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Personal Statement for Law School – Examples & Tips

A personal statement is one of the most important components of your application to business school in addition to your LSAT Score and your letter of recommendations. It’s your chance to showcase your personality, achievements, and goals to the admissions committee, and to convince them that you’re a good fit for their program.
So many law school applicants have top-notch LSAT scores, work experience, and a laundry list of items on their resume; therefore, you need to utilize your personal statement as an opportunity to stand out from all the other applicants. You want to use this essay to showcase the amazing qualities about you and what you can offer their university (this is super important and we will dig deeper into this later).
Therefore, this blog post will elaborate everything that should and shouldn’t be in your personal statement, how to start writing your personal statement, and some examples of stellar essays.

What makes a great personal statement?

1. Focus on the question
This may seem obvious but if the school asks a specific question and you don’t answer the question directly, the school will disregard your personal statement and your application altogether even if you have a great essay. Some students will copy and paste an essay that they wrote for another similar prompt to use for their application, but remember that you should write your essay specific for each prompt so it is guaranteed that it is focused to the prompt given. With that being said, most law schools have similar, if not the same, prompt. It is either an open-ended essay or the prompt ask the candidate to write an essay abut short-term and long-term goals as it pertains to that specific law school.
2. Note leadership experiences and achievements
Your personal statement should showcase your achievements, both in and outside of your academic and professional life. Include examples of leadership roles you’ve held, projects you’ve completed, awards you’ve won, and other significant accomplishments. This will help demonstrate your ability to succeed and to make a positive impact in the legal world.
3. Be specific about their law school and why it’s a good fit for you
Your personal statement should explain why you’re interested in pursuing a law degree and what you hope to achieve through the program. However, you want to note why their specific program is the best fit for you and not just any law school. As mentioned before, many individuals just write one essay and submit it to every university; however, this is not the best approach because you want to make sure that your essay is specific to the university that you are submitting your application for. We will dig deeper into this later in this blog post, so you can see exactly what I mean.
4. Show your passion and motivations
You want to get personal and passionate within this essay. This is an opportunity for all of your emotions to come to the page and dig deep into whatever you are talking about, whether that is you major, ideas, university, etc. Show what motivates you to succeed.
5. Stand out from everyone else
One of the most valuable qualities that universities look for is diversity. Therefore, a personal statement is a great opportunity to show that you are unique. Think about what makes you different from the next applicant. Do you have a special story? or a certain turn of events that happened to you? Think deep about what circumstance you have encountered in your life that are different from the next person.
6. Be clear about your goals
One concept that law schools look for is that you have a plan. They also want to see how you will represent their school. Meaning, if a student will become a successful partner at a law firm in the future, then that makes their school look good. But if an applicant has no plans and will be unemployed living on their mothers couch, that doesn’t make their law school look good. Thus, they want to see that you have a plan and goals. You aren ‘t married to these plans, but its necessary to include them in your essay.

What should you not do in your essay?

1. Don’t summarize your resume or transcript
You want your personal statement to be a supplement piece to your application. Meaning, you don’t want it to have the same purpose as any other piece that you are submitting. Your personal statement should not include all of the items that you listed on your resume or transcript. It is okay to mention one or two of the items on your resume as it may pertain to the story that you are telling, but you want to use your personal statement as an opportunity to tell the admissions counselor new information about yourself.
2. Don’t be too eager to please and just be yourself
Your personal statement should reflect your own unique voice and personality, and should be written in a way that is true to who you are. Avoid trying to be someone you’re not, or writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. So many application think too much about what the admissions counselors want to hear causing their essay to be less genuine. Instead, be honest, authentic, and genuine in your writing. As mentioned before, showing your passion, being unique, and standing out from everyone else is critical; therefore, write an essay that truly resembles you and that is exactly what the admissions counselors want to see.

How to get started writing your personal statement?

Step 1: Brainstorm/Write a brag sheet

Sometimes writing an essay about yourself is hard because you want to be modest. Therefore, before writing your essay, it is important to brainstorm and write all the amazing qualities about yourself, so you can then incorporate these ideas into your essay. Below I included a few questions that you can ask yourself, so you can learn more about you and your amazing qualities. There are so many more ideas that you can include in your essay, but hopefully these questions can start manifesting some ideas as these topics all could be worth while adding to your essay.
  • Was there a project, exam, sport, idea, etc that you excelled in?
  • Were you ever promoted at work or given more responsibilities due to preforming well?
  • Do you have any leadership or management experience?
  • Have you ever started a successful business? Even if it is tiny.
  • Do you speak any other languages and has it benefited you?
  • Have you published anything or done any research?
  • What are your extracurricular (sports, clubs, etc.) involvements?
  • Have you ever volunteered?
  • Have you received any honors, awards, medals, etc.?
  • Have you overcame any obstacles in your life?
  • Do you have any skills that are unique?
  • Are there any unique features to your heritage, culture, or upbringing?

Step 2: Pick a Theme/Topic

You want to see if there is a common theme among your answers to the previous questions. Is there one core value that keeps coming up? Is there one impactful experience that ties to all the other questions? or is there a key motivator that can tie into prior experiences as well as future endeavors and ambitions? If there is a common theme, that would be a great topic for your essay!

However, many individuals will ask “how do I know that I picked the right topic?” and to answer that question, you need to break your topic down into two components: how unique is your topic and how easy is it to write on your topic. The more unique that your topic is, the more that it will stand out to the admissions counselors. However, you don’t want the topic to be so obscure and unique that it is hard to write about. There is a happy medium between these two components.

Themes for Personal Statements:

  • 1. Montage Essay: jumping through a timeline but connecting it through a common theme

There are 7 different types themes of montage essays that are listed below. 

  • Love/know: write about a topic that you are extremely knowledgable about and connect everything to this topic. 
  • Skill/stand out traits: do you have a skill that sets you apart from the rest? Maybe you ranked #1 in your states body building competition and can show how strength is a prominent trait of yours. 
  • Objects: Is there an object that means a lot to you? For example, maybe you have a necklace that your grandmother passed down to you that has a meaningful story behind it.
  • Career Path: Do you have some past experiences that can lead to your decision in your career path?
  • Identity Path: Who you are as a person is very important as well. You can create a paragraph on each of your identities: a father, a book lover, a musician, etc. 
  • Place/location/home: Is there one place where you feel completely at home? Maybe that is on the soccer field? or behind a computer coding? You can use this location as your theme.
  • Uncommon extra curricular: You should not pick a common extra curricular (ie. debate team, football, etc.) for your essay, but if you take part in a unique extra curricular (ie. stamp collecting, running your own business, etc.) you can use that as the theme to your essay.

2. Narrative Essay: describing an obstacle and how you overcame it

There are three different paragraphs that are essential for a narrative essay:

  • what was the challenge and impact on your life
  • how did you work through this challenge
  • what did you learn from this experience

Step 3: Brainstorm the specific prompt

Each Business School will have a different question, so make sure to look up the prompt for each school prior to writing. However, some of the most common questions are listed below:

  • Why do you want to attend our business school and how can it pertain to your future plans?
  • Please tell us about a leadership experience and challenges that you encountered.
  • Our school is a diverse environment. How can you contribute?
  • Please explain a failure or a challenge in your life and how you overcame it.
  • Please explain an accomplishment and how you grew from it.
I encourage you to just free write your answer to the prompt for the school you are applying to and then try to integrate step 1 and step 2 into your essay. Adding the amazing qualities about yourself (step 1) will vamp up your essay and make it unique, while ending with specifics about the university you are applying to (step 2) will really hit home.

Step 4: Format into an Essay

Once you have brainstormed and understood your amazing qualities, why you want to attend that specific school, and have a direct answer to the prompt, it is time to format your essay. Below is a general format that you can use if you are uncertain; however, keep in mind that there is no standard structure for a personal statement and it can be any amount of paragraphs and any style of writing as long as it thoroughly answers the prompt.
Paragraph 1: Introduction
Within your introduction you want to hook the reader. Make sure the first sentence especially makes the reader say to themselves “oh wow, this is interesting. what happens next?” and engages them to want to coninue reading. Keep in mind that the admission counselors are reading these essays all day long, so if an essay loses their interest after the first paragraph, they might not be motivated to continue reading causing your application to get put in the “deny” pile.
  • Powerful Anecdote/Story: A great solution to make your introduction paragraph unique and interesting is to start with an anecdote, which is a short amusing story that puts the reader in the shoes of the author. I will explain more about this style of writing later in this blog post and give examples.
  • Insightful Question
  • Witty Humor
Paragraph 2, 3, & 4: Body Paragraphs
Within your body paragraphs is where you have the meat of your essay and answer the proposed prompt. Depending on what the prompt is, this section of your essay will change. For instance, let’s say the questions was “why do you want to go to law school?” This section will be delving into the “why” of that question. Is it because there is legacy? Explain. Is it because it is an innate passion of yours? Explain. Is it because you are naturally good at it? Explain.
Paragraph 5: Conclusion
Within your conclusion you want to wrap up all the previous points you made and tie it to the specific university that you are applying to. You want to mention why this school will help you achieve your dreams and goals that you spoke about throughout your essay. Not only is it important for you to write about what this school will provide to you, but you also want to include what you can give back to the school. This is a key aspect that a lot of student forget. You want to show that you will wear the name of their university proudly, benefit their school, and give back to their university.
With that being g said, there are three main ways that you can end your essay:
  • Circular reasoning: This is when you connect the conclusion of your essay to the introduction. For instance, let’s say you started with an anecdote, you will come full circle and mention how that story relates to all the other components of your personal statement. 
  • Why us: This is a very common ending as many of the law school essay prompts ask you to include the answer to “why do you want to attend our law school?”
  • Values: Within your essay you may have eluded to different values. You can then end your essay with explicit stating them. 

Step 5: Create A Different Version for Each School

When an admission counselor can see that you are knowledgeable about their university and that you really want to go to THEIR university and not just any university, you have more of a chance you get accepted to their school. Considering this, let’s take look at a couple excerpts of essays to understand this more.
Bad Example: “Harvard University will help me accomplish my dreams as it is the number one ranked law school that will afford me many opportunities after I graduate. Additionally, as the curriculum is very rigorous it will prepare me for the real-life legal world.”
Great Example: “Harvard University is the best fit for me since I am passionate about using the law to tend to my local hometown community. Since I grew up in Boston and Harvard is located in Boston, I will be able to continue to volunteer in my local community and give back to my immediate community while enrolling in valuable classes that will help me excel in my degree. Additionally, I will be able to continue my family’s legacy as my parents and grandparents both attended Harvard University.”
Why is example 2 better than example 1?
Notice how for example 1 we can really insert any University in the place of Harvard; however, you cannot do the same for example 2. Example 2 is very specific to that university and it shows that the student didn’t just copy and paste this essay from another. Therefore, example 2 is what you should shoot for.
However, you may ask yourself how can I make this essay specific to the university you want to attend; therefore, I created a list of a few options
  • Are you a legacy? Did you parents or grandparents attend that school?
  • Did you grow up in the same location as the University or is the location of that University important to you?
  • Are there any key features about the curriculum that this school has that other schools don’t?
  • Did you attend this school for undergrad or any other degree?
  • Do you have an affinity to this school for any particular reason?
  • Did you visit this school and like it? This could have been with a friend, to sit in on a class, etc.
  • Is there certain values or mission statement that is specific to this school?

Step 6: Proofread

Before submitting your personal statement, make sure to carefully proofread it for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. A well-written personal statement can be undermined by simple mistakes, so take the time to make sure your statement is as polished and professional as possible.

What is the best writing style?

Realistically, any writing style is fine for a personal statement for law school as long as it is your own style because as mentioned, you want to be true to yourself in this essay. However, you want to make sure that your writing is intriguing and captivating, so the reader wants to continue to the next sentence. The best way to accomplish this is to show the reader what you mean as opposed to tell the reader what you mean. I will give two examples below to make this more clear and then discuss which is better and why.
Example 1: “Ever since I was little I wanted to be doctor. Therefore, when I was 16 I decided to volunteer at the local Ambulance Corp. During my time there, I learned how to take blood pressure in real-life scenarios, how to stay calm in tough situations, and work well with patients of all ages. I also learned a lot about the anatomy of a human, such as wear the brachial artery is and why that is the perfect spot to take blood pressure.”
Example 2: “It was my second day on call at the Volunteer Ambulance Corp. My eager 16 year old self wrapped the blood pressure cuff on the lady’s right arm, placed the earpieces in my ears, and positioned the diaphragm superficial to her brachial artery. I quickly began to apply pressure to the inflation bulb, reaching the gauge to about 200. Now the tough part. With the chatter in the ambulance I knew it would be nearly impossible to hear her blood pressure sounds, especially since it was my first time taking blood pressure in a real-life situation. I honed in all my attention and carefully listened while releasing the air pressure. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hear it, but then, at 122, I heard lub dub lub dub. What a relief. I continued to release the air pressure as the sound faded away around 88. With a sense of accomplishment I turned to my partner and said ‘BP 122 over 88.’ This was the first time I felt like the doctor that I’ve always wanted to be”
Why is example 2 better than example 1?
Notice how both of these essays get the same message across but in very different styles of writing. Both essays tell us that this person was 16, a volunteer at the Ambulance Corp, learned how to take blood pressure, can stay relaxed in stressful situations, and that they have always wanted to be a doctor.” However, which one is more interesting? The first one is just a list of all the things that the author knows how to do, but the second example keeps the reader at the edge of their seat wanting to read more. The first example is a version of telling the reader about your experience, while the second example shows the experience because you can put yourself in the author’s shoes and really picture what is happening. This style helps the reader connect with the author better, which any time that the reader feels they have a connection to the author, they are more inclined to enjoy the piece and in turn accept that applicant.
How can you apply this strategy to your law school personal statement, though? I know that working as a paralegal or participating in the debate team might not seem as captivating as the rush and thrill of being on an ambulance, but as I mentioned before show your passion. Get passionate about your experience, or your job, or whatever it is that you are explaining in your essay. For instance, you can start with an anecdote (short amusing story like in example 2) about waking up at 5:30 in the morning eager to hit the books and study or maybe a story to emulate the grit that you had when being paralegal and learning from the lawyers at the firm. Be creative with this! There are so many possibilities!

FAQs about Personal Statements

When should you start writing your essay?

Early! Early! Early! Give yourself enough time to reflect on your experiences, goals, and motivations, and to craft a well-written and thought-out personal statement. This is not a task you want to rush through, as the quality of your personal statement can make or break your application. Additionally, most of Prep For Success Tutor’s students create 5-10 drafts and revisions before submitting their final essay.

Should you write a different essay for each school?

Yes! Each essay should be personalized to each school in terms of why you want to attend that school as well as the specific prompt for the school. DO NOT just copy and paste an essay of another school and change the name of the school. The business schools will see straight through that. Also, if you are able to just change the name of the university in the essay and the essay still makes sense, then that means you need to go back to the revision process and make the essay more specific and unique to that university that you are applying to.

How long should your essay be?

Each university has certain length requirements for their own personal statement, which is another great reason why you should write a specific essay for each school. However, if there are no length requirements on their application portal or website, then stick to the general guidelines for a personal statement. Typically, a standard personal statement is a maximum of 650 words, which is 1 page single spaced and 2 pages double spaced. However, the ideal amount of words is typically 450-600 words as you don’t want your essay too be too long. A concise personal statement is best because the admission counselors are reading so many of these essays and you don’t want them to get bored with a long essay. You want to get straight to the point.
In conclusion, a personal statement is an important part of your business school application, and it’s your chance to make a lasting impression on the admissions committee. By following these tips, you can write a personal statement that showcases your unique qualities, achievements, and goals, and that demonstrates why you’re a great fit for the program.

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Prep For Success has a team of amazing College Admissions tutors. All of them have been rigorously trained on all of our tips, tricks, and strategies to obtain acceptance to your dream school! Each tutor takes the time to understand your story to help craft the best personal statement essay and pick colleges that suit your needs and wants. Feel free to reach out to get assistance on your application.

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