18 Law School Personal Statement Examples That Got Accepted!
This blog contains law school personal statement examples written by applicants who were successfully accepted to multiple law schools after working with our admissions experts as part of our application review programs . Your law school personal statement is one of the most important parts of your application and is your best opportunity to show admissions officers who you are behind your numbers and third-party assessments. Because of its importance, many students find the personal statement to be daunting and demanding of the full scope of their skills as writers. Today we're going to review these excellent law school personal statement examples from past successful applicants and provide some proven strategies from a former admissions officer that can help you prepare your own stellar essay.
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Article Contents 44 min read
Law school personal statement example #1.
When I was a child, my neighbors, who had arrived in America from Nepal, often seemed stressed. They argued a lot, struggled for money, and seemed to work all hours of the day. One day, I woke early in the morning to a commotion outside my apartment. Police officers were accompanying my neighbors out of the building. They were being deported. In my teens, I was shocked to see that our kind, friendly neighbors had exhausted their last chance to stay in America as they lost a court appeal.
Since that time, I have worked closely with the many immigrant families in my neighborhood, and now university town. I began by volunteering at a local community center. Together with social workers, I served food and gave out clothes to new arrivals. My diligent work ethic led to more responsibility, and I received training in basic counseling techniques, first aid skills and community services. Soon, I was tasked with welcoming new community members and assessing their health and social needs. I heard the many difficult stories of those who had traveled thousands of miles, often through several countries, risking everything to reach a safe, welcoming country. I was proud to contribute in some small way to making America welcoming for these individuals.
The community center is where I had my first formal contact with legal aid lawyers, who were a constant source of knowledge and support for those who needed assistance. I was struck by the lawyers’ ability to explain complex legal processes to nervous and exhausted incomers: law, I realized, was about more than procedure. I decided that I, too, would strive to balance a wealth of technical knowledge with my caring, compassionate personality.
As soon as I enrolled in university, I knew I had the chance to do so. In my very first week, I signed up to volunteer at the university’s legal aid center, where I worked closely with law professors and students on a range of cases. Academically, I have focused on courses, such as a fourth-year Ethics seminar, that would help me develop rigorous critical reasoning skills. More importantly, I knew that, given my experience, I could be a leader on campus. I decided to found a refugee campaign group, Students4Refugees. Together with a group of volunteers, we campaigned to make our campus a refugee-friendly space. I organized a series of events: international student mixers, an art installation in our student commons, and concerts that raised over $5,000 for the charity Refugee Aid. I am proud to say that my contributions were recognized with a university medal for campus leadership.
I have seen time and again how immigrants to the United States struggle with bureaucracy, with complex legal procedures, and with the demands of living in a foreign and sometimes hostile climate. As I plan to enter law school, I look back to my neighbors’ experiences: they needed someone who knew the law, who could negotiate with the authorities on their behalf, who could inform them of their rights—but they also needed someone who would provide a caring and compassionate outlet for their stresses. I know that Townsville University’s combination of academic rigor, legal aid services, and history of graduates entering labor and non-profit sectors will allow me to develop these skills and continue making contributions to my community by advocating for those in need.
- Thematic consistency: It focuses on just one theme: justice for immigrants. Each paragraph is designed to show off how enthusiastic the student is about this area of law. Personal statements—including those for law school—often begin with a personal anecdote. This one is short, memorable, and relevant. It establishes the overall theme quickly. By constraining their essay’s focus to a single general theme, the writer can go into great depth and weave in emotional and psychological weight through careful and vivid description. The personal statement isn’t a standard 3-paragraph college essay with a spotlight thesis statement, but it conveys similar impact through presenting a central focus organically, without resorting to simply blurting out “the point” of the piece.
- Shows, rather than tells: Connected to this, this statement focuses on showing rather than telling. Rather than simply telling the reader about their commitment to law, the applicant describes specific situations they were involved in that demonstrate their commitment to law. “Show don’t tell” means you want to paint a vivid picture of actions or experiences that demonstrate a given quality or skill, and not simply say "I can do X." Make it an experience for your reader, don't just give them a fact.
- Confident, but not arrogant: Additionally, this personal statement is confident without being boastful—leadership qualities, grades, and an award are all mentioned in context, rather than appearing as a simple list of successes.
- Specific to the school: It ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. Thoroughly researching the law school to which you’re applying is incredibly important so that you can tailor your remarks to the specific qualities and values they’re looking for. A law essay writing service is really something that can help you integrate this aspect effectively.
What Should a Law School Personal Statement Do?
1. be unique to the school you’re applying to.
Students are always asking how to write a personal statement for law school, particularly one that stands out from all the rest. After all, advice from most universities can often be quite vague. Take this zinger from the University of Chicago : “Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you… Just be yourself.” Every school will have different requirements or content they want to see in a personal statement. This is why it’s a good idea to review specific guidelines for the school to which you’re applying. For example, you can read Yale Law School personal statement examples , Stanford Law personal statement examples , and an NYU personal statement to get an idea of what these schools look for.
2. Demonstrate your skills and capabilities
For motivated students with the world at their fingertips, it’s a tough ask to narrow your character down into a few hundred words! But this is exactly the point of such generic guidelines—to challenge aspiring law students to produce something unique and convincing with minimal direction by the university. Law is, after all, a profession that demands your language to be persuasive, and the personal statement is merely one of many exercises where you can demonstrate your language skills.
3. Meet basic requirements
While the law school personal statement is about far more than just following essay directions, you still need to keep basic formatting and length restrictions in mind. Most law schools ask for a 2-page personal statement, but lengths can range from 2-4 pages. Georgetown Law School , for instance, recommends a 2-page personal statement but explicitly states that there is no official minimum or maximum. In general, length does not make a personal statement better. Rambling, meandering sentences and tiresome descriptions will only hurt the impact of your ideas, especially considering how many thousands of pages admissions committees have to churn through each year.
In short, keep to 2 double-spaced pages, and only go below or above this is if you absolutely have to, and if the school to which you're applying allows it. You want to keep things as widely applicable as possible while drafting your personal statement, meaning that you don't want to draft a 4 page letter for the one school that allows it, and then have to significantly rewrite this for your other schools. Stick to 2 pages.
4. Embody what the school is looking for
Lastly, many law schools won’t offer hyper-specific prompts, but will give you general law school admissions essay topics to follow. For instance, the University of Washington’s law school provides a number of topics to follow, including “Describe a personal challenge you faced” or “Describe your passions and involvement in a project or pursuit and the ways in which it has contributed to your personal growth and goals.” These topics may feel specific at first, but as you begin drafting, you’ll likely realize you have dozens of memories to choose from, and numerous ways of describing their impact. While drafting, try to explore as many of these options as possible, and select the best or most impactful to use in your final draft.
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Law School Personal Statement Example #2
In my home community, the belief is that the law is against us. The law oppresses and victimizes. I must admit that as a child and young person I had this opinion based on my environment and the conversations around me. I did not understand that the law could be a vehicle for social change, and I certainly did not imagine I had the ability and talents to be a voice for this change. I regularly attended my high school classes because I enjoyed the discussions and reading for English and history, and writing came easily to me, but I wasn’t committed to getting good grades because I felt I had no purpose. My mindset changed as I spent time with Mark Russell, a law student who agreed to mentor and tutor me as part of a “high school to law school” mentorship program. Every week, for three years, Mark and I would meet. At first, Mark tutored me, but I quickly became an “A” student, not only because of the tutoring, but because my ambitions were uncorked by what Mark shared with me about university, the law, and his life. I learned grades were the currency I needed to succeed. I attended mock trials, court hearings, and law lectures with Mark and developed a fresh understanding of the law that piqued an interest in law school. My outlook has changed because my mentor, my teachers, and my self-advocacy facilitated my growth. Still, injustices do occur. The difference is that I now believe the law can be an instrument for social change, but voices like mine must give direction to policy and resources in order to fight those injustices.
Early in my mentorship, I realized it was necessary to be “in the world” differently if I were to truly consider a law career. With Mark’s help and the support of my high school teachers, I learned to advocate for myself and explore opportunities that would expand my worldview as well as my academic skills. I joined a Model UN club at a neighboring high school, because my own school did not have enough student interest to have a club. By discussing global issues and writing decisions, I began to feel powerful and confident with my ability to gather evidence and make meaningful decisions about real global issues. As I built my leadership, writing, and public speaking skills, I noticed a rift developing with some of my friends. I wanted them to begin to think about larger systemic issues outside of our immediate experience, as I was learning to, and to build confidence in new ways. I petitioned my school to start a Model UN and recruited enough students to populate the club. My friends did not join the club as I’d hoped, but before I graduated, we had 2 successful years with the students who did join. I began to understand that I cannot force change based on my own mandate, but I must listen attentively to the needs and desires of others in order to support them as they require.
While I learned to advocate for myself throughout high school, I also learned to advocate for others. My neighbors, knowing my desire to be a lawyer, would often ask me to advocate on their behalf with small grievances. I would make phone calls, stand in line with them at government offices, and deal with difficult landlords. A woman, Elsa, asked me to review her rental agreement to help her understand why her landlord had rented it to someone else, rather than renewing her lease. I scoured the rental agreement, highlighted questionable sections, read the Residential Tenancies Act, and developed a strategy for approaching the landlord. Elsa and I sat down with the landlord and, upon seeing my binder complete with indices, he quickly conceded before I could even speak. That day, I understood evidence is the way to justice. My interest in justice grew, and while in university, I sought experiences to solidify my decision to pursue law.
Last summer, I had the good fortune to work as a summer intern in the Crown Attorney’s Office responsible for criminal trial prosecutions. As the only pre-law intern, I was given tasks such as reviewing court tapes, verifying documents, and creating a binder with indices. I often went to court with the prosecutors where I learned a great deal about legal proceedings, and was at times horrified by human behavior. This made the atmosphere in the Crown Attorney’s office even more surprising. I worked with happy and passionate lawyers whose motivations were pubic service, the safety and well-being of communities, and justice. The moment I realized justice was their true objective, not the number of convictions, was the moment I decided to become a lawyer.
I broke from the belief systems I was born into. I did this through education, mentorship, and self-advocacy. There is sadness because in this transition I left people behind, especially as I entered university. However, I am devoted to my home community. I understand the barriers that stand between youth and their success. As a law student, I will mentor as I was mentored, and as a lawyer, I will be a voice for change.
What’s Great about this Second Law School Personal Statement?
- It tells a complete and compelling story: Although the applicant expressed initial reservations about the law generally, the statement tells a compelling story of how the applicant's opinions began to shift and their interest in law began. They use real examples and show how that initial interest, once seeded, grew into dedication and passion. This introduction implies an answer to the " why do you want to study law? ” interview question.
- It shows adaptability: Receptiveness to new information and the ability to change both thought and behavior based on this new information. The writer describes realizing that they needed to be "in the world" differently! It's hard to convey such a grandiose idea without sounding cliché, but through their captivating and chronological narrative, the writer successfully convinces the reader that this is the case with copious examples, including law school extracurriculars . It’s a fantastic case of showing rather than telling, describing specific causes they were involved with which demonstrate that the applicant is genuinely committed to a career in the law.
- Includes challenges the subject faced and overcame: This law school personal statement also discusses weighty, relatable challenges that they faced, such as the applicant's original feeling toward law, and the fact that they lost some friends along the way. However, the applicant shows determination to move past these hurdles without self-pity or other forms of navel-gazing. Additionally, this personal statement ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. The writer manages to craft an extremely immersive and believable story about their path to the present, while also managing to curate the details of this narrative to fit the specific values and mission of the school to which they’re applying.
What’s Great About This Third Law School Personal Statement?
- Description is concise and effective: This writer opens with rich, vivid description and seamlessly guides the reader into a compelling first-person narrative. Using punchy, attention-grabbing descriptions like these make events immersive, placing readers in the writer's shoes and creating a sense of immediacy.
- Achievements are the focus: They also do a fantastic job of talking about their achievements, such as interview team lead, program design, etc., without simply bragging. Instead, they deliver this information within a cohesive narrative that includes details, anecdotes, and information that shows their perspective in a natural way. Lastly, they invoke their passion for law with humility, discussing their momentary setbacks and frustrations as ultimately positive experiences leading to further growth.
Want more law school personal statement examples from top law schools?
- Harvard law school personal statement examples
- Columbia law school personal statement examples
- Cornell law school personal statement examples
- Yale law school personal statement examples
- UPenn law school personal statement examples
- Cambridge law school personal statement examples
Law School Personal Statement #4
What’s great about this fourth law school personal statement.
- Engaging description: Like the third example above, this fourth law school personal statement opens with engaging description and first-person narrative. However, the writer of this personal statement chooses to engage a traumatic aspect of their childhood and discuss how this adversity led them to develop their desire to pursue a career in law.
- Strong theme of overcoming adversity: Overcoming adversity is a frequent theme in personal statements for all specialties, but with law school personal statements students are often able to utilize uniquely dramatic, difficult, and pivotal experiences that involved interacting with the law. It may be hard to discuss such emotionally weighty experiences in a short letter but, as this personal statement shows, with care and focus it's possible to sincerely demonstrate how your early struggles paved the way for you to become the person you are now. It's important to avoid sensationalism, but you shouldn't shy away from opening up to your readers about adverse experiences that have ultimately pointed you in a positive direction.
Why "show, don't tell" is the #1 rule for personal statements:
Law School Personal Statement Example #5
What’s great about this fifth law school personal statement .
- Highlights achievements effectively: This writer does a fantastic job of incorporating their accomplishments and impact they had on their community without any sense of bragging or conceit. Rather, these accomplishments are related in terms of deep personal investment and a general drive to have a positive impact on those around them—without resorting to the cliches of simply stating "I want to help people." They show themselves helping others, and how these early experiences of doing so are a fundamental part of their drive to succeed with a career in law.
- Shows originality: Additionally, they do a great job of explaining the uniqueness of their identity. The writer doesn't simply list their personal/cultural characteristics, but contextualizes them to show how they've shaped their path to law school. Being the child of a Buddhist mother and a Hindu father doesn’t imply anything about a person’s ability to study/practice law on its own, but explaining how this unique aspect of their childhood encouraged a passion for “discussion, active debate, and compromise” is profoundly meaningful to an admissions panel. Being able to express how fundamental aspects of law practice are an integral part of yourself is a hugely helpful tactic in a law school personal statement.
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Law School Personal Statement Example #6
What’s great about this sixth law school personal statement .
- Weaves in cultural background: Similar to the writer of personal statement #5, this student utilizes the cultural uniqueness of their childhood to show how their path to law school was both deeply personal and rooted in ideas pervasive in their early years. Unlike the writer of statement #5, this student doesn't shy away from explaining how this distinctiveness was often a source of alienation and difficulty. Yet this adversity is, as they note, ultimately what helped them be an adaptable and driven student, with a clear desire to make a positive impact on the kinds of situations that they witnessed affect their parents.
- Describes setbacks while remaining positive: This writer also doesn't shy away from describing their temporary setbacks as both learning experiences and, crucially, springboards for positively informing their plans for the future.
What’s Great About This Seventh Law School Personal Statement?
- The writer takes accountability: One of the hardest things to accomplish in a personal statement is describing not just early setbacks that are out of your control but early mistakes for which you must take responsibility. The writer of this personal statement opens with descriptions of characteristics that most law schools would find problematic at best. But at the end of this introduction, they successfully utilize an epiphany, a game-changing moment in which they saw something beyond their early pathological aimlessness, to clearly mark the point at which they became focused on law.
- The narrative structure is clear: They clearly describe the path forward from this moment on, showing how they remained focused on earning a law degree, and how they were able to work through successive experiences of confusion to persist in finishing their undergraduate education at a prestigious university. Of course, you shouldn't brag about such things for their own sake, but this writer makes the point of opening up about the unique feelings of inadequacy that come along with being the first person in their family to attend such a school, and how these feelings were—like their initial aimlessness—mobilized in service of their goal and the well-being of others. Their statement balances discussion of achievement with humility, which is a difficult but impactful tactic when done well.
Law School Personal Statement Example #8
What’s great about this eighth law school personal statement .
- Shows commitment to the community: Commitment to one’s community is a prized value in both law students and law professionals. This writer successfully describes not only how they navigated the challenges in their group environments, such as their internship, the debate team, etc., but how these challenges strengthened their commitment to being a positive part of their communities. They don’t simply describe the skills and lessons they learned from these challenging environments, but also how these challenges ultimately made them even more committed to and appreciative of these kinds of dynamic, evolutionary settings.
- Avoids negative description: They also avoid placing blame or negatively describing the people in these situations, instead choosing to characterize inherent difficulties in terms neutral to the people around them. In this way, you can describe extremely challenging environments without coming off as resentful, and identify difficulties without being accusatory or, worse yet, accidentally or indirectly seeming like part of the problem. This writer manages to convey the difficulty and complexity of these experiences while continually returning to their positive long-term impact, and though you shouldn’t seek to “bright-side” the troubles in your life you should absolutely point out how these experiences have made you a more capable and mature student.
Watch this for more law school personal statement examples!
Law School Personal Statement Example #9
What’s great about this ninth law school personal statement .
- The writer effectively describes how their background shaped their decision to pursue law: Expressing privilege as adversity is something that very few students should even attempt, and fewer still can actually pull it off. But the writer of this personal statement does just that in their second paragraph, describing how the ease and comfort of their upbringing could have been a source of laziness or detachment, and often is for particularly well-off students, but instead served as a basis for their ongoing commitment to addressing the inequalities and difficulties of those less comfortable. Describing how you’ve developed into an empathic and engaged person, worked selflessly in any volunteer experiences, and generally aimed your academic life at a career in law for the aid of others—all this is incredibly moving for an admissions board, and can help you discuss your determination and understanding of exactly why you desire a career in law.
- The student shows adaptability, flexibility, and commitment: Additionally, this writer is able to show adaptability while describing their more prestigious appointments in a way that’s neither self-aggrandizing nor unappreciative. One of the big takeaways from this statement is the student’s commitment and flexibility, and these are both vitally important qualities to convey in your law school personal statement.
Law School Personal Statement Example #10
What’s great about this tenth law school personal statement .
Shows passion: If you’re one of the rare students for whom service to others has always been a core belief, by all means find a novel and engaging way of making this the guiding principle of your personal statement. Don’t overdo it—don’t veer into poetry or lofty philosophizing—but by all means let your passion guide your pen (well…keyboard). Every step of the way, this student relates their highs and lows, their challenges and successes, to an extremely earnest and sincere set of altruistic values invoked at the very beginning of their statement. Law school admissions boards don’t exactly prize monomania, but they do value intense and sustained commitment.
Shows maturity: This student also successfully elaborates this passion in relation to mature understanding. That is, they make repeated points about their developing understanding of law that sustains their hopefulness and emotional intensity while also incorporating knowledge of the sometimes troubling day-to-day challenges of the profession. Law schools aren’t looking for starry-eyed naivete, but they do value optimism and the ability to stay positive in a profession often defined by its difficulties and unpredictability.
Every pre-law student blames their lack of success on the large number of applicants, the heartless admissions committee members, or the high GPA and LSAT score cut offs. Check out our blog on law school acceptance rates to find out more about the law school admission statistics for law schools in the US . Having taught more than a thousand students every year, I can tell you the REAL truth about why most students get rejected:
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8 Additional Law School Personal Statement Examples
Now that you have a better idea of what your law school personal statement should include, and how you can make it stand out, here are five additional law school personal statements for you to review and get some inspiration:
Law school personal statement example #11
According to the business wire, 51 percent of students are not confident in their career path when they enroll in college. I was one of those students for a long time. My parents had always stressed the importance of education and going to college, so I knew that I wanted to get a tertiary education, I just didn’t know in what field. So, like many other students, I matriculated undecided and started taking introductory courses in the subjects that interest me. I took classes from the department of literature, philosophy, science, statistics, business, and so many others but nothing really called out to me.
I figured that maybe if I got some practical experience, I might get more excited about different fields. I remembered that my high school counselor had told me that medicine would be a good fit for me, and I liked the idea of a career that involved constant learning. So, I applied for an observership at my local hospital. I had to cross “doctor” off my list of post-graduate career options when I fainted in the middle of a consultation in the ER.
I had to go back to the drawing board and reflect on my choices. I decided to stop trying to make an emotional decision and focus on the data. So, I looked at my transcript thus far, and it quickly became clear to me that I had both an interest and an aptitude for business and technology. I had taken more courses in those two fields than in any others, and I was doing very well in them. My decision was reaffirmed when I spent the summer interning at a digital marketing firm during my senior year in college and absolutely loved my experience.
Since graduating, I have been working at that same firm and I am glad that I decided to major in business. I first started as a digital advertising assistant, and I quickly learned that the world of digital marketing is an incredibly fast-paced sink-or-swim environment. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted to swim with the best of them and succeed. So far, my career in advertising has been challenging and rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined.
I remember the first potential client that I handled on my own. Everything had been going great until they changed their mind about an important detail a day before we were supposed to present our pitch. . I had a day to research and re-do a presentation that I’d been preparing for weeks. I was sure that I’d be next on the chopping block, but once again all I had to was take a step back and look at the information that I had. Focusing on the big picture helped me come up with a new pitch, and after a long night, lots of coffee, and laser-like focus, I delivered a presentation that I was not only proud of, but that landed us the client.
Three years and numerous client emergencies later, I have learned how to work under pressure, how to push myself, and how to think critically. I also have a much better understanding of who I am and what skills I possess. One of the many things that I have learned about myself over the course of my career is that I am a fan of the law. Over the past three years, I have worked with many lawyers to navigate the muddy waters of user privacy and digital media. I often find myself looking forward to working with our legal team, whereas my coworkers actively avoid them. I have even become friends with my colleagues on the legal team who also enjoy comparing things like data protection laws in the US and the EU and speculating about the future of digital technology regulation.
These experiences and conversations have led me to a point where I am interested in various aspects of the law. I now know that I have the skills required to pursue a legal education and that this time around, I am very sure about what I wish to study. Digital technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, and it is just now starting to become regulated. I believe that this shift is going to open up a more prominent role for those who understand both digital technology and its laws, especially in the corporate world. My goal is to build a career at the intersection of these worlds.
Law school personal statement example #12
The first weekend I spent on my undergrad college campus was simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life. I was so excited to be away from home, on my own, making new friends and trying new things. One of those things was a party at a sorority house with my friend and roommate, where I thought we both had a great time. Both of us came from small towns, and we had decided to look out for one another. So, when it was time to go home, and I couldn't find her, I started to worry. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I got her message saying she was already back in our dorm.
It took her three months to tell me that she had been raped that night. Her rapist didn't hold a knife to her throat, jump out of a dark alleyway, or slip her a roofie. Her rapist was her long-term boyfriend, with whom she'd been in a long-distance relationship for just over a year. He assaulted her in a stranger's bedroom while her peers, myself included, danced the night away just a few feet away.
I remember feeling overwhelmed when she first told me. I was sad for my friend, angry on her behalf, and disgusted by her rapist's actions. I also felt incredibly guilty because I had been there when it happened. I told myself that I should have stayed with her all night and that I should have seen the abuse - verbal and physical harassment- that he was inflicting on her before it turned sexual. But eventually, I realized that thinking about what could, should, or would've happened doesn't help anyone.
I watched my friend go through counseling, attend support groups, and still, she seemed to be hanging on by a thread. I couldn't begin to imagine what she was going through, and unfortunately, there was very little I could do to help her. So, I decided to get involved with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus, where I would actually be able to help another survivor.
My experience with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus was eye-opening. I mostly worked on the peer-to-peer hotline, where I spoke to survivors from all walks of life. I was confronted by the fact that rape is not a surreal unfortunate thing that happens to a certain type of person. I learned that it happens daily to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. I also learned that most survivors try to manage this burden on their own, afraid of judgment and repercussions and fearful of a he-said-she-said court battle.
I am proud to say that I used my time in college to not only earn an education, but also to advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I protested the university's cover-up of a gang rape that took place in one of the fraternity houses on campus. I spearheaded a 'no means no' campaign to raise awareness about consent on campus. I also led several fundraising campaigns for the Sexual Assault Responders Group that allowed us to pay for legal and mental health counselors for the survivors who came to us for support.
One of the things that this experience helped me realize is that sexual assault survivors often do not know where to turn when the system tries to tell them that it'd be best to just keep quiet and suffer in silence. My goal is to become one of those people that they can turn to for counsel and support. I believe that a law degree would give me the knowledge and tools that I need to advocate for survivors on a more significant scale.
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Law school personal statement example #13
I grew up in two different worlds. My world at home was full of people of various skin tones and accents. It was small, loud, and often chaotic in the best ways. I remember walking home and getting to experience music from across the world before I got to my apartment building. Loud reggaeton and afrobeat were always playing somewhere in the distance. Aunties and uncles usually stopped by unannounced and slipped money in your palm when they hugged you goodbye. And the smell of fried plantains was almost always present.
My other world was in school. It was a much quieter, more organized world with white hallways, navy blazers, and plaid skirts. It was full of people who did not look or sound like me and teachers who thought my hair was "interesting." It was also full of great books and engaging debates about everything from foreign policy to the influence of Jazz on hip hop.
I lived in these two worlds because I was born and raised in Xtown, but I went to a private school in a much richer neighborhood. I loved both of my worlds, but I hated that I had to act differently in both of them. When in school, I had to "code switch" to sound like I belonged there. When I was at home, all the people who shared the interests I was developing in school were either working or in college, so I had no one to talk to about them.
My words never felt more divided until I started considering a career in law. I remember telling one of my uncles that I wanted to become a lawyer and his response was, "So you want to become the man, huh?"
I wasn't surprised by his response, or at least I shouldn't have been. One of the things that I know for sure about the first world I lived in is that many of its inhabitants do not trust the law. I had believed this for so long simply because of the conversations that I would hear around me. However, in my second world, I was learning about all of these great freedoms and rights that the law was designed to give all Americans, and I wanted to bring those to my community.
I started working on this during the summer before my final year of high school. I got an internship with the legal aid office in my neighborhood and spent three months learning from people who, like me, had grown up in Xtown and wanted to help people. During my time in the legal aid office, I understood that the people in my community did not trust the law for two main reasons: 1. They did not understand a lot of it, and 2. It had been used against people like us many times.
I remember one particular case that Ms. Sharma - the lawyer I was learning from then and who still mentors me today - handled that summer. It was the case of a young mother who had received a notice of eviction from her landlord two days after refusing his advances. The man claimed that she violated her contract because she made homemade shea butter that she sold on Etsy. Ms. Sharma had me look through her rental agreement. After she confirmed that I was right in determining that the young mother had not violated her contract, she contacted the landlord to advise him that what he was doing was intimidation and sexual harassment.
My experiences in the legal aid office with Ms. Sharma opened my eyes to the disgusting behavior of human beings, but it also gave me the opportunity to see that the law was my opportunity to use what I learned in my second world to help the community that I was raised in. I returned to school with a new motivation that followed me to college. In addition to completing my bachelor's degree in sociology and African American studies, I spent most of my college years participating in legal internships and community outreach programs.
I believe that these experiences have given me the foundation I need to be a successful law student and, eventually, a lawyer who can truly be an advocate for members of his community.
Law school personal statement example #14
One day, my parents noticed that the other children in my age group had been speaking and communicating, but I had not. At first, they thought that my lack of speech was just me being shy, but eventually, they realized that on the rare occasions that I did speak, my words were practically incomprehensible. It wasn't long before they took me to a specialist who diagnosed me with a severe phonological disorder that hindered my ability to verbalize the basic sounds that make up words.
I started going to speech therapy when I was three years old. I saw numerous speech therapists, many of whom believed that I would never be able to communicate effectively with others. Lucky for me, my parents did not give up on me. I went to speech therapy thrice a week until the 8th grade, and I gave every single session my all. I also spent a lot of time in my room practicing my speech by myself. My efforts paid off, and even though I didn't become a chatterbox overnight, I could at least communicate effectively.
This was a short-lived victory, though. A year later, my speech impediment was back, and my ability to articulate words was once again severely limited. This complicated matters because it was my freshman year of high school, and I was in a brand-new school where I did not know anyone. Having been bullied in middle school, I knew first-hand how vicious kids can be, and I didn't want to be the butt of any more jokes, so I didn't try to speak at school. I knew that this was preventing me from making new friends or participating in class and that it was probably not helping my impediment, but I was not ready to face the fact that I needed to go back to speech therapy.
Eventually, I stopped resisting and went back to speech therapy. At the time, I saw it as accepting defeat, and even though my speech improved significantly, my self-confidence was lower than it had ever been. If you ask any of my high school classmates about me, they will likely tell you that I am very quiet or timid – both of which are not true, but they have no way of knowing otherwise. I barely spoke or interacted with my peers for most of high school. Instead, I focused on my studies and extracurricular activities that didn't involve much collaboration, like yearbook club and photography.
It was only when I was getting ready for college that I realized that I was only hurting myself with my behavior. I knew I needed to become more confident about my speech to make friends and be the student I wanted to be in college. So, I used the summer after my high school graduation to get some help. I started seeing a new speech therapist who was also trained as a counselor, and she helped me understand my impediment better. For example, I now know that I tend to stutter when stressed, but I also know that taking a few deep breaths helps me get back on track.
Using the confidence that I built in therapy that summer, I went to college with a new pep in my step. I pushed myself to meet new people, try new things, and join extracurricular organizations when I entered college. I applied to and was accepted into a competitive freshman leadership program called XYZ. Most of XYZ's other members were outgoing and highly involved in their high school communities. In other words, they were the complete opposite of me. I didn't let that intimidate me. Instead, I made a concerted effort to learn from them. If you ask any of my teammates or other classmates in college, they will tell you that I was an active participant in discussions during meetings and that I utilized my unique background to share a different perspective.
My experience with XYZ made it clear to me that my speech disorder wouldn't hold me back as long as I did not stand in my own way. Once I understood this, I kept pushing past the boundaries I had set for myself. I began taking on leadership roles in the program and looking for ways to contribute to my campus community outside of XYZ. For example, I started a community outreach initiative that connected school alumni willing to provide pro bono services to different members of the community who were in need.
Now, when I look back at my decision to go back to speech therapy, I see it as a victory. I understand that my speech impediment has shaped me in many ways, many of which are positive. My struggles have made me more compassionate. My inability to speak has made me a better listener. Not being able to ask questions or ask for help has made me a more independent critical thinker. I believe these skills will help me succeed in law school, and they are part of what motivates me to apply in the first place. Having struggled for so long to speak up for myself, I am ready and eager for the day when I can speak up for others who are temporarily unable to.
“ You talk too much; you should be a lawyer.”
I heard that sentence often while growing up because Congolese people always tell children who talk a lot that they should be lawyers. Sometimes I wonder if those comments did not subconsciously trigger my interest in politics and then the law. If they did, I am grateful for it. I am thankful for all the experiences that have brought me to this point where I am seeking an education that will allow me to speak for those who don’t always know how to, and, more importantly, those who are unable to.
For context, I am the child of Congolese immigrants, and my parents have a fascinating story that I will summarize for you:
A 14-year-old girl watches in confusion as a swarm of parents rush through the classroom, grabbing their children, and other students start running from the class. Soon she realizes that she and one other student are the only ones left, but when they both hear the first round of gunshots, no one has to tell them that it is time to run home. On the way home, she hears more gunshots and bombs. She fears for her survival and that of her family, and she starts to wonder what this war means for her and her family. Within a few months, her mother and father are selling everything they own so that they can board a plane to the US.
On the other side of the town, a 17-year-old boy is being forced to board a plane to the US because his mother, a member of parliament and the person who taught him about the importance of integrity, has been executed by the same group of soldiers who are taking over the region.
They met a year later, outside the principal’s office at a high school in XXY. They bonded over the many things they have in common and laughed at the fact that their paths probably never would have crossed in Bukavu. Fast forward to today, they have been married for almost two decades and have raised three children, including me.
Growing up in a Congolese household in the US presented was very interesting. On the one hand, I am very proud of the fact that I get to share my heritage with others. I speak French, Lingala, and Swahili – the main languages of Congo – fluently. I often dress in traditional clothing; I performed a traditional Congolese dance at my high school’s heritage night and even joined the Congolese Student Union at Almamatter University.
On the other hand, being Congolese presented its challenges growing up. At a young age, I looked, dressed, and sounded different from my classmates. Even though I was born in the US, I had picked up a lot of my parents’ accents, and kids loved to tease me about it. Ignorant comments and questions were not uncommon. “Do you speak African?” “You’re not American! How did you get here?” “You don’t look African” “My mom says I can’t play with you because your parents came here to steal our jobs”. These are some of the polite comments that I heard often, and they made me incredibly sad, especially when classmates I considered my friends made them.
My parents did not make assimilating any easier. My mother especially always feared I would lose my Congolese identity if they did not make it a point to remind me of it. She often said, “Just because you were born in America doesn’t mean that you are not Congolese anymore.” On one occasion, I argued that she always let me experience my Congolese side, but not my American side. That was the first time she told me I should be a lawyer.
Having few friends and getting teased in school helped me learn to be comfortable on my own. I Often found refuge and excitement in books. I even started blogging about the books I read and interacting with other readers online. As my following grew, I started to use my platform to raise awareness about issues that I am passionate about, like climate change, the war in Congo, and the homeless crisis here in XXY. I was able to start a fundraising campaign through my blog that raised just under $5000 for the United Way – a local charity that helps the homeless in my city.
This experience helped me understand that I could use my skills and the few tools at my disposal to help people, both here in America and one day, maybe even in Congo. I realized that I am lucky enough to have the option of expanding that skillset through education in order to do more for the community that welcomed my grandparents, uncles, aunties, and parents when they had nowhere else to go.
The journey was not easy because while I received immense support and love from my family for continuing my education, I had to teach myself how to prepare and apply to college. Once there I had to learn on my own what my professors expected of me, how to study, how to network, and so much more. I am grateful for those experiences too, because they taught me how to be resourceful, research thoroughly, listen carefully, and seek help when I need it.
All of these experiences have crafted me into who I am today, and I believe that with the right training, they will help me become a great attorney.
Law School Personal Statement Example #16
During my undergraduate studies, in the first two years, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my career. I enjoyed doing research, but I found that I became more interested in presenting the research than the process of contributing to it. I spoke to most of my science professors to ask if I could participate in their research. I worked in biology labs, chemistry labs, and in psychology classrooms working on a variety of projects that seemed meaningful and interesting. I gained new perspectives on study habits and mental health; the influence of music on the human mind; and applications of surface tension. I noticed that I was always taking the lead when we were presenting our findings to peers and research groups. I enjoyed yielding questions and addressing the captivating the audience with engaging gestures and speech. This was what led me to consider a career in law.
I always thought that I would become a scientist, so when I discovered that there were aspects of law that could be considered “scientific”, I was all ears. Still during my second year of undergraduate studies, I wanted to join an environmental awareness group, but noticed there weren’t any active. So, I took it upon myself to create my own. I wanted to do cleanup projects across the city, so I mapped out parks and areas that we could walk or drive to. I advertised my project to other students and eventually gained approximately fifteen students eager to help out. I was struck by the pollution in the water, the negligence of park maintenance. I drafted a letter to the municipal government and petitioned for a stricter environmental compliance approach. I wanted to advertise fines to hold polluters accountable, as there were hardly any to enforce the rules. A letter was returned to me stating that the government would consider my request. I felt a sense of gratification, of purpose; I discovered that I had the ability to enact change through policy. This drew me closer to the prospect of building a future in law, so I looked at other avenues to learn more.
I still wanted to find a way to bring together my love of science and discourse/communication. As a science student, I had the privilege of learning from professors who emphasized critical thinking; and they gave me a chance to learn that on my own. I took an internship as an environmental planner. There, I helped present project ideas to various groups, updating demographic/development information, and managing planning processes. I engaged in analytical thinking by looking at maps and demographic information to develop potential plans for land use. It was also the experience I was looking for in terms of a balance between science and oral communication. Using data analysis, I spoke to other planners and review boards to bring ideas together and execute a plan.
Through science, I learned how to channel my curiosity and logical thinking; as an advocate, I learned how to be creative and resourceful. Presenting research findings and being questioned in front of a group of qualified researchers, having to be sharp and ready for anything, taught me how to be more concise in speech. Developing an advocacy group dedicated to improving my community showed me what it lacked; it opened my eyes to the impact of initiative and focused collaboration. I was eager to begin another science project, this time with the environment in mind. It was titled “determining and defining the role of sociodemographic factors in air pollution health disparities”. I compiled and summarized relevant research and sent it over to a representative of the municipal government. In a couple of weeks, my request to increase advertising of fines in public areas was agreed to.
This Juris Doctor/Master in Environmental Studies program will allow me to continue deepening my knowledge of environmental law. With my goal of developing a career in environmental affairs, overseeing policies that influence land protection/use, I know that this program will give me the tools I need to succeed. With my experience working with large groups, I also believe I will fit into the larger class sizes at your institution. I understand the value of working together and how to engage in healthy discourse. With your Global Sustainability Certification, I will equip myself the expertise I need to produce meaningful change in environmental policy.
Here's how a law school advisor can help you with your application:
Law School Personal Statement #17
Growing up in a poor neighborhood, what my friends used to call “the ghetto”, I was always looking for my way out. I tried running away, but I always ended up back home in that tiny complex, barely enough room to fit all my brothers and sisters with my parents. My dad was disabled and couldn’t work, and my mother was doing her best working full-time as a personal-support worker. There was nothing we could do to get out of our situation, or so it seemed. It wasn’t until years later when I started my undergraduate degree that ironically, after I found my way out, that I began looking for a way to come back. I wanted to be a voice for people living in those bleak conditions; hungry, without work. Helpless.
Getting my degree in social work was one of the best decisions of my life. It gave me the tools to lobby for solutions to problems in poor communities. I knew my neighborhood better than anyone because I grew up there. I had the lived experience. I started working with the local government to develop programs for my clients; the people living in those same neighborhoods. We worked to provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, and medical treatment—all things sorely lacking. My proudest moment was securing the funds and arranging surgery for my father’s bad hip and knees. I’m currently working on a large project with one of the community legislators to lobby for a harm reduction model addressing addiction in our communities.
With five years of experience as a social worker, I knew it was time for a career change when I learned that I could have more influence on public opinion and legislative decisions as a social-security disability lawyer. I knew firsthand that people victimized from racism, poverty, and injury needed more help than they were currently allotted. I knew that, from becoming and advocate and communicating with influential members of the local government, that I could do more with a law degree helping people attain basic needs like disability benefits, which are often denied outright.
This desire to help people get the help they need from local programs and government resources brought me to Scarborough, a small town outside of Toronto. I was aware of some of the issues afflicting this community, since I’d handled a few clients from there as a children’s disability social worker. Addiction and homelessness were the two main ones. I worked with children with ADHD or other physical/mental disabilities impairing their ability to attend school and function normally. I helped many of them get an IEP with the details of the special services they require, long overdue. I made sure each child got the care they needed, including special attention in school. Also noticing that so many of these families lacked proper nutrition, I organized a report detailing this finding. In it, I argued that the community needed more funds targeting lowest income families. I spoke directly with a legislator, which eventually got the city on board with developing a program more specifically for the lowest income families with residents under 18.
My goal has always been to be a voice for the inaudible, the ignored, who’ve been victimized by inadequate oversight from the ground up. Many of these groups, as I’ve witnessed firsthand, don’t have the luxury of being their own advocates. They are too busy trying to support their families, to put food on the table for their children. I’ve realized that it isn’t quite enough to work directly with these families to connect them with resources and ensure they get the support they need. Sometimes the support simply doesn’t exist, or it isn’t good enough. This is why I’m motivated to add a law degree to my credentials so I can better serve these people and communities. As a future social-security disability lawyer, I want to work with local governments to assist clients in navigating an assistance system and improving it as much as possible. This program will give me the access to a learning environment in which I can thrive and develop as an advocate.
Law School Personal Statement #18
“You’re worthy and loved”, I said to a twelve-year-old boy, Connor, whom I was supervising and spending time with during the Big Brother program at which we met. A few tears touched my shoulder as I pulled him into me, comforting him. He was a foster child. He didn’t know his parents and never stayed in one place longer than a few months; a year if he was lucky. I joined the program not expecting much. I was doing it for extra credit, because I wanted to give back to the community somehow and I thought it would be interesting to meet people. He confided in me; he told me that his foster parents often yelled at each other, and him. He told me he needed to escape. I called Child Protective Services and after a thorough investigation, they determined that Connor’s foster parents weren’t fit for fostering. He was moved, yet again, to a different home.
I wrote an op-ed detailing my experience as a Big Brother. I kept names anonymous. I wanted people to know how hard it was for children in the welfare system. Many of them, like Connor, were trapped in a perpetual cycle of re-homing, neglect, and even abuse. He and other children deserve stability and unconditional love. That should go without saying. I sent the op-ed to a local magazine and had it published. In it, I described not only the experience of one unfortunate kid, but many others as well who saw their own stories being told through Connor. I joined a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to quality education for young people. I started learning about disparities in access; students excluded by racial or financial barriers. I was learning, one step at a time, how powerful words can be.
With the non-profit organization, I reached out to a few public schools in the area to represent some of our main concerns with quality of education disparities. Our goal was to bring resources together and promote the rights of children in education. We emphasized that collaboration between welfare agencies and schools was critical for education stability. Together, we created a report of recommendations to facilitate this collaboration. We outlined a variety of provisions, including more mechanisms for child participation, better recruitment of social service workers in schools, risk management and identification strategies, and better support for students with child protection concerns.
The highlight of that experience was talking to an assembly of parents and school faculty to present our findings and recommendations. The title of the presentation was “The Power of Words”. I opened with the story I wrote about in the op-ed. I wanted to emphasize that children are individuals; those trapped in the welfare system are not a monolith. They each have unique experiences, needs, and desires they want to fulfill in life. But our tools to help them can be improved, more individualized. I spoke about improving the quality of residential care for children and the need to promote their long-term development into further education and employment. Finally, I presented a list of tools we created to help support a more financially sustainable and effective child welfare system. The talk was received with applause and a tenuous commitment from a few influential members of the crowd. It was a start.
Although I lost contact with Connor, I think about him almost every day. I can only hope that the programs we worked on to improve were helping him, wherever he was. I want to continue to work on the ground level of child welfare amelioration, but I realize I will need an education in law to become a more effective advocate for this cause. There are still many problems in the child welfare system that will need to be addressed: limited privacy/anonymity for children, service frameworks that don’t address racism adequately, limited transportation in remote communities, and many more. I’ve gained valuable experience working with the community and learning about what the welfare system lacks and does well. I’m ready to take the next step for myself, my community, and those beyond it.
Assuredly, but this length varies from school to school. As with all important details of your law school application, thoroughly research your specific schools’ requirements and guidelines before both writing and editing your personal statement to ensure it fits their specifics. The average length is about 2 pages, but don’t bother drafting your statement until you have specific numbers from your schools of choice. It’s also a good idea to avoid hitting the maximum length unless absolutely necessary. Be concise, keep economy of language in mind, and remain direct, without rambling or exhaustive over-explanation of your ideas or experiences.
You should keep any words that aren’t your own to a minimum. Admissions committees don’t want to read a citation-heavy academic paper, nor do they respond well to overused famous quotes as themes in personal statements. If you absolutely must include a quote from elsewhere, be sure to clearly indicate your quote’s source. But in general, it’s best to keep the personal statement restricted to your own words and thoughts. They’re evaluating you, not Plato! It’s a personal statement. Give them an engaging narrative in your own voice.
Admissions committees will already have a strong sense of your academic performance through your transcripts and test scores, so discussing these in your personal statement is generally best avoided. You can contextualize these things, though—if you have an illuminating or meaningful story about how you came to receive an award, or how you enjoyed or learned from the work that won you the award, then consider discussing it. Overall though, it’s best to let admissions committees evaluate your academic qualifications and accomplishments from your transcripts and official documents, and give them something new in the personal statement.
When you first sit down to begin, cast a wide net. Consider all the many influences and experiences that have led you to where you are. You’ll eventually (through editing and rewriting) explain how these shape your relationship to a career in law, but one of the best things you can give yourself during the initial drafting phase is a vast collection of observations and potential points for development. As the New England School of Law points out in their, “just write!” Let the initial draft be as messy as it needs to be, and refine it from there. It’s a lot easier to condense and sharpen a big draft than it is to try to tensely craft a perfect personal statement from nothing.
Incredibly important, as should be clear by now! Unlike other specialties, law schools don’t usually conduct interviews with applicants, so your personal statement is in effect your one opportunity to speak with the admissions committee directly. Don’t let that gravity overwhelm you when you write, but keep it in mind as you edit and dedicate time to improving your initial drafts. Be mindful of your audience as you speak with them, and treat writing your personal statement as a kind of initial address in what, hopefully, will eventually turn into an ongoing dialogue.
There are a variety of factors that can make or break a law school personal statement. You should aim to achieve at least a few of the following: a strong opening hook; a compelling personal narrative; your skills and competencies related to law; meaningful experiences; why you’re the right fit for the school and program.
Often, they do. It’s best for you to go to the schools you’re interesting in applying to so you can find out if they have any specific formatting or content requirements. For example, if you wanted to look at NYU law or Osgoode Hall Law School , you would find their admissions requirements pages and look for information on the personal statement.
There are lots of reasons why a personal statement might not work. Usually, applicants who don’t get accepted didn’t come up with a good strategy for this essay. Remember, you need to target the specific school and program. Other reasons are that the applicant doesn’t plan or proofread their essay. Both are essential for submitting materials that convince the admissions committee that you’re a strong candidate. You can always use law school admissions consulting application review to help you develop your strategy and make your essay stand out.
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How long should a Personal Statement be? Is there any rule on that?
BeMo Academic Consulting
Hello V! Thanks for your question. Some schools will gave very specific word limits, while some will not. If you do not have a limit indicated, try to stick to no more than a page, 600-800 words.
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Law School Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide (Examples Included)
Learn how to write a law school personal statement that dazzles admissions committees.
AN EXCELLENT LAW SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT CAN HELP COMPENSATE FOR A less competitive UNDERGRADUATE GPA OR LSAT SCORE
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: why does the law school personal statement matter, part 3: what should a law school personal statement do, part 4: law school personal statement brainstorming, part 5: how to write your law school personal statement, part 6: law school personal statement examples, part 7: frequently asked questions.
The law school admissions process can feel confusing, scary, and overwhelming. Questions like “What LSAT score do I need?” , “How many law schools should I apply to?,” and “Do law school rankings matter?” likely weigh on your mind.
But amid all the uncertainty, there’s one thing we know for sure: the two most important components of your law school application are your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score.
That means you should spend as much time as you’re able improving those two things. If you’ve already graduated from college or are about to graduate, you should focus on improving your LSAT score as much as you reasonably can. But while those two statistics are invariably the most important factors affecting the success of your law school admissions cycle, they aren’t the only factors admissions committees consider.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the third-most important part of your application: your law school personal statement.
Because your LSAT and GPA carry so much weight, you shouldn’t begin thinking about your personal statement until you have already taken the LSAT. But while you wait for your scores, you can turn your attention to the essay.
Before we get into the step-by-step guide, we’ll offer some general framing thoughts about the law school personal statement. While many people applying to law school are already strong writers with backgrounds in the humanities, social sciences, public policy, or journalism, they often forget the components of good storytelling as soon as they sit down to write their essays.
Remember that the tone of your law school essays isn’t the same tone you’ll use in a legal brief. Law schools are admitting the whole person. An artificial intelligence can handle legal research; only you can display the kind of narrative understanding of your own background and your own future that a good future attorney needs.
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A quality personal statement—a short essay in which you articulate who you are and why you want to go to law school—allows an admissions officer to understand your motivation to attend law school, and the reasons why you want to attend their school, specifically.
As admissions committees decide between students who have similar stats (i.e., GPAs and LSAT scores), they might turn to a tiebreaker: the personal statement. An effective law school personal statement can mean the difference between a letter that begins with “Congratulations!” and one that starts “We regret to inform you...”
In 2018, law school enrollment soared for the first time in nearly ten years. And the number of applications has continued to rise since then, with the 2020–2021 cycle bringing a 13 percent increase in applications compared to the previous year—the largest applicant pool of the past decade.
While the competition to get into a top law school has grown stiffer, students from these programs have less collective debt than their peers at lower-tier schools. A strong personal statement is one major way to push you beyond your scores and into the top 5, 10, or 14 programs , giving you a shot not only at a top-notch education with less debt, but also a flourishing career in the years after.
The personal statement also matters because lawyers have to write, and they have to come up with creative arguments to support a variety of claims. If you can’t make a case for yourself, how can a law school trust that you’ll defend tenants’ rights or argue successfully on behalf of a major corporation?
Your personal statement can demonstrate that you’re not only a rigorous, clear thinker but also a pristine writer, so make sure you don’t leave any typos for an eagle-eyed admissions committee to nitpick over.
Lastly, a strong set of law school essays demonstrates that you aren’t just going to law school by default. Unlike, say, medical school, law school has no undergraduate prerequisites, making it a generic possibility for many students who don’t know what to do next but want a respected career. Offering specificity, passion, and context for your application assures programs that you can make the most of these three years, and that you’ll represent them well as an alumnus or alumna.
(Suggested reading: How to Write an Amazing Law School Diversity Statement )
Your law school personal statement should tell the admissions committee something about you outside of your academic qualifications or work experience.
The personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your personality, reflect on the experiences that led you to apply to law school, and demonstrate how you will make a great addition to the school’s incoming class.
Meeting our students
Throughout the course of this post, we’ll provide examples from students who have gone through this process so you can see the writing process in action. These examples are either real essays that have been slightly adjusted for anonymity or are composites based on real students who have had success applying to T-14 (top-tier) schools.
Tucker: Tucker is from North Carolina and studied at UNC. He has bits and pieces of political experience, most notably working on a state representative’s successful campaign. He wants to return to North Carolina after law school to work as a public defender or return to politics.
Teresa: Teresa is a first-generation Nigerian immigrant who went to a large technically-focused state school, studied mechanical engineering, and ultimately decided a strictly technical career is not her forte.
Deepika: Deepika graduated with a 4.0 from a state school close to home. She studied premed, but toward the end of her undergraduate career decided med school wasn’t for her. In the last year, she’s worked for a local law firm as a paralegal and wants to become an attorney, preferably ending up at a big firm in New York City.
Pavel: Pavel did well as an undergraduate at Michigan, winning the collegiate national debate title along the way. He doesn’t know what kind of law he wants to practice, but right now he’s most interested in the work of prestigious non-profits like the ACLU.
Eric: Eric attended Morehouse, a historically Black college, and spent his undergraduate years studying American history while also getting involved in local Atlanta politics. He’s originally from rural Alabama, and moved to Baltimore after Morehouse to teach high schoolers for two years.
Victor: Victor, a Dallas native, took advantage of his liberal arts education at Harvard. He pursued an interdisciplinary major, Social Studies, and earned good but not fantastic grades in the competitive concentration. He did everything possible on campus: performed with an improv troupe, did work-study in the admissions office, attended weekly religious group meetings. When he graduated, it wasn’t obvious what he would do. He entertained offers from banks and consultancies alike, and he took his time before applying to law school, working in local government and attending a graduate program in France first.
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Before you begin writing, you should spend time brainstorming ideas. Because law school personal statement prompts are almost always broad—e.g. “Why do you want to go to law school?”—applicants often feel uncertain about how to proceed. Either you have too many ideas, or no clue what to write. First, let’s look at a strategy you can use if you don’t know where to start.
Grab a notepad, and answer the following questions:
What’s a time—a year, a summer, a month, even a day—that helped define who you are today?
What are your fondest memories from college?
When did you first think about becoming a lawyer?
What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced?
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
What cause do you care about most? When did you first begin to care about it?
What qualities do you associate with the law? When did you first begin to think about the law in those terms?
Who’s had a significant impact on you? What’s an important experience you had with that person?
What’s a Big Idea that changed the way you think? How did you encounter it (i.e. in school, with a friend, through religion, etc)?
What is definitely not on your resumé but is still an important part of who you are?
Feel free to ask yourself additional questions. The more ideas, the better.
Another way into your PS is to ask what qualities make a good lawyer, and how you embody those qualities. Here are a few to get you started, though this is by no means a comprehensive list.
A commitment to justice or the rule of law
A passion for a particular policy matter or issue (e.g. climate change, religious freedom)
A strong ability to communicate, verbally or in writing
Critical thinking skills and a facility for argumentation
A creative approach to problem-solving
Before moving from the idea-generation phase to the writing phase, take some time, whether it’s a few hours or a day or a week to step away from the process. This next step is best done when removed from the context of your brainstorming.
Focusing your ideas
Here are some of the topics that our students came up with:
Working on a local election campaign
Losing faith and deciding to leave the church he grew up in
Making environmental documentaries during his film coursework
Her senior product design engineering lab
Grandmother teaching her how to cook as a child
Interning for a civil/environmental engineering firm focused on renewables
Interning for a human rights non-profit
Growing up in Slovakia
The route to becoming the collegiate national debate champion
Being on the swim team in college
Her favorite painting, which is by a Sudanese refugee who immigrated to the United States
Working at a local law firm
Moving from a rural environment to a major city
Studying abroad in Oxford
Personally facing police injustice
Living and studying in France
Working underneath the mayor of a major city
Turning around his college improv troupe
Once you’ve generated a list of ideas, choose the one that most compellingly answers ALL of the following questions:
Why go to law school?
Before applying , let alone writing your personal statement, you should be crystal clear on why applying to law school is the logical next step for your ambitions and career.
This matters because admissions committees see too many law school applications from people who just need another step—a credential, a degree to top off their BA in English and render them more employable, or a place to hide out for three years. Explaining how a law degree will help you achieve your professional goals is crucial.
What personal strengths do I have that are not apparent in the rest of my application?
The admissions committees get two windows into your personality and life beyond the numbers: your personal statement and your letters of recommendation . Since, at the very least, you know what context your professors and/or other recommenders have on your professional and academic life, you can also deduce which aspects of yourself they might miss out on that an admissions officer would find compelling. The personal statement is a great place to highlight those.
Why do I want to attend this school specifically?
You should be able to articulate the reasons why a particular school appeals to you. Does the school have a strong reputation for your intended specialty (e.g., public interest law, constitutional law, intellectual property law)? Is there a specific faculty member with whom you want to conduct research? Is there a student organization on campus that can benefit from your expertise and leadership?
The more you’re able to tailor your personal statement to each school, the greater your chances of admission. This requires thorough research: look at the school’s website, reach out to current students and faculty members, and go on a campus tour if possible.
How do I embody the qualities of a good lawyer?
Your personal statement shouldn’t just tell a story of your own past, present, and future. In an ideal world, it’ll also speak to one or more of those intangible qualities that we listed above, or that you came up with in conversation with attorneys or professors. An admissions committee should be able to read your essays and think, “Yes, I see how this person will fit right into our larger legal world, because they’ll have to call on these qualities every day.”
How our students applied these principles
Teresa’s desire to be a lawyer is tied to her background in engineering. She wants her future career to be technical, but she sees real appeal in the skills that practicing law would employ, which has her thinking that a career in IP law could be a good fit. When she writes her essay, she wants to make sure she refers to her engineering expertise. Her idea to write about her experience on a product design engineering team survives this scrutiny.
It also demonstrates a fascination for creative problem-solving, and one can easily see how an engineer could turn her analytical mind toward the law.
Tucker, as we mentioned, was politically active throughout college, but much of that activity was informal, so he found it hard to capture in his resume or elsewhere. He wants to use his personal statement to highlight some of that passion, so he’s chosen to write about his Appalachian roots through the lens of the local candidate he worked with and how they relate to his advocacy. This topic also shows off Tucker’s passionate commitment to a whole constellation of causes and paints a clear picture of how he might use his law degree—to return home to North Carolina to address major systemic issues like poverty, racism, and the opioid crisis.
If you feel like you still have a few winners after narrowing on those criteria, you still have to pick just one. The final selection should be a combination of all the above lessons, while also asking yourself, “Which of these can tell the best story?” At the end of the day, great personal statements tell a story, and some of your ideas probably map more easily to that reality than others. If the idea doesn’t yield a story, it may not be your best. Kill it.
These questions may serve as a litmus test for whether an idea can turn into a good tale:
Do you have a story and not just a topic? In other words, can you reference a specific anecdote (a day, a summer)? Could you, if pressed, write a scene, with characters and images to illustrate your larger narrative?
Is yours a story no one else could tell? If there were other people who did your exact same jobs, or attended your exact same university, could they come up with the same essay?
Is there a natural tension or conflict present?
Did you change at all from the beginning to the end of the relevant time period? How? Was it a surprise?
In telling this story, will you sound like yourself, or is there a risk that you’ll have to write robotically or flatly?
Whichever idea you choose, you should be able to answer yes to at least one of these questions.
To that end, while Deepika felt at first that her time at a local law firm melded naturally with her desire to go to law school, the emotional arc she identified in how moved she was by the painting and the emigré narrative of the artist felt an easier story to tell, not to mention a more unique one (law schools read a lot of essays about being a paralegal).
Similarly, Pavel was torn between writing about his debate experiences or interning with an NGO, but his version of the former gives more insight into who he is and how he’s changed and grown, which means he’ll be able to tell a better story.
Eric, for his part, opted to tell a story that was personally gut-wrenching but which drew a very clear connection between him and the law: the moment a police officer wrongfully arrested him for “loitering.”
And Victor made a bold choice: he didn’t really choose. Instead, he decided to use several of his experiences as canvas in a larger, quilted story about his passions and sense of self.
Before you dive into writing the best personal statement the admissions committee has ever seen, it’s often useful to create an outline. An outline will keep your ideas organized and help you write more efficiently.
Here’s one path you could follow as you outline:
First paragraph: Lead with the anecdote or story
It may be tempting to write straight away about the importance of the legal system or why you’re excited about a particular school, but beginning with your narrative draws readers in more effectively. In addition to hooking readers, an essay that tells a story will be more memorable than one that feels focused entirely on listing your readiness for or interest in studying the law. To drive this home further, every applicant has an interest in studying the law. Pinning that interest to a story only you can tell will make your application all the more memorable.
How do you know what the right anecdote is? Remember how our litmus tests above asked about scenes? A story is a story—rather than an idea or a topic—if it can be populated with vivid descriptions of the characters and setting. Can you recall the smell of the damp room where you sat when it was announced that your boss has won the state senate seat? How did you feel on the first day of your new teaching job in the Texas border town? What was the weather like? How big was the space? Who else was there? Did someone say something particularly memorable?
Another way to check for your anecdote is to think about what growth or change you’re trying to demonstrate through the essay. What was the beginning of that growth or change? What, in other words, was the inciting incident that kicked off your epiphany or transformation?
This opening anecdote or personal hook is the place our only you litmus test matters most. No one else should be able to tell this story the way you can tell this story. Your personal views, history, and perspective will color what details pop out.
Tucker chose to open with a beautiful, personal reflection on the place that shaped him. It both sets the stage with narrative finesse, literally demonstrating place and space, but also gives us an inciting incident that spurred Tucker’s new relationship to his hometown.
Note also that Tucker’s opening is not explicitly or even obviously related to the law. Take a look:
I did not know that my home town was a small one until I was 15 years old. Growing up, I thought I lived in the big city, because Greensboro has skyscrapers—isn’t that the dividing line between the big city and not? It’s also the first town that appears on interstate signs in North Carolina once you get on I-40, headed west from Durham. I figured if the interstate thought we were important, why shouldn’t I? So when I went to Rochester, New York in tenth grade for a student conference with my friends at school, I proudly announced that I was from Greensboro to the first person who asked, only to have her, a Bronx resident, respond, “Uh, where?” It was then that I learned one thing it could not claim to be was “the big city.”
Eric also set a scene in vivid, visceral, painful detail. Because his story was so intense, he didn’t limit himself to just one paragraph at the start. He took his time, the way a lawyer would, laying out every component of what happened to him when he was wrongfully arrested, and demonstrating everything he witnessed as part of the process. This sets him up to level a layered and specific critique of the system that was responsible for his arrest.
After less than four minutes of waiting on the front lawn of my private property for my uncle to arrive, I was arrested and forced into a squad car without a reason for my arrest. As he tightened the cold handcuffs on my wrists, the arresting officer asked my age. Perplexed, I informed him I was eighteen years old. “Great,” he exclaimed, as he slammed the door in my face while he exchanged smiles with his partner. Oblivious, I waited in the back seat, as he drove down the block, anxiously awaiting an explanation for my arrest. Less than thirty seconds after forcing me in the car, the police officer jumped out of the car, pursued an unsuspecting boy riding his bike in the neighborhood, aggressively pulled him from his moving bike, and placed him in handcuffs. After throwing the boy in the back seat with me, the cop sped off—leaving the boy’s bike behind on the sidewalk to be stolen. The caravan of police proceeded to rampage the area arresting more young men walking through the neighborhood.
On the ride to the police station, I repeatedly asked the officer the reason for my arrest. After a few minutes of ignoring my questions, he said he arrested us for loitering. After arriving at the police station, the cops expressed their disapproval of my choice of clothing. At that moment it was clear that I was profiled based on my appearance alone.
A couple of hours later, my mother arrived and demanded my release. When releasing me, the cops repeatedly apologized to my mother insisting that they did not know they had a “good kid.” The whole experience left me wondering how many people, besides the ones I witnessed, are wrongfully arrested or wrongfully convicted, due to their appearance, ignorance, and lack of access to quality legal advice and representation.
Lastly, let’s look at Victor’s essay, which took an unconventional approach. He didn’t begin with a specific anecdote, but he did take on the voice of a storyteller.
The house is quiet—its residents have been asleep for some time now. In a modest room on the second floor, only faint specks of moonlight peek through the window blinds. A few of these beams land on a small, round face, his eyes glittering in the darkness. Although he retreated to his bedroom hours ago, sweet slumber eluded him. This was not the first time: for as long as he could remember, he would lie awake when he should have been in repose, his mind excitedly flitting from one thought to the next. He pictured distant lands, from Spain with its beautiful language and world-renowned cuisine, to his parents’ mother country of Ghana, where farmers journeyed for miles to sell their wares in vibrant cities teeming with life. He also loved superheroes, and he sometimes imagined himself launching into the sky like Superman, sailing through the air as quickly as possible to help a family in need. At this late hour, when the sun had not yet nudged above the horizon and his loved ones were just beginning to dream, he was obsessed with the world not as it was, but as it could be.
Victor knows that someone might read his application and wonder about his seeming lack of focus. By opening here, he demonstrates that his diversity of interests is a core part of who he is, and that he wasn’t a waffler or a flip-flopper but, rather, a curious person by nature.
Body paragraphs: Convey who you are
You should try to accomplish the following in your body paragraphs. They don’t—and probably shouldn’t—happen in this order, with each of the below points being assigned to a paragraph. But as you write, you ought to be able to pull off each of the following.
Connect the narrative to a thesis. Only after you’ve told the story should you articulate your thesis, your “here’s why I am applying to law school/want to be a lawyer/care about the law.”
Teresa accomplished this beautifully. She opened with a personal anecdote about her father’s annual “Design Days,” days in which the family would make physical things, and which spurred in her a love of creating with her hands. It’s not obvious what that has to do with the law at first, which is part of what makes it a great opening. By the third paragraph, she links it brilliantly to her legal preoccupations, and, in doing so, explains why a former engineer is applying to law school.
But the reality for many creators in America is that their work is under threat. The chief protection for many fledgling creators, whether they’re scientists or engineers or musicians or writers, is the legal system. Patent trolls aim to trounce startups; large institutions create environments unfriendly to more nascent artists. In between them stand good lawyers ready to defend the individual artist, scientist, inventor. While the American intellectual property system is not void of imperfections, it remains true that copyright and patents can and should protect the creations of every person who experiences the same precious sense of creativity my father introduced me to every November 1.
Articulate what kind of lawyer you hope to be. You might have a sense of what sort of law you want to practice, whether it’s being a defense attorney or general counsel for a big corporation. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Go back to the qualities you came up with in the brainstorming phase. What values and ideals does your life so far reflect, and what do those have to do with the kind of legal career you hope to have? This doesn’t have to take up too much space. Deepika neatly and simply explains:
I want to apply my desire for more legal experience specifically to the problem of migration.
Connect the personal to the professional. Don’t leave your opening personal anecdote out to dry. Even something that has ostensibly nothing to do with the law, like, say, Deepika’s choice to write about the artist, will need to say something about your own commitment to pursuing the law.
Remember, though, that by this point, you’ve defined what exactly the law means to you , which should help you connect your personal story to the legal profession. You don’t need to draw a through line from your grandmother’s illness to late nights as an associate lawyer working off your school debt. But you can connect your presence throughout your grandmother’s illness to the continuity of care that you’ll give your clients when they sue nursing homes for negligence.
Take a look at how Tucker does that at the end of his personal statement, which has spent most of its time in the terrain of the personal, but turns toward the professional as it closes.
The Appalachian conversation is necessarily a legal one. As some Carolinians line up along racial boundaries, many good lawyers are working to combat the mass incarceration of minority populations, while other good lawyers champion free speech for even the most maligned activists. When free speech intertwines with debates about white nationalism and the South's history, impact litigators argue multiple sides to arrive at good legal judgments that do not stop at popular opinion. As my own mayor was maligning the presence of refugees, Virginia immigration lawyers were ensuring that local migrants were educated about their rights and responsibilities. The rigor in pursuit of justice that legal conversation applies has an immense role to play in these heated debates.
In particular, the conversation about race can go deeper here at home than most are willing to take it. One issue that has faced recent attention in the highest courts is equal representation in the electorate. Studying at Harvard will train me to ensure that existing civil rights are protected. It will teach me about the viewpoints informing present discussions of how civil rights are defined and advocated for. While race, gerrymandering, and voter ID laws are contentious issues on a national scale, both recent attention and my deep roots in the region have made it clear to me that North Carolina is a place where the legal conversation needs to be carried further. I want to attend Harvard to acquire the skills, legal context and history, and education to do this work in my home.
Don’t lose your sense of story. Often, when we reach the middle of the essay, we’ve grown tired and are eager to start summarizing our resumé.
Remember that you still need to maintain the narrative propulsion that you introduced by kicking off with an anecdote or personal hook. Another way of saying this is that you need to remain present throughout the body paragraphs. As with the whole essay, ask, with every paragraph: am I the only person who could have written this? Or could one of my fellow interns at the Goldman Sachs legal program have come up with the same take?
Victor does a great job of maintaining his commitment to the storyteller’s voice, even in the middle of his essay, as he’s showing off his professional accomplishments. Witness his use of character and dialogue here:
“I hope you have had no issues settling into life here… Now, on to business. What’s wrong with this city?” the Mayor asked softly, rapidly twirling his pen in the process. Needless to say, I was floored; it was my third day in public service, and I could not think of a weightier question, one with tremendous implications for the large city where I’d taken a job. Although I felt under-qualified for such a task, he was confident in my ability to review the city’s finances from a completely blank slate. A week later, we ruminated over innovative approaches to topics ranging from how to name our city a “sanctuary city” to solving the region’s major infrastructure issues. While there were clear legal frameworks for operating within each of these spaces, we also had substantial freedom to propose what we wished.
As we refined our proposals, I realized that laws gave us the framework necessary to think critically about what was possible, but they rarely led to a clear conclusion about how to proceed. Final decisions would come as a result of deliberations with relevant internal and external parties, discussions with our counterparts in nearby cities and regions, vetting particular approaches with members of our staff and even state Senators, and checking our conclusions against the advice offered by legal counsel. No one group could act unilaterally, and our contributions were but a small piece of a larger policymaking apparatus.
Demonstrate change and growth over time, and remember that it’s not the same thing as flip-flopping. Two key components of a compelling story are conflict and resolution. Something, in other words, has to change between the beginning and the end. The middle is a great place for that to happen. You can think of it the way fiction writers think about plot: a set of events alongside a set of emotional shifts. The events incite the emotional shifts.
Deepika does this by addressing her former interest in medicine, and explaining how it gradually shifted to an interest in the law. She doesn’t pretend that she’s always wanted to be a lawyer. It’ll be obvious from her transcripts and extracurriculars that her interests lay elsewhere . Making this change part of her narrative is a good choice:
I was spending the summer working for a public health nonprofit based in Kenya, exploring a future career in medicine, and I’d used my weekend to visit a gallery with some local friends. Despite growing up in a family that appreciated art deeply, no one had equipped me for a moment where a painting could bring me so immediately to tears. Agnostic to the artist’s story, which I got only after he saw my reaction to his work, the painting itself was just such a guttural and emotional work. Something about how directly he’d translated his own trials into the medium flew straight through me. The name of the piece was “Resurrection,” and it was scratched from a discarded advertisement board that he had repurposed. The faceless figure told a story of a life plagued by violence, that violence rendered on the work itself with haphazard scratching and peeling of the paint. I was breathless seeing what he had gone through, and thinking of how that had made its way onto the “canvas.” We talked for a while, swapping our very different stories of moving countries. After, I said a sincere thank you, and I left.
By the end of that summer semester, I was sure that medicine was not the career for me. But I didn’t immediately know where to put all my passion. In a moment of serendipity, I was able to experience firsthand the value of the legal world and see attorneys in action by working as a paralegal. The hands-on legal experience I received there was ultimately vital to my decision to practice law, but I return to that summer in Nairobi as a real clarion call to do something different.
Conclusion: Tie it all together
After telling a story and spending time articulating your goals more clearly, a concluding paragraph can leave the reader with an understanding of who you are and why you’re applying—the best result you can hope for from a good personal statement.
There are a number of ways to think about an ending, which can be the toughest, and most easily clichéd part, of any essay.
First, let it happen naturally, rather than forcing it. We recommend not stressing about the ending until you’ve written your way to it. An essay that ends in exactly the spot you thought it would when you began it risks sounding cliché.
Second, declarative statements often make for clichéd endings. Things like “and that’s why I want to become a lawyer” or “and I’ll use these skills every day in my life as an attorney” can sometimes work, but often read as default options. If everyone can come up with that ending, it might not be a good one.
For Tucker, it works. He writes:
I want to attend Harvard to acquire the skills, legal context and history, and education to do this work in my home.
This simple sentence works because so much of Tucker’s essay has involved literary writing and reflection on place. A declarative statement won’t hurt him here. It’s also a gentle, nice touch to end on the words “my home,” since his essay has been about what it means to belong to a particular stretch of land.
Third, consider ending on an image or with a call-back to where you began the essay. This is one of the most organic and satisfying ways to conclude any piece of writing.
Deepika’s essay, for instance, opens on a painting done by a refugee artist, and then zooms out to discuss her own life story. But she brings the personal statement full circle by returning to the inciting image:
Recalling that artist’s story both in his own words and by seeing “Resurrection,” I understood what a privilege it is to have a legal system that can uphold freedom of expression, and one that also makes way for new futures for immigrants like my parents year after year.
To that end, I want to apply my desire for more legal experience specifically to the problem of migration. In addition to the real personal transition that this artist’s work opened for me, this decision feels an important one now more than ever as the current administration angles toward, I believe, increasingly harmful and inconsistent implementations of immigration policy to the detriment of young children who could one day paint a Resurrection II.
Victor’s essay pulls off a similar circular structure. He began with a third-person portrait of himself as a young boy, dreaming voraciously of all that he wants to discover in the world. He closes with a portrait of who he is now, a polymath of sorts who has begun to make some of those discoveries but who needs the law to help him go further:
Two decades later, that little boy staring up into the darkness has become an adult, but his penchant for moonlit dreaming has never waned. In fact, those dreams are now accompanied by a set of experiences with the potential to carry such visions forward into a life of impact and service to others. After having the opportunity to explore a variety of roles, I cannot think of a better long-term career with which to realize my unique ambitions at the intersection of business, public policy, and community activism than legal practice. Whether I provide pro bono advice to city government, serve as counsel to an international company, or represent my community as a public servant, a career in the law is my chance to fly into the fray and create something once thought unthinkable for collective benefit. My thoughts may never rest long enough to ensure an immediate night’s sleep, but I might finally obtain a deeper peace through advocacy and service.
After you’ve finished the first draft of your law school personal statement
First, congratulations! Writing the first draft of your personal statement is no small feat. But the work has just begun! Your personal statement should undergo several revisions before submitting. Some tips for revising:
Read your essay aloud. By doing so, you will notice small typos and wording issues, as well as larger issues with form, that you wouldn’t otherwise. Reading aloud shifts the way your brain consumes the work, sometimes to great effect. It also helps you get a sense for how much an essay has your voice. You should sound like yourself when you read your essay aloud.
Ask for feedback. You should have a peer, professor, or admissions advisor read your essay. The core question to ask them to evaluate is, “Do you have a good sense of who I am and why I want to attend law school after reading this?” If the answer is no, revisions are necessary.
For big changes, rewrite instead of editing. This one can be a bit of a pain after investing all the time you have, but if you decide to make a large change in form or content, start again with a blank page. It can be tempting to preserve your existing structure and just slot in the changes where they fit, but you’ll end up with a more cohesive and coherent final product if you start anew.
You needn’t trash everything you wrote, of course. Print out a hard copy of your original, keep it on the table beside you, and open a clean doc. Rewriting from scratch whatever you do keep rather than performing a simple copy-paste will ensure you end up with one essay at the end, rather than two spliced together.
Below are the law school personal statements produced by the students we’ve followed throughout this guide, all well another successful personal statement example, all based on the writing process we just walked through.
Law school personal statement example 1
Here’s Tucker’s Harvard Law School personal statement.
That student conference, as well as the handful of other opportunities I had to travel in high school, was my first inkling that, for many people, the Blue Ridge Mountains were not a known part of the very big world I grew up aching to see more of. Because even before I realized that Greensboro was no major landmark, I still wanted to explore beyond it. My mother taught French and Spanish and was always eager to ensure I realized there were places beyond my backyard. I was also exhausted by the idea of graduating college and returning home to work in Greensboro, where, at the time, jobs were not always plentiful and hobbies were few. But, for financial reasons, college was not my long-dreamt-of exodus. I went to the University of North Carolina, which, while an hour away, certainly belongs to the same chunk of Carolina as Greensboro.
In Chapel Hill, I loved long drives. My road of choice was Mount Sinai Road. It winds down the banks of Old Field Creek, bridging the gap between Durham and I-40. It's the start of the route I took back to High Point to visit my family, and it's where I rode my bike during Chapel Hill summers. It was on Mount Sinai that I first realized how attached to this region I am.
Along Mount Sinai’s twists and turns, you can get a real sense of what North Carolina is and can be. There’s a deep agrarian heritage and rolling hills that hide the sun from their most intimate holler. Along these roads live a people who do not mind being heard, as their “These are God’s roads, so don’t drive like hell” sign would have you know. Most of all, though, Mount Sinai was one of many places over the last 25 years in Appalachia that taught me how much this land means to me. I recognize the grasses and the trees and the architecture and the people in a way that I could not possibly know another place, and that knowledge has rooted me in a way that I did not expect as a child at a student conference in Rochester, New York.
As I realized how distinctly Appalachian my own personal history is, I started to see similar connections in my family. I learned of our family struggles with substance use and of my mother's father’s affinity for our Confederate heritage. I learned I'm only a few generations removed from the McCoys of Hatfield-McCoy fame. I learned that the not-so-rosy Appalachian existence was not a storybook reality but a familial one. However, I also learned of my grandfather's sense of adventure and of the unique sense of play my father was gifted with as a child by being able to spend so much time outside in the crick. I learned that my grandmother once modeled for the rail photographer O. Winston Link and that my great uncle once threw a snowball at Elvis.
In the last year, I also saw Appalachia couched in a larger national context, especially as I tried to reckon with my home place from afar while living and working abroad last summer. I intimately knew the people, “the poor, white, rural voters,” being bandied about as political caricatures on television. As the opiate crisis worsens, a national spotlight is being thrust on my neighbors in West Virginia. As commentators wonder how much historical context justifies the presence of Confederate monuments, attention turns to Charlottesville. My home place, my Appalachia, is becoming a topic of a much larger conversation about how to support the plight of the rural American while not also succumbing to the part of that population that longs for an unequal, racist past. I believe my voice adds to that conversation. So, I took to door-knocking for Representative Edward Mitchell, knowing that the first impact I might have could be a political one. I don’t want to stop there. The law can open even more doors.
What works about Tucker’s essay, among many things:
Writing. Tucker writes fluently and smoothly, especially when he’s thinking about place and the world that shaped him. The images, the roads, and local vocabulary like “the local holler,” all contribute to the strength of his writing. Even if sentences don’t come to you naturally, you can shortcut your way to a great personal statement by including vivid descriptions of your surroundings.
An authentic connection to the law. Tucker lingers in the personal for quite a long time in this essay, and he does so because he knows he can make that confident transition: “The Appalachian conversation is a necessarily legal one.” It’s so deftly argued that we don’t even realize he’s been sculpting an argument all along, using his personal experience as a case study.
Law school personal statement example 2
Another example, a Yale Law School personal statement, this time from Teresa:
November 1 is my favorite day of the year. When I was growing up, my father would call it “Design Day.” I think he liked the alliteration. He loves woodworking, and he would spend the early fall amassing natural treefall from the woods behind our house in anticipation of November 1. Every year, he’d spend the day making things, small and large, whether a bird with a bandsaw or a new coffee table. He first invited me out into the garage when I was seven. I still wonder why he felt the imperative to concentrate so much of his hobby time into that one day, but I think he understood pinning it to a date would make it somehow more special, even if it was an arbitrary one.
Over the years, in that garage, and especially as an early teen, I learned how valuable it was to create something, to make a thing you call your own. That same feeling was reborn as a senior at Purdue University. As part of my studies in mechanical engineering, my classmates and I were required to join one of myriad senior design teams. The topics ranged from designing our own delivery drones to creating various nanotechnology applications. I eventually decided to work on a project designing new flatpack shelters that could be deployed in disaster areas with improved durability and sustainability, because I was excited by the real-world applications of my studies helping others. I saw not only my own progress first-hand, but also the development of others’, and, yet again, again the intrinsic value of a made thing.
The crux of my shift from wanting to be a maker myself to instead wanting to lend my voice to their defense was seeing Dr. Everett Simpson in action. Dr. Simpson, himself a lawyer, now teaches engineering ethics but spent the spring semester consulting all of the projects with patentable work on their IP obligations and rights. The care with which he approached the issues, but especially our interactions, opened my eyes to a world in which I might leverage my technical expertise as an advocate rather than an engineer, a combination I find so appealing.
It’s thanks to those interactions with Dr. Simpson, backed by my father’s own creativity from day one, that has led me to apply to Yale Law School. Knowing that your program in IP law is a strong one and being especially excited by the research that Professor Yochai Benkler is doing on the intellectual commons, I am confident that after three years at Yale, I will be positioned well to train as an advocate for those creators near and far.
What’s great about Teresa’s essay:
Multiple life stages. Teresa, like Deepika, has been fully committed to another discipline at one point in her life. Instead of defensively explaining why she’s moving into law now, she uses her past experience as a “maker” to explain that her previous engineering life naturally and inevitably brought her to the law. She tackles this intersection from both a personal and a professional standpoint, moving from her father to Dr. Simpson with ease.
“Why us?” Teresa’s “Why us?” addendum at the end of the essay is neat but strong. She clearly knows more about the school than what a simple Google search could yield. Referencing Dr. Benkler, whose appointment is in economics, isn’t an obvious choice for a law school candidate, but indicates that she’s grasped her field from multiple disciplinary perspectives.
Law school personal statement example 3
Here’s another full-length law school personal statement example, from Deepika:
He lives in Nairobi now. He was not born there: He grew up in Sudan, along the Nile. On a few separate occasions, he was dismissed from his studies for his political involvement, a reality I can know about but find hard to internalize. After a few efforts to pursue his practice in Sudan he left Khartoum for Benghazi. I don’t know his name. What I do remember is how it felt to see his paintings for the first time.
What we can admire from Deepika’s essay:
An unlikely take on the personal. Many applicants feel that a personal story must involve them shedding blood on the page. Deepika doesn’t get enormously vulnerable here. She doesn’t talk about Big Traumas that happened to her; in fact, she feels like she’s been pretty lucky, all told. But she does talk about a personal connection to art, and that is quite a strong window into who she is.
Ending. Deepika’s return to the painting at the end of her essay makes the whole essay feel natural, and indicates an authentic relationship to questions of immigration. It also tells us that she’s thought about what her commitment to immigration policy could change in the world, that she’s got a fully formed view of society.
Law school personal statement example 4
Here’s Eric’s Columbia Law School personal statement:
After less than four minutes of waiting on the front lawn of my private property for my uncle to arrive, I was arrested and forced into a squad car without a reason for my arrest. As he tightened the cold handcuffs on my wrists, the arresting officer asked my age. Perplexed, I informed him I was eighteen-years-old. “Great,” he exclaimed, as he slammed the door in my face while he exchanged smiles with his partner. Oblivious, I waited in the back seat, as he drove down the block, anxiously awaiting an explanation for my arrest. Less than thirty seconds after forcing me in the car, the police officer jumped out of the car, pursued an unsuspecting boy riding his bike in the neighborhood, aggressively pulled him from his moving bike, and placed him in handcuffs. After throwing the boy in the back seat with me, the cop sped off—leaving the boy’s bike behind on the sidewalk to be stolen. The caravan of police proceeded to rampage the area arresting more young men walking through the neighborhood.
During this experience and others similar to it, I was most uncomfortable with the feeling of being helpless and not well-informed about my rights. I did not like that my lack of knowledge prevented me from defending my rights and the rights of others. This experience was just one of the many instances where I witnessed a person in power abuse their authority to trample the rights of people who were not knowledgeable of their rights and did not have the resources necessary to access legal advice. My ignorance of my rights during these types of experiences was frustrating and also frightening. Being at the mercy of an apparently ethically unsound figure of authority who seemed to make arbitrary and capricious decisions, that could greatly impact my life, was very unsettling.
Witnessing grave miscarriages of justice has inspired me to equip myself with the tools necessary to fight unjust situations. These experiences have definitely fostered my desire to educate and advocate for those disadvantaged individuals and communities.
My experiences in the Columbia Law School Law Clinic reaffirmed my interest in advocating for socioeconomically challenged individuals and communities. During my time in the law clinic, I have been exposed to a plethora of pro bono opportunities and organizations. Some of the causes I’ve been able to dedicate my time to include: assisting an innocent man, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for eighteen years, with his exoneration; helping asylum seekers, who face the threat of being killed in their home country because of their sexuality or regional violence, through the asylum application process; assisting disabled and elderly Hurricane Sandy victims gain access to much needed food benefits; and assisting small business owners with filing their organizational documents with the state. Coming from a socioeconomically challenged background myself and being able to assist with matters that I can empathize and sympathize with has made me yearn for more knowledge that would better equip me to help indigent people in need of legal assistance.
After deeply scrutinizing legal field, working towards great causes in Columbia’s Law Clinic, and actively seeking various opinions about law school and the legal field, I believe law school is the next logical step for me to fulfill my aspirations to advocate for socioeconomically disadvantaged people on a more substantive level. I know I will be a great lawyer and be a positive agent of change. I fight tirelessly towards causes that I strongly believe in; and as a result I put forth great work that reflects the amount of effort expended.
I am sure that at the Columbia University School of Law I will be able to access a quality legal education that will challenge and prepare me for my future as an advocate for the more vulnerable members of society. I know that Columbia Law School will provide an intellectually nurturing environment that offers a bounty of experiential learning opportunities that are beneficial to my preferred learning style, and continue to surround me with individuals that will contribute to my growth and push me to strive for more. Columbia Law will also allow me to utilize my unique perspective, experiences, and skills to continue to make valuable contributions to the Columbia University community in and outside of the classroom.
What we can learn from Eric’s essay:
A clear tie between the personal and the professional. Eric chose to write about an extremely vulnerable moment in his history, one that might be an intuitive choice these days as we become more used to public conversations about the “grave miscarriages of justice” Eric writes about but which, a few years ago, might have seemed like a risky choice. By going there, and by linking it to his professional career so clearly, he gives us a memorable essay and tells us that he will be working to correct that injustice for many years to come.
Descriptions of prior professional work. Eric clearly articulates what he got out of his work at the Law Clinic, enumerating his involvements without making them seem too flat. He then draws a neat line between those experiences and what he wants out of law school at the same institution.
Law school personal statement example 5
Below is Victor’s University of Chicago Law School personal statement:
The summer before my freshman year of college, I worked for a law firm in my hometown as an assistant case manager. It was my first real job, and we were tasked with following up on the results of a settlement which promised compensation to individuals injured by cigarette use. Many of the claimants in the suit were not involved with the original case, but a wrinkle in the law meant that those who had not initially issued a claim could still stand to receive reparations. During that time, I witnessed the devastating impact of tobacco use on countless lives, and I was given an opportunity to think creatively about how to defend their claims. Whether it was by recovering medical records that could credibly tie cigarette use to the onset of disease, or looking back decades to find proof of a claim under the original settlement, we worked tirelessly to help grant our clients restitution. It was seldom a straightforward process, yet we did our best even when key details were sparse.
Four years later, I joined a major corporation as a full-time legal analyst working directly for the management team of one of its nascent commercial arms. At first, I expected to focus on regular meetings of the Board of Directors and related tasks, such as scheduling in accordance with regulatory requirements, setting the annual agenda, and performing discrete analyses consistent with the Company’s ongoing legal needs. However, I was quickly assigned more abstract projects, rooted in questions such as “Where could the Company open a foreign branch?” and “How would proposed changes in regulation adversely impact the Company’s overall business?” When I joined the Company, I viewed the laws set by regulatory agencies as fixed mandates, but I soon learned that these laws were subject to considerable negotiation and amendment. The Company’s business model and its evolution raised legitimate questions about which functions the private sector should be allowed to perform, and my time there opened my eyes to the myriad potential organizations have to directly or indirectly shape the laws that govern their work.
“I hope you have had no issues settling into life here… Now, on to business. What’s wrong with this city?” the Mayor asked softly, rapidly twirling his pen in the process. Needless to say, I was floored; it was my third day in public service, and I could not think of a weightier question, one with tremendous implications for the large city where I’d taken a job. Although I felt under-qualified for such a task, he was confident in my ability to review the city’s finances from a completely blank slate. A week later, we ruminated over innovative approaches to topics ranging from how to name our city a “sanctuary city” to solving the region’s major infrastructure issues. While there were clear legal frameworks for operating within each of these spaces, we also had substantial freedom to propose what we wished. As we refined our proposals, I realized that laws gave us the framework necessary to think critically about what was possible, but they rarely led to a clear conclusion about how to proceed. Final decisions would come as a result of deliberations with relevant internal and external parties, discussions with our counterparts in nearby cities and regions, vetting particular approaches with members of our staff and even state Senators, and checking our conclusions against the advice offered by legal counsel. No one group could act unilaterally, and our contributions were but a small piece of a larger policymaking apparatus.
Two decades later, that little boy staring up into the darkness has become an adult, but his penchant for moonlit dreaming has never waned. In fact, those dreams are now accompanied by a set of experiences with the potential to carry such visions forward into a life of impact and service to others. After having the opportunity to explore a variety of roles, I cannot think of a better long-term career with which to realize my unique ambitions at the intersection of business, public policy and community activism than legal practice. Whether I provide pro bono advice to city government, serve as counsel to an international company, or represent my community as a public servant, a career in the law is my chance to fly into the fray and create something once thought unthinkable for collective benefit. My thoughts may never rest long enough to ensure an immediate night’s sleep, but I might finally obtain a deeper peace through advocacy and service.
What Victor does well:
Chronology. It’s not always the right call, but sometimes the best way to tell the story of yourself is to begin at the beginning, during your dreamy childhood days, and trace it up till now. This works in part because Victor is such a passionate writer, and in part because he remains in that storytelling mode throughout. This essay would fail if it were a series of monotonous descriptions of each stage of Victor’s life. But we feel like we are sitting across from him at a coffee shop and listening in on his professional reflections.
Tackling a diverse career path. Victor makes use of the plurality of work experiences he’s had, knowing that his resumé is fuller and he is older than many of his peers. He turns that into an advantage, in the way Teresa leverages her engineering background and Deepika addresses her roots in medicine head-on.
Law school personal statement example 6
Here’s another Yale Law School personal statement, this one written by a student named Michael.
“All of you men are alike!” a woman exclaimed from the back of the nursery. “Get away from my baby girl!” Rattled, I placed the yellow crayon next to the picture of the Easter Bunny I had been helping four-year-old Gabriela color. I smiled softly, thanked Gabriela for her time, and made my way to the opposite side of the room. Her mother deserved the ease.
When I first began volunteering with the Foster Center for Domestic Violence, I was skeptical I could be effective. As a young black male in the center, I served as a reminder of the physical harm, emotional turmoil, and ongoing legal entanglements ex-partners had inflicted on victims. The women in the center had initially responded to my presence with passive animosity or fear. Nevertheless, given time, I knew I would be able to help families in the center heal; I had years of experience successfully defying stereotypes.
In my childhood and adolescence, I attended safe schools. By day, I studied in clean classrooms with devoted teachers and classmates; by night, I fell asleep to the symphony of gunshots, helicopters, and sirens. Each day after school, my backpack crammed with seminal American novels and a dense chemistry textbook, I commuted home to my East Oakland 'hood, glancing over my shoulder and quickening my pace in areas I knew to be dangerous. One afternoon, as I raced away from a group of my “brothers,” I found myself empathetic. How could I be upset at their malice? This was our norm.
Surviving as a black male in my community left little time for ambition or altruism, but this did not deter me. In my junior year of high school, I turned my attention to the societal ailments, problems seemingly devoid of practical solution, which plagued the black community. Examining my life, I recognized that I owed my commitment to success and concern for others to my family. My family had provided the structure and support that too many of my brothers had lacked. Seeking to help families in my community recover and regroup, I began volunteering at the Foster Center.
Initially, I helped conduct workshops for the victims and recreational activities for the children, but as I spent more time at the center, I became interested in addressing domestic violence on a deeper level. At Howard University, my pre-law curriculum inspired me to confront the issue’s complexity. I pioneered a college-based effort, Foster University, that enlisted my brothers in the endeavor to deter domestic violence. More than five hundred students have participated in our programs to raise awareness of domestic violence through bold discussions. Following the initiative’s success in Washington, D.C., I began helping student leaders implement the program on campuses at other institutions. At the same time, I sought to encourage my peers to engage in the active pursuit of thorough and practical solutions to all social justice issues, especially domestic violence. I developed a second initiative to introduce legal writing to my undergraduate community while simultaneously satisfying my desire to develop solutions to the problems I had encountered. My interests in law and domestic violence led me to opportunities that fueled this desire even further. My impact had become tangible, but I still wanted to do more.
In the summer before my junior year, I interned at the Domestic Violence Division at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago, where I assisted prosecutors with their caseloads and interviewed victims. The experience exposed me to the legal inefficiencies that had contributed to the frustration of the women at the Foster Center. Well-intentioned but shortsighted rulings destroyed families and unenforced orders of protection proved meaningless. Further, I was dismayed by the endless accounts of repeat offenders. As is too often the case, the legal system was failing those who most needed its protection.
By attending Yale Law School, I will prepare to work to heal at-risk families and our inadequate legal system. I will learn to address the institutional failures that frustrated Gabriela’s mother and the other women at the Foster Center. Yale Law School’s Beshar/Lehner Gender Violence Clinic and Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights will help me develop a contextual understanding of the social and legal complexities necessary for the change I envision. Furthermore, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic will teach me to harness existing resources to empower victims of abuse and address a range of issues that plague marginalized populations. I no longer flee from my brothers. But my empathy is not enough. As an advocate and attorney, I will enlist the help of my brothers and sisters to reform broken institutions and enhance our community.
What we can learn from Michael’s personal statement:
A clear focus on a specific issue, and why it matters to him. Michael articulates clear reasons why working to prevent domestic violence and improving his community are important to him. He backs this up with directly relevant professional and volunteer experience, dating back even to high school.
“Why us?” Like Teresa, Michael has clearly done his homework about the law school he’s applying to. Naming specific programs and resources that he wants to be a part of demonstrates that Yale is a strong fit for the issues he wants to tackle as a lawyer.
How long should a personal statement be for law school?
Many universities won’t specify, but most others say between a page and a half and two pages double-spaced, which comes out to around 500 words.
What law school personal statement topics are off-limits?
Just about anything can make a good personal statement, as long as you adhere to the advice above.
One exception worth noting: you shouldn’t use your personal statement to talk about a low GPA or LSAT score. If you do feel you have a compelling context for one or both of those, you should submit a separate addendum focused on that, rather than waste valuable space in your personal statement.
Should I write a separate personal statement for each school?
While it’s okay to use the same narrative across applications, each essay should be tailored specifically to the school to which you’re applying. Make sure to triple-check that you didn’t refer to the wrong school at any point in your application.
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Excellent Law School Personal Statement Examples By David Busis Published May 5, 2019 Updated Feb 10, 2021
We’ve rounded up five spectacular personal statements that helped students with borderline numbers get into T-14 schools. You’ll find these examples to be as various as a typical JD class. Some essays are about a challenge, some about the evolution of the author’s intellectual or professional journey, and some about the author’s identity. The only common thread is sincerity. The authors did not write toward an imagined idea of what an admissions officer might be looking for: they reckoned honestly with formative experiences.
Personal Statement about a Career Journey
The writer of this personal statement matriculated at Georgetown. Her GPA was below the school’s 25th percentile and her LSAT score was above the 75th percentile. She was not a URM.
* Note that we’ve used female pronouns throughout, though some of the authors are male.
I don’t remember anything being out of the ordinary before I fainted—just the familiar, heady feeling and then nothing. When I came to, they were wheeling me away to the ER. That was the last time I went to the hospital for my neurology observership. Not long after, I crossed “doctor” off my list of post-graduate career options. It would be best, I figured, if I did something for which the day-to-day responsibilities didn’t make me pass out.
Back at the drawing board, I reflected on my choices. The first time around, my primary concern was how I could stay in school for the longest amount of time possible. Key factors were left out of my decision: I had no interest in medicine, no aptitude for the natural sciences, and, as it quickly became apparent, no stomach for sick patients. The second time around, I was honest with myself: I had no idea what I wanted to do.
My college graduation speaker told us that the word “job” comes from the French word “gober,” meaning “to devour.” When I fell into digital advertising, I was expecting a slow and toothless nibbling, a consumption whose impact I could ignore while I figured out what I actually wanted to do. I’d barely started before I realized that my interviewers had been serious when they told me the position was sink or swim. At six months, I was one toothbrush short of living at our office. It was an unapologetic aquatic boot camp—and I liked it. I wanted to swim. The job was bringing out the best in me and pushing me to do things I didn’t think I could do.
I remember my first client emergency. I had a day to re-do a presentation that I’d been researching and putting together for weeks. I was panicked and sure that I’d be next on the chopping block. My only cogent thought was, “Oh my god. What am I going to do?” The answer was a three-part solution I know well now: a long night, lots of coffee, and laser-like focus on exactly and only what was needed.
Five years and numerous emergencies later, I’ve learned how to work: work under pressure, work when I’m tired, and work when I no longer want to. I have enough confidence to set my aims high and know I can execute on them. I’ve learned something about myself that I didn’t know when I graduated: I am capable.
The word “career” comes from the French word “carrière,” denoting a circular racecourse. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me then, that I’ve come full circle with regards to law school. For two college summers, I interned as a legal associate and wondered, “Is this for me?” I didn’t know if I was truly interested, and I was worried that even if I was, I wouldn’t be able to see it through. Today, I don’t have those fears.
In the course of my advertising career, I have worked with many lawyers to navigate the murky waters of digital media and user privacy. Whereas most of my co-workers went to great lengths to avoid our legal team, I sought them out. The legal conversations about our daily work intrigued me. How far could we go in negotiating our contracts to reflect changing definitions of an impression? What would happen if the US followed the EU and implemented wide-reaching data-protection laws?
Working on the ad tech side of the industry, I had the data to target even the most niche audiences: politically-active Mormon Democrats for a political client; young, low-income pregnant women for a state government; millennials with mental health concerns in a campaign for suicide prevention. The extent to which digital technology has evolved is astonishing. So is the fact that it has gone largely unregulated. That’s finally changing, and I believe the shift is going to open up a more prominent role for those who understand both digital technology and its laws. I hope to begin my next career at the intersection of those two worlds.
Personal Statement about Legal Internships
The writer of this essay was admitted to every T14 law school from Columbia on down and matriculated at a top JD program with a large merit scholarship. Her LSAT score was below the median and her GPA was above the median of each school that accepted her. She was not a URM.
About six weeks into my first legal internship, my office-mate gestured at the window—we were seventy stories high in the Chrysler Building—and said, with a sad smile, doesn’t this office just make you want to jump? The firm appeared to be falling apart. The managing partners were suing each other, morale was low, and my boss, in an effort to maintain his client base, had instructed me neither to give any information to nor take any orders from other attorneys. On my first day of work, coworkers warned me that the firm could be “competitive,” which seemed to me like a good thing. I considered myself a competitive person and enjoyed the feeling of victory. This, though, was the kind of competition in which everyone lost.
Although I felt discouraged about the legal field after this experience, I chose not to give up on the profession, and after reading a book that featured the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, I sent in an internship application. Shortly after, I received an offer to work at the office. For my first assignment, I attended a hearing in the federal courthouse. As I entered the magnificent twenty-third-floor courtroom, I felt the gravitas of the issue at hand: the sentencing of a terrorist.
That sense of gravitas never left me, and visiting the courtroom became my favorite part of the job. Sitting in hearings amidst the polished brass fixtures and mahogany walls, watching attorneys in refined suits prosecute terror, cybercrime, and corruption, I felt part of a grand endeavor. The spectacle enthralled me: a trial was like a combination of a theatrical performance and an athletic event. If I’d seen the dark side of competition at my first job, now I was seeing the bright side. I sat on the edge of my seat and watched to see if good—my side—triumphed over evil—the defense. Every conviction seemed like an unambiguous achievement. I told my friends that one day I wanted to help “lock up the bad guys.”
It wasn’t until I interned at the public defender’s office that I realized how much I’d oversimplified the world. In my very first week, I took the statement of a former high school classmate who had been charged with heroin possession. I did not know him well in high school, but we both recognized one another and made small talk before starting the formal interview. He had fallen into drug abuse and had been convicted of petty theft several months earlier. After finishing the interview, I wished him well.
The following week, in a courtroom that felt more like a macabre DMV than the hallowed halls I’d seen with the USAO, I watched my classmate submit his guilty plea, which would allow him to do community service in lieu of jail time. The judge accepted his plea and my classmate mumbled a quiet “thank you.” I felt none of the achievement I’d come to associate with guilty pleas. In that court, where hundreds of people trudged through endless paperwork and long lines before they could even see a judge, there were no good guys and bad guys—just people trying to put their lives back together.
A year after my internship at the public defender’s office, I read a profile of Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and my former boss. In the profile, he says, “You don’t want a justice system in which prosecutors are cowboys.” The more I saw at the public defender’s office, the more I rethought my experience at the USAO. When I had excitedly called my parents after an insider trading conviction, I had not thought of the defendant’s family. When I had cheered the conviction of a terrorist, I hadn’t thought about the fact that a conviction could not undo his actions. As I now plan on entering the legal profession—either as a prosecutor or public defender—I realize that my enthusiasm momentarily overwrote my empathy. I’d been playing cowboy. A lawyer’s job isn’t to lock up bad guys or help good guys in order to quench a competitive thirst—it’s to subsume his or her ego in the work and, by presenting one side of a case, create a necessary condition for justice.
Personal Statement about Cultural Identity
The writer of this essay was offered significant merit aid packages from Cornell, Michigan, and Northwestern, and matriculated at NYU Law. Her LSAT score was below the 25th percentile LSAT score and her GPA matched the median GPA of NYU.
By the age of five, I’d attended seven kindergartens and collected more frequent flier miles than most adults. I resided in two worlds – one with fast motorcycles, heavy pollution, and the smell of street food lingering in the air; the other with trimmed grass, faint traces of perfume mingling with coffee in the mall, and my mom pressing her hand against my window as she left for work. She was the only constant between these two worlds – flying me between Taiwan and America as she struggled to obtain a U.S. citizenship.
My family reunited for good around my sixth birthday, when we flew back to Taiwan to join my dad. I forgot about the West, acquired a taste for Tangyuan, and became fast friends with the kids in my neighborhood. In the evenings, I’d sit with my grandmother as she watched soap operas in Taiwanese, the dialect of the older generation, which I picked up in unharmonious bits and pieces. Other nights, she would turn off the TV, and speak to me about tradition and history – recounting my ancestors, life during the Japanese regime, raising my dad under martial law. “You are the last of the Li’s,” she would say, patting my back, and I’d feel a quick rush of pride, as though a lineage as deep as that of the English monarchy rested on my shoulders.
When I turned seven, my parents enrolled me in an American school, explaining that it was time for me, a Tai Wan Ren (Taiwanese), to learn English – “a language that could open doors to better opportunities.” Although I learned slowly, with a handful of the most remedial in ESL (English as a Second Language), books like The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows opened up new worlds of captivating images and beautiful stories that I longed to take part in.
Along with the new language, I adopted a different way to dress, new mannerisms, and new tastes, including American pop culture. I stopped seeing the neighborhood kids, and sought a set of friends who shared my affinity for HBO movies and Claire’s Jewelry . Whenever taxi drivers or waitresses asked where I was from, noting that I spoke Chinese with too much of an accent to be native, I told them I was American.
At home, I asked my mom to stop packing Taiwanese food for my lunch. The cheap food stalls I once enjoyed now embarrassed me. Instead, I wanted instant mashed potatoes and Kraft mac and cheese.
When it came time for college, I enrolled in a liberal arts school on the East Coast to pursue my love of literature, and was surprised to find that my return to America did not feel like the full homecoming I’d expected. America was as familiar as it was foreign, and while I had mastered being “American” in Taiwan, being an American in America baffled me. The open atmosphere of my university, where ideas and feelings were exchanged freely, felt familiar and welcoming, but cultural references often escaped me. Unlike my friends who’d grown up in the States, I had never heard of Wonder Bread, or experienced the joy of Chipotle’s burrito bowls. Unlike them, I missed the sound of motorcycles whizzing by my window on quiet nights.
It was during this time of uncertainty that I found my place through literature, discovering Taiye Selasi, Edward Said, and Primo Levi, whose works about origin and personhood reshaped my conception of my own identity. Their usage of the language of otherness provided me with the vocabulary I had long sought, and revealed that I had too simplistic an understanding of who I was. In trying to discover my role in each cultural context, I’d confined myself within an easy dichotomy, where the East represented exotic foods and experiences, and the West, development and consumerism. By idealizing the latter and rejecting the former, I had reduced the richness of my worlds to caricatures. Where I am from, and who I am, is an amalgamation of my experiences and heritage: I am simultaneously a Mei Guo Ren and Taiwanese.
Just as I once reconciled my Eastern and Western identities, I now seek to reconcile my love of literature with my desire to effect tangible change. I first became interested in law on my study abroad program, when I visited the English courts as a tourist. As I watched the barristers deliver their statements, it occurred to me that law and literature have some similarities: both are a form of criticism that depends on close reading, the synthesis of disparate intellectual frameworks, and careful argumentation. Through my subsequent internships and my current job, I discovered that legal work possessed a tangibility I found lacking in literature. The lawyers I collaborate with work tirelessly to address the same problems and ideas I’ve explored only theoretically in my classes – those related to human rights, social contracts, and moral order. Though I understand that lawyers often work long hours, and that the work can be, at times, tedious, I’m drawn to the kind of research, analysis, and careful reading that the profession requires. I hope to harness my critical abilities to reach beyond the pages of the books I love and make meaningful change in the real world.
Personal Statement about Weightlifting
The writer of this essay was admitted to her top choice—a T14 school—with a handwritten note from the dean that praised her personal statement. Her LSAT score was below the school’s median and her GPA was above the school’s median.
As I knelt to tie balloons around the base of the white, wooden cross, I thought about the morning of my best friend’s accident: the initial numbness that overwhelmed my entire body; the hideous sound of my own small laugh when I called the other member of our trio and repeated the words “Mark died”; the panic attack I’d had driving home, resulting in enough tears that I had to pull off to the side of the road. Above all, I remembered the feeling of reality crashing into my previously sheltered life, the feeling that nothing was as safe or certain as I’d believed.
I had been with Mark the day before he passed, exactly one week before we were both set to move down to Tennessee to start our freshman year of college. It would have been difficult to feel so alone with my grief in any circumstance, but Mark’s crash seemed to ignite a chain reaction of loss. I had to leave Nashville abruptly in order to attend the funeral of my grandmother, who helped raise me, and at the end of the school year, a close friend who had helped me adjust to college was killed by an oncoming car on the day that he’d graduated. Just weeks before visiting Mark’s grave on his birthday, a childhood friend shot and killed himself in an abandoned parking lot on Christmas Eve. I spent Christmas Day trying to act as normally as possible, hiding the news in order not to ruin the holiday for the rest of my family.
This pattern of loss compounding loss affected me more than I ever thought it would. First, I just avoided social media out of fear that I’d see condolences for yet another friend who had passed too early. Eventually, I shut down emotionally and lost interest in the world—stopped attending social gatherings, stopped talking to anyone, and stopped going to many of my classes, as every day was a struggle to get out of bed. I hated the act that I had to put on in public, where I was always getting asked the same question —“I haven’t seen you in forever, where have you been?”—and always responding with the same lie: “I’ve just been really busy.”
I had been interested in bodybuilding since high school, but during this time, the lowest period of my life, it changed from a simple hobby to a necessity and, quite possibly, a lifesaver. The gym was the one place I could escape my own mind, where I could replace feelings of emptiness with the feeling of my heart pounding, lungs exploding, and blood flooding my muscles, where—with sweat pouring off my forehead and calloused palms clenched around cold steel—I could see clearly again.
Not only did my workouts provide me with an outlet for all of my suppressed emotion, but they also became the one aspect of my life where I felt I was still in control. I knew that if it was Monday, no matter what else was going on, I was going to be working out my legs, and I knew exactly what exercises I was going to do, and how many repetitions I was going to perform, and how much weight I was going to use for each repetition. I knew exactly when I would be eating and exactly how many grams of each food source I would ingest. I knew how many calories I would get from each of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. My routine was one thing I could count on.
As I loaded more plates onto the barbell, I grew stronger mentally as well. The gym became a place, paradoxically, of both exertion and tranquility, a sanctuary where I felt capable of thinking about the people I’d lost. It was the healing I did there that let me tie the balloons to the cross on Mark’s third birthday after the crash, and that let me spend the rest of the afternoon sharing stories about Mark with friends on the side of the rural road. It was the healing I did there that left me ready to move on.
One of the fundamental principles of weightlifting involves progressively overloading the muscles by taking them to complete failure, coming back, and performing past the point where you last failed, consistently making small increases over time. The same principle helped me overcome my grief, and in the past few years, I’ve applied it to everything from learning Spanish to studying for the LSAT. As I prepare for the next stage of my life, I know I’ll encounter more challenges for which I’m unprepared, but I feel strong enough now to acknowledge my weaknesses, and—by making incremental gains—to overcome them.
Personal Statement about Sexual Assault
The writer of this essay was accepted to many top law schools and matriculated at Columbia. Her LSAT score matched Columbia’s median while her GPA was below Columbia’s 25th percentile.
My rapist didn’t hold a knife to my throat. My rapist didn’t jump out of a dark alleyway. My rapist didn’t slip me a roofie. My rapist was my eighth-grade boyfriend, who was already practicing with the high school football team. He assaulted me in his suburban house in New Jersey, while his mom cooked us dinner in the next room, in the back of an empty movie theatre, on the couch in my basement.
It started when I was thirteen and so excited to have my first real boyfriend. He was a football player from a different school who had a pierced ear and played the guitar. I, a shy, slightly chubby girl with a bad haircut and very few friends, felt wanted, needed, and possibly loved. The abuse—the verbal and physical harassment that eventually turned sexual—was just something that happened in grown-up relationships. This is what good girlfriends do, I thought. They say yes.
Never having had a sex-ed class in my life, it took me several months after my eighth-grade graduation and my entry into high school to realize the full extent of what he did to me. My overall experience of first “love” seemed surreal. This was something that happened in a Lifetime movie, not in a small town in New Jersey in his childhood twin bed. I didn’t tell anyone about what happened. I had a different life in a different school by then, and I wasn’t going to let my trauma define my existence.
As I grew older, I was confronted by the fact that rape is not a surreal misfortune or a Lifetime movie. It’s something that too many of my close friends have experienced. It’s when my sorority sister tells me about the upstairs of a frat house when she’s too drunk to say no. It’s when the boy in the room next door tells me about his uncle during freshman orientation. It’s a high school peer whose summer internship boss became too handsy. Rape is real. It’s happening every day, to mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers—a silent majority that want to manage the burden on their own, afraid of judgement, afraid of repercussions, afraid of a he-said she-said court battle.
I am beyond tired of the silence. It took me three years to talk about what happened to me, to come clean to my peers and become a model of what it means to speak about something that society tells you not to speak about. Motivated by my own experience and my friends’ stories, I joined three groups that help educate my college community about sexual health and assault: New Feminists, Speak for Change, and Sexual Assault Responders. I trained to staff a peer-to-peer emergency hotline for survivors of sexual assault. I protested the university’s cover-up of a gang-rape in the basement of a fraternity house two doors from where I live now. As a member of my sorority’s executive board, I have talked extensively about safety and sexual assault, and have orchestrated a speaker on the subject to come to campus and talk to the exceptional young women I consider family. I’ve proposed a DOE policy change to make sexual violence education mandatory to my city councilman. This past summer, I traveled to a country notorious for sexual violence and helped lay the groundwork for a health center that will allow women to receive maternal care, mental health counseling, and career counseling.
Law school is going to help me take my advocacy to the next level. Survivors of sexual assault, especially young survivors, often don’t know where to turn. They don’t know their Title IX rights, they don’t know about the Clery Act, and they don’t know how to demand help when every other part of the system is shouting at them to be quiet and give up. Being a lawyer, first and foremost, is being an advocate. With a JD, I can work with groups like SurvJustice and the Rape Survivors Law Project to change the lives of people who were silenced for too long.
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Personal Statement Examples - Sample Law School Personal Statements
It requires a lot of effort and thought to write a personal statement that effectively captures your greatest qualities and stands out to admissions committees. While we have an entire article on writing personal statements , one of the best ways to assist and inspire your writing is reading and learning from several personal statement samples. Although writing personal statements requires that you reflect upon what is unique and exemplary about your background, the following personal statement samples will provide insight into how other applicants have successfully crafted their statement. Below you can find 31 personal statement examples found in the TLS Guide to Personal Statements book, which has sections on why these personal statement samples are strong and also how they could have been improved upon. More personal statement samples can be found in the personal statement forum .
See the following articles for more information:
- How To Write An Effective Law School Personal Statement?
- Why Aspiring Law Applicants Must Submit Personal Statements With Law School Applications?
31 Example Personal Statements
- Silicon Valley Start-Up
- Senior Design
- Stay-at-Home Dad
- Happy Camper
- Belorussian Lawyer
- Mormon Conflict
- New York Artist
- PR Agency Builder
- Alice in Casinoland
- Kentucky Governor’s Scholar
- South Dakota
- Magazine Industry
- Russian Grandfather
- Kenyan Immigrant
- Surviving Rape
- Parental Disability
- Resisting the Label “Muslim”
- Muumuus and Moving On
- Hurricane Katrina
- First to Attend College
- High-Stakes Law Experience
- Uganda and Cambodia
- UK Study Abroad
- Delmarva Shorebirds
- Debate Skills
- Korean American
Below are 2 of the 31 Personal Statement Samples
Sample Personal Statement #1 - Silicon Valley Start-Up
Eighteen months ago, I was sitting at my computer, wedged between a dripping coffee maker to my left and the company’s CFO five feet to my right. Every keystroke shook the flimsy foldout card table that served as my desk, on loan to the company from another employee’s garage. We were packed in the largest of three rooms in a 2,500 square foot space baking in the heat generated by ten co-workers in close quarters, fifteen running computers, and an abnormally warm summer. On the glass doorway was etched the ghostly lettering of the former company occupying the space, serving as a grim reminder of the ever-present possibility of failure.
Two weeks earlier, I had been in my company’s small conference room sitting at the table surrounded by familiar faces from my last employer. Silicon Valley is incestuous: teams migrate from one company to the next, so I was not surprised to find myself recruited to join my old boss’s newest project. They were selling another David versus Goliath story, featuring a small rag-tag team of engineers defeating a seemingly insurmountable industry leader. Despite my skepticism, I still had a free-running imagination fed with nostalgic thoughts of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard working on their first audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage. But at my last start-up company, we had challenged a corporation for a piece of the industry pie, and nine years and $330 million dollars later, the company was a hollow shell doing mostly engineering contractor work. I was lucky enough to join that company late in the game and sell my stock options early, but many others spent a significant portion of their career at a company that came close to glory but ultimately fell short: Goliath 1, David 0.
This time they were telling me it was going to be different; they were always saying this time would be different. I asked them how a small, poorly funded start-up company could go against a giant corporation, which was also the undisputed king of our market, with nearly $400 million in quarterly revenue. After signing a non-disclosure agreement, I was let in on the big secret, the meaning of the “C” in the company name: we were going to use recent innovations in carbon nano-tubes to revolutionize the industry. These nano-scopic cylindrical fibers that allow unparalleled circuit density would be David’s tiny, secret sling.
With the financial incentive of stock options and the confidence gained by working with a crack technical team, everyone was working at full capacity. There were scribbled drawings with names and dates taped up on a wall. These were the jotted ideas from our team of electrical engineers and physicists with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from schools like Harvard, Stanford, and M.I.T. One posting was my recent workings of a carbon nano-tube electro-mechanical configuration bit, an idea that a co-worker and I had developed that I would write up and the company would push through the patent process. By packing a dozen well-caffeinated physics and electronics geniuses into a pathetic three-room rental that resembled a low-budget movie studio, we had created the primordial soup of intellectual invention. As a result of our collective ideas, our seasoned team, our innovative ideas, and nano-technology being the latest buzzword in investment, we were soon funded by venture capitalists for $10 million. It was immensely exciting to be the tenth employee in a growing start-up company that would have to upgrade offices and dramatically expand staff in an up-scaling war against the industry titan. The increased design responsibility and unbounded architectural creativity that comes with working for a start-up is unparalleled. However, the necessity of sidestepping our competitor’s patented intellectual property, which covered all aspects of our design, from manufacturing to testing, placed a heavy burden on the design team. This danger was extremely real, as a similar start-up had collapsed following an infringement lawsuit related to unauthorized reproduction of a bit stream. As the designer of three different components, I examined our competition’s sixteen patents related to the memory aspect of the device. It was immensely satisfying to study, absorb, and then circumvent patent claims as I designed a conceptually similar but un-patented version of three memory blocks.
I am interested in serving as general counsel for a corporation focused on advanced semiconductor technology. My diverse work experience and master’s degree provide a perfect foundation to tackle the issues faced by a general counsel. I am drawn to the challenges I will find at the intersection of intellectual property, product liability, and corporate law. At this juncture in my life, I seek more challenge and personal growth in a field that calls on my written skills, attention to detail, and love of technology. My background in nano-technology will bring a unique perspective to the NYU classroom and will make me extremely marketable upon graduation. By pursuing a law degree, I intend to enter a profession that aligns with the interests and aptitudes I have discovered and developed through real work experience. It is through deep personal reflection that I have decided that law is the natural extension of my training, personality, and talents.
Commentary 1: Silicon Valley Start-Up
Structure: Personal Narrative Topic: Internet Start-Up Thesis: I led a multi-million dollar design team; I can succeed in law school. Elements of Style: Comparison to David & Goliath Committee Appeal: Tangible Impact, Real World Experience, Pro-Active Starter, Good Leader Success Rating: A/9
What’s Strong: This is an excellent personal statement because it shows this candidate has had a tangible impact on organizations, and probably on the global economy. The statement keeps the reader engaged by giving a meaningful story with background, context, conflict, and resolution. It also provides a peek into the mysterious and increasingly legendary world of Silicon Valley start-ups. This is a good model for someone who has been out of college for a while, but who hasn’t been working in a law firm. The essay is focused on career goals, with career history to back up the writer’s plans. This person is a doer, not a dreamer. The writer shows a depth of technical knowledge and strong analytic reasoning skills that go far beyond linear thinking, especially in the description of finding new solutions to highly technical problems that do not violate patents. The statement creates desire in the admissions committee to admit this person because other companies seek to hire the applicant and venture capitalists are willing to support the applicant with substantial funds. This statement will inspire members of the admissions committee to act on the applicant’s behalf because he has successfully reached beyond the safety net of college.
This applicant demonstrated his strong written communication skills by writing a compelling statement that uses several kinds of rhetorical appeals. Logic is used to show how his analytical ability helps to keep the company afloat in the same waters where others have foundered. He uses touches of pathos when he describes the “primordial soup of intellectual invention” inside the cramped office. The analogy in which he compares his small start-up and the industry leader to David and Goliath uses both pathos and mythos to excellent effect: The story is one everyone knows, and so just by invoking the names, the writer brings a powerful story into his narrative without using valuable space. This mythic story becomes a theme woven throughout the essay. It is a rhetorical device that establishes a connection in the reader’s mind between this candidate and David, a leader known for his compassionate ethos. This writer has also composed the statement so that he comes across as an authoritative, competent, thoughtful, and honest leader. This statement helped earn the applicant acceptance to NYU and Columbia Law Schools.
What’s Wrong: This essay is too focused on the details of the story and fails to give sufficient evidence for why this person is a good candidate for law school. This essay is structured as a personal narrative, and the topic is the applicant’s professional experience. The first paragraph is well written but is wholly descriptive prose that has very little to do with why this person is a good candidate for law school. The first paragraph lacks a thesis or a direction for the essay. Ideally, the reader should find a microcosm of the essay in the first paragraph.
The second-to-last paragraph packs in the most value to the admissions committee for the space used, but the background story is important for this paragraph to be so powerful. To make the background story do more work for him, the writer could plant more indicators of his positive qualities and characteristics in the early part of the essay. For example, he could mention how he used his oral communication skills to communicate with his design team and supervisors, so that the admissions committee knows he feels that mastery of oral communication skills is important.
The last paragraph is where the applicant draws together his themes with his self-assessment and goals. He should mention what his master’s degree is in. This writer commits the common error of throwing in the name of the school receiving this statement as a token. Any law school program could fill that place. The writer doesn’t appear to have done research about the law program at NYU. Does the applicant feel that being in New York City will put him in contact with East Coast technology specialists who will give him an edge up in his career? Or, is the applicant focusing upon NYU because of their strength in intellectual property law? The writer needs to persuade the NYU admissions committee that NYU is the only school for him, and he can do this by interpreting how the school’s particular strengths will advance his goals. Despite these quibbles, though, this is overall a fantastic personal statement.
Sample Personal Statement 2 - Minimalist
I am a thinker, but not one to think out loud. I love myself, but am not in love with the sound of my own voice. I want to be loved, but not at the cost of not loving myself. I want to know everything, but realize that nothing can ever be known for sure. I believe that nothing is absolute, but I can absolutely defend my beliefs. I understand that chance is prevalent in all aspects of life, but never leave anything important to chance. I am skeptical about everything, but realistic in the face of my skepticism. I base everything on probability, but so does nature...probably.
I believe that all our actions are determined, but feel completely free to do as I choose. I do not believe in anything resembling a God, but would never profess omniscience with regard to such issues. I have faith in nothing, but trust that my family and friends will always be faithful. I feel that religion is among the greatest problems in the world, but also understand that it is perhaps the ultimate solution. I recognize that many people derive their morals from religion, but I insist that religion is not the only fountainhead of morality. I respect the intimate connection between morality and law, but do not believe that either should unquestioningly respect the other.
I want to study the law and become a lawyer, but I do not want to study the law just because I want to become a lawyer. I am aware that the law and economics cannot always be studied in conjunction, but I do not feel that either one can be properly studied without an awareness of the other. I recognize there is more to the law than efficiency, but believe the law should recognize the importance of efficiency more than it does. I love reading about law and philosophy, but not nearly as much as I love having a good conversation about the two. I know that logic makes an argument sound, but also know that passion makes an argument sound logical. I have philosophical beliefs informed by economics and economic beliefs informed by philosophy, but I have lost track of which beliefs came first. I know it was the egg though.
I always think very practically, but do not always like to think about the practical. I have wanted to be a scientist for a while now, but it took me two undergraduate years to figure out that being a scientist does not necessarily entail working in a laboratory. I play the saxophone almost every day, but feel most like an artist when deduction is my instrument. I spent one year at a college where I did not belong and two years taking classes irrelevant for my major, but I have no regrets about my undergraduate experience. I am incredibly passionate about my interests, but cannot imagine being interested in only one passion for an entire lifetime.
I love the Yankees, but do not hate the Red Sox. I love sports, but hate the accompanying anti-intellectual culture. I may read the newspaper starting from the back, but I always make my way to the front eventually. I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others, but reasonable about all of them. I will always be politically active, but will never be a political activist. I think everything through completely, but I am never through thinking about anything.
I can get along with almost anyone, but there are very few people without whom I could not get along. I am giving of my time, but not to the point of forgetting its value. I live for each moment, but not as much as I worry about the next. I consider ambition to be of the utmost importance, but realize that it is useless without the support of hard work. I am a very competitive person, but only when competing with myself. I have a million dreams, but I am more than just a dreamer. I am usually content, but never satisfied.
I am a study in contradiction, but there is not an inconsistency to be found.
Commentary 2: Minimalist
Structure: Personal Narrative Topic: Self-portrait Thesis: I am a clever risk-taker. Elements of Style: Literary play with contradiction and a variety of verbal punning Committee Appeal: Intellectual Excellence, Multiple Perspectives Success Rating: A-/8
What’s Strong: This personal statement is constructed like a poem: there is a rhythm to it that draws the reader in; there is also verbal play and the construction of a somewhat mysterious self-portrait. This applicant had an impressive 4.0 GPA and 178 LSAT, so he could be a risk-taker with the personal statement. This essay stands out because it is more artfully designed than other statements. This is a good strategy if you are sure of your standardized scores or if you are applying to a reach school and so are trying to get yourself noticed. An experimental personal statement such as this is just as likely to succeed as to flop, because some admissions committee members value creativity while others will be put off by the lack of specific details. In its uniqueness, it is unclear how difficult this statement was to write; most admissions committee members will probably give the candidate the benefit of the doubt and see it as highly original rather than a series of clichés.
This statement works by a clever rhetorical trick: The author will repeat a word in the same sentence but shift the meaning to a different, often contrary, usage. For example, the author writes, “I believe that nothing is absolute, but I can absolutely defend my beliefs.” Most of the sentences are linked in a daisy chain of associative ideas. For example, the first paragraph moves through the author’s views on thinking, loving, and doubting. The author then gestures towards interests in philosophy, morality, law, economics, music, sports, and politics. In the third paragraph, the applicant tells us he is good at synthesizing diverse information. The admissions committee will like this ability, as well as the humor that concludes the paragraph with the chicken-and-egg joke. The statement ends with a character sketch indicating the author is friendly but ambitious and complex. And finally, there is an important punch when the piece ends: “I am a study in contradiction, but there is not an inconsistency to be found.” This statement worked for the applicant because this person was accepted everywhere, including Yale and Stanford, and was offered a $63,000 scholarship to NYU.
What’s Wrong: Although this statement is put together like a poem, it lacks the internal logic and consistency that would make it an outstanding example of the personal statement genre. The author starts out very well, linking each sentence to the previous one, but upon close analysis, the chain link falls apart rather quickly. In the first paragraph, talking connects quiet thinking to self-respect, and then love connects self-respect to healthy relationships, but after this, the author enters stream-of-consciousness mode. We learn the author is not religious. He or she writes, “I know that logic makes an argument sound, but also know that passion makes an argument sound logical.” The problem with a sentence like this is that it does not give the reader specific evidence that this person is either logical or passionate. This personal statement encases the author behind a rhetorical wall that does not allow his personality to emerge. We do not have a sense of whether this person is trustworthy because we have no specific stories or examples to evaluate for the author’s ethical appeal.
The fourth paragraph is somewhat damaging to the author when we learn, “I spent one year at a college where I did not belong and two years taking classes irrelevant for my major.” The admissions committee will wonder: Why didn’t you belong at that college? Why did you take random classes for two years? Can you be trusted to maintain your focus in law school? The word play at this point waffles between clever and stale. This statement would do better to begin and end with the verbal play, but to have a solid paragraph or two in the middle of personal narrative, in which the admissions committee really get to know the person behind this rhetorical show.
Closing Remarks on Sample Personal Statements
We hope the free personal statement samples with critique assist you with creating your masterpiece. But for more direction on how to write a personal statement please read our article on Writing Personal Statements and the complete TLS Personal Statement Book . While these resources convey information on personal statements for law school, they can also apply to other graduate programs. For even more free personal statement examples, visit the personal statement forum with over 200 personal statement samples.
Just how important is effectively writing personal statements? So critical that the personal statement is the first item in an application that is read by Ed Tom, the Dean of Admissions at U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. In our exclusive interview , Dean Tom states that “[P]utting together an entering class is like organizing a choir; we want distinct voices. There are hundreds of similar applicants, but only one of you; so take the opportunity provided by the personal statement to let us hear your voice.”
What else did Dean Tom say about how to write a personal statement? “Personal statements for law school are the applicant’s opportunity to distinguish himself from hundreds of other applicants who have the same numbers, and the same major, and come from a similar school. The personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to describe the distance they’ve come in their lives.” “Most everyone is a very different person now than they were in high school and along that journey they develop a voice that they will be bringing into the classroom. I want to learn about the journey that developed that voice, and to the decision to apply to law school. We are looking for intellectually curious people, and we are looking for people with a diverse array of experiences. So, the ideal personal statement would bring all of that out.”
For editing of your personal statement, you can either swap your statement with someone on the personal statement forum for free or pay to have your statement edited by a professional editing service.
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How to write a law school personal statement + examples.
Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University
Law school personal statements help show admissions committees why you’re an excellent candidate. Read on to learn how to write a personal statement for law school!
Writing a law school personal statement requires time, effort, and a lot of revision. Law school statement prompts and purposes can vary slightly depending on the school.
Their purpose could be to show your personality, describe your motivation for attending law school, explain why you want to go to a particular law school, or a mix of all three and more. This guide will help you perfect your writing with tips and law school personal statement examples.
The Best Law School Personal Statement Format
Unfortunately, there’s no universal format for a law school personal statement. Every law school has a preference (or lack thereof) on how your personal statement should be structured. We recommend always checking for personal statement directions for every school you want to apply to.
However, many law schools ask for similar elements when it comes to personal statement formats. These are some standard formatting elements to keep in mind if your school doesn’t provide specific instructions:
- Typically two pages or less in length
- Use a basic, readable font style and size (11-point is the smallest you should do, although some schools may request 12-point)
- Margins shouldn’t be less than 1 inch unless otherwise specified
- Indent new paragraphs
- Don’t return twice to begin a new paragraph
- Law schools typically ask for a header, typically including your full name, page number, LSAC number, and the words “Personal Statement” (although there can be variations to this)
How you format your header may be up to you; sometimes, law schools won't specify whether the header should be one line across the top or three lines.
This is how your header may look if you decide to keep it as one line. If you want a three-line header, it should look like this on the top-right of the page:
Remember, the best law school personal statement format is the one in application instructions. Ensure you follow all formatting requirements!
How to Title a Personal Statement (Law)
You may be tempted to give your law school statement a punchy title, just like you would for an academic essay. However, the general rule is that you shouldn’t give your law school personal statement a title.
The University of Washington states , “DON’T use quotes or give a title to your
statement.” Many other schools echo this advice. The bottom line is that although you're writing your story, your law school statement doesn't require a title. Don't add one unless the school requests it.
How to Start a Personal Statement for Law School
Acing the beginning of your law school personal statement is essential for your narrative’s success. The introduction is your chance to captivate the admissions committee and immerse them in your story. As such, you want your writing to be interesting enough to grab their attention without purposefully going for shock value.
So how do you write a law school personal statement introduction that will garner the attention it deserves? The simplest way to get the reader involved in your story is to start with a relevant anecdote that ties in with your narrative.
Consider the opening paragraph from Harvard Law graduate Cameron Clark’s law school personal statement :
“At the intersection of 21st and Speedway, I lay on the open road. My leg grazed the shoulder of a young woman lying on the ground next to me. Next to her, a man on his stomach slowed his breathing to appear as still as possible. A wide circle of onlookers formed around the dozens of us on the street. We were silent and motionless, but the black-and-white signs affirmed our existence through their decree: BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
The beginning lines of this personal statement immediately draw the reader in. Why was the writer lying on the road? Why were other people there with him, and why was a man trying to slow his breathing? We're automatically inspired to keep reading to find out more information.
That desire to keep reading is the hallmark of a masterful law school personal statement introduction. However, you don’t want to leave your reader hanging for too long. By the end of this introduction, we’re left with a partial understanding of what’s happening.
There are other ways to start a law school personal statement that doesn't drop the reader in the middle of the action. Some writers may begin their law personal statement in other ways:
- Referencing a distant memory, thought, feeling, or perspective
- Setting the scene for the opening anecdote before jumping in
- Providing more context on the time, place, or background
Many openings can blend some of these with detailed, vivid imagery. Here's a law school personal statement opening that worked at the UChicago Law :
“I fell in love for the first time when I was four. That was the year my mother signed me up for piano lessons. I can still remember touching those bright, ivory keys with reverence, feeling happy and excited that soon I would be playing those tinkling, familiar melodies (which my mother played every day on our boombox) myself.”
This opening blends referencing a distant memory and feeling mixed with vivid imagery that paints a picture in the reader's head. Keep in mind that different openers can work better than others, depending on the law school prompt.
To recap, consider these elements as you write your law school personal statement’s introduction:
- Aim for an attention-grabbing hook
- Don’t purposefully aim for shock value: it can sometimes seem unauthentic
- Use adjectives and imagery to paint a scene for your reader
- Identify which opening method works best for the law school prompt and your story
- Don’t leave the reader hanging for too long to find out what your narrative is about
- Be concise
Writing a law school personal statement introduction can be difficult, but these examples and tips can get your writing the attention it deserves.
How to Write a Law School Personal Statement
Now that you’re equipped with great advice and tips to start your law school statement, it’s time to tackle the body of your essay. These tips will show you how to write a personal statement for law school to captivate the admissions committee.
Understand the Prompt
While many law schools have similar personal statement prompts, you should carefully examine what's being asked of you before diving in. Consider these top law school personal statement prompts to see what we mean:
- Yale Law School : “The personal statement should help us learn about the personal, professional, and/or academic qualities an applicant would bring to the Law School community. Applicants often submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law school applications.”
- University of Chicago Law : “Our application does not provide a specific topic or question for the personal statement because you are the best judge of what you should write. Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you.”
- NYU Law : “Because people and their interests vary, we leave the content and length of your statement to your discretion. You may wish to complete or clarify your responses to items on the application form, bring to our attention additional information you feel should be considered, describe important or unusual aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application, or tell us what led you to apply to NYU School of Law.”
Like all law personal statements, these three prompts are pretty open-ended. However, your Yale personal statement should focus on how you’d contribute to a law school community through professional and academic experience and qualities.
For UChicago Law, you don’t even need to write about a law-related topic if you don’t want to. However, when it comes to a school like NYU Law , you probably want to mix your qualities, experiences, and what led you to apply.
Differing prompts are the reason you’ll need to create multiple copies of your personal statement!
Follow Formatting Directions
Pay extra attention to each school's formatting directions. While we've discussed basic guidelines for law school personal statement formats, it's essential to check if there is anything different you need to do.
While working on your rough drafts, copy and paste the prompt and directions at the top of the page, so you don't forget.
Brainstorm Narratives/Anecdotes Based on the Prompt
You may have more wiggle room with some prompts than others regarding content. However, asking yourself these questions can generally help you direct your personal statement for any law school:
- What major personal challenges or recent hardships have you faced?
- What was one transformative event that impacted your life’s course or perspective?
- What are your hobbies or special interests?
- What achievements are you most proud of that aren’t stated in your application?
- What experience or event changed your values or way of thinking?
- What’s something you’re passionate about that you got involved in? What was the result of your passion?
- How did your distinct upbringing, background, or culture put you on the path to law school?
- What personal or professional experiences show who you are?
Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. Consider your personal and professional experiences that have brought you to this point, and determine which answers would make the most compelling story.
Pettit College of Law recommends you "go through your transcripts, application, and resume. Are there any gaps or missing details that your personal statement could cover?” If you've listed something on your resume that isn't further discussed, it could make a potential personal statement topic.
Do More Than Recount: Reflect
Recounting an event in a summarized way is only one piece of your law school personal statement. Even if you’re telling an outlandish or objectively interesting story, stopping there doesn’t show admissions committees what they need to know to judge your candidacy.
The University of Washington suggests that “describing the event should only be about 1/3 of your essay. The rest should be a reflection on how it changed you and how it shaped the person you are today. ” Don’t get stuck in the tangible details of your anecdote; show what the experience meant to you.
Beth O'Neil , Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UC Berkeley School of Law, said, " Applicants also tend to state and not evaluate. They give a recitation of their experience but no evaluation of what effect that particular experience had on them, no assessment of what certain experiences or honors meant."
Consider What Qualities You Want to Show
No matter what direction you want to take your law school personal statement, you should consider which qualities your narrative puts on display. Weaving your good character into your essay can be difficult. Outwardly claiming, "I'm a great leader!" doesn't add much value.
However, telling a story about a time you rose to the occasion to lead a group successfully toward a common goal shows strong leadership. "Show, don't tell" may be an overused statement, but it's a popular sentiment for a reason.
Of course, leadership ability isn't the only quality admissions committees seek. Consider the qualities you possess and those you'd expect to find in a great lawyer, and check to see the overlap. Some qualities you could show include:
Evaluate the anecdotes you chose after your brainstorming session and see if any of these qualities or others align with your narrative.
Keep Your Writing Concise
Learning how to write a personal statement for law school means understanding how to write for concision. Most prompts won't have a word limit but ask you to cap your story at two pages, double-spaced. Unfortunately, that's not a lot of space to work with.
Although your writing should be compelling and vibrant, do your best to avoid flowery language and long, complicated sentences where they’re not needed. Writing for concision means eliminating unnecessary words, cutting down sentences, and getting the point quickly.
Georgetown University’s take on law school personal statements is to “Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos.” A straightforward narrative means your reader is much less likely to be confused or get lost in your story (in the wrong way).
Decide the Depth and Scope of Your Statement
Since you only have two (or even three) pages to get your point across, you must consider the depth and scope of your narrative. While you don’t want to provide too little information, remember that you don’t have the room to summarize your entire life story (and you don’t have to do that anyway).
UChicago Law’s advice is to “Use your discretion - we know you have to make a choice and have limited space. Attempting to cover too much material can result in an unfocused and scattered personal statement.” Keep the depth and scope of your narrative manageable.
Ensure It’s Personal Enough
UChicago Law states, "If someone else could write your personal statement, it probably is not personal enough." This doesn't mean that you must pick the most grandiose, shocking narrative to make an impact or that you can't write about something many others have probably experienced.
Getting personal means only you can write that statement; other people may be able to relate to an experience, but your reflection, thoughts, feelings, and reactions are your own. UChicago Law sees applicants fall into this pitfall by writing about a social issue or area of law, so tread these topics carefully.
Mix the Past and Present, Present and Future, Or All Three
Harvard Law School’s Associate Director Nefyn Meissner said your personal statement should “tell us something about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go.”
Echoing this, Jon Perdue , Yale Law School's Director of Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives, states that the three most common approaches to the Yale Law School personal statement are focusing on:
- The past : discussing your identity and background
- The present : focusing on your current work, activities, and interests
- The future : the type of law you want to pursue and your ideal career path
Perdue said that truly stellar personal statements have a sense of “movement” and touch on all or two of these topics.
What does this mean for you? While writing your law school personal statement, don’t be afraid to touch on your past, present, and future. However, remember not to take on too much content!
Keep the Focus On You
This is a common pitfall that students fall into while writing a law school personal statement. UChicago Law cites that this is a common mistake applicants make when they write at length about:
- A family member who inspired them or their family history
- Stories about others
- Social or legal issues
Even if someone like your grandmother had a profound impact on your decision to pursue law, remember that you’re the star of the show. Meissner said , “Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother.”
Don’t let historical figures, your family, or anyone else steal your spotlight.
Decide If You Need to Answer: Why Law?
Writing about why you want to attend law school in general or a school in particular depends on the prompt. Some schools welcome the insight, while others (like Harvard Law) don't. Meissner said, “Should you mention you want to come to HLS? We already assume that if you’re applying.”
However, Perdue said your law school personal statement for Yale should answer three questions:
- Why law school?
Some schools may invite you to discuss your motivation to apply to law school or what particular elements of the school inspired you to apply.
Don’t List Qualifications or Rehash Your Resume
Your personal statement should flow like a story, with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Simply firing off your honors and awards, or summarizing the experiences on your resume, doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything new about you.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to show how your unique experiences shaped you, your qualities, and the person you are behind your LSAT scores and GPA. Think about how you can show who you are at your core.
Avoid Legalese, Jargon, And Sophisticated Terms
The best law school personal statements are written in straightforward English and don't use overly academic, technical, or literary words. UChicago Law recommends avoiding legalese or Latin terms since the "risk you are incorrectly using them is just too high."
Weaving together intricate sentence structures with words you pulled out of a thesaurus won’t make your personal statement a one-way ticket to acceptance. Be clear, straightforward, and to the point.
Don’t Put Famous Quotes In Your Writing
Beginning your law school personal statement with a quote is not only cliche but takes the focus off of you. It also eats up precious space you could fill with your voice.
Revise, Revise, Revise
Even the most talented writers never submit a perfect first draft. You'll need to do a lot of revisions before your personal statement is ready for submission. This is especially true because you'll write different versions for different law schools; these iterations must be edited to perfection.
Ensure you have enough time to make all the edits and improvements you need before you plan to submit your application. Although most law schools have rolling admissions, submitting a perfected application as soon as possible is always in your best interest.
Have an Admission Consultant Review Your Hard Work
Reviewing so many personal statements by yourself is a lot of work, and most writing can always benefit from a fresh perspective. Consider seeking a law school admissions consultant’s help to edit your personal statements to perfection and maximize your chances of acceptance at your dream school!
How to End Your Personal Statement for Law School
Law school personal statement conclusions are just as open-ended as your introductions. There are a few options for ending a personal statement depending on the prompt you’re writing for:
Some of these methods can overlap with each other. However, there are two more things you should always consider when you're ready to wrap up your story: the tone you're leaving on and how you can make your writing fit with your narrative's common thread.
You should never want to leave your reader on a low note, even if you wrote about something that isn’t necessarily happy. You should strive to end your personal statement with a tone that’s hopeful, happy, confident, or some other positive feeling.
Your last sentences should also give the impression of finality; your reader should understand that you’re wrapping up and not be left wondering where the rest of your statement is.
So, what's the common thread? This just means that your narrative sticks to the overarching theme or event you portrayed at the beginning of your writing. Bringing your writing full circle makes a more satisfying conclusion.
Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion Examples
Evaluating law school personal statement conclusions can help you see what direction authors decided to take with their writing. Let’s circle back to the sample personal statement openings for law school and examine their respective conclusions. The first example explains the applicant’s motivation to attend Harvard Law.
Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #1
“…Attorneys and legal scholars have paved the way for some of the greatest civil rights victories for women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and (people living with disabilities). At Harvard Law School, I will prepare to join their ranks by studying with the nation's leading legal scholars. For the past months, I have followed Harvard Law School student responses to the events in Ferguson and New York City. I am eager to join a law school community that shares my passion for using the law to achieve real progress for victims of discrimination. With an extensive history of advocacy for society's most marginalized groups, I believe Harvard Law School will thoroughly train me to support and empower communities in need.
Our act of civil disobedience that December day ended when the Tower’s bells rang out in two bars, hearkening half-past noon. As we stood up and gathered our belongings, we broke our silence to remind everyone of a most basic truth: Black lives matter.”
What Makes This Conclusion Effective
Although Harvard Law School states there's no need to explain why you want to apply, this law school statement is from an HLS graduate, and we can assume this was written before the advice changed.
In his conclusion, he relates and aligns his values with Harvard Law School and how joining the community will help him fulfill his mission to empower communities in need. The last paragraph circles back to the anecdote described in his introduction, neatly wrapping up the event and signaling a natural end to his story.
This author used these strategies: the motivation to attend a specific law school, stating his mission, and subtly reiterating what his acceptance would bring to the school. The next example conclusion worked at UChicago Law:
Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #2
“Songs can be rewritten and reinterpreted as situation permits, but missteps are obvious because the fundamental laws of music and harmony do not change.
Although my formal music education ended when I entered college, the lessons I have learned over the years have remained close and relevant to my life. I have acquired a lifestyle of discipline and internalized the drive for self-improvement. I have gained an appreciation for the complexities and the subtleties of interpretation. I understand the importance of having both a sound foundation and a dedication to constant study. I understand that to possess a passion and personal interest in something, to think for myself is just as important.”
What Made This Conclusion Effective
This law school personal statement was successful at UChicago Law. Although the writing has seemingly nothing to do with law or the author's capability to become a great lawyer, the author has effectively used the "show, don't tell" advice.
The last paragraph implements the focus on qualities or skills strategy. Although related to music, the qualities they describe that a formal music education taught her mesh with the qualities of a successful lawyer:
- A drive for self-improvement
- The ability to interpret information
- The ability to learn consistently
- The ability to think for herself
Overall, this essay does an excellent job of uncovering her personality and relating to the opening paragraph, where she describes how she fell in love with music.
2 Law School Personal Statement Examples From Admitted Students
These are two law school personal statement examples that worked. We'll review the excerpts below and describe what made them effective and if there's room for improvement.
Law School Personal Statement Example #1
This is an excerpt of a law personal statement that worked at UChicago Law :
“The turning point of my college football career came early in my third year. At the end of the second practice of the season, in ninety-five-degree heat, our head coach decided to condition the entire team. Sharp, excruciating pain shot down my legs as he summoned us repeatedly to the line to run wind sprints. I collapsed as I turned the corner on the final sprint. Muscle spasms spread throughout my body, and I briefly passed out. Severely dehydrated, I was rushed to the hospital and quickly given more than three liters of fluids intravenously. As I rested in a hospital recovery room, I realized my collapse on the field symbolized broader frustrations I felt playing college football.
I was mentally and physically defeated. In South Dakota, I was a dominant football player in high school, but at the Division I level, my talent was less conspicuous. In my first three years, I was convinced that obsessively training my body to run faster and be stronger would earn me a starting position. The conditioning drill that afternoon revealed the futility of my approach. I had thrust my energies into becoming a player I could never be. As a result, I lost confidence in my identity.
I considered other aspects of my life where my intellect, work ethic, and determination had produced positive results. I chose to study economics and English because processing abstract concepts and ideas in diverse disciplines were intuitively rewarding…Gathering data, reviewing previous literature, and ultimately offering my own contribution to economic knowledge was exhilarating. Indeed, undergraduate research affirmed my desire to attend law school, where I could more thoroughly satisfy my intellectual curiosity…My efforts generated high marks and praise from professors, but this success made my disappointment with football more pronounced.
The challenge of collegiate athletics felt insurmountable. However, I reminded myself that at the Division I level, I was able to compete with and against some of the best players in the country…After the hospital visit, my football position coach—sensing my mounting frustrations—offered some advice. Instead of devoting my energies almost exclusively to physical preparation, he said, I should approach college football with the same mental focus I brought to my academic studies. I began to devour scouting reports and to analyze the complex reasoning behind defensive philosophies and schemes. I studied film and discovered ways to anticipate plays from the offense and become a more effective player. Armed with renewed confidence, I finally earned a starting position in the beginning of my fourth year…
I had received the highest grade on the team. After three years of A’s in the classroom, I finally earned my first ‘A’ in football. I used mental preparation to maintain my competitive edge for the rest of the season. Through a combination of film study and will power, I led my team and conference in tackles…The most rewarding part of the season, though, was what I learned about myself in the process. When I finally stopped struggling to become the player I thought I needed to be, I developed self-awareness and confidence in the person I was.
The image of me writhing in pain on the practice field sometimes slips back into my thoughts as I decide where to apply to law school. College football taught me to recognize my weaknesses and look for ways to overcome them. I will enter law school a much stronger person and student because of my experiences on the football field and in the classroom. My decision where to attend law school mirrors my decision where to play college football. I want to study law at the University of Chicago Law School because it provides the best combination of professors, students, and resources in the country. In Division I college football, I succeeded when I took advantage of my opportunities. I hope the University of Chicago will give me an opportunity to succeed again.”
Why This Personal Statement Example Worked
The beginning of this personal statement includes vivid imagery and sets up a relevant anecdote for the reader; the writer’s injury while playing football. At the end of the introduction, he sets up a fantastic transition about his broader frustrations, compelling us to keep reading.
The essay's body shows the writer's vulnerability, making it even more personal; it can be challenging to talk about feelings, like losing your confidence, but it can help us relate to him.
The author sets up a transition to writing more about his academic ability, his eventual leadership role on the team, and developing the necessary qualities of a well-rounded lawyer: self-awareness and confidence.
Finally, the author rounds out his statement by circling back to his opening anecdote and showing the progress he’s made from there. He also describes why UChicago Law is the right school for him. To summarize, the author expertly handled:
- Opening with a descriptive anecdote that doesn’t leave the reader hanging for too long
- Being vulnerable in such a way that no one else could have written this statement
- Doing more than recounting an event but reflecting on it
- Although he introduced his coach's advice, he kept himself the focal point of the story
- He picked a focused event; the writer didn’t try to tackle too much content
- His conclusion references his introduction, signalling the natural end of the story
- The ending also reaffirms his passion for pursuing law, particularly at UChicago Law
Law School Personal Statement Example #2
This law school personal statement excerpt led to acceptance at Boston University Law.
“She sat opposite me at my desk to fill out a few forms. Fumbling her hands and laughing uncomfortably, it was obvious that she was nervous. Sandra was eighteen, and her knowledge of English was limited to “yes” and “hello.” While translating the initial meeting between Sandra and her attorney, I learned of her reasons for leaving El Salvador. She had been in an abusive relationship, and though she wasn’t ready to go into detail just yet, it was clear from the conversation that her boyfriend had terrorized her and that the El Salvadoran police were of no help…Eventually, Sandra was given a credible fear interview. The interviewer believed that she had a real fear of returning to El Salvador, and Sandra was released from detention with an Immigration Court hearing notice in her hand. She had just retained our office to present her asylum case to the Immigration Judge.
I tried to imagine myself in Sandra’s shoes. She hadn’t finished high school, was in a completely new environment, and had almost no understanding of how things worked in the US. Even the harsh New England winter must have seemed unnatural to her. Having lived abroad for a couple of years, I could relate on some level; however, the circumstances of my stay overseas were completely different. I went to Spain after graduating from college to work in an elementary school, improve my Spanish skills, and see a bit of the world…I had to ask hundreds of questions and usually make a few attempts before actually accomplishing my goal. Frustrating though it was, I didn’t have so much riding on each of these endeavors. If I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork to open a bank account one day, I could just try again the next day. Sandra won’t be afforded the same flexibility in her immigration process, where so much depends on the ability to abide by inflexible deadlines and procedures. Without someone to guide her through the process, ensuring that all requirements are met, and presenting her case as persuasively as possible, Sandra will have little chance of achieving legal status in the United States…
Before starting at my current position at Joyce & Associates, an immigration law firm in Boston, I had long considered a career in law. Growing up, I was engaged by family and school debates about public policy and government. In college, I found my constitutional law courses challenging and exciting. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I began working with clients like Sandra that I became convinced that a career in law is the right choice for me. Playing my part as a legal assistant in various immigration cases, I have been able to witness how a career in immigration advocacy is both intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. I have seen the importance of well-articulated arguments and even creativity in arguing a client’s eligibility for an immigration benefit. I have learned that I excel in critical thinking and in examining detail, as I continually consider the consistency and possible implications of any documents that clients provide in support of their application. But most importantly, I have realized how deserving many of these immigrants are. Many of the clients I work with are among the most hardworking and patriotic people I have encountered…
I am equally confident that I would thrive as a student at Boston University, where I would be sure to take full advantage of the many opportunities available. The school’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Detention Clinic would offer me invaluable experiences in various immigration settings…Given my experiences in an immigration firm, I know that I would have much to offer while participating in these programs, but even more to learn. And while I find BU’s immigration programs to be especially appealing, I am equally drawn to the Boston University experience as a whole…I hope to have the opportunity to face those challenges and to contribute my own experiences and drive to the Boston University community.”
This statement makes excellent use of opening with an experience that sets the writer's motivation to attend law school in motion. We're introduced to another person in the story in the introduction, before the author swivels and transitions to how she'd imagine herself in Sandra's shoes.
This transition shows empathy, and although the author could relate to her client's struggles on a more superficial level, she understood the gravity of her situation and the hardships that awaited her.
The author backpedals to show how she's cultivated an interest in law in college and explored this interest to know it's the right choice for her. The conclusion does an excellent job of referencing exactly how BU Law will help her achieve her mission. To recap, this personal statement was effective because:
- She started her personal statement with a story
- Although the writer focuses on an event with another person, she moves the focus back to her
- The author’s statement shows qualities like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking without explicitly stating it
- She connects her experiences to her motivation to attend law school
- This statement has movement: it references the author’s past, present, and future
- She ends her statement by explaining in detail why BU Law is the right school for her
Although this personal statement worked, circling back to the opening anecdote in the conclusion, even with a brief sentence, would have made the conclusion more impactful and fortified the common thread of her narrative.
How to Write Personal Statement For Law School: FAQs
Do you still have questions about how to write a personal statement for law school? Read on to learn more.
1. What Makes a Good Personal Statement for Law School?
Generally, an excellent personal statement tells a relevant story, showcases your best qualities, is personal, and creatively answers the prompt. Depending on the prompt, a good personal statement may describe your motivation to attend law school or why a school, in particular, is perfect for you.
2. Should I Write a Separate Personal Statement for Each School?
Depending on the prompts, you may be able to submit the same or similar law school personal statements to different schools. However, you’ll likely need more than one version of your statement to apply to different schools. Generally, students will write a few versions of their statements to meet personal statement instructions.
3. How Long Should My Law School Personal Statement Be?
Law school personal statement length requirements vary by school, but you can generally expect to write approximately two pages, double-spaced.
4. What Should You Not Put In a Law School Personal Statement?
Your law school personal statement shouldn’t include famous quotes, overly sophisticated language, statements that may offend others, and unhelpful or inappropriate information about yourself.
5. What Do I Write My Law School Personal Statement About?
The answer depends on the prompt you need to answer. Consider your experiences and decide which are impactful, uncover your personality, show your motivation to attend law school, or show your impressive character traits.
6. Does the Personal Statement Really Matter for Law School?
Top LSAT scores and high GPAs may not be enough, especially at the T-14 law schools. Due to the high level of competition, you should take advantage of your personal statement to show why you’re an excellent candidate. So yes, they do matter.
Writing A Law School Personal Statement is Easy With Juris
Writing a personal statement can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Juris Education is committed to helping you learn how to write a law school personal statement with ease. We help future law school students develop their narratives, evaluate writing to ensure it’s in line with what law schools expect, and edit statements to perfection.
A stellar law school personal statement helps you stand out and can help you take that last step to attending the law school of your dreams.
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Top 100 Law Schools | Average LSAT Scores & GPA
 4 Law School Personal Statement Examples from Top Programs
by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad
In personal statement samples by field.
In this article, I will discuss 4 law school personal statement samples. These statements have been written by successful applicants who gained admission to prestigious US Law schools like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. The purpose of these examples is to demonstrate how prospective applicants like yourself can artfully integrate their passion, skills, and pertinent experiences into a captivating narrative.
* To further guide you on your law school application journey, I will not only present these personal statement samples but will also provide my expert review after each one. This includes an analytical feedback, a graded evaluation, and a detailed discussion of any identified weaknesses and strengths within the personal statement. Through this comprehensive analysis, I aim to provide a clearer understanding of what makes a compelling law school personal statement.
In the process of composing these personal statements, the applicants have drawn upon valuable insights from several of my previous writings on the subject. Furthermore, you are encouraged to utilize my prior works as a resource to aid you in crafting your own personal statement.
In those posts I’ve discussed the art of constructing a captivating personal statement , and I’ve highlighted the pitfalls to avoid to ensure your law school essay leaves a positive impression.
I’ve also shared valuable tips on structuring your personal statement for clarity and readability, not to mention how to create a powerful opening that grabs attention from the start. And let’s not forget about maintaining brevity while effectively telling your story, as well as offering a vast range of personal statement examples from different fields for reference.
And yes, do not forget to explore my 8-point framework that anyone can use to self-evaluate their law school personal statement. Complementing this, I’ve also created a 7-point guide to help you steer clear of potential traps and missteps in your personal statement.
I encourage you to explore these topics in depth, as they will be useful while we explore the sample personal statement for law schools.
In this Article
1) Research the Law School
2) outline your law school personal statement, 3) write a compelling introduction, 4) showcase your achievements and interests in law, 5) articulate your motivations for pursuing law, 6) highlight unique qualities for the legal field, 7) addressing potential weaknesses or gaps, 8) craft a persuasive conclusion, my in-depth feedback on sample 1, my in-depth feedback on sample 2, my in-depth feedback on sample 3, my in-depth feedback on sample 4, why do law schools require a personal statement, does every law school require a personal statement, what should you avoid in a law school personal statement, can i use the same personal statement for all law schools, should i put my name on my law school personal statement, should you brainstorm your law school personal statement, how to write a personal statement for law school.
Writing a personal statement for law school requires thorough research, a well-structured outline, and a captivating introduction. The following steps will guide you in crafting a coherent and compelling narrative that effectively showcases your journey and aspirations in the field of law. For a more detailed post, follow this ultimate guide on how to write a personal statement .
Begin by immersing yourself in extensive research about the law school you are applying to. Explore the institution’s website, paying close attention to its mission, curriculum, faculty expertise, and any unique offerings such as clinical programs or specialized courses. Familiarize yourself with the admission requirements and tailor your personal statement to highlight relevant qualifications.
Immerse yourself in the law school’s culture and gain insights from faculty members, current students, or alumni. Attend informational sessions or open houses to gather additional details. Reflect on how the law school aligns with your career goals in the legal field and incorporate this understanding into your personal statement, showcasing your dedication and suitability.
Before delving into writing your personal statement, create a comprehensive outline of its content. Begin with a captivating introduction , which could include a compelling anecdote, an impactful quote, or a statement that highlights your passion for the law.
For example: “Ever since I witnessed the transformative power of the law in securing justice for the vulnerable, I have been driven to pursue a legal career that upholds the principles of equity and fairness.”
Next, outline your academic achievements and relevant experiences, such as internships, research projects, or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment to the field of law. Emphasize the skills you have developed and the honors you have received.
Articulate your motivations for pursuing a legal education, sharing your aspirations and long-term goals. Highlight unique strengths, such as critical thinking, analytical abilities, or effective communication skills. If necessary, address any potential concerns or gaps in your application, explaining the situation and showcasing your ability to overcome challenges.
Conclude by reiterating your passion and qualifications for the legal profession and express your enthusiasm for joining the law school. This structured approach will ensure a coherent and persuasive personal statement.
Begin your personal statement with a captivating introduction that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Consider starting with an engaging anecdote, a thought-provoking quote, or a personal experience that sparked your interest in the law.
For instance: “In a world where justice often hangs in the balance, I recall the moment I witnessed a courtroom’s transformative power. The eloquence of the attorneys, the weight of their arguments, and the profound impact on the lives of those involved compelled me to pursue a legal career.”
Briefly introduce the central theme of your personal statement, whether it’s your passion for advocating for others, your commitment to upholding justice, or your desire to make a positive impact through the law. A compelling introduction sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
In your personal statement, focus on highlighting your academic and professional accomplishments that showcase your preparedness for law school. Discuss relevant internships, research projects, or academic achievements that demonstrate your commitment to the field.
For example: “During my internship at XYZ Law Firm, I had the privilege of working alongside experienced attorneys, analyzing complex legal cases and conducting in-depth legal research. This experience solidified my passion for legal advocacy and honed my ability to navigate intricate legal frameworks.”
Illustrate key achievements, such as publications, successful legal cases, or leadership roles within legal organizations. Explain how these experiences have shaped your interest in law and contributed to your growth and expertise in the field.
Clearly articulate your motivations for pursuing a legal education. Share personal experiences, challenges, or encounters that have fueled your desire to make a difference through the law.
For example: “Growing up in a community where access to justice was limited, I witnessed firsthand the disparities in legal representation. These experiences instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility to advocate for those who have been marginalized by the legal system.”
Outline your career goals and aspirations, illustrating how obtaining a legal education aligns with your vision. Discuss how the law school’s program, faculty, and resources will contribute to your growth and help you achieve your professional objectives.
Highlight personal qualities and attributes that make you well-suited for a legal career. Emphasize traits such as critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, research skills, or effective communication.
For instance: “My ability to analyze complex legal issues, combined with my unwavering commitment to pursuing justice, has enabled me to approach legal challenges with both empathy and determination.
Provide concrete examples that demonstrate how these qualities have positively impacted your academic or professional experiences. Showcase how these qualities align with the values and expectations of the law school, presenting a strong case for your fit within the legal community.
Address any weaknesses or gaps in your application candidly. If you encountered obstacles or faced academic challenges, briefly mention them, focusing on what you have learned and how you have grown as a result.
Demonstrate resilience and determination by highlighting subsequent achievements or steps you have taken to overcome difficulties. Showcase how these experiences have strengthened your commitment and prepared you for the rigors of law school.
Your conclusion should effectively summarize the key points of your personal statement. Recap your passion for the law, the skills you have acquired, and your future ambitions within the legal field.
For example: “Driven by an unwavering commitment to justice and armed with a solid foundation in legal research and advocacy, I am ready to embark on this transformative journey in law school.”
Express your enthusiasm for contributing to the legal profession, emphasizing how your unique perspective and experiences will enrich the law school community. Conclude with a confident and concise statement that demonstrates your readiness to excel in their program and make a meaningful impact in the field of law.
Sample 1: NYU, UCLA, and Duke
Variations of this personal statement got accepted at nyu, ucla, and duke..
One day, I decided to quit home, leave my parents behind and move to a small rural town called Leiah after being inconsiderately and incessantly forced to marry a cousin. It was a bold step, but I did not want to be like other women in my country who do not fight for their rights. While living in solicitude in Leiah, I stumbled upon a poor old man sitting beside a piece of furniture that would define his existence. Lying limply on a street corner, the old man had only one helping hand – the crippled furniture.
Coming from a privileged background, I saw for the first time the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Nothing, however, seemed more unlikely when I first arrived. Constrained by their poverty, these rural people took what jobs they could find, working for long hours in the field and finally retrieving their broken houses and furniture for respite. They were outrageously overworked and underpaid but never brought any bitterness home. At that time, I realized how blessed I was, and they were not.
Inspired by these experiences, I decided to use my education and connections to bring change to the lives of these people of Leiah. By collaborating with an NGO for money and resources, I started giving out basic amenities and finances to set up cheap livable houses for these people. I didn’t stop there – I joined a maternity home in Leiah as a public liaison officer and helped the clinic with legal and administrative issues. By understanding the numerous Federal and State laws regarding Health Care, I better equipped myself at work. After tireless efforts, I handled several cases of women and children who suffered abuse, violence, and neglect.
I wanted to discuss these experiences because I believe that, as an ever-present factor during many of these four formative years, these incidents played a significant role in shaping the adult I have become. Ten years ago, I would never have foreseen that I could become a powerful vehicle for others’ growth by living in a village. The experience has helped me develop a heightened sensitivity for those who have struggled to fit into our society. As a result, I decided to move back to the city after several years and pursue further education in law and political science. During these academic years, I was actively involved with various community service projects and as an investigator in law firms, allowing me to interact with troubled and disadvantaged youth and the mentally disabled.
I have long been interested in law as an academic discipline, and working in rural areas has confirmed that my academic interests would extend to the real-world application of legal principles. To this end, I purposefully chose jobs that provided very distinct perspectives on law practice. As a legal assistant, I became acquainted with both the advantages and disadvantages of private practice. As a member of the human rights commission, I investigated how non-profits worked at a larger scale to improve the lives of the underprivileged. Moreover, helping in DIL (development in literacy) has offered me a glimpse of how the law may be used constructively in the public sector. I am currently working as a member of the Michigan chapter on fundraising that will take place next year in LA. All these positions have equally impressed upon me the unique potential of the law to make a direct, positive impact on people’s lives.
Working as a legal consultant, I was initially turned off by the formal language, which permeated all writing and discourse (“Aforementioned • legalese had heretofore proven incomprehensible”). As one unfamiliar with the jargon, I found the law to be pretentious and distant. Gradually, however, I began to sort out the shades of difference between a “motion in limine” and a “56(f) motion.” Finally, I understood the law as a vast set of rules which could, with intelligence and creativity, genuinely be used on behalf of values such as fairness and justice.
In addition to my primary assignment on an antitrust case, some exposure to pro bono work further convinced me that law has a vital role in our society. I am also avidly involved in extra-curricular activities. For example, I went to India to attend my father’s book launch (a writer) organized by Ghalib Council, Delhi. By collaborating and bonding with the people of India, I could impart brotherhood and literacy since I found Indian people more educated than us. My society needs education and health, and I want to work in these areas when I return.
As with my experience at a law firm, I soon realized the practical application of the laws written here. Unlike most of the public, who see only the final version of a bill, being part of the health legislative process has forced me to examine all sides of any given issue. Although politics can make this process agonizingly slow and inefficient, my work here has given me a greater appreciation for how laws affect our constituents back home.
Given my skills, I am convinced that health law presents the single greatest chance for me to make a difference, both in the lives of individuals and in terms of influencing the broader fabric of society. Moreover, I am confident that my insistence on looking beyond those first impressions has provided me with an exciting opportunity to apply and study at UCLA Law.
The woman in my society is an artisan and a tradesperson. She’s an economist and a doctor. She is also a fisherwoman and a craftsperson. She’s a mentor, nurturer, parliamentarian, and cultivator. She’s brimming with life and capability, but she waits for what justly belongs to her: the right to a superior life.
Here is a brief review and rating of this personal statement based on different aspects:
- Hook and Introduction (4.5/5): Your introduction is powerful and immediately hooks the reader. It shows strength, courage, and determination.
- Background and Motivation (4.5/5): You’ve done a great job of illustrating your background and motivation, which stem from your experiences in Leiah. You could add more about how these experiences triggered your interest in law.
- Relevance and Competency (4/5): You have demonstrated a clear path from your experiences to your interest in law, but a more explicit discussion about the legal skills you have developed and how you applied them would make this section stronger.
- Passion and Personal Drive (5/5): Your passion for law, social justice, and helping others is palpable and will make a strong impression on the admission committee.
- Program Fit and Future Goals (3/5): Your statement is currently lacking in specific references to the law school you’re applying to, making it difficult to assess fit. Discussing how the program aligns with your career goals and what aspects of the program particularly attract you would strengthen your application.
- Conclusion (4/5): Your conclusion is effective in tying together your experiences and your desire to study law. However, a clearer expression of your readiness for law school and how you plan to contribute to the law school community would enhance this section.
Now, let’s delve deeper into each part of your statement:
- Introduction: Your introduction is powerful and impactful. The raw honesty about your decision to leave home and confront societal norms hooks the reader immediately. It tells us you are strong, independent, and willing to make hard choices. One suggestion would be to more directly link this bold decision to your interest in law—did it spark a desire for justice, or a passion for advocating for others who are oppressed?
- Background and Challenges: You effectively depict the stark contrast between your privileged upbringing and the poverty-stricken lives of the people in Leiah. Your empathy is palpable, and it showcases your character and capacity for understanding others’ situations. To provide more context, you could elaborate on the societal and cultural norms that were challenged by your experiences in Leiah and how these experiences shaped your view of law and justice.
- Transferable Skills: You talk about your role as a public liaison officer and how it familiarized you with Federal and State healthcare laws. This shows you’ve already been using legal skills in a practical environment, a strong point in your favor. Perhaps expand on the specific skills or competencies you gained during this period, such as negotiation, critical thinking, or public speaking, and how they will be beneficial in a law school environment.
- Passion and Goals: Your experiences, such as working with NGOs and maternity homes, indicate a strong passion for social justice. The goal of using law to improve the lives of the underprivileged is noble and will resonate with law schools. It might be beneficial to discuss specific areas of law you are interested in (e.g., human rights, public interest law) and how you see yourself contributing in these areas in the future.
- Relevant Experiences: Your varied experiences, from community service to law firm investigation work, provide you with a wealth of practical experiences, all very relevant to your law school journey. Perhaps you could add more detail about how these experiences solidified your desire to study law and how they shaped your perspective on legal practice.
- Specific Interest in the School: The personal statement does not mention a specific law school or its program. Including a paragraph detailing why you are interested in the specific school you are applying to, and how its program aligns with your career goals, could strengthen your application. Discuss the school’s specific courses, faculty, or values that attract you.
- Conclusion: While your conclusion effectively ties together your experiences and future law goals, it could be more direct in expressing your readiness to face the challenges of law school and contribute to the school community.
Your personal statement is already compelling, but adding more context to your experiences and making clear links between your past, present, and future in the context of law could further enhance it. Remember, specificity is key—whether it’s about the skills you’ve gained, the experiences that shaped your interest in law, or the specific school you’re applying to.
Sample 2: Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and UC Berkeley
Variations of this personal statement got accepted at northwestern, vanderbilt, and uc berkeley..
Unlike many, my passion for acquiring a law degree is neither a childhood fantasy of fighting a case in a courtroom nor a preconceived notion of myself as a lawyer. Instead, I recognize that a law degree would enable me to advance my career as a taxation lawyer.
I had to skip schooling during 4th and 5th grade and instead studied at home. This was due to the financial difficulties stemming from my mother’s cancer treatment, which put a significant financial burden on us. Additionally, as a female from an agricultural and rural family, I faced family pressure to attend a public school instead of a private one. But I did not succumb to these pressures. Instead, I persevered in studying and investing in getting myself private education through partial financial support from my older brother and by working part-time as a writer and content curator. Six months before my high-school graduation, my mother succumbed to her illness and passed away. She spent the last eight years of her life bedridden. The loss was immeasurable, but life had to move on.
I first set my sights on becoming a lawyer when I interned at a law firm during the summer break following my high school graduation. Throughout this internship, I annoyed my supervisors by writing long-winded legal documents even when they asked for a few sentences – this was because of the writing habits I had developed as a content writer. With time, I started to write better legal reports, but my attention was increasingly turned toward tax law. With the guidance and counseling of my supervisors, I applied to an undergrad law program. I spent the next several years understanding the Federal Reserve’s proposed Income Tax Ordinance, including exemptions from income tax and withholding tax.
Throughout this time, I continued to work part-time with various firms, hospitals, and non-profits as a volunteer, legal advisor, and editor. Upon graduation, I applied for the position of legal advisor at the Monthly Atlantic. My current job entails researching and reporting for the newspaper on appropriations bills and export legislation. I also write daily summaries of major contracts awarded by the Federal Government. I am also primarily responsible for supporting discrete legal issues by advising the organization, drafting undertakings, and structuring remedies for the relevant issues.
I am excited but also apprehensive as I try to explain legal jargon to an informed general audience, some of whom may know more about these policies than I do. For example, recently, I had a significant challenge in understanding and decoding the budget proposals of the Federal Reserve, by section 42 of the MOPA Act, 1956 (the Act), in which the entire income of the Federal Reserve and its subsidiaries is remitted to the federal government. After thoroughly going through the provisions, I learned there are still some provisions in the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, Sales Tax Act 1990, and Federal Excise Act 2005, attracting the application of taxes and duties.
Too often, I need more legal knowledge to fully grasp bills that control how companies do business overseas, the limits to which government agencies can go to collect covert intelligence, or the amount of funding an agency can receive in a given time. On the one hand, these limitations have yet to do much to impair me in my current position. I am called to turn out several short stories daily on various topics without going into significant detail. However, I would like to advance to more complex and challenging assignments one day. I fear I will be able to do so if I acquire more expertise than I can within the confines of my deadline-driven job. It is a belief shared by several of my colleagues and many of the senior legal consultants at the newspaper that those who hold advanced degrees in law, business, and related disciplines are at an edge. A law degree would put me in a better position to join their ranks, mainly if I could attend school while continuing to work as a legal advisor in taxation-related instances.
Given my circumstances and interests, a graduate degree in taxation law from UC Berkeley is my ideal choice. In addition, I have an acquaintance that is currently enrolled at Berkeley Law school. His generous feedback has convinced me that this program would also fit my needs considering its flexible schedule and emphasis on tax law.
- Hook and Introduction (5/5): The hook and introduction effectively capture the reader’s attention and provide a clear understanding of your unique motivation for pursuing a law degree. The personal anecdote about your internship and your writing habits adds interest to the narrative and sets the stage for the rest of the personal statement.
- Background and Motivation (4.5/5): The background section effectively outlines the challenges you faced during your education and personal life, showcasing your resilience and determination. It helps the reader understand the context in which your passion for law developed. The motivation behind your interest in taxation law is well-explained, highlighting how your experiences and skills have guided you towards this specific field.
- Relevance and Competency (4/5): You effectively demonstrate your competence by discussing your experiences as a legal advisor, writer, and content curator. The mention of your work with firms, hospitals, and non-profits further strengthens your case. However, it would be beneficial to provide more specific examples or achievements that highlight your skills and expertise in taxation law.
- Passion and Personal Drive (4.5/5): Your passion for taxation law shines through in your personal statement. The enthusiasm you express for writing legal reports and your desire to tackle more complex assignments demonstrate your genuine interest in the field. The mention of your colleagues and senior legal consultants’ belief in the value of advanced degrees in law further emphasizes your commitment to continuous learning and professional growth.
- Program Fit and Future Goals (3/5): While you express your interest in pursuing a graduate degree in taxation law from UC Berkeley, the personal statement lacks specific details about why this program is a perfect fit for your goals. Providing more information about the program’s strengths and how they align with your aspirations would strengthen this section.
- Conclusion (4/5): The conclusion effectively wraps up your personal statement and reinforces your commitment to pursuing a law degree. It restates your interest in UC Berkeley and highlights the feedback you received from an acquaintance at the institution. However, it could be enhanced by briefly summarizing your key strengths and accomplishments and how they will contribute to your success in the program.
- Introduction: The introduction of the personal statement effectively hooks the reader by highlighting your unique motivation for pursuing a law degree with a focus on taxation law. The mention of it not being a childhood fantasy and instead recognizing the degree as a means to advance your career sets the tone for the rest of the statement.
- Background and Challenges: The section detailing your background and the challenges you faced is compelling. The explanation of having to skip schooling due to financial difficulties resulting from your mother’s cancer treatment adds depth to your personal story. It showcases your resilience in overcoming obstacles and your determination to pursue education despite the circumstances. The mention of facing family pressure to attend a public school instead of a private one further emphasizes your determination and ability to make your own choices.
- Transferable Skills: While you mention working part-time as a writer and content curator, the transferable skills gained from this experience could be further elaborated upon. Explaining how your writing skills, attention to detail, and ability to analyze information have prepared you for the demands of the legal field would strengthen this section.
- Passion and Goals: Your passion for law and taxation law is effectively conveyed throughout the personal statement. The explanation of your interest developing during your internship at a law firm, where you consistently wrote legal documents, showcases your dedication and enthusiasm. The mention of your desire to tackle more complex assignments and the belief shared by colleagues and senior legal consultants that advanced degrees are advantageous demonstrate your long-term goals and commitment to professional growth.
- Relevant Experiences: The inclusion of your various volunteer and advisory roles, as well as your current position as a legal advisor at the Monthly Atlantic, highlights your practical experience in the field. However, providing more specific examples or accomplishments from these experiences would enhance this section and further illustrate your competence and expertise.
- Specific Interest in the School: While you express an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in taxation law from UC Berkeley, the personal statement lacks specific details about why this program is a perfect fit for your goals. Adding more information about the program’s strengths, faculty, or specific courses that align with your interests would strengthen this section.
- Conclusion: The conclusion effectively wraps up the personal statement by restating your commitment to pursuing a law degree and emphasizing your interest in UC Berkeley. However, it could be strengthened by summarizing your key strengths, experiences, and goals and how they align with the school’s offerings.
Overall, your personal statement effectively conveys your passion for taxation law, your determination to overcome challenges, and your commitment to professional growth. Strengthening the sections on transferable skills, providing more specific examples of relevant experiences, and including more specific details about the school’s fit would enhance the overall impact of the statement.
Sample 3: Georgetown
Variations of this personal statement got accepted at georgetown..
My desire to apply to law school is not rooted in a childhood fantasy of arguing a case before a packed courtroom. I have never seen myself as a trial attorney, ala Perry Mason or Nora Lewin on Law & Order. However, a legal education would enable me to advance my career as a writer and analyst specializing in national security and global trade issues.
I first set my sights on becoming a writer when I learned my letters. But, of course, mastering the ABCs may have been a long way from winning the Pulitzer. Nevertheless, this minor detail did not prevent me from completing three “novels” and my version of Genesis before the age of seven. Throughout elementary and junior high school, I annoyed my teachers by writing 10-page themes whenever they asked for a few sentences. Later, as a high school and college student, I continued writing, though my attention was increasingly turned toward other subjects. Ultimately, one of my professors directed me on a path that would combine my background in writing with government and policymaking. With her help, I secured an internship with a government contractor. As a result, I spent the spring and summer writing copy for websites that the company managed for the government while taking additional classes at university.
In February, I accepted a full-time job as a researcher at Washington Post, where I am now an assistant editor. My current job entails researching and reporting on defense appropriations bills and export legislation, as well as writing daily summaries of major contracts awarded by the Department of Defense and other defense ministries worldwide. With enthusiasm but some trepidation, I attempt to decode pages of legal jargon for an educated lay readership, many of whom I suspect know more than I about such policies. But, too often, I lack the legal knowledge to fully grasp bills that control how companies do business overseas, the limits to which government agencies can go to collect covert intelligence, or the amount of funding an agency can receive in a given length of time.
On the one hand, these limitations have yet to do much to impair me in my current position. I am called to turn out several short stories daily on various topics without going into significant detail. However, I would like to advance to more difficult reporting assignments one day. I fear I will be able to do so if I acquire more expertise than I can within the confines of my deadline-driven job. I also would like to It is a belief shared by several of my colleagues, as well as many of the senior writers and editors at my company who hold advanced degrees in law, business, and related disciplines. A law degree would put me in a better position to join their ranks, mainly if I could attend school while continuing to work as a journalist.
Given my circumstances and interests, Georgetown University Law Center, with its top-ranked intellectual property and international law programs, is my ideal choice. In addition, I have a colleague that is currently enrolled in the Georgetown evening law program. His generous feedback has convinced me that this program would also fit my needs considering its flexible schedule and emphasis on legal writing.
Your personal statement presents a compelling narrative that effectively communicates your passion for writing, your current profession, and your interest in furthering your education in law to augment your skills and understanding. Here are a few suggestions to improve it further:
- Specifics: While you mention you would like to join the ranks of your colleagues who hold advanced degrees in law and related disciplines, it would be beneficial to include specific examples of how having a law degree could have or will benefit you in your current role.
- Motivation: You’ve done a great job discussing your professional path and how you hope a legal education will benefit your career. Still, it would help if you were to discuss any personal reasons or experiences that have led you to want to study law. Personal narratives often make an applicant more relatable and can help the reader understand your motivation better.
- Intention: You may want to further discuss how you plan to apply your law degree to your current career or future aspirations.
- Completion: Towards the end, it seems there is a sentence that is not completed: “I also would like to It is a belief shared by several of my colleagues…”. You might want to revise this sentence to make your statement clearer.
- Why Georgetown: While you have discussed that Georgetown University Law Center is your top choice, consider elaborating on why Georgetown, in particular, is the perfect fit for your career goals, apart from its flexible schedule and the fact that your colleague is enrolled there. You could mention specific courses, professors, or the university’s ethos, for example.
Your personal statement is already quite strong, and these suggestions are only meant to fine-tune your narrative further.
Sample 4: Harvard Law
Variations of this llm personal statement got accepted at university of pennsylvania, oxford university, and harvard law school..
I grew up in a middle-class family in Malaysia, where discipline and responsible behavior were the only doctrines taught. At school, I maintained 100% attendance without exception – a feat that my parents and I take pride in. My parents’ utmost involvement throughout my growing years always made me outshine my peers. Though my school grades were average, I represented my school in many activities ranging from debates and dramatics to being a soccer team captain for the entire house.
I have always had complete freedom from my parents until I had to choose a career. A STEM career was my parents’ priority, but for the first time, I differed from my family and chose Social Sciences. I was told that career prospects were bleak and that I was making the wrong decision, but I persisted. While majoring in social sciences, I met a mentor, Dr. Anonymous, a top economist. He challenged me intellectually, which helped me become a better thinker.
Subsequently, I secured the second position in college. My life turned around as people started to value my opinions, and at that time, I discovered my passion, “to speak.” I was chosen as the Coordinator for a Student Leadership Program, where I was mainly responsible for teaching empathy to hundreds of students from elite schools.
At the same time, at age 17, I met the chief editor of the New York Times, who invited me to host the “Youth Forum,” a program to highlight young people’s perspectives on existing social issues. With 55 episodes spanning over 2.5 years, I questioned youth’s role in our turbulent political, social, and economic system. The show gained popularity and performed exceptionally on TRP scores, with viewership growing to over 500,000.
At college, I met another mentor, Justice Anonymous of the Federal Court of Malaysia, who allowed me to attend court sessions as an observer of cross-questioning sessions. In addition, I socialized with lawyers at many forums, including the Court’s Cafeteria, where all appreciated my love for the field. In my 5th semester, I took a course on U.K. Constitutional Law, where I learned about the history of the U.K. Constitution. In the session on “Parliamentary Sovereignty” and “Britain’s relationship with the European Union,” the professor gave me new energy to research further about the steps in forming its Constitution. The more I read, the more I appreciated the perseverance of the founding fathers and the strong foundation England and Wales is built on.
A few years back, I attended the Oxford University Experience-Summer Course for Teens, Summerfuel. The program helped me with experiential learning about what college life is like. During my stay, I had plenty of opportunities to experience English life outside the classroom. Here, in a session, I narrated the first paragraph of the declaration of independence and asked, “whether all men are equal?”. To this, the professor appreciated my enthusiasm for constitutional law.
On my return to Malaysia, I had new energy to question the existing constitutional norms of Malaysia and kept comparing the constitutions of both countries and analyzing the factors that led to present-day turbulence in Malaysia. It is evident through the literature and historical precedence that the Constitution of Malaysia has been used maliciously to favor the powermongers. This indicates the lack of sincerity and dedication of the leaders who have formed this country.
Sadly, very few competent constitutional lawyers exist in the country that also happened to have played in the hands of powerful politicians who manipulated the Constitution to favor their vested interests. Therefore, I decided to take a career in this area as I aspire to be one of the few upright constitutional lawyers. I want to be amongst those who have shaped law and politics in Malaysia. Not amongst those who played in the hands of the powerful.
I want to choose Oxford Law for several reasons. Its tradition for excellence, the unique constitutional law curriculum, the summer program, and the excellent opportunity to meet and network with individuals from different parts of the world. I believe that Oxford law school’s vibrant and diverse community actively affirms my personality of maintaining lifelong relations. These different connections serve as a general resource for the campus community and a source of empowerment for students like me. The diverse setting at Oxford will enable me to investigate and engage in current issues and more profound societal questions. As a result, I will be able to discover how I can positively impact the world around me.
I am looking for an environment that promotes lively debates to complement my active speaking and reasoning traits. I can access well-known professors and discuss legal issues with exceptional young lawyers from more than 35 countries. Oxford offers a culture of collegiality and collaboration, where international students feel comfortable. At Oxford, professors like Dr. Anonymous, who specialize in constitutional law, and courses such as Democracy, Judicial Law-Making, & Constitutional Law can help nurture my skills and move forward in my career.
Professor Dr. Anonymous, a former Lord Justice in Wales, will teach me the value of strategy in litigation. Next, professor Dr. Anonymous and Dr. Anonymous will introduce me to the fabulous world of copyright. Finally, professor Dr. Anonymous will show me the foundations of the England and Wales litigation system. My long-term goal is to teach and practice constitutional law and eventually join politics on the path to becoming a leading politician. I have been inspired by high-achieving lawyers in Malaysia, such as Justice Anonymous, who have shaped Malaysia’s media, politics, and legal practice. I aspire to be the next in line.
Oxford offers a vast clinical & pro bono program via externships ranging from civil practice clinic to Wales Human Relations Commission. These externships indicate that Oxford wants to help all, a notion uncommon in Malaysia. Oxford is a lab for innovation and opportunities, as seen from the example of hundreds of Alumni that Oxford Law has catered to. I firmly believe that Oxford will genuinely appreciate my leadership at every scale and will polish my raw qualities and channel them so that I can apply them in Malaysia. Actual change on the grass root comes through education, and Oxford Law School is the ideal medium to achieve the highest standards.
Overall, your personal statement is impressive and well-articulated, illustrating a journey of personal and academic growth that highlights your passion, determination, and ambition. You make a compelling case for why you are interested in studying law, and specifically constitutional law, at Oxford. The narrative is well structured, and your argument about the need for constitutional reform in Malaysia is compelling and novel. Your professional experiences and extracurricular activities are quite impressive, providing evidence of your initiative and leadership abilities.
However, there are a few areas where your personal statement could be improved.
- Language & Tone: There are some areas where the tone may come off as overly self-congratulatory, which could potentially turn off some admissions officers. For instance, you could soften the phrase “My parents’ utmost involvement throughout my growing years always made me outshine my peers.”
- Coherence: The transitions between paragraphs are sometimes abrupt. For example, the transition from your second to third paragraph, where you switch from discussing your choice of Social Sciences to your achievement of securing second position in college, lacks a clear connecting link.
- Specificity: You could provide more specifics to demonstrate the impact of your work. For example, instead of mentioning that you taught empathy to hundreds of students, it would be helpful to illustrate what this entailed and what results it achieved.
- Mention of Oxford: The reasons for choosing Oxford Law seem generic and could apply to any top law school. To make your statement more compelling, research more about what is specific to Oxford Law – perhaps a unique program or course, or a faculty member’s work you admire, and express why that appeals to you.
- Criticizing Home Country: The criticism of Malaysia and its leaders seems a bit harsh, which may not resonate well with some readers. While it’s important to be honest about the issues you see, try to express these thoughts in a more constructive manner, focusing more on potential solutions rather than just pointing out problems.
- Ending: The statement ends abruptly. It would be great if you could end on a strong note, summarising your aspirations, and how Oxford fits into that journey.
Here is how I would grade your personal statement:
Content: B+ (The content is strong, but it could benefit from more specific examples and better transitions)
Structure: B (The narrative is coherent but could benefit from smoother transitions and a stronger conclusion)
Language & Tone: B (The tone sometimes comes off as self-congratulatory, and the language could be more nuanced in places)
Alignment with Purpose: B+ (Your statement makes a compelling case for why you want to study law at Oxford, but reasons specific to Oxford could be made more clear)
Overall Grade: B+
Your personal statement has a lot of strengths, and with a few tweaks, it could be even stronger. I hope this feedback helps you in refining it further!
Law schools typically require a personal statement for several reasons:
- Understanding You Better: The personal statement provides insights into who you are beyond your academic credentials and achievements. It helps the admissions committee understand your values, personal growth, and unique experiences that might not be evident from your GPA or LSAT scores.
- Assessing Your Communication Skills: Law is a field that requires excellent written communication skills. A well-written personal statement allows the admissions committee to gauge your ability to articulate complex thoughts, express ideas clearly, and construct logical arguments.
- Determining Your Commitment: A thoughtful personal statement can demonstrate your dedication to pursuing a legal career. It’s a way for you to express why you want to study law and how you perceive your future in the field.
- Identifying Diverse Perspectives: Law schools aim to create a diverse and dynamic learning environment. Your personal statement allows you to highlight unique experiences or perspectives that you can bring to the school, thereby contributing to this diversity.
- Evaluating Your Potential Fit: The personal statement gives the law school an opportunity to determine whether you’ll be a good fit for their institution. This isn’t just about you meeting their requirements, but also about whether the school can meet your academic and career aspirations.
- Demonstrating Resilience: Personal statements often include narratives that reveal challenges and obstacles you’ve overcome. These stories can demonstrate your resilience and problem-solving skills, traits that are highly valued in the legal profession.
In summary, a personal statement is a tool that allows law schools to evaluate you holistically. It goes beyond objective measurements of academic potential and provides a more comprehensive view of you as an individual.
Almost all law schools in the United States require a personal statement as part of the application process. The personal statement serves as a critical component of your law school application, allowing admissions committees to understand your motivations, experiences, and skills beyond what is reflected in your academic records and LSAT scores.
However, the specific requirements for law school applications can vary from one institution to another. Some schools may have specific prompts or topics they want you to address in your personal statement, while others may offer more freedom in choosing what to discuss. Certain schools might even ask for additional essays or statements to supplement your application.
If you are applying to law schools outside of the U.S., it’s always a good idea to check the specific admissions guidelines for each law school you’re interested in. Remember that meeting all of the application requirements can demonstrate your commitment and attention to detail, which are valuable traits in the legal field.
What is a Good Length for a Law School Personal Statement?
The length of a personal statement for law school can vary depending on the specific instructions provided by each law school.
A common guideline is typically around two to three double-spaced pages, or approximately 500-750 words.
This length is usually sufficient to provide a detailed narrative without overwhelming the reader with too much information. Remember, admissions committees review many applications, so they appreciate concise and compelling personal statements.
It’s very important to adhere to the instructions provided by each law school you apply to. If a specific word or page count is given, make sure you comply with that limit. Failure to do so could give the impression that you either cannot follow instructions or that you lack the ability to express yourself concisely, neither of which will help your application.
Above all, make sure that every word you write is meaningful and contributes to your overall narrative or argument. A well-crafted, succinct personal statement can often be more powerful than a longer one that lacks focus.
Writing a personal statement for law school can be a challenging task. It’s equally important to know what to avoid as it is to know what to include . Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:
- Vague and Cliché Statements: Avoid clichés and general statements that could apply to anyone. Be specific, personal, and honest in your writing. For example, instead of saying “I want to be a lawyer to fight for justice,” show through your experiences and reflections why and how you’re committed to justice.
- Repeating Your Resume: Your personal statement should not be a recitation of your resume or transcript. It’s an opportunity to share your personal journey, perspectives, and insights that aren’t reflected in other parts of your application.
- Being Overly Emotional or Dramatic: While it’s important to show passion, avoid being excessively emotional or dramatic. Aim to strike a balance between personal storytelling and professional tone.
- Off-topic Content: Stay focused on what the prompt is asking, and tie everything back to your interest in law school and your future career. Avoid irrelevant details or anecdotes.
- Poor Structure and Flow: A disjointed or confusing statement can be difficult to read and may give a negative impression. Plan your statement carefully to ensure it has a clear structure and logical flow.
- Typos and Grammar Errors: These can give the impression of carelessness. Proofread your statement carefully, and consider having others review it as well.
- Negativity or Excuses: If discussing challenges or setbacks, focus on what you learned and how you grew from the experience rather than blaming others or making excuses.
- Making Unsupported Claims: If you claim a particular trait, back it up with concrete examples. For example, instead of just stating that you’re empathetic, share an experience that demonstrates this quality.
- Controversial Topics: Be cautious when discussing potentially divisive subjects, as you don’t want to alienate the reader. If you do choose to address a controversial issue, be sure to do so respectfully and thoughtfully.
Remember, your personal statement is a chance to present an authentic and engaging narrative about your journey towards law school. It should showcase your unique qualities, motivations, and experiences, demonstrating why you would be an excellent addition to the law school’s incoming class.
While it’s possible to use the same base personal statement for all law schools, it is not generally recommended. This is because each law school may have different prompts or expectations for what they want to see in a personal statement. If you don’t tailor your statement to each school, you might miss an opportunity to show how well you align with that specific program or fail to answer the prompt properly.
Additionally, tailoring your personal statement to each school can demonstrate your genuine interest in that particular institution. For example, you might discuss how a specific program, course, or faculty member at that school aligns with your career goals or academic interests. Showing that you’ve done your research and understand what makes each law school unique can make your application more compelling.
That said, it’s also important to maintain consistency and honesty across your applications. You might have a central narrative or theme in your personal statement that remains the same across all versions, while adjusting specific details or sections to better fit each school.
Remember to carefully review the application guidelines for each law school you apply to, paying special attention to any specific prompts or instructions for the personal statement. It’s crucial to ensure that each statement you submit not only meets all requirements, but also clearly conveys why you are a strong fit for each particular law school.
In general, it’s good practice to include your name and sometimes your LSAC (Law School Admission Council) number on every page of your personal statement, usually in the header or footer. This ensures that if the pages get separated for any reason, the admissions committee can easily match them back up.
However, each law school might have specific guidelines regarding formatting and what information to include. Always follow the specific directions provided by the school to which you’re applying. If the application instructions don’t specify whether or not to include your name, it’s generally safe to include it to ensure your personal statement is easily identifiable.
Also, it’s always a good idea to include a title for your personal statement, even if it’s just “Personal Statement,” so it’s immediately clear what the document is. If you are sending more than one essay or document (like a diversity statement or addendum), this will ensure that each one is clearly identified.
Prior to initiating the writing process, it is vital to set aside some time to formulate your thoughts. Given that the prompts for law school personal statements are usually quite generic—such as, “Why are you interested in studying law?”—candidates often face uncertainty about the best way to approach their response.
You may find yourself overwhelmed with numerous ideas, or conversely, completely devoid of inspiration. To start off, let’s consider a practical approach you can adopt if you’re grappling with where to begin.
Take a writing pad and respond to the subsequent questions:
- Why do I want to go to law school? This question helps to clarify your motivation and passion for pursuing law as a career. It can be grounded in an event, an experience, or a specific interest you’ve cultivated over time .
- What experiences have prepared me for a career in law? These could be academic, work, or extracurricular experiences, where you’ve developed skills that are relevant to a legal career, such as critical thinking, negotiation, or public speaking.
- How have my past experiences influenced my world view? This can provide context about how you approach problems, deal with adversity, or interact with diverse groups, which are all relevant to a legal career.
- How does a law degree fit into my long-term career goals? Here, you’re demonstrating an understanding of how a law degree can contribute to your aspirations, showing a commitment to the field.
- Can I discuss a specific area of law I’m interested in? It’s a bonus if you’re able to tie your experiences and interests to a particular field of law. This shows a depth of understanding and dedication to the subject.
- Is there a unique perspective or diverse background that I can bring to the law school? Schools value diversity in their student body, as it contributes to the richness of classroom discussions and the overall community.
- Have I overcome any significant obstacles or challenges in my life that have shaped who I am? This might provide insight into your resilience, determination, and adaptability, which are valuable traits in a lawyer.
- How have I demonstrated leadership or initiative in the past? Law schools are looking for leaders and self-starters, so any evidence of this will be useful in your personal statement.
- Can I articulate the values and qualities that will make me a good lawyer? You might think about empathy, integrity, diligence, advocacy, or the desire to serve others and uphold justice.
- Why am I a good fit for the specific law school I’m applying to? Consider the school’s mission statement, values, programs, faculty, etc. This can show that you’ve done your research and are committed to attending that particular school.
Formulating a compelling law school personal statement requires thoughtful introspection and strategic planning. By answering these guiding questions, you can navigate the broad prompts and articulate your experiences, motivations, and unique attributes effectively.
Remember, the goal is not to present a list of accomplishments but to paint a vivid picture of your journey towards the legal profession. So, use these questions as your starting point, and craft a narrative that stands out in the sea of applicants and resonates with the admissions committee. The journey towards a career in law starts with this crucial step, and you have the power to shape it.
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Law school personal statements take time to edit and finesse. It’s essential to devote time and energy toward writing a compelling narrative that makes you stand out. You may feel at a loss with where to begin. How do you condense your entire academic and life journey into one simple story or theme? What is superfluous information and what is crucial?
Luckily, you don’t need to tell your life story in a personal statement . Instead, the best personal statements zoom in on a few major life events and themes that are relevant to law school. The way to make sure those events and themes stick with your reader is to weave together vignettes from your life, relatable stories that reveal who you are as a person and that show a trajectory to and through law school. Below you’ll find four excellent examples:
Example #1: A Clear Path to Law School
Undergrad: Woodbury University
Being a compassionate and sensitive soul, I have always been bothered by the injustices I witness around me. Even as a child, hearing news of violence or inequality made me uncomfortable. Although part of me wanted to turn away from what I saw, I made a point of studying injustice as an undergraduate at Woodbury University. As a member of the university’s Political Science Research Department, I interviewed teens and parents in the local community, and I soon lost count of how many cited gun violence as the most pressing issue in the community. I listened to their stories of terror and loss, and resolved to be a part of the solution.
It was during this phase of reflection that I met Robert Perry – a criminal defense attorney. I was assigned to assist him with a case in which our client got into an automobile accident with a police cruiser. Even though the officer was clearly at fault, our client had been speeding – driving recklessly, according to the prosecutor – and the officer was injured. So, our client was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, carrying up to three years in jail and a felony strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. I helped Mr. Perry investigate the crash, and with evidence of the officer’s fault in the accident, Mr. Perry was able to secure a plea deal for our client of 120 days, and no felony strike.
Through this experience as well as observing trials at the courthouse, I decided to pursue a career as a lawyer. I learnt how critical persuasiveness is to becoming a successful and competent lawyer, and I resolved to study the practical techniques and characteristics that great lawyers needs to possess in order to win cases. At Woodbury, I concentrated on taking courses that would prepare me for law school and was honored to be selected as a valuable part of Phi Delta Phi – the legal Honors Society.
But I knew that another part of being a successful lawyer is maintaining a strong work ethic. I was only 16 when I first started working and successfully managed a team of 16 employees. Currently, at 21 years of age, I am a medical spa manager. Though I belong to an affluent family, I chose to work at a young age and consider it the best decision of my life. The experience of working with diverse populations has made me adaptive, sympathetic, and a positive influence. My dedication to work serves another important purpose: I am an introvert. Knowing that the law requires one to be communicative and outgoing, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, becoming friendlier and more open in the process. And although it may not be direct preparation for a career in the law, I have worked to deepen my piano playing, a talent I have cultivated all my life, and one which I have pursued professionally. Playing the piano requires commitment, willingness to practice, attention to detail, enthusiasm to learn, and staunchness; and so does being a lawyer.
I have worked hard to prepare myself for this moment, and I know that I am ready for the next chapter which starts in August at UCLA School of Law. As a participant in the Trial Advocacy Program, I seek to share what I’ve learned about the law thus far while learning more from my professors and classmates. My passion for helping the vulnerable can be a valuable addition to the Youth Offender Parole Clinic. And I look forward to hearing more about opportunities to give back through UCLA Law.
I am a strong believer in human rights, equal opportunity, and unbiased treatment under the law, and so, in the near future, I intend to use my legal education and experience to provide resources, legal and otherwise, to children in underserved communities. It is my dream to grow as a person and become the consummate lawyer during my time at UCLA, a renowned and respected Los Angeles institution, and I look forward to hearing from the admissions committee soon.
Example #2: The Nontraditional Law Student
Undergrad: University of Georgia
My parents were surprised when I announced my decision to join the military. They expected me to go to college, but I had other plans. So, while my former classmates were busy deciding which college to attend, I was enlisting in the Army. While they agonized over which major to pursue, my mind was set on becoming an infantryman. While some questioned my decision, I believed in myself and walked across the stage with a big smile on my face. That day, I remember thinking to myself, “This is the best decision I ever made.”
Two months after graduation, I shaved my head and set off for boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia. I remember the exhilaration I felt getting off the plane, but a soon as I was enveloped by southern summer humidity, I thought, “Oh darn”. Worse than the weather were the drill sergeants, “welcoming” us with looks that were equal parts nonchalant and menacing. Within the first hour, we were exhausted and drenched in sweat. A week into our training, each soldier was assigned a position in the platoon; I was named squad leader. A month in, the platoon was ambushed during a night mission. It was chaos. While our platoon leader was preoccupied micro-managing soldiers, I led my squad into the epicenter of battle executing our delegated tasks. In an instant, other squads showed collaborative effort to follow our lead and gained control of the situation. The following morning, I was named platoon leader.
On graduation day, our senior drill sergeant gave a speech in our barrack and gave us a final order. As he spoke, he looked each soldier directly in the eye, one after the other, saying, “One of the hardest decision you will ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder. If you choose to walk away, then start walking without hesitation and never look back, especially with regret. If you choose to try harder, keep your chin up, eyes forward, and never look back, especially with doubt.” His previously menacing look was replaced with one of pride and might that day. After hearing those words, I felt like I had the world in my hand. I took his words to heart and recalled them often to guide me through difficult times.
I was reminded of those words a few years later when I was a junior at UCLA, and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I agonized over whether to drop out to be with her. After days of contemplation and talking with her, I decided to continue my education. It was painful and difficult, but we agreed that my education was something I had to complete, both for myself and for her. True to my drill sergeant’s advice, I moved forward with renewed determination. On the day of graduation, the look of pride and joy I saw in my mother’s eye was well worth the sacrifice my family had to endure.
My time as a soldier taught me the importance of being circumspect in the decisions I made. I learned that I must prepare for foreseeable circumstances while facing the unforeseeable head on when necessary. When I made mistakes, I learned from constructive criticism which made me a better leader. With experience came success, and with success came greater responsibility. The most important responsibility I had was ensuring the safety and wellbeing of my troops. Before missions, I made sure we all had warm meals and proper equipment. When a soldier was wounded during a mission, it was my responsibility to request a medical evacuation, and most importantly, when soldiers lost their morale and wanted to quit, it was my duty to encourage and motivate them. These experiences helped me to shed the selfishness of youth and replace it with observance, empathy, and situational awareness-habits that I know will serve me well as a law student and lawyer.
I am forever grateful to the military for instilling these principles in me. Now, it is time for me to build upon those principles in law school and beyond. In law school, I would like to focus towards criminal law and become a member of Loyola’s Criminal Justice Concentration Program and experience a comprehensive and unique understanding of criminal justice. Also, during my summers, I will integrate my legal knowledge and strive to work in the District Attorney’s office and get real life experience. I am proud to say that I have been serving our country since I graduated high school and want to continue serve, not as a soldier, but as a lawyer. As my drill sergeant once advised me, I will keep my chin up, eyes forward, and never look back, especially with doubt, on my decision to become a lawyer.
Example #3: An Environmental Focus
Undergrad: San Jose State University
Grad school: UC Santa Cruz, PhD
My first love has been and always will be the ocean. Even when I was little, I would tell people I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could swim with the dolphins. I have pursued that dream my entire life. Every choice has brought me closer to the ocean.
Studying zoology at San Jose State University, I was introduced to the idea of not just studying the ocean, but preserving it. The amounts of trash and pollution I witnessed dumped into the streets without care, were all eventually washed out to sea. While continuing to run after a degree in the marine sciences, I decided to take action. Joining a group called the Trash Punx, we spent our weekends cleaning up the city. We fought to keep our home from causing even more pollution.
In 2012, I joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute for a 10-week internship under senior scientist Ken Johnson. Surrounded by a community of scientists so passionate about their jobs struck something inside me. They loved the ocean, wanted to know everything about it but were heartbroken at the active destruction they witnessed every day. They needed someone who would stand up against the onslaught while they continued to learn each secret the deep blue had to offer.
When I started my graduate school studies in Ocean Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, I was encouraged to consider a global interdisciplinary approach. All of the world’s oceans are connected, one affects the other. The same is true for each different marine science discipline- they all affect one another. What they need is a few people willing to represent them all. People who are willing to listen to all the disciplines and step up to plate to combat the issues that scientists can’t. Issues that environmental lawyers are specifically trained to confront.
I may love studying the ocean, but I want to preserve it even more. In order to do that, I first need to attend law school and then further my education in environmental law. I believe that Unity College is the perfect place to nurture my passion for protecting what I love. Science is a logic discipline that also requires a little creative thinking. These are invaluable skills that I have learned to apply to every aspect of my life and I believe will help me excel as an Environmental Lawyer.
I have been truly fortunate to attend institutions that not only taught me how to problem solve, but also to stand for what I believe in. I look forward to taking the next step toward protecting our oceans with the law under the direction of Unity’s dedicated professors.
Example #4: Righting Wrongs
Undergrad: University of South Dakota
Grad school: Wake Forest University M.A.
My story begins with a little girl we are going to call Jean. She lived next door to me for five years, none of which were very happy. Her parents fought daily and she was always caught in the middle. Eventually, the fractured family broke entirely with a divorce. The fallout was ugly, they couldn’t agree on anything, and they used Jean as a weapon against each other. She was just a kid, but no one-not even the divorce lawyers-tried to consider what was best for her. The injustice of it burned in my soul for years after. Was there anyone out there willing to protect children in these situations? I was just a kid myself; what could I do?
Fresh out of high school, I got a job at a daycare, where I saw the same scenario play out over and over again. Each instance reminded me of Jean and the injustice I felt on her behalf. I began to volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club. It was a chance to give hurting kids a moment to feel loved with no strings attached. Very shortly after, I began studying for a bachelor’s degree in counseling, specifically to help children.
All the way through my master’s program, I was sure counseling was where I could do the most good. A calm, safe presence where kids could feel safe, if just for a little while. The more situations I came across though, the more I was brought back to Jean and the pain I felt for her. I realized that in order to protect children in such deeply broken situations, I needed to start looking into family law.
My counseling background has taught me mediation and de-escalation skills that will be invaluable working with families in and out of court. I have also studied child psychology extensively, allowing me to better help children in these situations.
I know that Loyola Marymount University will be a place where I can not just learn but thrive. The law programs will allow me to learn the basics, as well as the specifics of family law. The supportive community is a refreshing bonus. As is the strong emphasis on volunteering and giving back to the community. I look forward to the prospect of learning and serving alongside students and faculty alike.
As you can see from our law school personal statement examples, PSU will take the time to help you perfect your statement. Law schools are not looking for the next literary genius within your personal statement. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to get into law school. It is simply necessary to convince them that you are worth their time.
PSU has streamlined a process that shapes an applicant’s background into a unique and eye-catching narrative. We help our students stand out from the crowd and get seen. Ask questions about our course or speak to our writing staff about your draft by contacting us today.
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Branden is a 2011 graduate of UCLA School of Law. He’s practiced patent law and business litigation, as well as helping thousands of students crush the LSAT and the California Bar Exam.
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First Published: Feb 9, 2022
Updated: Mar 3, 2023
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