Your personal statement is essentially an interview and is an important part of the application package. It is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to accept you. The personal statement is designed to tell admissions who you are. Depending on the topic you choose, the essay you write provides additional evidence of your intellectual and creative achievement. The essay is also the only opportunity for the readers of your application to get a feel for you as a person as well as a student. So you should present yourself as a person, not just a list of achievements.
Getting Started: Selecting a Topic
Writing your personal statement can be one of the most satisfying (or frustrating) writing experiences you will ever have.
Here are a few ideas that you may have taken for granted that would be of interest to admissions committees-
- Experiences that changed your perspective, or perception.
- Major achievements, your college or extracurricular experience, or significant books that have influenced your thinking.
- Life events, changes, or significant people in your life.
You can combine some of these elements, if necessary, but it is better to do fewer topics in depth, than to skim over several topics.
The Writing Process
Once you have selected a topic, it is time to sit down and work on drafting the statement:
- Write clearly and avoid dense prose. Lawyers must write with clarity and precision.
- You should write positively and with enthusiasm for yourself and do not make excuses. This is your personal statement; it should be personal and show that this is about you and who you are. Be careful with quotations. Quotations of people who know you well can come across as a characterization you have chosen to adopt rather than a demonstration of whom you are.
- Make sure to have strong openings and closings because these are what your statement will be remembered for.
- Open with a statement that is in your own voice and relates to who you are.
- Carry a theme throughout the statement, and tie it in at the conclusion.
- Make them feel it! Inspire them; appeal to more than just the reader's intellect, and you stand a better chance of admissions wanting to meet you in the fall.
- Rewrite and edit your statement as you get opinions from outside sources. The personal statement is an important part of your application package.
There is no one correct way to write a personal statement, but in general those who will read your essay are looking for two important things:
- HOW the essay provides evidence of your achievements that isn't reflected in other parts of your application
• HOW and WHY the events that you describe have shaped your attitude, focus, and, most of all, your intellectual vitality.
This information will help you think about and craft a personal statement by taking you step by step through a process of brainstorming, drafting and revising. At the end, we hope that you will produce a personal statement that you are proud of and that will provide admissions officers with an accurate portrait of who you are and why a law school education is important to you.
Do’s & Don’ts
What To Do
- Use Standard English grammar
- Spell and punctuate properly
- Follow all directions
- If a specific question is asked be sure to answer it
- Be straightforward
What Not To Do
- Avoid the overuse of thesaurus, or use of clichés
- Do not mention a law school other than the one to which you are sending that copy of the statement
- Do not just rehash information
Guidelines That Apply To All Law School Applicants
No matter where you are in your career or your life, there are a few rules that apply to everyone.
- Clearly defined and articulated reasons for why you are seeking a law degree. The days of attending law school as a stopgap while deciding what you really want to do are over. Law schools want to be sure that you know what you want to do after you graduate, and that you have a plan for getting there. No one will hold you to this on the day you earn your degree, but you want to have a working plan in place when you submit your application.
- What You Will Bring To The Law School Community. What are you planning to bring to the party? Your work experience? Your extracurricular interests? Your desires to write for the law review, or sit on a student committee? What will you do for the school that will make it a better and more interesting place for the other students and faculty?
- Why A Particular Law School Appeals To You. Why have you chosen the University of Greatness School of Law as your first choice? Concrete, specific reasons are the details that laws schools are looking for. Is there a professor whom you want to serve as your mentor? A particular course of study or class that you can't wait to take? Avoid reasons like proximity to family, but emphasize the school's ties to the community, the alumni affiliation, and the reputation for a certain program. Show that you have done your homework.
- Why You and The Law School Are A Good Fit For Each Other. Finally, why are you and the school a good match? Is the program tailor made for your career goals? Did you attend as an undergraduate and know that you want to continue at the same school? Is the diverse student body the right match for your unique background? Follow the above guidelines and let the admissions committee know why you should be admitted, and they will have every good reason to send you a letter of acceptance!