The law school personal statement provides an opportunity to share your personal background and explain how you will contribute to both the law school classroom and the legal field. This component of the law school application personalizes who you are beyond your resume, LSAT or GRE score, and professor recommendations. Therefore, it is imperative to invest adequate time to ensure the statement accurately captures your values and what makes you unique compared to other competitive law school applicants. We at Stratus offer these six tips to help you craft a strong personal statement:
1. Share an anecdote that highlights your strengths.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to share with the admissions committee how you became who are today. This can be evidenced via your professional, personal, and/or academic achievements. Your strengths should be your personal brand that resonates throughout the application; your story should provide more color regarding how you employed those strengths to accomplish your goals and how you will leverage them to be a valuable contributor to the student community. The law school classroom, typically characterized by Socratic dialogue, is an intellectually rigorous environment in which each student must do their fair share. Therefore, your law school personal statement should highlight any strengths that reveal how you will help cultivate a symbiotic learning experience.
2. Identify your passions.
Law schools are well aware that you are interested in the law. There is no need to create a story stating that you always wanted to be a lawyer since adolescence, as this may appear to be inauthentic. However, you can indirectly demonstrate your enthusiasm for the legal field by identifying a genuine passion that both captures who you are and is closely related to a law career. For example, you may have volunteered at your church every Sunday or written blog posts for a student website. These passions are easily transferrable skills and attributes that are valuable as an attorney.
3. Highlight a challenge that you overcame.
Plans will not always go as anticipated. How you respond to adversity often determines who you are as a leader and how strong you are as a person. Learning from mistakes and then employing those lessons in subsequent contexts demonstrates growth, which is viewed favorably by admissions committees. Students face many challenges in law school from both a time management and a workload perspective. However, showing how you addressed and overcame prior challenges will strengthen your case for admission, thereby demonstrating you are a student who can solve problems and ultimately succeed.
4. Be authentic.
Authenticity should permeate each aspect of your law school application. Although some applicants may be tempted to develop a story comparable to other candidates’ personal statements that were deemed successful in past admissions cycles, doing so can lead to possible character violations and also impede creativity when writing a personal statement. Be sure to spend adequate time self-reflecting, building on common themes and your unique attributes, and then connecting the dots via your story.
5. Refrain from using legal jargon.
It is important to be concise and direct when writing your law school personal statement. Trying to impress admissions committee members with legal jargon and verbosity can weaken your statement—and, ultimately, your candidacy. Although some applicants do this in an attempt to sound like a lawyer, this is normally not the correct way to achieve that goal. Knowing your audience and catering your message to that audience are important skills that all lawyers must have. The best way to demonstrate such skills is to write intelligibly and succinctly, keeping in mind to whom you are writing.
6. Incorporate your unique rationale for attending a particular law school.
When writing about their desire to attend a particular law school, many applicants fail to incorporate a unique rationale that goes beyond what may be obtained from the school’s website—which may turn an otherwise stellar essay into an average one in the eyes of the admissions committee. Remember to show that you have made the effort to learn about the law school. You may demonstrate this by visiting the school; speaking with students, faculty, administration, or alumni; and/or attending information sessions or other hosted events. Seamlessly incorporating your personal experience in learning about the law school will strengthen your personal statement.
Writing a law school personal statement can be overwhelming if the process is not approached in a methodical fashion. Although capturing your life’s motivations within two pages can be daunting, utilizing these tips can help you organize your thoughts and facilitate how you define both your personal brand and your competitive differentiation—thereby increasing your chances of success for admission.