We get many questions about students’ law school personal statement when they start the application process. Here’s some advice we received directly from admissions officers!
Law School Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts
1. Keep it concise.
Generally, the best advice for your personal statement is to keep it between 2-3 pages. Admissions officers we’ve spoken to really think you can say everything you need to in that amount of space. Believe it or not, they do not like receiving 14 page epics about your life! If you find yourself writing much more than 3 pages, some of that information most likely belongs in an addendum.
2. Talk about yourself!
Your personal statement is exactly what it seems to be: a chance to present yourself to a law school as a person, not just an LSAT score and GPA. Talk about yourself, and how you came to be the person you are. If you are applying to schools with no formal interview, your personal statement will be the one chance you get to make a unique impression. So really use it to your advantage!
3. Use addenda if necessary.
As we briefly mentioned previously, use the LSAT, GPA, and diversity addenda to your advantage! If you have a lower LSAT score or GPA than your law school’s median, talk about why that is. Maybe you had something terrible happen during undergraduate that really affected your grades for a semester or two. Or perhaps you are just not a good standardized test taker, and although you excelled once you started undergrad classes, your SAT or ACT was nothing phenomenal. Provide proof if possible to back up any claims.
1. Write your statement about why you want to go to “X” law school.
Now, some schools do require you to address why you want to go to that particular institution. If you are not bound by this restriction, DO NOT write your statement about it. Admissions officers read hundreds of essays, and many of them are on this exact topic! Make yourself stand out by writing about yourself. It is a personal statement, after all.
It is not wrong to say you really want to go to a specific school. But make sure to include something else in your personal statement other than just that.
2. Wait until the last minute to write your personal statement.
Writing a personal statement can be very difficult. Many people struggle writing about themselves. As mentioned previously, your personal statement is often your only chance to really make a unique impression on an admission officer. Don’t wait until the last second to write it! Make sure you take time to really think it through, and craft a great statement. This is the one thing you can actively control while you apply to law school. Your LSAT, GPA, and C.V. are pretty much set in stone at this point, so use your personal statement as a chance to present yourself.
3. Write “up.”
Admissions officers are very adept at noticing when someone is “writing up,” i.e. using words and phrases they do not normal use. Not only does this make you look silly, but it also weakens your personal statement. So, if you are not comfortable using a word or phrase, don’t use it! You are much better served using a less impressive word if it makes you seem more genuine!
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