A personal statement is an important part of your law school application. It’s your final opportunity to show the admissions committee the person behind all of the accomplishments outlined in the other parts of your application, and to convince them of why you want to succeed as a law school student and law school graduate.
Although it’s not the only one part of your application, it’s the part you have the most control over at this point, and is your chance to explain anything that you might want to from the rest of your application. There are a few things you can do to make sure you make a good impression on your personal statement for law school, and a few other things not to do. You may want to start with this online paragraph and essay writing course to brush up on some fundamentals. Improving your writing skills is never a bad thing.
Some Basic Tips for Writing the Law Personal Statement
One of the first things to remember is to keep your writing clear and simple. Don’t try to use unnecessarily flowery language or long words, and don’t make your writing more complicated simply in order to try and show off. This isn’t about “dumbing down” your work; it’s about focusing on getting your point across. It might help to think of this like an argument you would be making s a lawyer: make the case for why they should admit you. They’re more interested in the content of your essay, so don’t let your style get in the way.
Tone is important as well. You don’t want to sound like you think you already have it in the bag; arrogance will typically be a big turnoff. So will sounding like you’ll be too high-maintenance for the school. There’s a big difference between talking about overcoming your problems and complaining, which is something you’ll want to keep in mind throughout your essay.
Although you want to show that you’ve given serious thought to what you want to accomplish with your law degree, don’t worry too much about talking directly about the subject. If you do want to talk about your goals, make sure to be specific in a way that says something about you.
Avoid making general or clichéd statements—for example, you may not want to bring up the idea of helping people unless you plan on discussing previous public service-related experience, or the experiences that led you to this goal. You will, however, want to show that you’re heading on a career path for which a law degree plays an important role, and that you have a good idea of what you’re getting into. It’s important to get across that you’re not just applying to law school as a default.
It’s important to talk specifically about whatever your subject is. Avoid talking about how you’ve overcome obstacles if you’re not prepared to get into what those obstacles were and how it was you overcame them.
Personalizing the Law Personal Statement
In general, much like with college admissions essays, you’ll want to think about stories that show your character, that show how you got to where you are in life and where you want to go from here. This online course on college application essays can help you think about what you might want to say about yourself. One of the big things law school admissions officers are looking for in personal statements is maturity, which means partly that you’ll want to show personal growth, but also that you’ll want to be careful in picking your subject.
You won’t want to talk about the same things you did in your college essay, and will probably want to limit discussion of your childhood unless you’re making an especially strong point that ties to the present. Regardless of how young you may be, you’ll want to focus on your adult life.
As was already mentioned, you’ll want to think of this as an argument being made by a lawyer, so think about how a lawyer would actually talk or write. Being overly dramatic to land an obvious emotional reaction isn’t a good idea. This goes back to showing maturity, and also demonstrating that you’ve given serious consideration to what being a lawyer would be like. You’ll also want your argument to be well constructed, with a thesis and solid evidence structure as well as some form of conclusion.
Another way to look at this essay as a lawyer would is to think of yourself as a witness and your statement as evidence. Think about what sorts of questions the admissions officers would ask if they were cross-examining you so that you can work your answers into the essay.
There are also questions that they’d be likely to ask anyone, about subjects such as your organization and leadership experience, particularly for younger students who may not have much experience outside of their education. If you find yourself in this position, try not to point to things like school clubs, especially not high school — again, this is about showing maturity. Think about what you’ve done with the opportunities you’ve had, even with just entry-level jobs, and use the most recent examples you have.
Discussing Difficult Situations
Ultimately, your goal in the argument you’re making with your statement is to convince the readers—those in the admissions office—so you need to think about how to persuade them that you’re a good candidate for admission. This online communications course can show you how to create persuasive pitches.
In some cases, this might mean discussing those parts of your background, including your academic record and any trouble you might have gotten into. Although you have limited opportunities at this point to try and even out your record, you can take this as a chance to discuss what you learned from those experiences and how you’ve grown.
This will help show the kind of motivation and self-awareness you’ll need to succeed in law school. Of course, to go with this strategy it’s important to show real evidence of that kind of growth. If you’re not sure about your ability to do that, it might be best to limit discussion of your past weaknesses.
On the other hand, you may be worried because you’ve had a pretty privileged, straightforward life, and you don’t feel like you’ve had much in the way of obstacles or mistakes to overcome to make a compelling story.
That’s not necessarily a bad position to be in, though. The important thing is not to make yourself sound like you’ve been through hardships if you haven’t; it generally won’t be very convincing, and could count against you if the admissions committee thinks you don’t have much perspective. Stick to what you’ve learned from those life experiences that have genuinely been significant to you.
Similarly, having been through difficulties in life doesn’t guarantee a great story by itself. What the admissions officers are looking for is how you changed and were affected by the experience, not just the experience in itself. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate how you’ve been able to get on to the right track.
As long as your writing fundamentals, including grammar, are solid and you’re able to write something personal and thoughtful about your life that can set you apart from the other applicants, you can be confident that your personal statement is a strong part of your application. For more ideas on getting a compelling statement and personal brand out of your life story, try this online course.