Apart from your LSAT and undergraduate GPA, the personal statement is certainly the most important aspect of your law school application. It’s the one part of your file that is solely you. It’s your voice, your experiences, your story, told in your words. Every day, as we help students put together exceptional applications as part of our law school admissions consulting programs. Here are some tidbits of personal statement wisdom that we hope will help you create a top-notch, unforgettable, impactful essay.
What to Do
- When you write your personal statement, one of your guiding questions should be, “What do I want the committee to remember about me?”
- Applicants in the “mushy middle” can basically write their way into law school—or out of it. The mushy middle refers to those of you whose numbers fall between the 25th and 75th percentiles for a school. Take the time to brainstorm and polish your essay! Or else the only this you’ll be writing is your own rejection letter.
- There is no good writing, only good rewriting. Re-reading and editing what you’ve written are the most important parts of your personal statement.
- Make sure each sentence tells something about you. Ask yourself, at the end of every paragraph, “What part of myself have I just revealed to my readers?”
- Prepare the reader for your epiphanies. Don’t let your essay come out of nowhere.
- Details make your essay interesting! However, make sure those details, especially those that are easily verifiable, are 100% correct.
- Focus your essay on why the committee should want you. They don’t necessarily want to know why you want to go go law school, although having a good reason can make you more desirable to a committee.
- For overly long essays, it can be helpful to make a brief list of the characteristics you want your reader to remember about you 30-minutes after reading your essay. Then, go through each sentence and remove it unless it connects to at least one item from your list.
What to Avoid
- Don’t write your essay in a vacuum. After you’re done, give it to someone else to critique. Ask them to describe the person the essay talks about back to you. You’ll be amazed at what your essay may convey about you.
- Length =/= Quality! Don’t use 1,500 words where 800 would do.
- A common mistake applicants make is writing about past experiences with the law, regardless of whether or not those experiences are personally significant. The admissions committee members do not want to learn about the law from your essay! They want to learn about you.
- Don’t try to make your essay sound like legal writing. Instead, keep your language clear and concise.
- Your personal statement does not need to show the admissions committee that you already have the skills necessary to be a great lawyer. Law schools will teach you those skills!
- As a general rule, anything that stops or slows down the reader is a problem. Make sure the narrative is linear, makes sense, and doesn’t leave a reader waiting or asking for integral information.
What is Your Goal?
In a space as short as a law school admissions essay, your goal is to do three major things.
- First, provide a compelling hook that lets the reader know that something interesting is coming.
- Second, guide them through a narrative that gives intriguing and personal reasons for your decision to come to law school.
- Third, leave them with the unmistakable impression that this story provides a strong basis for you to not only become a law student, but to become an excellent one.
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