Are you are looking for some law school personal statement tips? Are you trying to get into your dream law school? If so, you came to the right place! I have talked to many law school admissions directors. I have also asked admissions directors for law school personal statement tips. As you may know, many law school applications are due within the first or second week of January! Because it is December, now is the time to make sure your application is spick and span. As you will find below, the following four step plan provides law school personal statement tips to help you draft an effective law school personal statement.
The Four Step Plan: Law School Personal Statement Tips
1. Start With a Hook
Thousands of law school applications swamp admissions committees each admissions cycle. If you were reading through applications for eight hours a day, which of the following starting sentences (hooks) would make you want to continue reading the personal statement:
- “My name is Jim Boring, and I am writing to express my interest in Not Interested University Law School.”
- “Bang! Bang! In a matter of seconds, my life forever changed.”
Well, you probably guessed it. The latter is the winner! Don’t you want to know the rest of the applicant’s story?! I do!
The first sentence of your personal statement is so important! Not only does the first sentence determine whether you catch the admission committee’s attention, but it also sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
To create a good hook, use adjectives, sounds, and/or something that will make your reader want to read on. Sometimes questions can even work! One rule of thumb to go by for your personal statement is, don’t state something that the admissions committee already knows.
In the first example sentence above, the admissions committee would know that the personal statement was written by Jim Boring. His name should be at the top of the page. Additionally, I sure hope Jim Boring was interested in becoming a law school student at Not Interested University Law School, because otherwise, why would Jim Boring be applying? While Jim Boring is a fictitious character (if you couldn’t guess), I think he would have a hard time making a good first impression to the admissions committee with an introduction sentence like that!
2. Tell Your Story
This goes hand in hand with having a good hook. Once you establish a good hook, continue the story! What about you makes you different from other students? Your personal statement is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee who you are and to connect with the admissions committee on a personal level.
Admissions committees want to help students reach their goals. However, they first need to have a reason to help you! I’m not saying that you need to write a sob story (while this may work), but I am saying that you need to write something that is unique to you that will set you apart from other students.
For example, in my personal statement, I talked about my struggles with starting a business. I elaborated on how I overcame my struggles to create a successful business. In addition, I talked about why I wanted to go to law school even though I was a business owner. Not many law school students can say that they own a business, so this set me apart! While I got into the school I wanted, I think I could have made my personal statement stronger by adding more emotion. See below for law school personal statement tips about how to appeal to the emotions of admissions committees.
For example, one way to add emotion, whether sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc., is to use adjectives. When you use adjectives, a visual is created for the admissions committee member who is reading your personal statement. Forming visuals for the reader will make your personal statement better remembered and it may be what makes you stand out over other applicants.
I stress the importance of putting emotion into your personal statement. This does not mean that you should just try to make the admissions committee feel bad for you! One of the best ways to impress the admissions committee is to tell a story where you failed or ran into hurdles but didn’t give up. These types of stories show that you are a go-getter and willing to work hard (which you will have to do in order to succeed in law school!). Explain how your story relates to your desire to attend law school. Talk about how you will benefit the school to which you are applying!
3. Personal Statement v. Resume
A common mistake students make in personal statements is copying their resume, and just putting it into a narrative. Don’t do this! To no surprise, admissions committees can read, and in fact, they most likely will read your resume before reading your personal statement.
Your resume is most likely the first aspect of your application that admissions committee will look at. A resume should include information such as your GPA, class rank, LSAT score, undergraduate institution, work experience, your interests, etc. Check back soon and visit our blog for more information about how to write and format a good resume for law school applications!
In your personal statement, elaborate on one or two important or interesting things listed on your resume. Or, tell a story that would not be expected after reading your resume. Your personal statement should not just restate what is on your resume.
As you write your personal statement, try to tell a story about a job that is listed on your resume. Talk about a challenging task you overcame. Or, tell a story involving one of your interests that are listed on your resume. Your personal statement is your opportunity to elaborate on something you wanted to tell the admissions committee more about that you didn’t have the room for on your resume. A resume merely should tell the admissions committee that you are capable of succeeding in law school. Your personal statement is your chance to connect with the admissions committee to try and get them to like you as a person, not just as a smart student.
4. Spelling and Grammar – Law School Personal Statement Tips
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this: proof read your personal statement. In fact, get someone else to proof read your personal statement. The dean of my law school always stressed the importance of being a good writer. I can’t tell you the number of times he has recommended to students that they read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. I recommend you read The Elements of Style as well, and if you need someone to proof read your personal statement, click here!
The easiest way for admissions committees to weed out applicants is to throw away applications with spelling or grammatical errors. Regardless of the number of times you read over your personal statement, there are bound to be errors. Therefore, I highly recommend that you have at least two other people read over your personal statement. Additionally, in order to make sure that your personal statement reads smoothly and is grammatically correct, read your personal statement aloud. If you would like a Law School Study Guide mentor to read over your personal statement, check out our personal statement and resume review package.
If you found these law school personal statement tips helpful, you may also like “How to Write a Good Law School Exam Answer.”
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