Personal Statement

The personal statement is your opportunity to describe who you are, why you are uniquely qualified for a career in the law (beyond GPA and standardized test results), and what influences and experiences have informed your decision to this field.

Most importantly, the personal statement is your opportunity to leave the reader with a message or theme that symbolizes a key aspect of your candidacy. The personal statement plays a role in determining who gets an interview, and you can greatly improve your chances by submitting a well-written and interesting essay. We recommend having a couple of trusted people read and edit your personal statement.

For assistance with the technical aspects of your essay, we recommend you schedule an appointment with the Writing Center to have one of their tutors review your draft. To schedule an appointment, please visit the Writing Center website and click on the “Schedule an Appointment” link.

There are a few general mistakes to avoid:

DO NOT*

  • Do not write a statement on social conditions
  • Do not tell the work you will do when you get a law degree, unless your past experiences have been a motivating force in your decision to go to law school
  • Do not use the creative writing approach (i.e., sending a video tape of yourself or writing your essay in verse)
  • Do not write a travelogue of where you’ve been and what you’ve done (unless you can show how you learned something from it about yourself)
  • Do not write assertiveness essays (I’ve always been successful, therefore have confidence in me).

For a better personal statement,

DO

  • Do give examples of how you think, critically, systematically and analytically
  • Do tell something interesting about your insight into yourself
  • Do be fairly modest (not apologetic), describing adversity, interruption, failure
  • Be personal, write something about yourself, not designed to impress. Show your insights.

If your LSAT and GPA don’t match up, explain it (without bitterness, anger or defensiveness). This explanation should be addressed in a separate piece of paper entitled “Explanation of LSAT score” or “Explanation of G.P.A.”

*Notes from “How to Write a Personal Statement” – a lecture by Professor Robert Condlin, University of Maryland School of Law.