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The Personal Statement

The process of developing a Personal Statement is a unique endeavor. Each student needs to properly evaluate the required components provided by the law school to which he/she is applying and follow each instruction exactly as written. Personal Statements should match the requirements of that law school.

You will want to visit the Writing Center for assistance with your personal statement. If you are having trouble getting started, you will find some great tips for creating a great personal statement on this page!

You should think of the Personal Statement as an interview with the law school. This may be the only opportunity the law school admissions official has to learn about you as a complete candidate.

That being said, you need to consider what you should include when constructing your statement. Foremost, what is it you wish the reader to know about you? Remember, no part of the application is taken on its own merit. A personal statement is sometimes the only part of your application where you can provide substance and details about yourself. It is your chance to talk about who are. If done well, it will provide insight into how well you know yourself, how you think, what you value, how you write, how well-rounded you are or have become over time, and what you have been able to learn from the experience of living.

Below are some suggestions to consider when formalizing your personal statement:

Interview

  • Always consider this a professional, yet informal interview with the law school.
  • Tailor the response to the exact guidelines of each school. Read requirements carefully and follow directions.
  • Think about ways in which the person reading your statement can learn more about you. You want this person to care about you when considering your application.
  • Create a personality around which the remainder of your application will be viewed.

Time, Process, Structure

  • Devote the time necessary to writing your statement.
  • Include an introduction, body, or detailed supporting paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Be sure to edit, edit, edit!
  • Read your statement aloud both to yourself and to another person.
  • Work with others to evaluate your statement.
  • Take your statement to the University’s Writing Center or to the pre-law advisor.
  • Answer the question(s) asked, and follow directions precisely.
  • Be concise but brief (within two pages if at all possible because Law School admissions officers will be reading hundreds, in some cases thousands, of these statements).
  • Unless otherwise specified, use reasonable margins, font size and length. (1” margins, 10–12 font size, and single spacing legible to the normal eye)

Topic and Content

  • Read and follow all directions included in the application from the individual schools.
  • Discuss the unique nature of your experience.
    • life experiences could include a special talent, skill, or athletic endeavor.
    • personal experiences could include career ambitions or diversity of life experience.
  • Talk about the unique nature of who you are for the many reasons that have developed/created these characteristics.
    • A particular life experience that has created an interest in law.
    • Incorporate that which was exceptional, worthwhile, and activities that mattered.
    • Discuss what makes you a special candidate.
  • Explain grade trends in an addendum, not here, unless it is relevant and critical to your statement.
  • Do not include information that is found in another part of the application (resume, transcript, application form).
  • Include leadership, student government, community service again only if these are pertinent to the statement (these should appear on your resume).

Personal Qualities

  • Discuss your passion, sincerity, depth, authenticity, perseverance, and character.
  • Be thoughtful.
    • Determination vs. “I’m a hard worker.”
  • Discuss your personal growth.
  • Remember include personalized information that can support both strengths and weaknesses without being arrogant or defensive.

Some Don’ts

  •  “I’ve always wanted to go to law school since I was three.”
  •  Carelessness–Careless errors and language.
  •  “I’d give my left arm.”
  •  Your whole life history, single spaced, is too much!
  •  Be very careful with poetry and humor.
  •  Don’t send a shoebox with a note that says “I’d like to get my foot in the door.”
  •  Back to the future, looking back.
  •  Don’t be too anything: self-effacing, proud, or self-absorbed.
  • Lack of humility.
  • Don’t whine!

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