your story at two pages, double-spaced. Unfortunately, that's not a lot of space to work with.
Although your writing should be compelling and vibrant, do your best to avoid flowery language and long, complicated sentences where they’re not needed. Writing for concision means eliminating unnecessary words, cutting down sentences, and getting the point quickly.
Georgetown University’s take on law school personal statements is to “Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos.” A straightforward narrative means your reader is much less likely to be confused or get lost in your story (in the wrong way).
Decide the Depth and Scope of Your Statement
Since you only have two (or even three) pages to get your point across, you must consider the depth and scope of your narrative. While you don’t want to provide too little information, remember that you don’t have the room to summarize your entire life story (and you don’t have to do that anyway).
UChicago Law’s advice is to “Use your discretion - we know you have to make a choice and have limited space. Attempting to cover too much material can result in an unfocused and scattered personal statement.” Keep the depth and scope of your narrative manageable.
Ensure It’s Personal Enough
UChicago Law states, "If someone else could write your personal statement, it probably is not personal enough." This doesn't mean that you must pick the most grandiose, shocking narrative to make an impact or that you can't write about something many others have probably experienced.
Getting personal means only you can write that statement; other people may be able to relate to an experience, but your reflection, thoughts, feelings, and reactions are your own. UChicago Law sees applicants fall into this pitfall by writing about a social issue or area of law, so tread these topics carefully.
Mix the Past and Present, Present and Future, Or All Three
Harvard Law School’s Associate Director Nefyn Meissner said your personal statement should “tell us something about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go.”
Echoing this, Jon Perdue , Yale Law School's Director of Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives, states that the three most common approaches to the Yale Law School personal statement are focusing on:
- The past : discussing your identity and background
- The present : focusing on your current work, activities, and interests
- The future : the type of law you want to pursue and your ideal career path
Perdue said that truly stellar personal statements have a sense of “movement” and touch on all or two of these topics.
What does this mean for you? While writing your law school personal statement, don’t be afraid to touch on your past, present, and future. However, remember not to take on too much content!
Keep the Focus On You
This is a common pitfall that students fall into while writing a law school personal statement. UChicago Law cites that this is a common mistake applicants make when they write at length about:
- A family member who inspired them or their family history
- Stories about others
- Social or legal issues
Even if someone like your grandmother had a profound impact on your decision to pursue law, remember that you’re the star of the show. Meissner said , “Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother.”
Don’t let historical figures, your family, or anyone else steal your spotlight.
Decide If You Need to Answer: Why Law?
Writing about why you want to attend law school in general or a school in particular depends on the prompt. Some schools welcome the insight, while others (like Harvard Law) don't. Meissner said, “Should you mention you want to come to HLS? We already assume that if you’re applying.”
However, Perdue said your law school personal statement for Yale should answer three questions:
- Why law school?
Some schools may invite you to discuss your motivation to apply to law school or what particular elements of the school inspired you to apply.
Don’t List Qualifications or Rehash Your Resume
Your personal statement should flow like a story, with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Simply firing off your honors and awards, or summarizing the experiences on your resume, doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything new about you.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to show how your unique experiences shaped you, your qualities, and the person you are behind your LSAT scores and GPA. Think about how you can show who you are at your core.
Avoid Legalese, Jargon, And Sophisticated Terms
The best law school personal statements are written in straightforward English and don't use overly academic, technical, or literary words. UChicago Law recommends avoiding legalese or Latin terms since the "risk you are incorrectly using them is just too high."
Weaving together intricate sentence structures with words you pulled out of a thesaurus won’t make your personal statement a one-way ticket to acceptance. Be clear, straightforward, and to the point.
Don’t Put Famous Quotes In Your Writing
Beginning your law school personal statement with a quote is not only cliche but takes the focus off of you. It also eats up precious space you could fill with your voice.
Revise, Revise, Revise
Even the most talented writers never submit a perfect first draft. You'll need to do a lot of revisions before your personal statement is ready for submission. This is especially true because you'll write different versions for different law schools; these iterations must be edited to perfection.
Ensure you have enough time to make all the edits and improvements you need before you plan to submit your application. Although most law schools have rolling admissions, submitting a perfected application as soon as possible is always in your best interest.
Have an Admission Consultant Review Your Hard Work
Reviewing so many personal statements by yourself is a lot of work, and most writing can always benefit from a fresh perspective. Consider seeking a law school admissions consultant’s help to edit your personal statements to perfection and maximize your chances of acceptance at your dream school!
How to End Your Personal Statement for Law School
Law school personal statement conclusions are just as open-ended as your introductions. There are a few options for ending a personal statement depending on the prompt you’re writing for:
Some of these methods can overlap with each other. However, there are two more things you should always consider when you're ready to wrap up your story: the tone you're leaving on and how you can make your writing fit with your narrative's common thread.
You should never want to leave your reader on a low note, even if you wrote about something that isn’t necessarily happy. You should strive to end your personal statement with a tone that’s hopeful, happy, confident, or some other positive feeling.
Your last sentences should also give the impression of finality; your reader should understand that you’re wrapping up and not be left wondering where the rest of your statement is.
So, what's the common thread? This just means that your narrative sticks to the overarching theme or event you portrayed at the beginning of your writing. Bringing your writing full circle makes a more satisfying conclusion.
Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion Examples
Evaluating law school personal statement conclusions can help you see what direction authors decided to take with their writing. Let’s circle back to the sample personal statement openings for law school and examine their respective conclusions. The first example explains the applicant’s motivation to attend Harvard Law.
Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #1
“…Attorneys and legal scholars have paved the way for some of the greatest civil rights victories for women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and (people living with disabilities). At Harvard Law School, I will prepare to join their ranks by studying with the nation's leading legal scholars. For the past months, I have followed Harvard Law School student responses to the events in Ferguson and New York City. I am eager to join a law school community that shares my passion for using the law to achieve real progress for victims of discrimination. With an extensive history of advocacy for society's most marginalized groups, I believe Harvard Law School will thoroughly train me to support and empower communities in need.
Our act of civil disobedience that December day ended when the Tower’s bells rang out in two bars, hearkening half-past noon. As we stood up and gathered our belongings, we broke our silence to remind everyone of a most basic truth: Black lives matter.”
What Makes This Conclusion Effective
Although Harvard Law School states there's no need to explain why you want to apply, this law school statement is from an HLS graduate, and we can assume this was written before the advice changed.
In his conclusion, he relates and aligns his values with Harvard Law School and how joining the community will help him fulfill his mission to empower communities in need. The last paragraph circles back to the anecdote described in his introduction, neatly wrapping up the event and signaling a natural end to his story.
This author used these strategies: the motivation to attend a specific law school, stating his mission, and subtly reiterating what his acceptance would bring to the school. The next example conclusion worked at UChicago Law:
Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #2
“Songs can be rewritten and reinterpreted as situation permits, but missteps are obvious because the fundamental laws of music and harmony do not change.
Although my formal music education ended when I entered college, the lessons I have learned over the years have remained close and relevant to my life. I have acquired a lifestyle of discipline and internalized the drive for self-improvement. I have gained an appreciation for the complexities and the subtleties of interpretation. I understand the importance of having both a sound foundation and a dedication to constant study. I understand that to possess a passion and personal interest in something, to think for myself is just as important.”
What Made This Conclusion Effective
This law school personal statement was successful at UChicago Law. Although the writing has seemingly nothing to do with law or the author's capability to become a great lawyer, the author has effectively used the "show, don't tell" advice.
The last paragraph implements the focus on qualities or skills strategy. Although related to music, the qualities they describe that a formal music education taught her mesh with the qualities of a successful lawyer:
- A drive for self-improvement
- The ability to interpret information
- The ability to learn consistently
- The ability to think for herself
Overall, this essay does an excellent job of uncovering her personality and relating to the opening paragraph, where she describes how she fell in love with music.
2 Law School Personal Statement Examples From Admitted Students
These are two law school personal statement examples that worked. We'll review the excerpts below and describe what made them effective and if there's room for improvement.
Law School Personal Statement Example #1
This is an excerpt of a law personal statement that worked at UChicago Law :
“The turning point of my college football career came early in my third year. At the end of the second practice of the season, in ninety-five-degree heat, our head coach decided to condition the entire team. Sharp, excruciating pain shot down my legs as he summoned us repeatedly to the line to run wind sprints. I collapsed as I turned the corner on the final sprint. Muscle spasms spread throughout my body, and I briefly passed out. Severely dehydrated, I was rushed to the hospital and quickly given more than three liters of fluids intravenously. As I rested in a hospital recovery room, I realized my collapse on the field symbolized broader frustrations I felt playing college football.
I was mentally and physically defeated. In South Dakota, I was a dominant football player in high school, but at the Division I level, my talent was less conspicuous. In my first three years, I was convinced that obsessively training my body to run faster and be stronger would earn me a starting position. The conditioning drill that afternoon revealed the futility of my approach. I had thrust my energies into becoming a player I could never be. As a result, I lost confidence in my identity.
I considered other aspects of my life where my intellect, work ethic, and determination had produced positive results. I chose to study economics and English because processing abstract concepts and ideas in diverse disciplines were intuitively rewarding…Gathering data, reviewing previous literature, and ultimately offering my own contribution to economic knowledge was exhilarating. Indeed, undergraduate research affirmed my desire to attend law school, where I could more thoroughly satisfy my intellectual curiosity…My efforts generated high marks and praise from professors, but this success made my disappointment with football more pronounced.
The challenge of collegiate athletics felt insurmountable. However, I reminded myself that at the Division I level, I was able to compete with and against some of the best players in the country…After the hospital visit, my football position coach—sensing my mounting frustrations—offered some advice. Instead of devoting my energies almost exclusively to physical preparation, he said, I should approach college football with the same mental focus I brought to my academic studies. I began to devour scouting reports and to analyze the complex reasoning behind defensive philosophies and schemes. I studied film and discovered ways to anticipate plays from the offense and become a more effective player. Armed with renewed confidence, I finally earned a starting position in the beginning of my fourth year…
I had received the highest grade on the team. After three years of A’s in the classroom, I finally earned my first ‘A’ in football. I used mental preparation to maintain my competitive edge for the rest of the season. Through a combination of film study and will power, I led my team and conference in tackles…The most rewarding part of the season, though, was what I learned about myself in the process. When I finally stopped struggling to become the player I thought I needed to be, I developed self-awareness and confidence in the person I was.
The image of me writhing in pain on the practice field sometimes slips back into my thoughts as I decide where to apply to law school. College football taught me to recognize my weaknesses and look for ways to overcome them. I will enter law school a much stronger person and student because of my experiences on the football field and in the classroom. My decision where to attend law school mirrors my decision where to play college football. I want to study law at the University of Chicago Law School because it provides the best combination of professors, students, and resources in the country. In Division I college football, I succeeded when I took advantage of my opportunities. I hope the University of Chicago will give me an opportunity to succeed again.”
Why This Personal Statement Example Worked
The beginning of this personal statement includes vivid imagery and sets up a relevant anecdote for the reader; the writer’s injury while playing football. At the end of the introduction, he sets up a fantastic transition about his broader frustrations, compelling us to keep reading.
The essay's body shows the writer's vulnerability, making it even more personal; it can be challenging to talk about feelings, like losing your confidence, but it can help us relate to him.
The author sets up a transition to writing more about his academic ability, his eventual leadership role on the team, and developing the necessary qualities of a well-rounded lawyer: self-awareness and confidence.
Finally, the author rounds out his statement by circling back to his opening anecdote and showing the progress he’s made from there. He also describes why UChicago Law is the right school for him. To summarize, the author expertly handled:
- Opening with a descriptive anecdote that doesn’t leave the reader hanging for too long
- Being vulnerable in such a way that no one else could have written this statement
- Doing more than recounting an event but reflecting on it
- Although he introduced his coach's advice, he kept himself the focal point of the story
- He picked a focused event; the writer didn’t try to tackle too much content
- His conclusion references his introduction, signalling the natural end of the story
- The ending also reaffirms his passion for pursuing law, particularly at UChicago Law
Law School Personal Statement Example #2
This law school personal statement excerpt led to acceptance at Boston University Law.
“She sat opposite me at my desk to fill out a few forms. Fumbling her hands and laughing uncomfortably, it was obvious that she was nervous. Sandra was eighteen, and her knowledge of English was limited to “yes” and “hello.” While translating the initial meeting between Sandra and her attorney, I learned of her reasons for leaving El Salvador. She had been in an abusive relationship, and though she wasn’t ready to go into detail just yet, it was clear from the conversation that her boyfriend had terrorized her and that the El Salvadoran police were of no help…Eventually, Sandra was given a credible fear interview. The interviewer believed that she had a real fear of returning to El Salvador, and Sandra was released from detention with an Immigration Court hearing notice in her hand. She had just retained our office to present her asylum case to the Immigration Judge.
I tried to imagine myself in Sandra’s shoes. She hadn’t finished high school, was in a completely new environment, and had almost no understanding of how things worked in the US. Even the harsh New England winter must have seemed unnatural to her. Having lived abroad for a couple of years, I could relate on some level; however, the circumstances of my stay overseas were completely different. I went to Spain after graduating from college to work in an elementary school, improve my Spanish skills, and see a bit of the world…I had to ask hundreds of questions and usually make a few attempts before actually accomplishing my goal. Frustrating though it was, I didn’t have so much riding on each of these endeavors. If I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork to open a bank account one day, I could just try again the next day. Sandra won’t be afforded the same flexibility in her immigration process, where so much depends on the ability to abide by inflexible deadlines and procedures. Without someone to guide her through the process, ensuring that all requirements are met, and presenting her case as persuasively as possible, Sandra will have little chance of achieving legal status in the United States…
Before starting at my current position at Joyce & Associates, an immigration law firm in Boston, I had long considered a career in law. Growing up, I was engaged by family and school debates about public policy and government. In college, I found my constitutional law courses challenging and exciting. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I began working with clients like Sandra that I became convinced that a career in law is the right choice for me. Playing my part as a legal assistant in various immigration cases, I have been able to witness how a career in immigration advocacy is both intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. I have seen the importance of well-articulated arguments and even creativity in arguing a client’s eligibility for an immigration benefit. I have learned that I excel in critical thinking and in examining detail, as I continually consider the consistency and possible implications of any documents that clients provide in support of their application. But most importantly, I have realized how deserving many of these immigrants are. Many of the clients I work with are among the most hardworking and patriotic people I have encountered…
I am equally confident that I would thrive as a student at Boston University, where I would be sure to take full advantage of the many opportunities available. The school’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Detention Clinic would offer me invaluable experiences in various immigration settings…Given my experiences in an immigration firm, I know that I would have much to offer while participating in these programs, but even more to learn. And while I find BU’s immigration programs to be especially appealing, I am equally drawn to the Boston University experience as a whole…I hope to have the opportunity to face those challenges and to contribute my own experiences and drive to the Boston University community.”
This statement makes excellent use of opening with an experience that sets the writer's motivation to attend law school in motion. We're introduced to another person in the story in the introduction, before the author swivels and transitions to how she'd imagine herself in Sandra's shoes.
This transition shows empathy, and although the author could relate to her client's struggles on a more superficial level, she understood the gravity of her situation and the hardships that awaited her.
The author backpedals to show how she's cultivated an interest in law in college and explored this interest to know it's the right choice for her. The conclusion does an excellent job of referencing exactly how BU Law will help her achieve her mission. To recap, this personal statement was effective because:
- She started her personal statement with a story
- Although the writer focuses on an event with another person, she moves the focus back to her
- The author’s statement shows qualities like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking without explicitly stating it
- She connects her experiences to her motivation to attend law school
- This statement has movement: it references the author’s past, present, and future
- She ends her statement by explaining in detail why BU Law is the right school for her
Although this personal statement worked, circling back to the opening anecdote in the conclusion, even with a brief sentence, would have made the conclusion more impactful and fortified the common thread of her narrative.
How to Write Personal Statement For Law School: FAQs
Do you still have questions about how to write a personal statement for law school? Read on to learn more.
1. What Makes a Good Personal Statement for Law School?
Generally, an excellent personal statement tells a relevant story, showcases your best qualities, is personal, and creatively answers the prompt. Depending on the prompt, a good personal statement may describe your motivation to attend law school or why a school, in particular, is perfect for you.
2. Should I Write a Separate Personal Statement for Each School?
Depending on the prompts, you may be able to submit the same or similar law school personal statements to different schools. However, you’ll likely need more than one version of your statement to apply to different schools. Generally, students will write a few versions of their statements to meet personal statement instructions.
3. How Long Should My Law School Personal Statement Be?
Law school personal statement length requirements vary by school, but you can generally expect to write approximately two pages, double-spaced.
4. What Should You Not Put In a Law School Personal Statement?
Your law school personal statement shouldn’t include famous quotes, overly sophisticated language, statements that may offend others, and unhelpful or inappropriate information about yourself.
5. What Do I Write My Law School Personal Statement About?
The answer depends on the prompt you need to answer. Consider your experiences and decide which are impactful, uncover your personality, show your motivation to attend law school, or show your impressive character traits.
6. Does the Personal Statement Really Matter for Law School?
Top LSAT scores and high GPAs may not be enough, especially at the T-14 law schools. Due to the high level of competition, you should take advantage of your personal statement to show why you’re an excellent candidate. So yes, they do matter.
Writing A Law School Personal Statement is Easy With Juris
Writing a personal statement can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Juris Education is committed to helping you learn how to write a law school personal statement with ease. We help future law school students develop their narratives, evaluate writing to ensure it’s in line with what law schools expect, and edit statements to perfection.
A stellar law school personal statement helps you stand out and can help you take that last step to attending the law school of your dreams.
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September 25, 2023
Why Is Writing Your Law School Personal Statement So Difficult?
How do you put your heart and soul – and 20-plus years of your life – into a two-page, double-spaced document? The personal statement is often a source of many starts and stops for law school applicants. It’s also a powerful tool through which you can share more about who you are with the admissions committee – which might be why it’s so difficult to write!
Your personal statement is a statement of purpose
First, as we mentioned, your personal statement should be two pages, double-spaced. While it is challenging to condense your life down into just two pages, your personal statement is not meant to be a comprehensive memoir. It is a statement – a statement of purpose – and your purpose is to attend law school and pursue a legal education and career. Therefore, unless you are given a directive to write about something specific, your personal statement should answer the questions “Why do you want to go to law school?” and “Why now?” The narrative should be clear , and your statement should be proofread as many times as possible – and then once more – before you submit it.
When our applicant clients find themselves stuck and haven’t yet been able to get through a draft of their personal statement, we find that it’s helpful to begin with a conversation. We start by asking them, “Why do you want to go to law school?” It might take a couple of follow-up questions to really tease out the answer, but the narrative exists (and it really can fit on two pages!). For instance, we might discuss the applicant’s reasons for putting themselves through the stress of the application process or why now feels like the right time to act on an idea they’ve had for a long time. In the end, their answer could be something like “I have been working for a couple of years and enjoy the work I do but realize I’m missing the knowledge and skills necessary to really effect change.” Or maybe “I come from a family of lawyers and have grown up knowing what I want to do.” Or perhaps “I have seen firsthand the injustice in the world and want to give voice to the voiceless.” Everyone has a reason, and the key is to figure out what that reason is for a particular applicant.
Your personal statement is not a resume
As an applicant, you have over two decades of life to share with the admissions committee, but your personal statement is not meant to be a memoir or a recitation of your resume . You submit a resume with your application, so the committee will have access to all that information. Although your personal statement might provide insight into an aspect of your resume, it should not read like a recounting of it, such as “Sophomore year I interned at X law firm, and it was great, and that lead to another internship at Y Public Defender’s office, but it wasn’t until I took a job as a paralegal at Z firm that I really knew what I wanted to do.”
Your resume and your personal statement should be complementary; they should build on one another to tell a more complete story. Don’t waste valuable essay real estate repeating things the committee already knows. Pick a specific point and then dig deeper and go beyond the banal, superficial, or obvious so the admissions committee learns more about you. What motivated you to apply for your first internship? How did one summer job lead to another? Why was the work at Z so transforming? Peel back the layers to reveal your motivations and lessons learned to create an insightful, engaging personal statement that combines anecdote with analysis and helps the committee get to know you as a unique applicant.
Again, each candidate has two pages with which to demonstrate their ability to convey a point: why they want to go to law school. Make your application stand out by being clear and concise. Let your narrative shine so that the admissions reader knows that you are confident in your decision to pursue your JD and possess both solid reasoning and writing ability. Now get started!
Do you need help crafting your law school personal statement so that it showcases your greatest strengths and abilities? Check out our Law School Admissions Consulting and Advising Services and work one-on-one with an expert advisor who will help you get ACCEPTED.
Sadie Polen has more than ten years of experience in higher education. She reviewed statements of purpose, personal statements, and resumes for political and public service opportunities and made candidate selections for elite programs at Harvard University. She also has experience advising individuals on their career and post-graduation plans. Sadie holds a BS from UC Davis, an EdM from Harvard, and a DEI certificate from Cornell. Want Sadie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- Getting into Law School: What You Need to Know When You Start the Process , a free guide
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- Sample Law School Personal Statement Essays
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How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement
How do you write your law school personal statement? Well first of all, let’s make sure that we’re on the same page about what your personal statement is. Your personal statement is the one part of your law school application package and law school requirements that you have complete control over, so you’ll want to put your best foot forward. A personal statement will often focus on why you want to go to law school (or transfer law schools ), but it can also focus on a personal story or aspect of your life.
It shows what makes you unique and why a school should admit you. The personal statement should focus on you, your background, and your goals more broadly. Make sure that it adds something new to your application materials – the school already has your transcript, resume, etc. Think about what you really want the application committee to know about you.
Before anything else, a quick clarification: the law school personal statement is different from an optional essay , which can take on a variety of forms. This could include diversity statements, addendums, or other essays. Here are some examples of law school personal statements that may help you understand the task at hand better.
How do you format a law school personal statement?
In brief, here’s what your law school personal statement will need in terms of format:
- Overall : No title, 11- or 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins.
- Header : Your name, your LSAC number, and “Personal Statement” with a page number, formatted as either one or three lines. Check with your school’s requirements.
- Body : Double-spaced, left-aligned (or justified), paragraphs indented 0.5 inches and not separated with an extra line, single space after periods.
- Ending : End as you would a normal essay. This isn’t a letter; no signature is needed.
Personal Statement Header
The header of the personal statement deserves a closer look. There are two ways of formatting this: either on one line, or on three. One line gives you more space on the page, but can look busy. Three lines have the opposite effect. Weigh the pros and cons based on the length of your statement, then format accordingly.
If you choose the one-line format, be sure to space your information out equally or separate it with punctuation (commas, dashes, and slashes work well) so that it reads clearly.
If you use a three-line format, separate information by line like this:
Name, Page Number LSAC # Personal Statement
Law School Personal Statement Format: FAQs
What should be included in a law school personal statement.
- Who you are. Show readers that you’re an interesting person who brings experiences and skills that will benefit not only the campus community, but the larger legal community.You’re applying in a pool of thousands of candidates, so be sure to highlight what makes you stand out from your peers.
- Your true voice. There’s a reason why the personal statement isn’t just called a statement or an essay. Sometimes applicants feel that they should write pieces about public policy or social issues, but these too often fall short of showing an applicant’s true voice. Have someone you know well review your personal statement objectively. If they can’t tell you were the one who wrote it, it’s probably time for a rewrite .
- Specific information about that school. It’s not sufficient to say that you want to attend Santa Clara Law School for its good curriculum, strong faculty, and numerous clinic opportunities. Notice how you could replace “Santa Clara Law School” with any other law school’s name, and the sentence could still make sense? That tells Santa Clara admissions officers that you don’t know very much about their school. Which leads us to our next point…
- Research on the school itself. Figure out what makes the schools you’re applying to different from others. This is a great opportunity to reach out to alumni, and talk to the admissions staff! You can also use the Internet, visit your local bookstore and check out some guide books, or search around on online forums. Some schools are known for their strength in a certain area of law (think international law or intellectual property law ). Some schools are known for their commitment to pro bono work . Some schools’ faculty are renowned for their research in a specific discipline. Others offer distinctive programs or fellowships to their students. Identify what really interests you about the school, and tie that back to the academic and career interests you discuss in your personal statement.
- Reflections on the school’s environment. Perhaps you’re looking for a collegial law school environment that mirrors your own undergraduate experience at a small liberal arts school. Or perhaps you’re looking for a large law school so you can take advantage of the network and breadth of resources and alumni that a law school of that size can offer. And don’t forget about the environment outside the school building! Is it important that you have access to hiking trials? Or a ski slope to enjoy over winter break? Environment is often a key factor students consider when deciding on a particular law school, so don’t forget to mention it as a way to express your interest!
- Concise writing. Check your school’s website to determine how long your personal statement can be, and take it seriously. Law schools are not only looking at whether you can write concisely and effectively, but also whether you can follow posted instructions. Most schools only allow 2-5 pages for personal statement submissions. As a lawyer, you’ll need to write briefs and be able to clearly present client cases. Now’s the time to show that you are capable of honing your communication skills.
- Authenticity. Law schools aren’t asking you to establish your own NGO or be an Olympic athlete. Rather, they’re looking for candidates who help round out a class and contribute positively to their school. Plenty of people get admitted to law school each year who aren’t superhuman, so don’t feel a need to pretend you’re more accomplished than you are (or stretch the truth). Be yourself – and view this as part of helping the reader understand who you are.
- Correct writing. Maybe for class assignments, you’ve been able to submit the first draft you write as final. Or maybe one edit is typically sufficient for you to call an essay complete. For the law school personal statement, you want to commit at least two rounds of edits to perfecting your writing. Not only should you review your work, you should also ask both a friend and a fully objective reviewer (like a career center counselor or a campus writing tutor) to give feedback. Once you have at least two rounds of edits, read it out loud to yourself. This will help you identify any awkward phrases and typos. The more time you spend editing your writing, the more confident you’ll be in the strength of your personal statement.
What should you not write in a personal statement for law school?
- Repetition . If your resume shows that you were vice president of your college’s botany club, general secretary of Basket-Weavers Anonymous, and founder of a campus-wide Pizza Appreciation Day, your personal statement need not repeat these things. Now, if founding Pizza Appreciation Day was such a transformative experience for you that you need to highlight it in your personal statement, be sure you’re telling admissions officers something new that your resume doesn’t already tell.
- Your autobiography . Admissions officers don’t need a play-by-play of your entire life’s events from day one. Autobiographies become long and rambling – two things your personal statement shouldn’t be. Focus on aspects of your life that truly differentiate you from others in a meaningful way.
- Academic issues . Law schools offer you space in a separate essay to explain academic discrepancies. Your personal statement is your chance to focus on the positive and show admissions officers you’d be an asset to their school. Don’t use your personal statement to go into detail about how your dog’s unexpected chronic migraines prevented you from getting a good GPA during your first year of college.
- Legal jargon . No, you’re not a lawyer yet – and law school admissions officers are not going to be impressed by legal jargon that’s used incorrectly or used as a way to show off. Keep your tone and language simple. Remember that your personal statement is meant to show your own voice.
- Cliches . Don’t be the student who bores admissions officers with another essay about how you want to be a lawyer because you like to argue. Avoid clichés – by definition, they’re overused and don’t add value. They make your personal statement generic, and you’ll fall flat when compared with other candidates.
- Other people . Your personal statement should keep the focus on you. It’s great if you want to write about how your famous lawyer uncle inspired you to join the legal profession, but make sure the essay remains true to your story – not your uncle’s.
- Slang . Admissions officers view the personal statement as a showcase of your best writing – so slang and casual English are best left behind. While you want your tone to be friendly, you don’t want to sound like you’re chatting with a best friend on a Friday night. Keep things professional.
How do I write a statement for law school?
There are three main steps to the writing process, and they’re no different here! Namely: brainstorm, write, and edit. In this case, though, we’ll add a fourth step: format and proofread.
- Brainstorming is one of the most crucial things you can do for your personal statement. You want to make sure your ideas are strong, following the guidelines above. It can be helpful to spend a little quiet time alone or in a cozy coffee shop to start brainstorming. Check out some of our law school personal statement examples to spark ideas!
- Once you’ve brainstormed and organized your ideas, the writing itself will go pretty quickly. After you’ve written the first draft, leave the personal statement aside for a day or two (a week or more is better!). Then, come back. What parts don’t flow well? What ideas need more (or less) elaboration? Cut—and add—brutally! Editing is not the same as proofreading; this is the point at which you ensure the ideas themselves are sound.
- Now, it’s time for the final line edit-format-proofread. In a line edit, you’ll work to make sure you’re using the best possible words correctly, rephrasing and rewriting as needed. Then, use the law school personal statement format discussed above to organize the writing. Finally, read through for errors in spelling, grammar, and formatting.
Voila! Your law school personal statement is now ready. If you’re planning to send it off to a T14 law school, check out our post on the top law schools for more tips and information. And no matter what, check out our post on how to get into law school !
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Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book . Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS , is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin’s Press , while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND , co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn’t strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter , Instagram , or Facebook !
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