5 Things to Consider for Your Personal Statement
When applying to law school, you might not get the chance to sit down with the admissions committee and explain why you are the perfect fit for their institution and their program. This is where the personal statement comes in.
Not only is the personal statement a critical part of your application, but it is also your chance to address the admissions committee directly, show your character, why you are a fit for their program and what is important to you. Your statement is also an excellent opportunity to set yourself apart from a vast sea of competitive applicants. The following tips will help you write the perfect law school personal statement to make you stand out!
Focus on You
While this may seem like an obvious tip, law school applicants often miss the chance to make their statement solely about them. While it may seem easy to discuss your accolades and accomplishments with other people; writing about those same accomplishments (without sounding arrogant or pompous) is often an incredibly difficult task. Focus on what sets you apart from everyone else. The separating factor could be something that you experienced that inspired you to want to become an attorney i.e. a family member or friend receiving a miscarriage of justice and your desire to see that something like that does not happen again The schools you are applying to do not place as much emphasis on the people or the work that influenced you. While these people may inspire an interest in law, it is important to not focus your entire personal statement on that person.
Your statement should show the admissions committee that you have the skills needed to succeed in law school. The admissions committee is looking for individuals with strong work ethics, motivation, and the determination to overcome anything that might keep you from being successful. Law school is by no means an easy task and you have to be willing to put in the time and effort that will be required of you to succeed.
Your strengths and values, especially the ones that you will use as a lawyer, should be highlighted throughout your statement. Once you’ve zeroed in on what you want to highlight, the brainstorming process can begin!
Your statement will give you a lot of freedom when it comes to what you specifically write about for your personal statement. It is important to brainstorm very broadly about potential topics. Are you planning on highlighting work experiences, extracurricular activities, ethnic, economic or educational background information, or other topics that will help the admissions committee evaluate you? Do not be surprised if you write several drafts because as noted above, writing about what sets you apart from everyone else is not as easy as it may seem. The best advice that I ever personally received from a professor in law school was to complete as much of a complete draft as you can and then do not look at the draft for at least twenty four hours (and try not to think about it either and focus on something else). When at least twenty-four hours have elapsed, come back to the draft and edit it because you will have a much clearer mind after you have not been thinking about what you have written. I prepared every brief, argument, research paper in law school (and even pleadings as an attorney) utilizing this technique and it has continued to serve me well. You will be able to better fine-tune your personal statement by taking time away from it and giving your brain a rest.
As you brainstorm about your statement, remember that you’ll need to put your best foot forward and show the committee how you have grown and prove that you are ready for law school. The overall goal of your statement is to prove to the committee that you are going to be an asset to their school!
Once you have the topic areas of your statement figured out, set aside some uninterrupted time to sit down and write, and while you are writing, just let yourself go without interruption. Your first draft should be terrible (and it likely will be). Do not worry about making it sound good, or professional; focus on getting your ideas out in your word document. Once you have done so, utilize the twenty-four-hour technique noted above and come back and edit the draft; you should be amazed by how efficiently you are able to fine-tune your draft.
When it comes to your statement, do not try and put your entire life story into it because the admissions panels do not want to read about your whole life, they generally want a pointed and direct. Keep your statement focused on a theme, thesis, or a moment in your life. You are limited on space, so your statement needs to be concise and efficient. Often one of the “tests” in a personal statement is to see how you are able to organize and succinctly answer a question. You will only have enough space to highlight one or two things about yourself, so be thoughtful about what you include and do not just rehash information that can be found elsewhere on your application.
When it comes to submitting your statement, it needs to be the best version. You have incredible competition amongst your peers, your application needs to be as strong as it can be, and with how writing-intensive law school is, you should be able to prove that you are up to par with your writing skills.
Your statement should be carefully proofread, and you should also double-check to make sure you followed the application directions. Are you within the word count, did you fully answer the prompt, and did you adhere to any special formatting or submission criteria set by the admissions committee?
You do not need to be the next great American novelist to craft a great personal statement for your law school applications. As long as you follow the tips outlined above, your essay should be something you are proud of and something the admissions committee will enjoy reading. Good luck!