Writing a personal statement is an important part of applying for law school. Most law schools have many applicants to choose from; your best bet of getting in is an application that sets you apart from all the others. If your grades and LSAT scores are not spectacular enough to do this, you will need to rely on your personal statement to draw the distinction.
Of course, this means that for most people, there is a lot riding on their personal statement. Here are some tips for writing a personal statement that will get you into law school.
What do law schools look for in a personal statement?
One of the best ways to make sure your personal statement passes muster is to look at it from the law school’s point of view. The admissions board uses each personal statement to help them determine whether the writer would be an asset to the school – something a student’s academic record alone cannot always tell them.
To have a shot at law school, you will need to make sure your personal statement:
- Fully satisfies the question(s). Although law schools usually ask more general questions, such as what made you want to become a lawyer, some schools will require that your personal statement answer more specific questions. For example, if the admissions board asks why you want to attend their school, your personal statement will need to fully answer that question.
- Demonstrates why you will be a good lawyer. The admissions board doesn’t want to admit students who lack the ability to perform well at their school or in the field. Specifically, the board will appreciate personal statements that demonstrate qualities such as strong leadership skills, good organization, the ability to follow through, and dedication to practicing law.
- Outlines your career goals. Your personal statement should demonstrate to the admissions board that you have thoroughly considered your career options. A law student with career goals is presumably more dedicated to successfully completing the program than a student with no plans for the future.
- Shows real-world experience. A student who is genuinely interested in practicing law will not have developed that interest in a bubble. Your personal statement should demonstrate that you have pursued related experience in the real world. This might be activism and/or leadership in causes that are important to you, fundraising, internships, or even a related part-time job.
- Sets you apart from other applicants. Don’t forget that you are competing against many other students with similar academic records and experience. Use techniques that will make your personal statement stand out in your reader’s mind, such as storytelling and unique, personal details.
Tips for writing a winning law school personal statement:
A successful personal statement needs to do more than simply answer the concerns of the law school’s admissions board. In order to merit an acceptance letter, your personal statement needs to:
- Use correct spelling and grammar. Errors in your work won’t impress anyone, but especially not an admissions board that has their school’s reputation in mind.
- Employ storytelling. A personal statement that reads like a resume will interest no one. Telling unique stories to demonstrate your interest in the field makes a more memorable impression by painting a more vivid picture of yourself.
- Hook the reader right away. The introduction is the most important part of your personal statement, as sets the reader up for what is to follow. The more interesting and promising your introduction is, the higher your chances of impressing the admissions board.
- Be written with the specific school in mind. Don’t make the mistake of sending the same generic personal statement out to all the law schools on your list. If your personal statement doesn’t answer a specific question, or seems to be written with a different question in mine, the admissions board will notice. Your personal statements may be similar to one another, but each one should be written to satisfy the recipient’s specific requirements.
Write about what you know.
No doubt you have heard the cliché, “Write what you know.” The same applies when you are applying to law school. Your personal statement is, above all, intended to give the admissions board a better idea of who you are as a person. In other words, while it is still important to write and organize your personal statement well, fully answer the questions asked, and make a memorable impression, it is equally as important to remember to be yourself.