CREATING YOUR BEST PERSONAL STATEMENT
- Treat your statement like it matters.
The personal statement is the one piece of your application that you have complete control over. You’re making all the decisions, from topic to formatting to tone, so take your time. Do your best work. Lots of applicants have similar (and even identical) credentials, and this is the chance to make yourself stand out. And this might sound obvious, but if there are guidelines/rules, follow them! Most schools don’t have specific requirements, but start by checking their websites or contacting the school directly.
- Make it an interview.
You have the opportunity to share information about yourself with the admissions committee that they otherwise wouldn’t know, so go beyond your credentials and your resume. Use the statement to communicate something about who you are (your values, goals, personality, or background) in a well-crafted essay.
- Stay on message.
Great statements center tightly around a single theme. You should consider everything that doesn’t relate to that theme a digression, and consider cutting it. It’s better to cover one subject in depth than to give a cursory treatment to a whole range of topics.
Keep your statement short (around two to three double-spaced pages, "12 point font"). If you’re tempted to go longer, remember that legal educators value clarity and concision in writing. The strongest personal statements aren’t usually the longest ones!
- Customize your statement.
We get it, you’ll probably apply to multiple schools and you want to recycle your personal statement. But if you want your personal statement to communicate passion for a particular school, make it clear that you’ve done your homework. What makes this school stand out to you? What programs and opportunities does it offer? Does attending the school represent a long-term personal goal? Most students won’t take this extra step, so you’ll automatically stand out if you create a meaningful connection to the school. However, if you go this route, make sure to submit the correct personal statement to the right school!
- Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Your statement should demonstrate to admissions committees that you’re a strong writer, so your statement needs to be free of errors. Work with a trusted reviewer, if not two, and plan ahead so that you can revise, rethink, and rewrite. Proofread that statement over and over and over. Then one more time.
- Don’t lean on quotes. We’re here to learn about you, not the founding fathers or Plato.
- Humor is tricky. It’s hard to be appropriately funny for people you’ve never met, so be very careful.
- Don’t get tricky with fonts, margins, etc. Simple and clean are best.
- You’re not currently an expert on the law, so don’t dwell on legal philosophy or practice.
TOPIC IDEAS FOR PERSONAL STATEMENTS
- Why does this specific law school interest you?
- Why do you wish to earn a law degree?
- What personal qualities do you possess that will allow you to become an outstanding law student (or attorney)?
- What are your professional goals and how will a law degree help you achieve those goals?
- Describe a personal experience that represents your best qualities and how that will help you in law school and in your future goals.
- Describe a hardship that you overcame and how that will help you in law school and in your future goals.
- Describe an experience that taught you something about yourself and how that will help you in law school and in your future goals.