The personal statement is the part of the law school application where applicants have the most leeway: you can write about anything! However, that can be very daunting. There are lot of different ways to write a strong personal statement, but a few common things not to do.
As an application consultant and tutor, here are a few of my tips for writing a great essay:
1) It’s your law school application: don’t forget to say why you want to go to law school.
It sounds so simple, but in trying to tell their personal story, many applicants forget that the point of a personal statement is to link that story to why you want to go to law school. Make sure that this comes through clearly.
2) Make sure you show, don’t tell, on your law school personal statement.
This rule goes for personal statements across the board, but applies equally to law school. Don’t say, “I demonstrated perseverance when…” just write the story in a way that shows you’ve persevered.
3) Think of your law school application as an interview.
Often times when students are stuck on what to say in a personal statement, I tell them to think of it as an interview. When you go into an interview, you have researched, you know about the job you’re seeking, and you’re ready to tailor your answers toward that job. Most law schools don’t interview, so your application is your interview. Make sure that the three main points you would bring up if you were to go in and interview come across in your personal statement.
4) Don’t just repeat your resume in your law school personal statement.
Most law schools ask you to submit a resume. Admissions officers are busy, so you can assume they do not want to have to read anything twice that they don’t have to. This does not, however, mean that if it’s on your resume you cannot put in your personal statement. Just make sure that you are going deeper that your resume. You are not just describing what you did, but its impact on you and how that experience shaped your goals.
5) Have friends and family read your law school personal statement to see if it sounds like you.
The point of a personal statement is for the admissions committee to get to know you, but it can be challenging to really make yourself come through in your writing. Make sure that a few people who know you well – friends, family, a legal studies tutor if you have one – read your personal statement to see if it captures what you’re all about.