How To Write Winning Law School Personal Statements

Why Unique?

After weighing academic performance, law schools are most interested in​ assembling a​ class of​ interesting people. in​ this sense, their criteria are broader than those used by business or​ medical schools, whose applicants face more clearly defined expectations. Unfortunately, law school applicants often find this freedom intimidating rather than encouraging.

Too often writers resort to​ a​ safe route, and it​ should be obvious why such an​ approach would prevent them from achieving the goal of​ uniqueness. The topic itself need not be revolutionary. Rather, the key to​ this type and all types of​ essays is​ simply to​ be specific and personal. Don't be afraid to​ give your readers a​ glimpse of​ who you really are.

This applicant describes his upbringing in​ the inner city as​ a​ way to​ offer insight into his current maturity. He does not use his disadvantaged background as​ an​ excuse for anything, nor does he overstate its significance. Rather, he portrays his past honestly to​ show how it​ shaped his character and determination.

This applicant focuses on his extensive international experience in​ business and education. The details of​ his work often have little to​ do with law, but in​ exploring his global travels he demonstrates the unique perspective he has cultivated.

This applicant offers an​ in-depth account of​ a​ boot-camp experience. Note how his focus on a​ single experience can nevertheless convey a​ great deal about his character, because he offers concrete details from his personal experience. Depth is​ almost always preferable to​ breadth.

Finally, this applicant achieves uniqueness through his writing style. What makes the essay effective is​ not the specific topics with which he engages the reader, but the playful and inventive thought process he demonstrates.

These four examples are meant to​ show you the boundless ways in​ which you can offer a​ unique portrait. You don't need to​ come from a​ very diverse background or​ to​ have accomplished something extraordinary. These essays are effective because they offer honest portrayals and are grounded in​ specific, personal details. Law, although mentioned, is​ not the focus of​ any of​ these essays. in​ your own essay, you should stay focused on the topic you choose and explore it​ fully, making a​ connection back to​ law only if​ that seems natural.

In the previous section, we examined some essays that mentioned law as​ a​ natural conclusion but focused on some novel experience unrelated to​ law. When you don't have interesting, fresh ideas to​ offer about the legal profession or​ the study of​ law, you are better off emphasizing your unique strengths rather than stating platitudes about your future career. in​ the tired eyes of​ an​ admissions officer, nothing is​ more tedious than an​ essay that starts off, "I have always wanted to​ be a​ lawyer," and then cites a​ list of​ trite reasons. One obvious mistake is​ to​ focus on your parents' experiences as​ lawyers without demonstrating any independent, mature thinking about your own goals.

A less obvious, more common mistake is​ to​ write about how you want to​ help people. The fact is​ that most law school graduates, especially from the top schools, go on to​ work in​ the private sector. Law school admissions officers are not out to​ judge the moral value of​ your career intentions, particularly because they know that people often change their minds. They're well aware that most of​ their graduates will go on to​ seek financially rewarding careers. Therefore, applicants who mention clichés about wanting "to improve society" usually sound disingenuous.

Focusing on Specific Legal Areas

If you have specific goals such as​ working for a​ particular disadvantaged group that lacks advocates, then the situation is​ different: It's always good to​ showcase a​ unique, focused commitment. Even better would be if​ you had a​ track record of​ community service to​ back up your objectives. For example, you may have worked with handicapped people for several years, and this exposed you to​ certain injustices that you want to​ correct. The same approach would work for topics that are not about public service. For example, this applicant describes his background in​ science and connects this to​ his current interests in​ intellectual property law. He recognizes that his unusual background is​ a​ strength rather than a​ liability. His unique reasons for attending law school are clearly grounded in​ relevant experience and thoughtful consideration.

Unique Personal Interests

Discussing specific areas of​ law is​ a​ surefire way to​ demonstrate a​ mature commitment to​ the study of​ law. However, admissions officers certainly do not expect this level of​ decisiveness. Another way to​ show your reasons for pursuing law is​ to​ tie your interest to​ personal qualities or​ skills.

This applicant shows that her interest in​ law is​ grounded in​ her willingness to​ seek "justice at​ any cost." What's important is​ not that she be the only person with this conviction, because that would not be possible. Instead, the uniqueness comes through her personal details, the evidence that she provides to​ back up her principled nature.

Brushes With the Law

Some people will discover their interest in​ law through an​ unplanned encounter. This applicant describes her involvement in​ an​ Equal Employment Opportunity suit, then ties this in​ with her interest in​ environmental law. The result is​ an​ essay that accomplishes two objectives: first, a​ concrete event that demonstrates her exposure to​ law, and second, a​ distinct field of​ law for which she has special qualifications to​ pursue.

In this essay, the focus is​ even more explicitly on the role that law and lawyers have played in​ the applicant's life. Though the details of​ the essay still center on the applicant's background, he uses past encounters with the law to​ define his current objectives.

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