How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

study-1231396_640There are certain ways to write a law school personal statement that will increase your chances of getting into the law school. Below, we discuss what to do, what not to do, as well as other points to consider when you write your personal statement.  We will also discuss appropriate topics to discuss, the appropriate tone to use, as well as some common mistakes that you can avoid making.

What to Include When You Write a Law School Personal Statement:

Topics to Write about

  • First, pick a good and interesting topic! Write about something that is unique to you. Do you have an interesting background? Did you grow up in a different country? Have you started a business? Have you overcome a tragedy? What are you passionate about? These are just some topics to consider when you write a law school personal statement.
  • Second, no matter what your topic is, make sure to communicate that you are an intelligent, hard-working person that has leadership skills, and is able to think critically. These are the kinds of students that law schools want! Note: Do not expressly say these things; communicate them through stories and examples.
  • Make sure that your statement has one common theme throughout the paper. This theme should be referred to in your introduction and your conclusion. Even if you discuss different stories or topics, find an overall theme to connect them together.

Tone to use

  • Be honest and be true to yourself. Use a conversational (rather than academic or passive) tone. The best way to do this is as follows: When you sit down to write your personal statement, write exactly how you would speak. You can fix the grammatical errors, typos, or slang later. This will help you get the right tone across and help you to sound genuine.
  • Make them like you. Do not come across as arrogant or as a know-it-all. No law school wants to admit a student who thinks that they are God’s gift to the world. Coming across as arrogant will hurt you more than it will help you.
  • Write well. Keep the attention of the reader. Use creative analogies. Make your statement exciting and interesting.
  • Make your personal statement easy to read. Break it up into paragraphs. Make sure the sentences flow. The admissions’ committee reads thousands of essays and they appreciate well-written, easy-to-read, interesting stories. Thus, after you write your statement, make sure to spend extra time reading and re-reading your statement and making sure it is well-written and easy to read.
  • Adhere to the word or page requirements. If a lawyer submits a brief that is too long to court, it will be rejected by the court. If you write a law school personal statement that does not follow the length requirements, this will reflect negatively on what kind of lawyer you will be and it will therefore reflect negatively on your application.

What Not To Do When You Write a Law School Personal Statement:

  • Do not re-write your resume. Your resume is part of your application. They want to see something personal on your personal statement.
  • Do not write an overdramatic story. This will make the admissions committee roll their eyes. Instead, try to make it interesting or include something that is unique about you but stay genuine at the same time.
  • Avoid clichés. Do not say, “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.” Do not say, “I have overcome adversity.” These statements are so overused that they will not score you any points. Instead of just saying you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, show why you find interest in the law and then back it up with hobbies or activities you have been involved in. And instead of simply saying you’ve overcome adversity, communicate it with stories and examples.
  • Do not write a statement that is too weird. Do not write a poem, a legal brief, or submit a video. You want to use a creative writing style but do not cross the line into doing something beyond the parameters of what is expected.
  • Unless you want to go into a specific area of law and have experience in that field already, then do not write a law school personal statement that focuses on what you want to do when you get out of law school. Do not say how much you want to help the poor by starting a free legal aid clinic if do not have a history of volunteering, forming a nonprofit, or doing something else to help the poor. Otherwise, your ambitions will ring hollow. On the other hand, if you truly do have a defined career goal and area of law that you want to practice in as well as some general experience in the field, then stating it will likely reflect favorably on you and make you come across as mature.

Other Points to Consider When You Write a Law School Personal Statement:

  • Read the question! If a law school application has a specific question for you to answer, do not answer a question that is not being asked. This is a very common error. If you want to stand out among your peers, write a law school personal statement that specifically answers the question asked.
  • Have someone that you trust proofread your statement for typos and give you overall feedback. Do not rely on spellcheck. Spellcheck will not tell you if you misuse words. Spellcheck will not tell you if your paper is unfocused or if the paragraphs do not flow well.
  • Dedicate significant time to writing your statement and re-writing it. Do not expect to write your personal statement in an afternoon.
  • Importantly, if you are sending out individualized statements to different law schools, include a sentence indicating that you want to go to that law school so long as it is true. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the location and the school and that you have carefully researched the different clinics or programs offered by the school.

If you are considering whether to submit a  diversity statement along with your application, please see our other posts on how to write a law school diversity statement. If you are looking for more free study tips, subscribe by entering your full name and e-mail address here: 

Ashley-Elise-Heidemann-400x267-2Ms. Ashley Heidemann graduated as the number 1 law student out of over 200 students in her class of 2011 at Wayne State University. She now works as a tutor for law students and the bar exam. She also offers a Law School Preparatory Course for students interested in learning the skills necessary to achieve a high GPA in law school. 

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