The personal statement is the cornerstone of your law school application. Arguably, the third most important component of your law school application following your LSAT and GPA. However, if you have a low LSAT score or GPA, the personal statement becomes vital to filling the areas where you fall short of a “desired” application package. In short, there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to writing a personal statement because it can make or break you.
The personal statement carries as much weight as it does because it is the only means by which an admissions office is able to get to know you. Remember, law school interviews are rare. Not only does it give the admissions office a glimpse into who you are, but it also serves as a writing sample. The admissions office will analyze your writing style, look for typos and grammatical errors, and pay attention to your sentence and paragraph structure. They look to get a sense of how well of a writer you are, but by no means are they judging you through a legal writing lens. So please steer clear of legal jargon and big vocabulary words.
As if that’s not enough pressure, law schools write very vague personal statement prompts. This leaves many applicants in a frenzy because there are so many things you can write about given such an open-ended prompt. Rather than stress about this, use it as an opportunity to get creative about your story. Admissions offices have vague prompts because they want to give applicants the freedom to express and showcase themselves in a light most favorable to themselves. This is your opportunity to shine and entertain admissions counselors!
Tips for writing your personal statement:
- Choose a theme! You’re free to write about whatever life experience you wish, but make sure there’s a clear theme in your statement and it all ties into why law school.
- Stick to the page limit! It’s sad that I even have to say this, but I’ve seen many applicants go over page limits. Admission offices will deny you for failure to follow simple directions. Also, feel free to write under the page limit. Quality over quantity!
- Catch the reader’s attention with a strong opening paragraph!
- Don’t recite your resume in your personal statement. The last thing admissions counselors want to do is re-read your resume in expanded form. However, if you had a really meaningful experience that’s within your resume and you want to expand on that, for example, Peace Corps, then definitely do that.
- Don’t focus on your weaknesses i.e., don’t talk about your low GPA or LSAT score in your personal statement, that’s what an addendum is for!
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