Law school application essays frequently cause writer’s block. It can be difficult to respond to a school’s prompts within the specified parameters. One prompt that often challenges applicants is “Why (insert law school)?” This is where you need to explain why you want to attend that specific law school. A lot of applicants think, “Well, it is a good school, and I clearly would not be spending the time and money to apply if I did not want to go there.” Although this is a reasonable reaction, you ultimately must articulate clearly and in a professional manner why you want to attend the school.
In this blog post, we at Stratus walk you through how to best respond to this prompt.
Research the Law School
A lot of applicants have issues with this essay question because they do not investigate the particulars of the school. Many apply to schools where they have a reasonable chance of gaining admission based on their GPA and test scores. Others apply to all the schools in a particular state if they want to or must live in that state.
Although these are reasonable starting points, it is always a good idea to do more research about the school. Most law schools will have some interesting alumni and offer an abundance of resources, but you should look deeper than that:
- Research school offerings and organizations in areas of interest. If you have an idea of what kind of law you want to practice, investigate what the school offers in that area. For example, if you want to work in health law, maybe the school has some courses, a clinic, or a center related to that field. There might also be professors who are experts in the area. But rather than simply listing all these things, you should explain how your legal career would benefit from these resources.Similarly, there might be a cultural reason that you want to attend a particular school. You might be interested in being a civil rights attorney, and the school might be known for its activism on campus or have many active student organizations. To demonstrate your interest in the school, you could discuss the student organizations and other activities in which you might participate and discuss how they will help you fulfill your legal aspirations after graduation.
- Find ways to connect famous alumni with your career goals. The law school might boast some impressive alumni. When discussing famous alumni, it is a good idea to tie them to something of interest to you. For example, if a former US president attended the school, it is best not to say you are interested just because that president was a student. Instead, focus on the fact that the president worked in an area of law of interest to you before they were elected. It can be helpful to mention any famous attorneys, activists, or specialists who attended the school if they are of interest to you and you can tie them into your career goals.
- Seek informational interviews with alumni. You might have friends or colleagues who are alumni or are currently attending the school, but it’s not a big deal if you do not know anyone. You also can reach out to alumni via LinkedIn to request an informational interview, or sometimes they might post their contact information elsewhere, such as a law firm website. Although alumni will not put in a special word to get you into their alma mater, an informational interview might provide more content for your essay. In addition, being able to mention specific alumni who are related to your legal aspirations can help show that you have done your homework. Doing all this research can help you determine your areas of interest in the law, and thinking about this before you apply can help you later if you must decide between schools.
- Investigate school resources and events. Finally, you should see if the school has published any blog posts or podcasts that provide advice on application essays or if the school offers information sessions on this topic. Schools will never tell you exactly what to write, but they might share how to best structure the essays, what types of details are of interest, and what not to do in their essays, among other helpful advice. Tips like this can be the difference between writing a good essay and writing a great one.
Share Insight About You
Law school essays want to know about you—who you are beyond your test scores, grades, and resume. Consequently, you do not need to jump straight into explaining why you want to attend the school. You could start by sharing what made you interested in becoming a lawyer. This introduction could cover the areas of law that appeal to you and why, and it is a good opportunity to showcase your accomplishments and life experiences. You could also touch on your career ambitions in this section and then provide more in-depth details later in the essay about how the law school will help you realize those ambitions.
Consider the Essay Structure
In terms of structure, many applicants organize their essays chronologically, but you do not necessarily need to start at the beginning of your life. The important thing is to share some experiences from your life and tie them together in terms of why you are interested in the law. Given that the essay is asking why you are interested in the law school, such details should be the focus, but you can find ways to expand on your experiences along the way. For example, if you are interested in international human rights, you could share details on this topic when you discuss how one of the law school’s offerings would complement your goals.
Although this essay prompt can seem daunting and open ended, like the other prompts, it is an opportunity for the law school to get to know you better. Therefore, do your best to demonstrate how the school is the best fit to help you achieve your career ambitions!
As always, if you would like our expert help on your law school applications, sign up for a free consultation!