Tailoring your personal statement to each law school that you’re applying to can be time-consuming, but it’s also a great way to show your interest. Some schools (like Stanford) like to see tailored personal statements from applicants; others require them. For example, Santa Clara Law School asks each applicant to describe the reasons why he/she is pursuing a law degree at their school specifically.
But how can you customize your personal statement to schools? Check out our best tips below.
1. Be specific.
It’s not sufficient to say that you want to attend Santa Clara Law School for its good curriculum, strong faculty, and numerous clinic opportunities. Notice how you could replace “Santa Clara Law School” with any other law school’s name, and the sentence could still make sense? That tells Santa Clara admissions officers that you don’t know very much about their school. Which leads us to our next tip…
2. Do your research.
Figure out what makes the schools you’re applying to different from others. Use the Internet, visit your local bookstore and check out some guide books, or search around on online forums. Some schools are known for their strength in a certain area of law (think international law or intellectual property law). Some schools are known for their commitment to pro bono work. Some schools’ faculty are renowned for their research in a specific discipline. Others offer distinctive programs or fellowships to their students. Identify what really interests you about the school, and tie that back to the academic and career interests you discuss in your personal statement.
3. Consider location.
In many cities, it can be a major advantage to have graduated from the market that you want to work in. If you know that Kansas City is the place for you (maybe for family or other personal reasons), it can make a lot of sense to mention that in the personal statement you submit to the University of Kansas School of Law.
4. Connect with representatives from the school.
Attending a law school fair, open house, or campus tour is a great way to meet school representatives, whether they work in the admissions office or not. You can ask for their personal perspectives on the respective school, and relay this information through your personal statement. A candidate who’s made the effort to connect with someone at the school will be seen in a more favorable light than a candidate without any ties.
5. Speak with current students or alums.
Reach out to either current students or alums to find out what they think about the law school, why they chose it, and what their experiences with the school have been like. These insider perspectives will reveal more than what you can find just browsing the school’s homepage on the web.
6. Discuss environment.
Perhaps you’re looking for a collegial law school environment that mirrors your own undergraduate experience at a small liberal arts school. Or perhaps you’re looking for a large law school so you can take advantage of the network and breadth of resources that a law school of that size can offer. Environment is often a key factor students consider when deciding on a particular law school, so don’t forget to mention it as a way to express your interest!