Personal Statement

Law schools have only two ways to look at you as a person instead of just another set of statistics: your personal statement and your recommendations.

The personal statement is the sleeper of the whole admissions process. All too often, candidates waste this golden opportunity to communicate directly with the decision makers at law schools. Both form and substance are important. Your personal statement will be judged for clarity of expression and general writing ability, as well as for its content. 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.