Although all components of a law school application are important, the most important one is the personal statement. To that end, this series explains some of the pivotal points you should keep in mind as you prepare to write your law school application personal statement. This is a 10-part series that will help get you from starting to finishing your personal statement.
Personal Statement Timeline
Let’s start off with something most law school applicants don’t even think about: the personal statement timeline.
While students consider the personal statement one of the hardest parts of applying to law school, a good amount of them don’t devote even half the time they spent preparing for the LSAT to craft a personal statement. This can prove to be a grave mistake. There will be a small handful of applicants that can crank out a decent statement in a day or two, but these are the severe minority. In our opinion, even these writing wizards can benefit from taking a little longer on this crucial piece of the law school application. We explain why in a moment, so stick with us.
First, let’s understand the purpose of the personal statement. Harvard Law sums it up nicely.
While your transcript and test scores are important, this is where we get to hear directly from you about your candidacy. It is also a piece you have total control over, where you can introduce yourself in your own voice.
Law schools read thousands of these essays each year! You need to take time to think about what really matters, what helps you stand out. Think about your message and how you can communicate it in a clear and concise manner. Here are some points to consider when in the brainstorming process.
- Make it personal and individual.
- Treat it like an interview with the Admissions Committee.
- Keep it interesting.
- Use it as an insight into who you are.
- Be clear, concise, and organized.
If you can write interesting, personal, compelling, clear, and effective personal statement in 24 hours or less, hats off to you. Many applicants think they can do it, but the truth is grim. You may be able to write an okay essay at best, it won’t be stellar. Do you really want to apply to law school with an “okay” essay?
Take Your Time!
Here’s where our first tip comes in. When it comes to the personal statement, take your time! Every applicant needs to devote at least a month to writing it. Why a month? Because this is the process you should follow. Spoiler alert, it takes time.
- Brainstorm various topics and select the most interesting ones.
- Outline the interesting topics you choose.
- Write the first few paragraphs for each topic.
- Narrow down your selections to one or two topics by deciding which ones are easier to write about.
- Write rough drafts for the newly chosen topics.
- Walk away from these drafts for a few days.
- Come back and read your drafts with a fresh view and edit them.
- Leave them alone for another few days.
- Re-read and edit again.
- Take several days off from them again.
- Re-read, edit again (if necessary), and make a final decision.
- Don’t forget to proof.
- Have someone else proof.
- Do some more proofing
- Walk away… again!
- Re-read and proof once more.
- Have someone else proof, preferably someone new.
Consider the Weight of This Essay
Some of you are probably thinking this is excessive. Consider this: You’re about to spend the next three years of your life and thousands of dollars in law school. You want this time and money to land you a great job. You want to get into the best law school possible. You’re spending ages studying for the LSAT instead of hanging out with your friends. All this time, money, and effort towards one specific goal. Don’t you owe it to yourself to spend the time writing a personal statement that shows the people opening the door to your dreams that you deserve it? These are the decision makers that can shape your future, why open with a “meh” personal statement?
Again, law schools read thousands of personal statements each year. These admissions committees are good at discerning which ones are carefully crafted between the ones haphazardly thrown together. Don’t let last-minute planning lump you in the latter category and botch your chances of admission. Getting into law school is intense. You will be competing against students with backgrounds, GPAs, and LSAT scores very similar to yours. Yes, even those of you with stellar numbers. The personal statement, which is already important to begin with, will become one of the key differentiators. You may not write about a unique topic, few applicants do, but by starting early and taking your time, you can make that topic compelling, convincing, and memorable.
Read More in This Series
- Take Your Time (You Are Here)
- Plan It Out
- Get Personal
- Get Specific
- Embrace Variety
- Step Away
- Involve Others
- Don’t Be Afraid
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