Generally, all law schools require applicants to write a personal statement. Even if you have a perfect GPA and LSAT score, a bad personal statement can easily discredit an otherwise strong law school application. Law schools are interested in admitting students for reasons beyond grades and scores. Your experiences, training, goals, or dreams can demonstrate who you are and your potential to succeed in law school and beyond. Most law schools do not hold interviews, so your personal statement is the best opportunity to showcase who you are and your strength as a writer.
Below are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind as you construct a winning personal statement.
Instructions for your Personal Statement may be open and non-specific, so try your best to speak about your personal experiences, impressions and future goals. Keep in mind that page and/or word limits for the Personal Statement differ by law school, so it is essential to verify with each school’s requirements.
- Check the website of each law school you are applying to.
- What is the prompt for the Personal Statement?
- What are the page/word limits?
- Are there additional essays/interviews?
- Give yourself enough time to have friends, family, mentors, and/or advisors read your Personal Statement and provide feedback.
- Optional: Look up sample law school Personal Statements via books, internet, etc.
Brainstorm the essential elements of your Personal Statement
- What would you like the admissions committee to know about you? Is there a particular theme you would like to get across to the reader?
- What kind of traits and motivation do you have that cannot easily be gleaned from your other application materials?
- Why do you want to go to law school?
- Have you shown through concrete examples how you are prepared for law school (academically, socially, etc.)?
- Have you given some thought as to why you are applying to that particular law school (special programs, joint degree opportunities, etc.)?
Create your rough draft
- Who you are matters more to law schools than who you were 4-5 years ago or more.
- Page length/word count does not matter in the rough draft stage.
- Keep it “personal”:
- This is a “personal” statement, thus the subject matter should focus on you, not your family or society in general.
- Define features of your persona that set you apart from the crowd.
- Keep in mind who your audience is:
- Admissions committees often include experienced law professors, admission representatives, and current law students.
- Are you someone who would be a likable addition to that law school’s student body? Show why in the Personal Statement.
- Common mistakes at the rough draft stage:
- Avoid including a quote.
- Avoid restating your resume.
- Avoid writing about awards, honors, and accomplishments earned in high school.
- Avoid writing on subjects completely disjointed from the study of law and law school.
- Avoid talking about people other than yourself.
Revise, revise, revise
- What is the tone of your Personal Statement? Is it professional?
- Does each section, paragraph, and sentence flow together in a cohesive essay?
- Is there anything in the content that might offend your reader?
- Does the Personal Statement accurately portray who you are as an applicant and a person?
- Start to trim down your Personal Statement to meet the word limit or page requirement.
- Grammar and spelling matters!
- Be concise!
On-Campus Resources for UH Manoa Students
- Writing Center in Kuykendall Room 415
- Manoa Career Center
- PAC Peer Advisors