After your LSAT scores and GPA, the personal statement is the third most important element in your law school application. As law schools do not interview candidates, you should think of your essay as a personal introduction to the admissions committee. As with any interview, you must appear polished, professional, and self-assured. The following tips will help you do that.
In their comprehensive guide to personal statements, top-law-schools.com offers 7 questions admissions officers will be asking themselves while reading your essay. While you do not need to address each question specifically, keep them in mind while composing your statement.
Have you demonstrated intellectual excellence?
Have you had a tangible effect on an individual or made a difference in your community?
Have you demonstrated leadership skills?
Have you had real world experience with issues or the law profession?
Can you look at an issue from multiple perspectives?
What do you bring to our school?
What brings you to our school?
Choosing what to write about is one of the hardest parts of writing your essay. Top-law-schools.com notes that there are four ways to appeal to a reader in any personal essay: logically, emotionally, ethically and culturally. You may want to relate a story from your past highlighting the strengths above. Other subjects such as overcoming an obstacle, experience as a leader, research you've done, or what you can add to the diversity of the incoming class make excellent topics. If a school gives you a particular question or topic to write on, make sure that you address the question. Remember: you want to stand out to the admissions committee, so avoid overly generic responses. Some questions to ask yourself:
What makes me unique?
What accomplishments am I most proud of?
What issues am I most passionate about?
What makes me want to be a lawyer?
Now that you've found a topic, it's time to start writing your first draft. Make sure you use clear, powerful language and correct grammar. You may want to structure your essay around a quote or use a metaphor. Alternatively, asking a question and answering it can provide a structure for your essay. Make sure to avoid cliches or overly flowery language and keep your tone professional.
You should plan to write at least three drafts of your personal statement. After your first draft, you may want to show what you have written to a friend or professor who can give you advice about style and content. Make sure that your essay begins with a hook to draw readers in and concludes with a strong paragraph reinforcing the points you have made throughout. Finally, check and re-check that all grammar and spelling is correct.
While you're working on your personal statement, save time on your school search with our Law School Wizard. It's simple: you tell us a little about yourself, we do some calculations, and, voila, you get a comprehensive list of schools that suit your personality, preferences, budget, and academic profile. Click on your results to get all the information you need about each individual school, from application deadlines to costs to career outcomes.