Law School Application Personal Statement

Suggested Guidelines

Almost all law schools will require that applicants write a personal statement or essay to accompany their applications. The specifications will vary. Some schools make a specific request, e.g. write 250 words on "Why you want to go to law school." Others leave length, subject, and format up to the applicant. Following are some guidelines that you may find helpful.

  1. Remember the purpose of the exercise. This is your opportunity to strengthen your application and provide the admissions committee with relevant information that is not available elsewhere in your application or in the LSDAS Report. Law schools are looking for evidence of academic and professional ability and commitment to law school. Your goal is to become "three-dimensional" through your essay.
  2. Do not repeat facts that are apparent in the transcript and the LSDAS Report such as GPA, the school from which you have graduated, or your major unless it is in the context of a more significant feature, e.g., "I majored in Mass Communication to take advantage of my strong writing skills and my interest in national politics."
  3. Emphasize the positive. The personal statement should not be one long apology for a weak record. Point out the unique features and strengths of your academic record. However, a brief statement that explains an aberration in your record (the semester you had atypically low grades because you had mono, for example) or a mediocre start in college may be justified.
  4. Include evidence of unusual experiences, attributes, awards, scholarships, or fellowships. Significant events in your life that you changed its course or particular hardships that you have overcome might be the basis for the statement's theme.
  5. Point out relevant extracurricular activities. Be specific about how activities and/or memberships have developed and utilized particular skills and knowledge that are deemed desirable by the law schools.
  6. Avoid philosophizing about the law, the state of the world or why the legal system needs to change. This is not relevant. However, a brief, cogent statement of your personal philosophy may be of interest.
  7. Do not make broad statements saying such things as you care about peace, hunger, poverty, etc. Tell them what you have done that reveals the nature and extent of your concerns.
  8. Avoid being too cute or clever. You run the risk of not being taken seriously. However, an essay that exhibits humor or wit may be very well received.
  9. Remember that your essay is a reflection of your writing skills, one of the skills that law schools are most concerned with. If your essay is repetitive, difficult to follow, poorly organized, or fails to make its point, it will hurt your application. Spelling, punctuation, usage, and grammar should be perfect. Do not count on computer spell-check completely. (Spell checkers do not always catch a correctly spelled word that is used incorrectly.)
  10. Revise your essay several times. This means that you should not wait until the last minute to write it!
  11. Read your statement out loud to yourself. Have a friend read it aloud to you.
  12. Make the Admissions Committee want to read the whole statement!