Law School Personal Statement Examples and Tips – Forbes Advisor

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Tens of thousands of undergraduate students pursue law school each year, and competition for admission is fierce.

When it comes to admissions, your personal statement to law school doesn’t have as much of an impact as your LSAT scores or undergraduate GPA. Still, a personal statement can be the deciding factor when you’re neck and neck with other candidates.

In this article, we explain how to write a law school personal statement that demonstrates why you belong to a juris doctor (JD) program.

What is a Law School Personal Statement?

A law school personal statement is a multi-paragraph essay or narrative outlining why you are pursuing a JD degree. This essay is an opportunity to share your identity with an admissions committee, beyond transcripts and test scores.

Personal statements are usually two to four pages long. Most law schools do not provide specific prompts for applicant statements, but some do. Either way, the content of your statement should leave a strong impression.

Why do law schools require personal statements?

A personal statement can replace the interview process with the candidate. It also provides a writing sample that shows your ability to communicate ideas effectively. A personal statement can give an admissions committee a clear picture of your motivations for attending law school, indicating how well you might fit into their program.

If you’re wondering how to become a lawyer, law school is the first step — and your personal statement is important to the law school application process.

How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Writing a law school personal statement can be a difficult part of the application process, involving hours of planning and writing. However, with solid brainstorming and pre-writing strategies, you can write an effective personal statement that illustrates how good a candidate you are for law school.

Choose what to write about

If your potential school doesn’t provide prompts, choosing what to write about can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Start with a serious brainstorming session to put your ideas on paper. Give yourself license to explore each experience or idea before deciding on your final topic.

Consider spending time writing down all ideas that fall into the following categories:

  • Life events or experiences that have motivated you or changed your perspective
  • A significant personal achievement and what you learned from it
  • How did you become interested in law
  • Your passions and how they contributed to your individual goals

Structuring Your Law School Personal Statement

The structure and method you use to write your statement is important. It might be tempting to follow a rigid formula and write a personal statement that methodically unpacks your reason for attending law school, your qualifications, and the relevance of your extracurricular commitments. However, some of the most effective personal statements are crafted using a narrative approach.

Well-written stories are engaging and illustrate why law school would benefit your career path. Your essay should show your dedication and passion for the law and highlight the relationship between your values ​​and your target law school. By creating a narrative with a common theme woven throughout, you can captivate your reader while informing them of your qualifications and goals.

Rather than openly telling the reader why you should be accepted into law school, a story allows its audience to connect and engage on a personal level. Your specific anecdotes and examples should reveal the traits you want the admissions committee to see and appreciate.

What Makes a “Good” Law School Personal Statement?

Law school admissions teams read hundreds of statements, so it’s important to write one that stands out. Ultimately, a good law school personal statement is engaging, unique, and descriptive of your personal qualities that would make you a good lawyer.

Choose a single topic

A personal statement is exactly that: personal. Crafting a memorable narrative is paramount and depends on your unique story and life experiences, especially since critics read so many personal statements with similar stories and themes.

Unfortunately, some topics may seem clichéd. This is not to say that your lived experience of overcoming adversity or your time spent volunteering to help those in need is undervalued. However, these stories have motivated thousands of aspiring lawyers to pursue law studies, which means they have appeared in thousands of law school personal statements.

Give specific examples

Once you’ve decided on a topic, take the time to unpack the examples you plan to share and how they relate to the “why” behind your pursuit of law school. General statements are not only boring to read, but lack the depth of meaning required to have an impact. Specific examples are essential to generate interest and highlight the uniqueness of your personal experience.

Be personal and thoughtful

Law schools want to see critical thinking skills and thoughtful thinking in applicants’ personal essays. Before you write, ask yourself a few questions: Is your story unique to you? What was the main conflict in your story? How have you evolved over time? How does this story reflect who you are now and how is law school right for you?

Common Pitfalls for a Law School Personal Statement

Before you invest hours writing an essay just to have it fall flat, make sure you’re aware of the most common law school personal statement pitfalls.

Not following instructions

Law schools set specific guidelines on how your personal statement should be formatted and for how long. Failure to meet these expectations could result in automatic rejection.

Length and formatting requirements vary by law school. For example, if a school expects no more than two pages, 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double-spaced, be sure to format your personal statement precisely to those specifications. We advise you to tailor your personal statement to each school to avoid violating formatting requirements.

If a law school asks you to answer a specific prompt or write multiple essays, be sure to follow those instructions as well.

Do not revise and correct

Nothing screams a lack of effort, interest, and commitment like an unpolished personal statement. Admissions teams will quickly notice if you skip proofreads and revisions, even if your essay content is exceptional.

This step involves much more than a simple spelling and grammar check. You must ensure that the order of information is useful and logical. Every word you use should be intentional and add value to the story you’re trying to tell.

Editing an essay is not a one-person job. Ask others to give their opinion as well. Your peers and mentors are a great place to start, as long as they provide objective feedback.

Also ask people you don’t know for their opinions. You could start with your university’s writing center. Writing centers employ trained writing tutors who are qualified to provide feedback in all disciplines. A writing center tutor will not proofread your essay, but they will help you bring it to its full potential.

Use flowery or overly academic language

The voice and tone of your personal statement should flow naturally and reflect who you are. It doesn’t require flowery or overly academic language, which can make your essay more obtuse and less personal.

As we stated earlier, your personal statement should use specific examples and stories to spark interest and reveal why you want to attend law school and become a lawyer.

Likewise, you should avoid using excessive legal language in your statement. Admissions examiners are academics, so if you use a term inappropriately, they’ll catch it. Use language you feel comfortable with and let your story convey the themes and ideas you want.

Jon J. Epps