If you’ve recently checked out our post on law school admissions requirements, you may have noticed that one of the most time-consuming components of the admissions process is writing the personal statement.
The law school personal statement is one of the few pieces of your application that you have total control over at this point, if not the only the piece. After all, your GPA is pretty much set, even if you’re still in college. You do have control over your LSAT study plan, but you’re also dependent on a little bit of chance to perform well on test day. Your letters of recommendation will speak to your work and characteristics over a period of time, so now’s not the time to suddenly start making great impressions on your professors or employers. On the other hand, you can really work to nail your personal statement from start to finish. You have the opportunity to go through multiple drafts, edits, and revisions. Take advantage of this opportunity to show admissions officers your perspective and your voice by following our tips below.
Tell Who You Are
Show readers that you’re an interesting person who brings experiences and skills that will benefit the campus community. You’re applying in a pool of thousands of candidates, so be sure to highlight what makes you stand out from your peers.
Don’t ramble on for pages about nothing. You could tell an elaborate story in ten pages, yes, but a personal statement beyond 2-4 pages (unless specified otherwise) is probably too long. Admissions officers are looking for your ability to communicate effectively and in an organized fashion. As a lawyer, you’ll need to write briefs and be able to clearly present client cases. Now’s the time to show that you are capable of honing your communication skills.
Law schools aren’t asking you to establish your own NGO or be an Olympic athlete. Rather, they’re looking for candidates who help round out a class and contribute positively to their school. Plenty of people get admitted to law school each year who aren’t superhuman, so don’t feel a need to pretend you’re more accomplished than you are (or stretch the truth). Be yourself – and view this as part of helping the reader understand who you are.
Make the Personal Statement Personal
There’s a reason why the personal statement isn’t just called a statement or an essay. Sometimes applicants feel that they should write pieces about public policy or social issues, but these too often fall short of showing an applicant’s true voice. Have someone you know well review your personal statement objectively. If they can’t tell you were the one who wrote it, it’s probably time for a rewrite.
Edit More than Once
Maybe for class assignments, you’ve been able to submit the first draft you write as final. Or maybe one edit is typically sufficient for you to call an essay complete. For the law school personal statement, you want to commit at least two rounds of edits to perfecting your writing. Not only should you review your work, you should also ask both a friend and a fully objective reviewer (like a career center counselor or a campus writing tutor) to give feedback. The more time you spend editing your writing, the more confident you’ll be in the strength of your personal statement.