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How Do You Answer a Question in Essay Format?

According to the The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue, a good essay is focused, organized, supported and packaged. Keywords should also be identified within the question around which the answer is constructed. The overall structure of the essay should be similar to that of a regular essay, with a brief introduction containing a summary of the answer, then supporting information and a conclusion.

In order to properly complete an essay, it is important to allocate time in which to construct an answer. This is particularly crucial when a question is part of a multi-question essay exam. Once the amount of time available to answer the question is determined, the question is read carefully several times. If there are multiple questions, all questions are read in order to determine the order in which to answer them. Keywords identify what the question is actually asking. There are six different types of questions indicated by keywords: supported thesis, cause and effect, compare and contrast, process analysis, definitions and analysis. Once the type of question is determined, an essay style answer is constructed using the proper type of supporting material. It is a good idea to make an outline for an answer, and jot down a few key phrases on a piece of scrap paper or in the exam margins prior to writing on the sheet that is turned in to be graded.


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⭐️How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement

Check the application of every school to which you’re applying, but in general, you should follow these guidelines.

I prefer a one-line header. Put your name on the left, your LSAC number in the middle, and the words “Personal Statement,” followed by a page number, on the right. It looks like this:

Essay with One-Line Header

In case you’re not comfortable with Word headers, I’ve made a correctly formatted .docx file with a one-line header.  Click here to download the sample text, then substitute your information for the placeholders.

You can also put all the information on the right-hand side, in three lines, like this:

Essay with Three-Line Header

If you use a three-line header on the first page, you may want to use a shorter header—name, page number—on subsequent pages.

The Essay Body

I’ve implemented this formatting in the personal statement format sample .

Learn about our admissions consulting and editing services .

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law school essay format

how to write a personal statement for law school

How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Many prospective law students can feel overwhelmed when faced with the task of writing a law school personal statement, one of the most subjective pieces of your law school application .

A good personal statement is interesting to read without needing to rely on shock value. It should have a conversational tone; it’s not there to show how many big words you know, but rather to offer insight into your character.


Why Are Law School Personal Statements Important?

Tips for picking a law school personal statement topic, law school personal statement faqs.

Law School Personal Statement Example

What you should not do in a law school personal statement.

Law school personal statements are important because they can turn what would have otherwise been a certain rejection into an offer of admission.

They help admission committees get to know you in a way they couldn’t from other pieces of your law school application. And, hopefully, it also shows why a law degree is the next logical step for you.

When deciding what to write in your personal statement, do not make stuff up. Stick with what has really happened to you and how it affected you, and you will write a better personal statement than if you pretend.

Do Your Research

Read as many personal statements as you can. Discovering what has worked vs what doesn’t work is equally important.

Admission committees are very experienced at reading personal statements. They can quickly sniff out when something rings false.

Be Yourself

Admission committees utilize the personal statement portion of the application to learn about you and why you want to go to law school. Tell your story, and do not try to hide who you are.

Discuss Personal Stories with Friends and Family

Try getting feedback on your topic ideas from family or friends.  If they have been to law school, even better, but talking about your topic and learning how to articulate why you chose that topic for your personal statement will help you flesh out good ideas vs bad ideas. 

[ RELATED: LSAT Admissions Consulting ]

Try a Reflective Writing Exercise

You should get in the habit of being able to think deeply about how your interests and experiences relate to attending law school. Try writing a sentence or two for each of these prompts to get warmed up:

Then try writing a paragraph or more in response to these prompts:

The personal statement is an integral part of the law school application, and it is important that you not only take it seriously but also try your best to have fun with it. Many questions may be circulating in your head that you feel need to be answered before you start to write your personal statement. Let’s look at frequently asked questions applicants have about writing their personal statements.

How long are LSAC personal statements?

Some law schools ask for only five hundred words, while others allow for up to four pages double-spaced. However, most schools ask for a two-to-three-page (double-spaced) essay.

Law schools have personal statement length requirements for two reasons: (1) to test your ability to follow directions (keeping to the length requirement) and (2) to evaluate how well you write.

What can I expect from the personal statement prompt? 

Most law school personal statement prompts are pretty vague and give the applicant a lot of room to interpret it as they see fit. 

Personal statement prompts are usually a general question and contain a page or word limit; exact requirements will vary from one school to the next. If you have questions you should get in touch with the admissions office via phone or email.

How personal should my personal statement be?

Incorporating emotion into your personal statement could make it more interesting and easier to read, but if you overdo it you can sound like you’re whining, begging, or trying to write a sob story—which can, in turn, be perceived as disingenuous.

Admissions committees want to see passion, but they also want to see who you are. It is extremely important to be honest. Law schools can see right through feigned emotions. Remember, they’ve probably read hundreds of thousands of these, and it’s very easy for them to detect when people aren’t being authentic. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, open, and clear—but make sure it comes from the heart.

A law school personal statement does not mean a mandatory hardship story. While getting through a rough life situation can be a great place from which to pull material for your personal statement, it is not even close to the only way to write a stellar piece, especially if it means overstating reality or making up emotional lessons that weren’t really present.

The biggest key to the law school personal statement is to be honest. The story you want to tell about how you’ve gotten where you are today doesn’t have to be exciting or on a grand scale or heartbreaking, it just needs to show something important about you.

“If you write about your childhood in your personal statement, you must find a way to tie it to your adulthood.”

Should you discuss your decision to attend law school in your personal statement?

This topic is contentious. If the rest of your application does not clearly indicate why you are applying—say, for example, you have no legal internship or student group experience, majored in a subject unrelated to law, and spent the past five years working in a biology lab—then you should at least touch on your reasons for pursuing a law degree in your personal statement.

However, if your application already demonstrates why you are applying to law school—whether through your college extracurricular activities, your work history, or your coursework—then you are probably safe to submit a personal statement that does not directly mention your decision to attend law school.

How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement

Law school personal statements should be:

Signatures and titles are not needed for law school personal statements.

How to Write a Great Law School Personal Statement

The trick to writing is getting that first word, sentence, or paragraph on the page; after that, everything can follow more easily. If you are having trouble starting your intro paragraph, start with the body of your essay. Saving the introduction or conclusion till the end is much easier for some people.

In each section of your essay, bring in references to who you are and how you will enhance the law school’s student body. Instead of just saying that you are diligent and compassionate, say that your experience training to run a marathon taught you the value of consistent hard work, and the time you spent volunteering with Habitat for Humanity showed you how important it is to empathize and help the under-resourced members of society. 

Find ways to make the things that you’ve done support your contention that you’ll bring something great to the law school.

Start with an Outline

Take your thoughts and organize them into an outline. Try to incorporate key attributes about yourself into your headings.

Remember that legal professionals place a high value on organization—a good personal statement is clearly organized and easy to follow—and since at least some of the people reading and evaluating your essay are legally trained, creating a good outline is crucial.

Personal Statement Intro Section

Starting a personal statement can be difficult and it may be easier for you to leave this section of your personal statement as the last thing you write. Use this section to introduce yourself, catch the attention of the reader, and set up your story.  

Tips for writing an introduction paragraph

Personal Statement Body Section

The body of your personal statement should focus on the details of your story. Each paragraph should expand on your points and begin with a topic sentence that expresses the main idea of the paragraph in which it occurs.

Ending sentences for body paragraphs should wrap up your points and help transition the reader to the next body paragraph or the concluding paragraph.

In the climax of your essay, use concrete language and zoom in on the moment of transition.

For example, if you talk about your financial stress, which was caused by foreclosure and you didn’t have an attorney, which led to you getting sick, don’t say that you “experienced hardship” or that it  “took a toll” on your health. What was the hardship? What was the toll? Specific, concrete details give transition moments their power.

[ TIP: Vary your sentence length to keep readers interested ]

Personal Statement Conclusion Section

The conclusion section of your personal statement should re-emphasize and summarize your main points.  It should be concise and leave the reader with a greater understanding of who you are and why law school is the next logical step for you in your education.  

If you are having trouble, consider taking a break and asking for help .  

Overcoming Writer’s Block

We all suffer from writer’s block sometimes, and it can be particularly brutal when the stakes are high … like when you are trying to get into law school.

One way to cut through the blockage is to make a stream-of-consciousness list of word associations. Start with a memory (e.g., first grade), a person (e.g., grandmother), or a place (e.g., the beach), and then just write down every word that comes to mind for the next two to three minutes. Do not worry if the words that come to mind are absurd (e.g., tuna, rabbits, dominoes)—they are coming from somewhere, and one of them just might trigger a memory that makes you think, “Ah! That could have a place in this essay.”

This advice may sound a little silly and unguided, but that is precisely the point. When you are experiencing writer’s block, that is a sign that you are too “in your head”—that is, your conscious mind. You need to hop over from your left brain to your right, which is less judgmental and more creative.

How to edit your law school personal statement

Do not underestimate how crucial editing is to writing a good personal statement. Editing is about far more than correcting your spelling and punctuation. A hastily edited personal statement could very well be the thing that makes the difference between “Congratulations!” and “We regret to inform you…”.

Inspect the Structure

Your first goal should be to make sure that your personal statement is well organized. Return to the outline that you wrote and shift things around if necessary. Make sure each topic sentence inspires you to keep reading.


Run the spell-check, of course, but also read through on your own, very carefully. If your typo is a correctly-spelled but inappropriately used word, it won’t set off the spell-check. Pay attention to your use of commas, semi-colons, and other punctuation marks; consult a resource on English language mechanics if you have any doubts about usage.

[ TIP: Make sure that you mention the correct law school in the essay ]

Verify Personal Statement Is About You

Avoid including too much about “the world” and/or too little about yourself.  Look for these items throughout your personal statement.

If any of these describe your current draft, look for ways of introducing yourself more frequently in it.

Get Feedback From Others

Once you’ve fully completed editing, ask several people whose writing skills you trust to look over your essay and offer suggestions. Ask them if they came away with a clear and cohesive sense of you as an individual. 

Incorporate Feedback

When you’ve gotten feedback from others, incorporate suggestions you find valuable into your rewrites. Repeat this as necessary until you get an essay that you’ve proud of… or until your application is due, whichever comes first.

Note: To maintain the integrity and authenticity of this project, we have not edited the personal statements, though any identifying names and details have been changed or removed. Any grammatical errors that appear in the essays belong to the candidates and illustrate the importance of having someone (or multiple someones) proofread your work.

Personal Statement

I don’t imagine the process of coming out as gay is easy for anyone. I can still remember the first time the words came out of my mouth. The person I told, my best friend, waited expectantly for the big news I had promised her over the phone. My heart began to beat faster. My palms were sweating. A million thoughts raced through my head. Here was something integral to my identity, something so deep it had taken me years to uncover. And I was about to tell someone who could either accept it, or turn away from me.

Fortunately, the experience in my case was a positive one, overall. Without fail, my closest friends and family told me they loved me, and would continue to do so. There were, of course, some people who did not accept me, and that hurt in ways that I can’t begin to explain. But the ones who really mattered embraced me, and coming out to them was an affirming experience. I knew even more than I had before that I had a network of people around me who cared for me and supported me.

When I was in college, I became involved in activities that affirmed my identity further. I organized on campus for things like a gay student union and gender non-specific bathrooms, and the groups I worked with had various levels of success with these projects. But [my undergraduate university] is a largely queer-friendly school in [a large metropolitan city], and so the activities felt somewhat sheltered. After organizing with these campus groups for a while, I branched out and began volunteering for organizations in the larger city ….

I had always known that not everyone’s experience of coming out as gay was as positive as mine, but it was when I became involved with these organizations that I began to see just how cruel the world could be to LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual] people. I met thirteen-year-olds who had been abused and thrown into the street because they were gay. I met trans women who had been discriminated against for their identities by bosses and landlords. I met drag queens whose daily experience involved street harassment and the threat of bodily harm. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who were struggling every day to meet their basic needs like food and shelter because of their identities.

I also began to learn from people who were older than me, who had slept on the Chelsea Piers, and lived through the plague of HIV and AIDS. I learned about intersectionality, the varied forms that oppression can take and where they meet in an individual’s life. I learned of how mainstream organizations like HRC [Human Rights Campaign] and those involved in the fight for marriage equality often jettison the most vulnerable members of queer struggle in order to achieve what they consider the “greater good”—like the exclusion of transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the ‘90s. I learned about assimilation of gay people into mainstream society, and how it worked remarkably well for some while for others it would never, ever be an option.

In the end, it was these—the most vulnerable members of my community—that I found the most reason to fight for. People whose doctors won’t treat them because they’re HIV positive. Trans men and trans women without legal documentation who can’t find a lawyer that will take them on. Intersex prisoners who the prison industrial complex tries to squeeze into its limited boxes.

I honestly believe going to law school is the best way I can help these people. I have spent years writing and signing petitions, organizing LGBTQIA dance parties, protesting in the streets. Now, as I enter the phase of my life in which I am choosing a profession, I want it to be one that takes all I have learned and keeps it in the forefront of my mind. I want to stand up for the people in my community who have so few advocates.

A queer utopia—that is, a world in which the struggles I have learned of through my involvement in the LGBTQIA community no longer exist—is still a long way off. But I have seen good people filling in the gaps in the lives of those most strongly affected by inequality. I am committed to becoming one of those people, and I feel that this is the best way I can do it.

A story illustrating the reasons you want to go to law school is always going to be more effective than a generic essay that anyone could have written; remember the point of the law school personal statement is to show a law school something unique about yourself. 

Law School Personal Statement Don’ts

[ NEXT: What not to do in a law school personal statement ]

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Law School Personal Statements What Not To Do

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How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement

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How do you write your law school personal statement? Well first of all, let’s make sure that we’re on the same page about what your personal statement is. Your personal statement is the one part of your law school application package and law school requirements that you have complete control over, so you’ll want to put your best foot forward. A personal statement will often focus on why you want to go to law school (or transfer law schools ), but it can also focus on a personal story or aspect of your life.

It shows what makes you unique and why a school should admit you. The personal statement should focus on you, your background, and your goals more broadly. Make sure that it adds something new to your application materials – the school already has your transcript, resume, etc. Think about what you really want the application committee to know about you.

Before anything else, a quick clarification: the law school personal statement is different from an optional essay , which can take on a variety of forms. This could include diversity statements, addendums, or other essays. Here are some examples of law school personal statements that may help you understand the task at hand better.

How do you format a law school personal statement?

In brief, here’s what your law school personal statement will need in terms of format:

Personal Statement Header

The header of the personal statement deserves a closer look. There are two ways of formatting this: either on one line, or on three. One line gives you more space on the page, but can look busy. Three lines have the opposite effect. Weigh the pros and cons based on the length of your statement, then format accordingly.

If you choose the one-line format, be sure to space your information out equally or separate it with punctuation (commas, dashes, and slashes work well) so that it reads clearly.

If you use a three-line format, separate information by line like this:

Name, Page Number LSAC # Personal Statement

Law School Personal Statement Format: FAQs

What should be included in a law school personal statement.

What should you not write in a personal statement for law school?

How do I write a statement for law school?

There are three main steps to the writing process, and they’re no different here! Namely: brainstorm, write, and edit. In this case, though, we’ll add a fourth step: format and proofread.

Voila! Your law school personal statement is now ready. If you’re planning to send it off to a T14 law school, check out our post on the top law schools for more tips and information. And no matter what, check out our post on how to get into law school !

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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book . Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS , is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press , while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND , co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter , Instagram , or Facebook !

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Writing a Law School Essay

By the time you open the application website to apply to law school, you have already done 90% of the work. You have finished at least three years of undergraduate school, if not already graduated; you have put in hours preparing for the LSAT or taken it already; and you have already built relationships with professors and professionals who can write you glowing letters of recommendation. For better or worse, there’s not much more you can do, except for one crucial part: the essays. Let’s get started in providing top tips to writing your law school essay.

In a typical law school application, you will be asked to write three essays: a Personal Statement, a Diversity Statement, and an Addendum/additional Information. Some schools vary, but each essay is usually a building block to the larger structure that is your application. In this section we will examine how to maximize your last chance to make a strong impression. Let’s start by examining just who, exactly, you are writing your essays for.

Your Audience

Unlike a college application essay or an essay for some MFA programs, a law school essay is not written for the candidate. You are writing the essay for a very specific audience, and you need to tailor it accordingly. So, who are you writing for? It does depend, but not by much. Generally, you will be writing for administrative staff (including admissions officers) and faculty. You are writing, in short, for a law school committee.

Because you are not writing as a lawyer would, you should not write as a lawyer does, meaning, a parsed and specific style in dry language no one would use in any other setting. Rather, you want the dean or faculty member to understand you, your motivations, and your perspective. They seek authenticity, so you should explore what guides you, what your story is. Make it compelling. Make it gripping. Make it worth reading, not just analyzing.

Your Essay Content

The first task of your essay is that it should answer the specific prompt of the instructions. At the extreme, you would sabotage your application if you included the name of a different school in your essay. But even if you avoid that pitfall, you should absolutely tailor each draft of an essay to each school’s particular instructions. Guided by this basic principle, your next task is to tell your story, market yourself, and showcase your writing. In storytelling, you would call this the theme. In marketing, you would call this your USP: unique selling proposition. How do you truly stand out? Ask yourself:

Next, having decided your message, you move on to working on your essays. But should you outline first or write starting from a whim of an idea and just keep chugging like a train? Our advice is to spend twenty to thirty minutes just jotting down ideas, even if you are feeling inspired. If you just react to the prompt, you might produce something good, but you may also have lost the chance to brainstorm something great. Don’t worry about your first draft, just produce content. Then, with later edits, you can become a critic and pick apart word choice, the story, and the flow. In short, “love your first draft, hate your other drafts.”

General Essay Advice

As a prospective lawyer, you presumably already know how to write well. But there are still common mistakes we see in essays.

The Personal Statement

Your GPA shows what you have done in your undergraduate years. Your LSAT score suggests what you might do at law school. Your resume shows what you have done outside the classroom. Now, the most important essay, the personal statement, will show why you have done these things. How should you begin? Ask the right questions.

Don’t write what you think the law school wants to hear or write your resume in paragraph form. Rather, jot down 10 topics you could write about. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Understand how all this connects to law school and your career goals.

The Diversity Essay

When you write about diversity in your application, “it’s not that you are diverse, it’s how diversity has impacted you.”

Diversity is not limited to skin color, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Consider, for example:

Consider the five experiences about you that make you unique or a minority. Of the five, which one has most shaped how you view the world? What is an experience that shows the impact it has had on you? Look beyond the obvious answer, look beyond facts and to your feelings and experiences, be personal and look ahead. Don’t turn your focus outside yourself, don’t write what you think the admissions committee wants, and don’t write this essay just for the sake of writing it.

The Addendum and Character/Fitness Questions

The third essay you may write is the “Additional Information” or the “Addendum” essay. This is an opportunity to confront a significantly low GPA, a low LSAT score, or academic misconduct/criminal charges. The key issue is, are you really admitting a weakness where one doesn’t exist? One bad grade doesn't need to be explained away, nor does one time you’ve been fired or let go from a job. A positive tone beats a negative one when the weakness isn’t that bad. However, if you are truly in the situation of having to explain a significant weakness, you can still do your best. Be honest, take ownership of why it happened, and discuss how you have grown.

Separately, some schools will ask you about academic shortcomings, gaps in employment, or other deficiencies as a mandatory (non-optional) short answer question. These range from behavioral misconduct, academic misconduct, professional disciplinary sanctions, a felony or misdemeanor, previous law school experience. Read the prompt carefully, be honest, and don’t worry too much, the act of answering is usually more important than the answer itself. Once again, be honest, take ownership, and show growth.

Why Program Essays/Other Brief Essays

Most schools limit themselves to one personal statement, one diversity statement, and one addendum. However, occasionally a school will want to know why you consider it a good fit for you. As a quick rule of thumb, if you can simply find out the information from a quick Google search, it will not be specific enough. Instead, specifically relate how you are a good fit. For example, a professor who focuses on a specific industry that you wish to enter, a pipeline whether formal or informal to a legal firm or corporation you wish to work for, or a research center that aligns with your interests. Avoid simplistic compliments (e.g., “world-class faculty”) in favor of how a specific center or professor is part of your journey.

Some schools will also ask for a number of short essays. Generally, similar advice applies here as it does to your long statements. Make sure you read the prompt and answer it relevantly. Answer sincerely rather than what you think the committee wants to hear. Remember it’s not what your answer is so much as why it is the way it is. Provide insight into what you value and how you think, and make sure the answers are “on brand” with the rest of your essays. Be specific and show your integrity, work ethic, and communication skills rather than merely proclaiming it.

Finishing Strong

Congratulations! You’ve completed your personal statement and other essays and are ready to submit. But, before you do so, let’s do one last checklist. First, make sure your grammar and punctuation are correct, that you don’t make common errors such as “their/there/they’re,” and “your/you’re.” Ask yourself:

Try changing your font size to one bigger than you use now. Blow it up to size 16 and read. You will be surprised at what you catch. Consider printing out your essay and editing with a pen or pencil. It will change your view of the essays. Submit your essay to sites such as Grammarly. Look for errors such as repetitive language, lack of transitions, conditional phrasing, and capitalization errors.

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How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement

Your personal statement is the flagship example of writing you submit with your law school application.

In applying to a professional school, it is important that your personal statement conveys your professionalism. Lawyers—and law school admissions officers—are sticklers for detail. So invest time in ensuring that your carefully crafted personal essay conforms to the formatting conventions that law schools expect. Admissions officers read thousands of these applications each year, so deviations from the norm will not escape notice. 

These rules have a purpose beyond formalities. Abiding by page limits shows your ability to communicate parsimoniously and use your words efficiently under strict limitations—as you would in a court filing.

This article lays out the most typical formatting requirements, but instructions will sometimes differ from application to application. Be sure to read the individual requirements for each law school you are applying to.

How Should a Law School Personal Statement be Formatted? 

The basic format of a law school personal statement is a double-spaced essay with 1-inch margins. You should use a standard font in size 11 or 12, like Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, or Arial. You can also use standard Google fonts with a similar aesthetic, like Roboto. 

Pick a clear font that doesn't draw attention to itself. This isn’t an application for design school. Show your creativity with the content of your essay, not its appearance.

If you need a bit more space on the page, Times New Roman is the most compact standard font. If you are struggling to fill space, Arial is the least compact. Every line counts! 

In double-spacing your document, be careful to avoid unsightly formatting issues, like the extra spaces between paragraphs that MSWord may add by default. They waste space and look distracting.

[Next Read: How to Show Commitment to Law School, Given Your Background ]

What is the Page Length for a Law School Personal Statement?

Most law schools require two pages for personal statements. Some schools will allow you to write three pages. A few schools get a bit crazy and allow four or more pages. 

I recommend first focusing on honing a great two-page personal statement. If you apply to a broad range of schools—I recommend at least a dozen—you will find that most ask for a two-page personal statement. If some of the schools on your list allow three pages, make a longer version. Consider adding in more details, backing up your points with examples, or expanding on your reasons for being interested in the school.

Don’t be afraid to write too much at first. It is common for a first draft to be too long. That is no problem, because the only draft that counts is the final one you submit.

If you find it hard to cut later drafts down to the page limit, your essay may lack focus. Perhaps it includes too many extraneous details that muddy the meaning of your essay. 

Look out for redundancy. Often I find that applicants stuff a lot of fluff into their first and final paragraphs, where language economy matters the most. Also beware of needless modifiers like adjectives and adverbs, and dialogue that could be expressed more efficiently with an indirect quote or summary.

You can also hone in on areas of your essay where you're trying to sound clever instead of communicating important information. Remember that your personal statement isn't your only opportunity to show your brilliance. Your application may include other writing like a diversity statement, optional essay, or addendum. 

Headers and Footers 

Your personal statement needs to include a header that has your name and your LSAC number. This will be crucial for admissions officers to identify your documents if they get mixed up.

You may title your essay "Personal Statement." I would not use a creative title, like “Turning Points” or “Life Lessons,” which can sound hokey.

You might also add page numbers, especially if your document is more than 2 pages long. 

Finally, make sure that you're sending a clean PDF. Clear any tracked changes, edits, or comments that may still linger in the document.

Before submission, print out the document and scrutinize it carefully. You don't want a half-baked idea or a sentence with no end hanging out in the middle of 

…your essay. 

Conclusion: Personal Statement Format As... A Useful Practice?

Formatting your personal statement may seem inconsequential. But getting the small details right is important. Imagine you’re closing a billion-dollar deal or submitting a last-minute petition to a grouchy judge. Lawyers take care in the work we complete, because so much can be hanging in the balance. Good luck!

[Next Read: How to Write a Resume for Law School Applications ]

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Online Master of Legal Studies » Related Law and Legal Degrees » Juris Doctor (J.D.) » Personal Statement

How to Write a Personal Statement for Law School 

Personal statements for law school are one of the most important parts of making your application stand out because they tell a story about a person’s character that can’t otherwise be known from a resume. Applicants seeking a law degree, such as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or an  online J.D. program , would do best to lean on communication and research skills from their undergraduate studies in order to write a good personal statement for law school. Use the guide below to explore resources for law school personal statement tips for formatting, dos and don’ts, and some topics for inspiration.

What is a Personal Statement for Law School?

A personal statement is a brief essay written by the law school applicant detailing their personal background and how it makes them a unique fit for the law degree program. The personal statement may also cover the applicant’s intentions for studies while enrolled in the program—such as a passion for litigation, immigration or environmental law—and what they hope to gain from being a student at that particular law school. While a personal statement won’t compensate for low LSAT scores,  it can include nuanced life experiences that cannot be gleaned from other aspects of the application, such as your transcripts, resume or letters of recommendation. 

What is the Admissions Committee Looking for in the Personal Statement?

Admissions committees typically look for some of the following topics:

Law School Personal Statement Format

Each university will have different requirements, but typically, a law school  personal statement format  may include:

Students should always carefully read the requirements for each law school they apply to before writing their personal statement. Be sure to check the requirements a second time after the personal statement is complete, especially when submitting personal statements to multiple universities. 

10 Law School Personal Statement Tips

Writing a personal statement can be a daunting task for some, but most law schools have guidelines or advice that can help reduce the pressure of what to write about. You may use the advice below to begin writing your personal statement, but be sure to check with your adviser or another academic professional who can help guide you through the process.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Law School Personal Statement

The individual requirements for a personal statement may vary depending on the university, but these general tips and advice for mistakes to avoid can be applied to writing your personal statement. 

Law School Personal Statement Topics for Brainstorming

Take a look at your resume and identify a few points about your life experience that aren’t already mentioned in your application. What makes you stand out as a law school applicant? If you’re feeling stuck, you may use the prompts below to brainstorm a topic to craft a unique law school personal statement:

If you’re still at a loss for where to begin, ask a friend or family member who knows you well to help identify a few personal attributes.

FAQs About Personal Statements for Law School

Law school applicants may have questions about specific details for their personal statements, which they should explore before beginning the writing process. Use the information below to navigate common questions, and be sure to go over each question with an admissions counselor at your desired law school.

Each law school may have its own requirements, but generally, personal statements are one to two pages in length. If no word count or page length is provided, make sure the essay is long enough to cover your main thoughts but short enough to keep the reader engaged. Have an adviser or editor read over your personal statement before submitting. 

A personal statement is different from a statement of interest, so it’s not always necessary to explain your interest in practicing law, which is assumed by the fact that you’re applying to law school in the first place. Applicants may mention a life event or passion that shaped their desire to make a difference by pursuing a law degree. Be sure to check the instructions given by the university before deciding what to include. 

Personal statements are a crucial part of expressing what makes you a good fit for a particular law school program. Applicants should treat the personal statement very seriously, especially given that other students are likely to appear equally qualified on their applications. A great personal statement may be the deciding factor in your acceptance into law school.

Yes, writing style matters in your personal statement—and throughout the entire application—because writing is a fundamental skill that lawyers use on a daily basis. Admissions committees are often made up of attorneys and graduates of the law school, so demonstrating excellent writing skills works to the advantage of applicants. Law school applications require significant effort, attention to detail and demonstration of critical thinking skills. They provide just a taste of the demand for writing that students will encounter during law school. If you want to learn more about the requirements of law school and the benefits provided by a law degree, read our guide, “ Is Law School Worth It? ”

Last updated September 2021.

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Law School Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide (Examples Included)

Learn how to write a law school personal statement that dazzles admissions committees.

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Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: why does the law school personal statement matter, part 3: what should a law school personal statement do, part 4: law school personal statement brainstorming, part 5: how to write your law school personal statement, part 6: law school personal statement examples, part 7: frequently asked questions.

The law school admissions process can feel confusing, scary, and overwhelming. Questions like “What LSAT score do I need?” , “How many law schools should I apply to?,” and “Do law school rankings matter?” likely weigh on your mind.

But amid all the uncertainty, there’s one thing we know for sure: the two most important components of your law school application are your undergraduate GPA and your LSAT score.

That means you should spend as much time as you’re able improving those two things. If you’ve already graduated from college or are about to graduate, you should focus on improving your LSAT score as much as you reasonably can. But while those two statistics are invariably the most important factors affecting the success of your law school admissions cycle, they aren’t the only factors admissions committees consider.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the third-most important part of your application: your law school personal statement.

Because your LSAT and GPA carry so much weight, you shouldn’t begin thinking about your personal statement until you have already taken the LSAT. But while you wait for your scores, you can turn your attention to the essay.

Before we get into the step-by-step guide, we’ll offer some general framing thoughts about the law school personal statement. While many people applying to law school are already strong writers with backgrounds in the humanities, social sciences, public policy, or journalism, they often forget the components of good storytelling as soon as they sit down to write their essays.

Remember that the tone of your law school essays isn’t the same tone you’ll use in a legal brief. Law schools are admitting the whole person. An artificial intelligence can handle legal research; only you can display the kind of narrative understanding of your own background and your own future that a good future attorney needs.

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A quality personal statement—a short essay in which you articulate who you are and why you want to go to law school—allows an admissions officer to understand your motivation to attend law school, and the reasons why you want to attend their school, specifically.

As admissions committees decide between students who have similar stats (i.e., GPAs and LSAT scores), they might turn to a tiebreaker: the personal statement. An effective law school personal statement can mean the difference between a letter that begins with “Congratulations!” and one that starts “We regret to inform you...”

In 2018, law school enrollment soared for the first time in nearly ten years. And the number of applications has continued to rise since then, with the 2020–2021 cycle bringing a 13 percent increase in applications compared to the previous year—the largest applicant pool of the past decade.

While the competition to get into a top law school has grown stiffer, students from these programs have less collective debt than their peers at lower-tier schools. A strong personal statement is one major way to push you beyond your scores and into the top 5, 10, or 14 programs , giving you a shot not only at a top-notch education with less debt, but also a flourishing career in the years after.

The personal statement also matters because lawyers have to write, and they have to come up with creative arguments to support a variety of claims. If you can’t make a case for yourself, how can a law school trust that you’ll defend tenants’ rights or argue successfully on behalf of a major corporation?

Your personal statement can demonstrate that you’re not only a rigorous, clear thinker but also a pristine writer, so make sure you don’t leave any typos for an eagle-eyed admissions committee to nitpick over.

Lastly, a strong set of law school essays demonstrates that you aren’t just going to law school by default. Unlike, say, medical school, law school has no undergraduate prerequisites, making it a generic possibility for many students who don’t know what to do next but want a respected career. Offering specificity, passion, and context for your application assures programs that you can make the most of these three years, and that you’ll represent them well as an alumnus or alumna.

(Suggested reading: How to Write an Amazing Law School Diversity Statement )

Your law school personal statement should tell the admissions committee something about you outside of your academic qualifications or work experience.

The personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your personality, reflect on the experiences that led you to apply to law school, and demonstrate how you will make a great addition to the school’s incoming class.

Meeting our students

Throughout the course of this post, we’ll provide examples from students who have gone through this process so you can see the writing process in action. These examples are either real essays that have been slightly adjusted for anonymity or are composites based on real students who have had success applying to T-14 (top-tier) schools.

Tucker: Tucker is from North Carolina and studied at UNC. He has bits and pieces of political experience, most notably working on a state representative’s successful campaign. He wants to return to North Carolina after law school to work as a public defender or return to politics.

Teresa: Teresa is a first-generation Nigerian immigrant who went to a large technically-focused state school, studied mechanical engineering, and ultimately decided a strictly technical career is not her forte.

Deepika: Deepika graduated with a 4.0 from a state school close to home. She studied premed, but toward the end of her undergraduate career decided med school wasn’t for her. In the last year, she’s worked for a local law firm as a paralegal and wants to become an attorney, preferably ending up at a big firm in New York City.

Pavel: Pavel did well as an undergraduate at Michigan, winning the collegiate national debate title along the way. He doesn’t know what kind of law he wants to practice, but right now he’s most interested in the work of prestigious non-profits like the ACLU.

Eric: Eric attended Morehouse, a historically Black college, and spent his undergraduate years studying American history while also getting involved in local Atlanta politics. He’s originally from rural Alabama, and moved to Baltimore after Morehouse to teach high schoolers for two years.

Victor: Victor, a Dallas native, took advantage of his liberal arts education at Harvard. He pursued an interdisciplinary major, Social Studies, and earned good but not fantastic grades in the competitive concentration. He did everything possible on campus: performed with an improv troupe, did work-study in the admissions office, attended weekly religious group meetings. When he graduated, it wasn’t obvious what he would do. He entertained offers from banks and consultancies alike, and he took his time before applying to law school, working in local government and attending a graduate program in France first.

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Before you begin writing, you should spend time brainstorming ideas. Because law school personal statement prompts are almost always broad—e.g. “Why do you want to go to law school?”—applicants often feel uncertain about how to proceed. Either you have too many ideas, or no clue what to write. First, let’s look at a strategy you can use if you don’t know where to start.

Grab a notepad, and answer the following questions:

What’s a time—a year, a summer, a month, even a day—that helped define who you are today?

What are your fondest memories from college?

When did you first think about becoming a lawyer?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced?

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

What cause do you care about most? When did you first begin to care about it?

What qualities do you associate with the law? When did you first begin to think about the law in those terms?

Who’s had a significant impact on you? What’s an important experience you had with that person?

What’s a Big Idea that changed the way you think? How did you encounter it (i.e. in school, with a friend, through religion, etc)?

What is definitely not on your resumé but is still an important part of who you are?

Feel free to ask yourself additional questions. The more ideas, the better.

Another way into your PS is to ask what qualities make a good lawyer, and how you embody those qualities. Here are a few to get you started, though this is by no means a comprehensive list.

A commitment to justice or the rule of law

A passion for a particular policy matter or issue (e.g. climate change, religious freedom)

A strong ability to communicate, verbally or in writing

Critical thinking skills and a facility for argumentation

A creative approach to problem-solving

Before moving from the idea-generation phase to the writing phase, take some time, whether it’s a few hours or a day or a week to step away from the process. This next step is best done when removed from the context of your brainstorming.

Focusing your ideas

Here are some of the topics that our students came up with:

Working on a local election campaign

Losing faith and deciding to leave the church he grew up in

Making environmental documentaries during his film coursework

Her senior product design engineering lab

Grandmother teaching her how to cook as a child

Interning for a civil/environmental engineering firm focused on renewables

Interning for a human rights non-profit

Growing up in Slovakia

The route to becoming the collegiate national debate champion

Being on the swim team in college

Her favorite painting, which is by a Sudanese refugee who immigrated to the United States

Working at a local law firm

Moving from a rural environment to a major city

Studying abroad in Oxford

Personally facing police injustice

Living and studying in France

Working underneath the mayor of a major city

Turning around his college improv troupe

Once you’ve generated a list of ideas, choose the one that most compellingly answers ALL of the following questions:

Why go to law school?

Before applying , let alone writing your personal statement, you should be crystal clear on why applying to law school is the logical next step for your ambitions and career.

This matters because admissions committees see too many law school applications from people who just need another step—a credential, a degree to top off their BA in English and render them more employable, or a place to hide out for three years. Explaining how a law degree will help you achieve your professional goals is crucial.

What personal strengths do I have that are not apparent in the rest of my application?

The admissions committees get two windows into your personality and life beyond the numbers: your personal statement and your letters of recommendation . Since, at the very least, you know what context your professors and/or other recommenders have on your professional and academic life, you can also deduce which aspects of yourself they might miss out on that an admissions officer would find compelling. The personal statement is a great place to highlight those.

Why do I want to attend this school specifically?

You should be able to articulate the reasons why a particular school appeals to you. Does the school have a strong reputation for your intended specialty (e.g., public interest law, constitutional law, intellectual property law)? Is there a specific faculty member with whom you want to conduct research? Is there a student organization on campus that can benefit from your expertise and leadership?

The more you’re able to tailor your personal statement to each school, the greater your chances of admission. This requires thorough research: look at the school’s website, reach out to current students and faculty members, and go on a campus tour if possible.

How do I embody the qualities of a good lawyer?

Your personal statement shouldn’t just tell a story of your own past, present, and future. In an ideal world, it’ll also speak to one or more of those intangible qualities that we listed above, or that you came up with in conversation with attorneys or professors. An admissions committee should be able to read your essays and think, “Yes, I see how this person will fit right into our larger legal world, because they’ll have to call on these qualities every day.”

How our students applied these principles

Teresa’s desire to be a lawyer is tied to her background in engineering. She wants her future career to be technical, but she sees real appeal in the skills that practicing law would employ, which has her thinking that a career in IP law could be a good fit. When she writes her essay, she wants to make sure she refers to her engineering expertise. Her idea to write about her experience on a product design engineering team survives this scrutiny.

It also demonstrates a fascination for creative problem-solving, and one can easily see how an engineer could turn her analytical mind toward the law.

Tucker, as we mentioned, was politically active throughout college, but much of that activity was informal, so he found it hard to capture in his resume or elsewhere. He wants to use his personal statement to highlight some of that passion, so he’s chosen to write about his Appalachian roots through the lens of the local candidate he worked with and how they relate to his advocacy. This topic also shows off Tucker’s passionate commitment to a whole constellation of causes and paints a clear picture of how he might use his law degree—to return home to North Carolina to address major systemic issues like poverty, racism, and the opioid crisis.

If you feel like you still have a few winners after narrowing on those criteria, you still have to pick just one. The final selection should be a combination of all the above lessons, while also asking yourself, “Which of these can tell the best story?” At the end of the day, great personal statements tell a story, and some of your ideas probably map more easily to that reality than others. If the idea doesn’t yield a story, it may not be your best. Kill it.

These questions may serve as a litmus test for whether an idea can turn into a good tale:

Do you have a story and not just a topic? In other words, can you reference a specific anecdote (a day, a summer)? Could you, if pressed, write a scene, with characters and images to illustrate your larger narrative?

Is yours a story no one else could tell? If there were other people who did your exact same jobs, or attended your exact same university, could they come up with the same essay?

Is there a natural tension or conflict present?

Did you change at all from the beginning to the end of the relevant time period? How? Was it a surprise?

In telling this story, will you sound like yourself, or is there a risk that you’ll have to write robotically or flatly?

Whichever idea you choose, you should be able to answer yes to at least one of these questions.

To that end, while Deepika felt at first that her time at a local law firm melded naturally with her desire to go to law school, the emotional arc she identified in how moved she was by the painting and the emigré narrative of the artist felt an easier story to tell, not to mention a more unique one (law schools read a lot of essays about being a paralegal).

Similarly, Pavel was torn between writing about his debate experiences or interning with an NGO, but his version of the former gives more insight into who he is and how he’s changed and grown, which means he’ll be able to tell a better story.

Eric, for his part, opted to tell a story that was personally gut-wrenching but which drew a very clear connection between him and the law: the moment a police officer wrongfully arrested him for “loitering.”

And Victor made a bold choice: he didn’t really choose. Instead, he decided to use several of his experiences as canvas in a larger, quilted story about his passions and sense of self.

Before you dive into writing the best personal statement the admissions committee has ever seen, it’s often useful to create an outline. An outline will keep your ideas organized and help you write more efficiently.

Here’s one path you could follow as you outline:

First paragraph: Lead with the anecdote or story

It may be tempting to write straight away about the importance of the legal system or why you’re excited about a particular school, but beginning with your narrative draws readers in more effectively. In addition to hooking readers, an essay that tells a story will be more memorable than one that feels focused entirely on listing your readiness for or interest in studying the law. To drive this home further, every applicant has an interest in studying the law. Pinning that interest to a story only you can tell will make your application all the more memorable.

How do you know what the right anecdote is? Remember how our litmus tests above asked about scenes? A story is a story—rather than an idea or a topic—if it can be populated with vivid descriptions of the characters and setting. Can you recall the smell of the damp room where you sat when it was announced that your boss has won the state senate seat? How did you feel on the first day of your new teaching job in the Texas border town? What was the weather like? How big was the space? Who else was there? Did someone say something particularly memorable?

Another way to check for your anecdote is to think about what growth or change you’re trying to demonstrate through the essay. What was the beginning of that growth or change? What, in other words, was the inciting incident that kicked off your epiphany or transformation?

This opening anecdote or personal hook is the place our only you litmus test matters most. No one else should be able to tell this story the way you can tell this story. Your personal views, history, and perspective will color what details pop out.

Tucker chose to open with a beautiful, personal reflection on the place that shaped him. It both sets the stage with narrative finesse, literally demonstrating place and space, but also gives us an inciting incident that spurred Tucker’s new relationship to his hometown.

Note also that Tucker’s opening is not explicitly or even obviously related to the law. Take a look:

I did not know that my home town was a small one until I was 15 years old. Growing up, I thought I lived in the big city, because Greensboro has skyscrapers—isn’t that the dividing line between the big city and not? It’s also the first town that appears on interstate signs in North Carolina once you get on I-40, headed west from Durham. I figured if the interstate thought we were important, why shouldn’t I? So when I went to Rochester, New York in tenth grade for a student conference with my friends at school, I proudly announced that I was from Greensboro to the first person who asked, only to have her, a Bronx resident, respond, “Uh, where?” It was then that I learned one thing it could not claim to be was “the big city.”

Eric also set a scene in vivid, visceral, painful detail. Because his story was so intense, he didn’t limit himself to just one paragraph at the start. He took his time, the way a lawyer would, laying out every component of what happened to him when he was wrongfully arrested, and demonstrating everything he witnessed as part of the process. This sets him up to level a layered and specific critique of the system that was responsible for his arrest.

After less than four minutes of waiting on the front lawn of my private property for my uncle to arrive, I was arrested and forced into a squad car without a reason for my arrest. As he tightened the cold handcuffs on my wrists, the arresting officer asked my age. Perplexed, I informed him I was eighteen years old. “Great,” he exclaimed, as he slammed the door in my face while he exchanged smiles with his partner. Oblivious, I waited in the back seat, as he drove down the block, anxiously awaiting an explanation for my arrest. Less than thirty seconds after forcing me in the car, the police officer jumped out of the car, pursued an unsuspecting boy riding his bike in the neighborhood, aggressively pulled him from his moving bike, and placed him in handcuffs. After throwing the boy in the back seat with me, the cop sped off—leaving the boy’s bike behind on the sidewalk to be stolen. The caravan of police proceeded to rampage the area arresting more young men walking through the neighborhood.

On the ride to the police station, I repeatedly asked the officer the reason for my arrest. After a few minutes of ignoring my questions, he said he arrested us for loitering. After arriving at the police station, the cops expressed their disapproval of my choice of clothing. At that moment it was clear that I was profiled based on my appearance alone.

A couple of hours later, my mother arrived and demanded my release. When releasing me, the cops repeatedly apologized to my mother insisting that they did not know they had a “good kid.” The whole experience left me wondering how many people, besides the ones I witnessed, are wrongfully arrested or wrongfully convicted, due to their appearance, ignorance, and lack of access to quality legal advice and representation.

Lastly, let’s look at Victor’s essay, which took an unconventional approach. He didn’t begin with a specific anecdote, but he did take on the voice of a storyteller.

The house is quiet—its residents have been asleep for some time now. In a modest room on the second floor, only faint specks of moonlight peek through the window blinds. A few of these beams land on a small, round face, his eyes glittering in the darkness. Although he retreated to his bedroom hours ago, sweet slumber eluded him. This was not the first time: for as long as he could remember, he would lie awake when he should have been in repose, his mind excitedly flitting from one thought to the next. He pictured distant lands, from Spain with its beautiful language and world-renowned cuisine, to his parents’ mother country of Ghana, where farmers journeyed for miles to sell their wares in vibrant cities teeming with life. He also loved superheroes, and he sometimes imagined himself launching into the sky like Superman, sailing through the air as quickly as possible to help a family in need. At this late hour, when the sun had not yet nudged above the horizon and his loved ones were just beginning to dream, he was obsessed with the world not as it was, but as it could be.

Victor knows that someone might read his application and wonder about his seeming lack of focus. By opening here, he demonstrates that his diversity of interests is a core part of who he is, and that he wasn’t a waffler or a flip-flopper but, rather, a curious person by nature.

Body paragraphs: Convey who you are

You should try to accomplish the following in your body paragraphs. They don’t—and probably shouldn’t—happen in this order, with each of the below points being assigned to a paragraph. But as you write, you ought to be able to pull off each of the following.

Connect the narrative to a thesis. Only after you’ve told the story should you articulate your thesis, your “here’s why I am applying to law school/want to be a lawyer/care about the law.”

Teresa accomplished this beautifully. She opened with a personal anecdote about her father’s annual “Design Days,” days in which the family would make physical things, and which spurred in her a love of creating with her hands. It’s not obvious what that has to do with the law at first, which is part of what makes it a great opening. By the third paragraph, she links it brilliantly to her legal preoccupations, and, in doing so, explains why a former engineer is applying to law school.

But the reality for many creators in America is that their work is under threat. The chief protection for many fledgling creators, whether they’re scientists or engineers or musicians or writers, is the legal system. Patent trolls aim to trounce startups; large institutions create environments unfriendly to more nascent artists. In between them stand good lawyers ready to defend the individual artist, scientist, inventor. While the American intellectual property system is not void of imperfections, it remains true that copyright and patents can and should protect the creations of every person who experiences the same precious sense of creativity my father introduced me to every November 1.

Articulate what kind of lawyer you hope to be. You might have a sense of what sort of law you want to practice, whether it’s being a defense attorney or general counsel for a big corporation. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Go back to the qualities you came up with in the brainstorming phase. What values and ideals does your life so far reflect, and what do those have to do with the kind of legal career you hope to have? This doesn’t have to take up too much space. Deepika neatly and simply explains:

I want to apply my desire for more legal experience specifically to the problem of migration.

Connect the personal to the professional. Don’t leave your opening personal anecdote out to dry. Even something that has ostensibly nothing to do with the law, like, say, Deepika’s choice to write about the artist, will need to say something about your own commitment to pursuing the law.

Remember, though, that by this point, you’ve defined what exactly the law means to you , which should help you connect your personal story to the legal profession. You don’t need to draw a through line from your grandmother’s illness to late nights as an associate lawyer working off your school debt. But you can connect your presence throughout your grandmother’s illness to the continuity of care that you’ll give your clients when they sue nursing homes for negligence.

Take a look at how Tucker does that at the end of his personal statement, which has spent most of its time in the terrain of the personal, but turns toward the professional as it closes.

The Appalachian conversation is necessarily a legal one. As some Carolinians line up along racial boundaries, many good lawyers are working to combat the mass incarceration of minority populations, while other good lawyers champion free speech for even the most maligned activists. When free speech intertwines with debates about white nationalism and the South's history, impact litigators argue multiple sides to arrive at good legal judgments that do not stop at popular opinion. As my own mayor was maligning the presence of refugees, Virginia immigration lawyers were ensuring that local migrants were educated about their rights and responsibilities. The rigor in pursuit of justice that legal conversation applies has an immense role to play in these heated debates.

In particular, the conversation about race can go deeper here at home than most are willing to take it. One issue that has faced recent attention in the highest courts is equal representation in the electorate. Studying at Harvard will train me to ensure that existing civil rights are protected. It will teach me about the viewpoints informing present discussions of how civil rights are defined and advocated for. While race, gerrymandering, and voter ID laws are contentious issues on a national scale, both recent attention and my deep roots in the region have made it clear to me that North Carolina is a place where the legal conversation needs to be carried further. I want to attend Harvard to acquire the skills, legal context and history, and education to do this work in my home.

Don’t lose your sense of story. Often, when we reach the middle of the essay, we’ve grown tired and are eager to start summarizing our resumé.

Remember that you still need to maintain the narrative propulsion that you introduced by kicking off with an anecdote or personal hook. Another way of saying this is that you need to remain present throughout the body paragraphs. As with the whole essay, ask, with every paragraph: am I the only person who could have written this? Or could one of my fellow interns at the Goldman Sachs legal program have come up with the same take?

Victor does a great job of maintaining his commitment to the storyteller’s voice, even in the middle of his essay, as he’s showing off his professional accomplishments. Witness his use of character and dialogue here:

“I hope you have had no issues settling into life here… Now, on to business. What’s wrong with this city?” the Mayor asked softly, rapidly twirling his pen in the process. Needless to say, I was floored; it was my third day in public service, and I could not think of a weightier question, one with tremendous implications for the large city where I’d taken a job. Although I felt under-qualified for such a task, he was confident in my ability to review the city’s finances from a completely blank slate. A week later, we ruminated over innovative approaches to topics ranging from how to name our city a “sanctuary city” to solving the region’s major infrastructure issues. While there were clear legal frameworks for operating within each of these spaces, we also had substantial freedom to propose what we wished.

As we refined our proposals, I realized that laws gave us the framework necessary to think critically about what was possible, but they rarely led to a clear conclusion about how to proceed. Final decisions would come as a result of deliberations with relevant internal and external parties, discussions with our counterparts in nearby cities and regions, vetting particular approaches with members of our staff and even state Senators, and checking our conclusions against the advice offered by legal counsel. No one group could act unilaterally, and our contributions were but a small piece of a larger policymaking apparatus.

Demonstrate change and growth over time, and remember that it’s not the same thing as flip-flopping. Two key components of a compelling story are conflict and resolution. Something, in other words, has to change between the beginning and the end. The middle is a great place for that to happen. You can think of it the way fiction writers think about plot: a set of events alongside a set of emotional shifts. The events incite the emotional shifts.

Deepika does this by addressing her former interest in medicine, and explaining how it gradually shifted to an interest in the law. She doesn’t pretend that she’s always wanted to be a lawyer. It’ll be obvious from her transcripts and extracurriculars that her interests lay elsewhere . Making this change part of her narrative is a good choice:

I was spending the summer working for a public health nonprofit based in Kenya, exploring a future career in medicine, and I’d used my weekend to visit a gallery with some local friends. Despite growing up in a family that appreciated art deeply, no one had equipped me for a moment where a painting could bring me so immediately to tears. Agnostic to the artist’s story, which I got only after he saw my reaction to his work, the painting itself was just such a guttural and emotional work. Something about how directly he’d translated his own trials into the medium flew straight through me. The name of the piece was “Resurrection,” and it was scratched from a discarded advertisement board that he had repurposed. The faceless figure told a story of a life plagued by violence, that violence rendered on the work itself with haphazard scratching and peeling of the paint. I was breathless seeing what he had gone through, and thinking of how that had made its way onto the “canvas.” We talked for a while, swapping our very different stories of moving countries. After, I said a sincere thank you, and I left.

By the end of that summer semester, I was sure that medicine was not the career for me. But I didn’t immediately know where to put all my passion. In a moment of serendipity, I was able to experience firsthand the value of the legal world and see attorneys in action by working as a paralegal. The hands-on legal experience I received there was ultimately vital to my decision to practice law, but I return to that summer in Nairobi as a real clarion call to do something different.

Conclusion: Tie it all together

After telling a story and spending time articulating your goals more clearly, a concluding paragraph can leave the reader with an understanding of who you are and why you’re applying—the best result you can hope for from a good personal statement.

There are a number of ways to think about an ending, which can be the toughest, and most easily clichéd part, of any essay.

First, let it happen naturally, rather than forcing it. We recommend not stressing about the ending until you’ve written your way to it. An essay that ends in exactly the spot you thought it would when you began it risks sounding cliché.

Second, declarative statements often make for clichéd endings. Things like “and that’s why I want to become a lawyer” or “and I’ll use these skills every day in my life as an attorney” can sometimes work, but often read as default options. If everyone can come up with that ending, it might not be a good one.

For Tucker, it works. He writes:

I want to attend Harvard to acquire the skills, legal context and history, and education to do this work in my home.

This simple sentence works because so much of Tucker’s essay has involved literary writing and reflection on place. A declarative statement won’t hurt him here. It’s also a gentle, nice touch to end on the words “my home,” since his essay has been about what it means to belong to a particular stretch of land.

Third, consider ending on an image or with a call-back to where you began the essay. This is one of the most organic and satisfying ways to conclude any piece of writing.

Deepika’s essay, for instance, opens on a painting done by a refugee artist, and then zooms out to discuss her own life story. But she brings the personal statement full circle by returning to the inciting image:

Recalling that artist’s story both in his own words and by seeing “Resurrection,” I understood what a privilege it is to have a legal system that can uphold freedom of expression, and one that also makes way for new futures for immigrants like my parents year after year.

To that end, I want to apply my desire for more legal experience specifically to the problem of migration. In addition to the real personal transition that this artist’s work opened for me, this decision feels an important one now more than ever as the current administration angles toward, I believe, increasingly harmful and inconsistent implementations of immigration policy to the detriment of young children who could one day paint a Resurrection II.

Victor’s essay pulls off a similar circular structure. He began with a third-person portrait of himself as a young boy, dreaming voraciously of all that he wants to discover in the world. He closes with a portrait of who he is now, a polymath of sorts who has begun to make some of those discoveries but who needs the law to help him go further:

Two decades later, that little boy staring up into the darkness has become an adult, but his penchant for moonlit dreaming has never waned. In fact, those dreams are now accompanied by a set of experiences with the potential to carry such visions forward into a life of impact and service to others. After having the opportunity to explore a variety of roles, I cannot think of a better long-term career with which to realize my unique ambitions at the intersection of business, public policy, and community activism than legal practice. Whether I provide pro bono advice to city government, serve as counsel to an international company, or represent my community as a public servant, a career in the law is my chance to fly into the fray and create something once thought unthinkable for collective benefit. My thoughts may never rest long enough to ensure an immediate night’s sleep, but I might finally obtain a deeper peace through advocacy and service.  

After you’ve finished the first draft of your law school personal statement

First, congratulations! Writing the first draft of your personal statement is no small feat. But the work has just begun! Your personal statement should undergo several revisions before submitting. Some tips for revising:

Read your essay aloud. By doing so, you will notice small typos and wording issues, as well as larger issues with form, that you wouldn’t otherwise. Reading aloud shifts the way your brain consumes the work, sometimes to great effect. It also helps you get a sense for how much an essay has your voice. You should sound like yourself when you read your essay aloud.

Ask for feedback. You should have a peer, professor, or admissions advisor read your essay. The core question to ask them to evaluate is, “Do you have a good sense of who I am and why I want to attend law school after reading this?” If the answer is no, revisions are necessary.

For big changes, rewrite instead of editing. This one can be a bit of a pain after investing all the time you have, but if you decide to make a large change in form or content, start again with a blank page. It can be tempting to preserve your existing structure and just slot in the changes where they fit, but you’ll end up with a more cohesive and coherent final product if you start anew.

You needn’t trash everything you wrote, of course. Print out a hard copy of your original, keep it on the table beside you, and open a clean doc. Rewriting from scratch whatever you do keep rather than performing a simple copy-paste will ensure you end up with one essay at the end, rather than two spliced together.

Below are the law school personal statements produced by the students we’ve followed throughout this guide, all well another successful personal statement example, all based on the writing process we just walked through.

Law school personal statement example 1

Here’s Tucker’s Harvard Law School personal statement.

That student conference, as well as the handful of other opportunities I had to travel in high school, was my first inkling that, for many people, the Blue Ridge Mountains were not a known part of the very big world I grew up aching to see more of. Because even before I realized that Greensboro was no major landmark, I still wanted to explore beyond it. My mother taught French and Spanish and was always eager to ensure I realized there were places beyond my backyard. I was also exhausted by the idea of graduating college and returning home to work in Greensboro, where, at the time, jobs were not always plentiful and hobbies were few. But, for financial reasons, college was not my long-dreamt-of exodus. I went to the University of North Carolina, which, while an hour away, certainly belongs to the same chunk of Carolina as Greensboro.

In Chapel Hill, I loved long drives. My road of choice was Mount Sinai Road. It winds down the banks of Old Field Creek, bridging the gap between Durham and I-40. It's the start of the route I took back to High Point to visit my family, and it's where I rode my bike during Chapel Hill summers. It was on Mount Sinai that I first realized how attached to this region I am.

Along Mount Sinai’s twists and turns, you can get a real sense of what North Carolina is and can be. There’s a deep agrarian heritage and rolling hills that hide the sun from their most intimate holler. Along these roads live a people who do not mind being heard, as their “These are God’s roads, so don’t drive like hell” sign would have you know. Most of all, though, Mount Sinai was one of many places over the last 25 years in Appalachia that taught me how much this land means to me. I recognize the grasses and the trees and the architecture and the people in a way that I could not possibly know another place, and that knowledge has rooted me in a way that I did not expect as a child at a student conference in Rochester, New York.

As I realized how distinctly Appalachian my own personal history is, I started to see similar connections in my family. I learned of our family struggles with substance use and of my mother's father’s affinity for our Confederate heritage. I learned I'm only a few generations removed from the McCoys of Hatfield-McCoy fame. I learned that the not-so-rosy Appalachian existence was not a storybook reality but a familial one. However, I also learned of my grandfather's sense of adventure and of the unique sense of play my father was gifted with as a child by being able to spend so much time outside in the crick. I learned that my grandmother once modeled for the rail photographer O. Winston Link and that my great uncle once threw a snowball at Elvis.

In the last year, I also saw Appalachia couched in a larger national context, especially as I tried to reckon with my home place from afar while living and working abroad last summer. I intimately knew the people, “the poor, white, rural voters,” being bandied about as political caricatures on television. As the opiate crisis worsens, a national spotlight is being thrust on my neighbors in West Virginia. As commentators wonder how much historical context justifies the presence of Confederate monuments, attention turns to Charlottesville. My home place, my Appalachia, is becoming a topic of a much larger conversation about how to support the plight of the rural American while not also succumbing to the part of that population that longs for an unequal, racist past. I believe my voice adds to that conversation. So, I took to door-knocking for Representative Edward Mitchell, knowing that the first impact I might have could be a political one. I don’t want to stop there. The law can open even more doors.

What works about Tucker’s essay, among many things:

Writing. Tucker writes fluently and smoothly, especially when he’s thinking about place and the world that shaped him. The images, the roads, and local vocabulary like “the local holler,” all contribute to the strength of his writing. Even if sentences don’t come to you naturally, you can shortcut your way to a great personal statement by including vivid descriptions of your surroundings.

An authentic connection to the law. Tucker lingers in the personal for quite a long time in this essay, and he does so because he knows he can make that confident transition: “The Appalachian conversation is a necessarily legal one.” It’s so deftly argued that we don’t even realize he’s been sculpting an argument all along, using his personal experience as a case study.

Law school personal statement example 2

Another example, a Yale Law School personal statement, this time from Teresa:

November 1 is my favorite day of the year. When I was growing up, my father would call it “Design Day.” I think he liked the alliteration. He loves woodworking, and he would spend the early fall amassing natural treefall from the woods behind our house in anticipation of November 1. Every year, he’d spend the day making things, small and large, whether a bird with a bandsaw or a new coffee table. He first invited me out into the garage when I was seven. I still wonder why he felt the imperative to concentrate so much of his hobby time into that one day, but I think he understood pinning it to a date would make it somehow more special, even if it was an arbitrary one.

Over the years, in that garage, and especially as an early teen, I learned how valuable it was to create something, to make a thing you call your own. That same feeling was reborn as a senior at Purdue University. As part of my studies in mechanical engineering, my classmates and I were required to join one of myriad senior design teams. The topics ranged from designing our own delivery drones to creating various nanotechnology applications. I eventually decided to work on a project designing new flatpack shelters that could be deployed in disaster areas with improved durability and sustainability, because I was excited by the real-world applications of my studies helping others. I saw not only my own progress first-hand, but also the development of others’, and, yet again, again the intrinsic value of a made thing.

The crux of my shift from wanting to be a maker myself to instead wanting to lend my voice to their defense was seeing Dr. Everett Simpson in action. Dr. Simpson, himself a lawyer, now teaches engineering ethics but spent the spring semester consulting all of the projects with patentable work on their IP obligations and rights. The care with which he approached the issues, but especially our interactions, opened my eyes to a world in which I might leverage my technical expertise as an advocate rather than an engineer, a combination I find so appealing.

It’s thanks to those interactions with Dr. Simpson, backed by my father’s own creativity from day one, that has led me to apply to Yale Law School. Knowing that your program in IP law is a strong one and being especially excited by the research that Professor Yochai Benkler is doing on the intellectual commons, I am confident that after three years at Yale, I will be positioned well to train as an advocate for those creators near and far.

What’s great about Teresa’s essay:

Multiple life stages. Teresa, like Deepika, has been fully committed to another discipline at one point in her life. Instead of defensively explaining why she’s moving into law now, she uses her past experience as a “maker” to explain that her previous engineering life naturally and inevitably brought her to the law. She tackles this intersection from both a personal and a professional standpoint, moving from her father to Dr. Simpson with ease.

“Why us?” Teresa’s “Why us?” addendum at the end of the essay is neat but strong. She clearly knows more about the school than what a simple Google search could yield. Referencing Dr. Benkler, whose appointment is in economics, isn’t an obvious choice for a law school candidate, but indicates that she’s grasped her field from multiple disciplinary perspectives.

Law school personal statement example 3

Here’s another full-length law school personal statement example, from Deepika:

He lives in Nairobi now. He was not born there: He grew up in Sudan, along the Nile. On a few separate occasions, he was dismissed from his studies for his political involvement, a reality I can know about but find hard to internalize. After a few efforts to pursue his practice in Sudan he left Khartoum for Benghazi. I don’t know his name. What I do remember is how it felt to see his paintings for the first time.

What we can admire from Deepika’s essay:

An unlikely take on the personal. Many applicants feel that a personal story must involve them shedding blood on the page. Deepika doesn’t get enormously vulnerable here. She doesn’t talk about Big Traumas that happened to her; in fact, she feels like she’s been pretty lucky, all told. But she does talk about a personal connection to art, and that is quite a strong window into who she is.

Ending. Deepika’s return to the painting at the end of her essay makes the whole essay feel natural, and indicates an authentic relationship to questions of immigration. It also tells us that she’s thought about what her commitment to immigration policy could change in the world, that she’s got a fully formed view of society.

Law school personal statement example 4

Here’s Eric’s Columbia Law School personal statement:

After less than four minutes of waiting on the front lawn of my private property for my uncle to arrive, I was arrested and forced into a squad car without a reason for my arrest. As he tightened the cold handcuffs on my wrists, the arresting officer asked my age. Perplexed, I informed him I was eighteen-years-old. “Great,” he exclaimed, as he slammed the door in my face while he exchanged smiles with his partner. Oblivious, I waited in the back seat, as he drove down the block, anxiously awaiting an explanation for my arrest. Less than thirty seconds after forcing me in the car, the police officer jumped out of the car, pursued an unsuspecting boy riding his bike in the neighborhood, aggressively pulled him from his moving bike, and placed him in handcuffs. After throwing the boy in the back seat with me, the cop sped off—leaving the boy’s bike behind on the sidewalk to be stolen. The caravan of police proceeded to rampage the area arresting more young men walking through the neighborhood.

During this experience and others similar to it, I was most uncomfortable with the feeling of being helpless and not well-informed about my rights. I did not like that my lack of knowledge prevented me from defending my rights and the rights of others. This experience was just one of the many instances where I witnessed a person in power abuse their authority to trample the rights of people who were not knowledgeable of their rights and did not have the resources necessary to access legal advice. My ignorance of my rights during these types of experiences was frustrating and also frightening. Being at the mercy of an apparently ethically unsound figure of authority who seemed to make arbitrary and capricious decisions, that could greatly impact my life, was very unsettling.

Witnessing grave miscarriages of justice has inspired me to equip myself with the tools necessary to fight unjust situations. These experiences have definitely fostered my desire to educate and advocate for those disadvantaged individuals and communities.

My experiences in the Columbia Law School Law Clinic reaffirmed my interest in advocating for socioeconomically challenged individuals and communities. During my time in the law clinic, I have been exposed to a plethora of pro bono opportunities and organizations. Some of the causes I’ve been able to dedicate my time to include: assisting an innocent man, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for eighteen years, with his exoneration; helping asylum seekers, who face the threat of being killed in their home country because of their sexuality or regional violence, through the asylum application process; assisting disabled and elderly Hurricane Sandy victims gain access to much needed food benefits; and assisting small business owners with filing their organizational documents with the state. Coming from a socioeconomically challenged background myself and being able to assist with matters that I can empathize and sympathize with has made me yearn for more knowledge that would better equip me to help indigent people in need of legal assistance.

After deeply scrutinizing legal field, working towards great causes in Columbia’s Law Clinic, and actively seeking various opinions about law school and the legal field, I believe law school is the next logical step for me to fulfill my aspirations to advocate for socioeconomically disadvantaged people on a more substantive level. I know I will be a great lawyer and be a positive agent of change. I fight tirelessly towards causes that I strongly believe in; and as a result I put forth great work that reflects the amount of effort expended.

I am sure that at the Columbia University School of Law I will be able to access a quality legal education that will challenge and prepare me for my future as an advocate for the more vulnerable members of society. I know that Columbia Law School will provide an intellectually nurturing environment that offers a bounty of experiential learning opportunities that are beneficial to my preferred learning style, and continue to surround me with individuals that will contribute to my growth and push me to strive for more. Columbia Law will also allow me to utilize my unique perspective, experiences, and skills to continue to make valuable contributions to the Columbia University community in and outside of the classroom.

What we can learn from Eric’s essay:

A clear tie between the personal and the professional. Eric chose to write about an extremely vulnerable moment in his history, one that might be an intuitive choice these days as we become more used to public conversations about the “grave miscarriages of justice” Eric writes about but which, a few years ago, might have seemed like a risky choice. By going there, and by linking it to his professional career so clearly, he gives us a memorable essay and tells us that he will be working to correct that injustice for many years to come.

Descriptions of prior professional work. Eric clearly articulates what he got out of his work at the Law Clinic, enumerating his involvements without making them seem too flat. He then draws a neat line between those experiences and what he wants out of law school at the same institution.

Law school personal statement example 5

Below is Victor’s University of Chicago Law School personal statement:

The summer before my freshman year of college, I worked for a law firm in my hometown as an assistant case manager. It was my first real job, and we were tasked with following up on the results of a settlement which promised compensation to individuals injured by cigarette use. Many of the claimants in the suit were not involved with the original case, but a wrinkle in the law meant that those who had not initially issued a claim could still stand to receive reparations. During that time, I witnessed the devastating impact of tobacco use on countless lives, and I was given an opportunity to think creatively about how to defend their claims. Whether it was by recovering medical records that could credibly tie cigarette use to the onset of disease, or looking back decades to find proof of a claim under the original settlement, we worked tirelessly to help grant our clients restitution. It was seldom a straightforward process, yet we did our best even when key details were sparse.  

Four years later, I joined a major corporation as a full-time legal analyst working directly for the management team of one of its nascent commercial arms. At first, I expected to focus on regular meetings of the Board of Directors and related tasks, such as scheduling in accordance with regulatory requirements, setting the annual agenda, and performing discrete analyses consistent with the Company’s ongoing legal needs. However, I was quickly assigned more abstract projects, rooted in questions such as “Where could the Company open a foreign branch?” and “How would proposed changes in regulation adversely impact the Company’s overall business?” When I joined the Company, I viewed the laws set by regulatory agencies as fixed mandates, but I soon learned that these laws were subject to considerable negotiation and amendment. The Company’s business model and its evolution raised legitimate questions about which functions the private sector should be allowed to perform, and my time there opened my eyes to the myriad potential organizations have to directly or indirectly shape the laws that govern their work.

“I hope you have had no issues settling into life here… Now, on to business. What’s wrong with this city?” the Mayor asked softly, rapidly twirling his pen in the process. Needless to say, I was floored; it was my third day in public service, and I could not think of a weightier question, one with tremendous implications for the large city where I’d taken a job. Although I felt under-qualified for such a task, he was confident in my ability to review the city’s finances from a completely blank slate. A week later, we ruminated over innovative approaches to topics ranging from how to name our city a “sanctuary city” to solving the region’s major infrastructure issues. While there were clear legal frameworks for operating within each of these spaces, we also had substantial freedom to propose what we wished. As we refined our proposals, I realized that laws gave us the framework necessary to think critically about what was possible, but they rarely led to a clear conclusion about how to proceed. Final decisions would come as a result of deliberations with relevant internal and external parties, discussions with our counterparts in nearby cities and regions, vetting particular approaches with members of our staff and even state Senators, and checking our conclusions against the advice offered by legal counsel. No one group could act unilaterally, and our contributions were but a small piece of a larger policymaking apparatus.

Two decades later, that little boy staring up into the darkness has become an adult, but his penchant for moonlit dreaming has never waned. In fact, those dreams are now accompanied by a set of experiences with the potential to carry such visions forward into a life of impact and service to others. After having the opportunity to explore a variety of roles, I cannot think of a better long-term career with which to realize my unique ambitions at the intersection of business, public policy and community activism than legal practice. Whether I provide pro bono advice to city government, serve as counsel to an international company, or represent my community as a public servant, a career in the law is my chance to fly into the fray and create something once thought unthinkable for collective benefit. My thoughts may never rest long enough to ensure an immediate night’s sleep, but I might finally obtain a deeper peace through advocacy and service.  

What Victor does well:

Chronology. It’s not always the right call, but sometimes the best way to tell the story of yourself is to begin at the beginning, during your dreamy childhood days, and trace it up till now. This works in part because Victor is such a passionate writer, and in part because he remains in that storytelling mode throughout. This essay would fail if it were a series of monotonous descriptions of each stage of Victor’s life. But we feel like we are sitting across from him at a coffee shop and listening in on his professional reflections.

Tackling a diverse career path. Victor makes use of the plurality of work experiences he’s had, knowing that his resumé is fuller and he is older than many of his peers. He turns that into an advantage, in the way Teresa leverages her engineering background and Deepika addresses her roots in medicine head-on.

Law school personal statement example 6

Here’s another Yale Law School personal statement, this one written by a student named Michael.

“All of you men are alike!” a woman exclaimed from the back of the nursery. “Get away from my baby girl!” Rattled, I placed the yellow crayon next to the picture of the Easter Bunny I had been helping four-year-old Gabriela color. I smiled softly, thanked Gabriela for her time, and made my way to the opposite side of the room. Her mother deserved the ease.

When I first began volunteering with the Foster Center for Domestic Violence, I was skeptical I could be effective. As a young black male in the center, I served as a reminder of the physical harm, emotional turmoil, and ongoing legal entanglements ex-partners had inflicted on victims. The women in the center had initially responded to my presence with passive animosity or fear. Nevertheless, given time, I knew I would be able to help families in the center heal; I had years of experience successfully defying stereotypes.

In my childhood and adolescence, I attended safe schools. By day, I studied in clean classrooms with devoted teachers and classmates; by night, I fell asleep to the symphony of gunshots, helicopters, and sirens. Each day after school, my backpack crammed with seminal American novels and a dense chemistry textbook, I commuted home to my East Oakland 'hood, glancing over my shoulder and quickening my pace in areas I knew to be dangerous. One afternoon, as I raced away from a group of my “brothers,” I found myself empathetic. How could I be upset at their malice? This was our norm.

Surviving as a black male in my community left little time for ambition or altruism, but this did not deter me. In my junior year of high school, I turned my attention to the societal ailments, problems seemingly devoid of practical solution, which plagued the black community. Examining my life, I recognized that I owed my commitment to success and concern for others to my family. My family had provided the structure and support that too many of my brothers had lacked. Seeking to help families in my community recover and regroup, I began volunteering at the Foster Center.

Initially, I helped conduct workshops for the victims and recreational activities for the children, but as I spent more time at the center, I became interested in addressing domestic violence on a deeper level. At Howard University, my pre-law curriculum inspired me to confront the issue’s complexity. I pioneered a college-based effort, Foster University, that enlisted my brothers in the endeavor to deter domestic violence. More than five hundred students have participated in our programs to raise awareness of domestic violence through bold discussions. Following the initiative’s success in Washington, D.C., I began helping student leaders implement the program on campuses at other institutions. At the same time, I sought to encourage my peers to engage in the active pursuit of thorough and practical solutions to all social justice issues, especially domestic violence. I developed a second initiative to introduce legal writing to my undergraduate community while simultaneously satisfying my desire to develop solutions to the problems I had encountered. My interests in law and domestic violence led me to opportunities that fueled this desire even further. My impact had become tangible, but I still wanted to do more.

In the summer before my junior year, I interned at the Domestic Violence Division at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago, where I assisted prosecutors with their caseloads and interviewed victims. The experience exposed me to the legal inefficiencies that had contributed to the frustration of the women at the Foster Center. Well-intentioned but shortsighted rulings destroyed families and unenforced orders of protection proved meaningless. Further, I was dismayed by the endless accounts of repeat offenders. As is too often the case, the legal system was failing those who most needed its protection.

By attending Yale Law School, I will prepare to work to heal at-risk families and our inadequate legal system. I will learn to address the institutional failures that frustrated Gabriela’s mother and the other women at the Foster Center. Yale Law School’s Beshar/Lehner Gender Violence Clinic and Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights will help me develop a contextual understanding of the social and legal complexities necessary for the change I envision. Furthermore, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic will teach me to harness existing resources to empower victims of abuse and address a range of issues that plague marginalized populations. I no longer flee from my brothers. But my empathy is not enough. As an advocate and attorney, I will enlist the help of my brothers and sisters to reform broken institutions and enhance our community.

What we can learn from Michael’s personal statement:

A clear focus on a specific issue, and why it matters to him. Michael articulates clear reasons why working to prevent domestic violence and improving his community are important to him. He backs this up with directly relevant professional and volunteer experience, dating back even to high school.

“Why us?” Like Teresa, Michael has clearly done his homework about the law school he’s applying to. Naming specific programs and resources that he wants to be a part of demonstrates that Yale is a strong fit for the issues he wants to tackle as a lawyer.

How long should a personal statement be for law school?

Many universities won’t specify, but most others say between a page and a half and two pages double-spaced, which comes out to around 500 words.

What law school personal statement topics are off-limits?

Just about anything can make a good personal statement, as long as you adhere to the advice above.

One exception worth noting: you shouldn’t use your personal statement to talk about a low GPA or LSAT score. If you do feel you have a compelling context for one or both of those, you should submit a separate addendum focused on that, rather than waste valuable space in your personal statement.

Should I write a separate personal statement for each school?

While it’s okay to use the same narrative across applications, each essay should be tailored specifically to the school to which you’re applying. Make sure to triple-check that you didn’t refer to the wrong school at any point in your application.


Tips For Law School Personal Statements: Examples, Resources And More

Updated: Dec 1, 2022, 3:54am

Tips For Law School Personal Statements: Examples, Resources And More

Tens of thousands of undergraduates pursue law school annually, and the competition for admission is fierce.

When it comes to admissions, your law school personal statement is not as impactful as your LSAT scores or undergraduate GPA. Still, a personal statement can be the deciding factor when you are neck and neck with other applicants.

In this article, we discuss how to write a law school personal statement that demonstrates why you belong in a juris doctor (JD) program.

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What Is a Law School Personal Statement?

A law school personal statement is a multi-paragraph essay or narrative highlighting the reason you are pursuing a JD degree . This essay is an opportunity to share your identity with an admissions committee—beyond just transcripts and test scores.

Personal statements are typically two to four pages long. Most law schools do not provide specific prompts for applicants’ statements, but some do. Either way, the content of your statement should leave a strong impression.

Why Do Law Schools Ask for Personal Statements?

A personal statement can act as a substitute for the applicant interview process. It also provides a writing sample that shows your ability to communicate ideas effectively. A personal statement can give an admissions committee a clear picture of your motivations for attending law school, indicating how well you might fit into their program.

If you’re wondering how to become a lawyer , law school is the first step—and your personal statement is important to the law school application process.

How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Writing a law school personal statement can be a challenging part of the application process, involving hours of planning and drafting. However, with solid brainstorming and pre-writing strategies, you can craft an effective personal statement that illustrates how you are a strong candidate for law school.

Picking What to Write About

If your prospective school does not provide a prompt, choosing what to write about can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Start with a serious brainstorming session to get your ideas on paper. Give yourself the license to explore every experience or idea before deciding on your final topic.

Consider spending time jotting down every idea that falls into the following categories:

Structuring Your Law School Personal Statement

The structure and method you use to craft your statement is important. It might be tempting to follow a rigid formula and write a personal statement that methodically unpacks your reason for attending law school, your qualifications and the relevance of your extracurricular engagements. However, some of the most effective personal statements are crafted through a narrative approach.

Well-written narratives are engaging and illustrate why law school would benefit your career path. Your essay should exhibit your dedication and passion for the law and highlight the relationship between your values and your target law school. By creating a narrative with a common theme woven throughout, you can captivate your reader while also informing them of your qualifications and goals.

Rather than overtly telling the reader why you should be accepted into law school, a narrative allows its audience to make connections and engage at a personal level. Your anecdotes and specific examples should reveal the traits you want the admissions committee to see and appreciate.

What Makes a ‘Good’ Law School Personal Statement?

Law school admissions teams read hundreds of statements, so it’s important to write one that stands out. Ultimately, a good law school personal statement is engaging, unique and descriptive of your personal qualities that would make you a good attorney.

Choose a Unique Topic

A personal statement is exactly that: personal. Crafting a memorable narrative is paramount and dependent on your story and unique life experiences, especially since reviewers read so many personal statements with similar stories and themes.

Unfortunately, certain topics can come across as cliche. This is not to say that your lived experience of overcoming adversity or your time spent volunteering to help those in need is undervalued. However, those narratives have motivated thousands of aspiring attorneys to pursue law—meaning they have appeared in thousands of law school personal statements.

Give Specific Examples

Once you’ve selected a topic, take time to unpack the examples you plan to share and how they tie into the “why” behind your pursuit of law school. General statements are not only boring to read but lack the depth of meaning required to make an impact. Specific examples are critical to creating interest and highlighting the uniqueness of your personal experience.

Be Personal and Reflective

Law schools want to see critical thinking skills and deep reflection in applicants’ personal essays. Before you write, consider a few questions: Is your story unique to you? What was the primary conflict in your story? How did you develop over time? How does this story reflect who you are now and how law school suits you?

Common Pitfalls for a Law School Personal Statement

Before you invest hours writing an essay just for it to fall flat, make sure you’re aware of the most common pitfalls for law school personal statements.

Failing To Follow Instructions

Law schools set specific guidelines on how your personal statement should be formatted and how long it should be. Failing to meet these expectations could result in an automatic rejection.

Length and formatting requirements vary among law schools. For example, if a school expects no more than two pages, 11-point font, 1-inch margins and double spacing, make sure to format your personal statement precisely according to those specifications. We advise tailoring your personal statement to each individual school to avoid violating any formatting requirements.

If a law school asks you to answer a specific prompt or write multiple essays, make sure to follow those instructions as well.

Not Revising And Proofreading

Nothing screams a lack of effort, interest and commitment like an unpolished personal statement. Admissions teams will quickly notice if you skip proofreads and revisions, even if the content of your essay is exceptional.

This step entails much more than running a spelling and grammar check. You must ensure that the order of information is purposeful and logical. Each word you use should be intentional and add value to the story you are trying to tell.

Revising an essay is not a one-person job. Have others provide feedback, too. Your peers and mentors are a great place to start, as long as they give objective feedback.

Also ask people you do not know to provide feedback. You might start with your university’s writing center. Writing centers employ trained writing tutors who are skilled in providing feedback across disciplines. A writing center tutor will not proofread your essay, but they assist in making it reach its full potential.

Using Flowery Or Overly Academic Language

The voice and tone of your personal statement should flow naturally and reflect who you are. This doesn’t require flowery or overly academic language, which can make your essay sound more obtuse and less personal.

As we stated earlier, your personal statement should use specific examples and stories to generate interest and reveal why you want to attend law school and become a lawyer.

Likewise, you should avoid using excessive legal language in your statement. Admissions reviewers are academics, so if you use a term improperly, they will catch it. Use language that you feel comfortable with, and allow your narrative to convey your intended themes and ideas.

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Brandon Galarita is a freelance writer and K-12 educator in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is passionate about technology in education, college and career readiness and school improvement through data-driven practices.

15 Law School Personal Statement Examples in


Article Contents 37 min read

This blog contains law school personal statement examples written by applicants who were successfully accepted to multiple law schools after working with our admissions experts as part of our application review programs . Your  law school personal statement  is one of the most important parts of your application and is your best opportunity to show admissions officers who you are behind your numbers and third-party assessments. Because of its importance, many students find the personal statement to be daunting and demanding of the full scope of their skills as writers. Today we're going to review these excellent law school personal statement examples from past successful applicants and provide some proven strategies from a former admissions officer that can help you prepare your own stellar essay. 

Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .

Law School Personal Statements: More Than Just Following Directions 

Students are always asking how to write a personal statement for law school, particularly one that stands out from all the rest. After all, advice from most universities can often be quite vague. Take this zinger from the  University of Chicago : “Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you… Just be yourself.” For motivated students with the world at their fingertips, it’s a tough ask to narrow your character down into a few hundred words! But this is exactly the point of such generic guidelines—to challenge aspiring law students to produce something unique and convincing with minimal direction by the university. Law is, after all, a profession that demands your language to be persuasive, and the personal statement is merely one of many exercises where you can demonstrate your language skills. 

While the law school personal statement is about far more than just following essay directions, you still need to keep basic formatting and length restrictions in mind. Most law schools ask for a 2-page personal statement, but lengths can range from 2-4 pages. Georgetown, for instance, recommends a 2-page personal statement but explicitly states that there is no official minimum or maximum. In general, length does not make a personal statement better. Rambling, meandering sentences and tiresome descriptions will only hurt the impact of your ideas, especially considering how many thousands of pages admissions committees have to churn through each year.  

It focuses on just one theme: justice for immigrants. Each paragraph is designed to show off how enthusiastic the student is about this area of law. Personal statements—including those for law school—often begin with a personal anecdote. This one is short, memorable, and relevant. It establishes the overall theme quickly. By constraining their essay’s focus to a single general theme, the writer can go into great depth and weave in emotional and psychological weight through careful and vivid description. The personal statement isn’t a standard 3-paragraph college essay with a spotlight thesis statement, but it conveys similar impact through presenting a central focus organically, without resorting to simply blurting out “the point” of the piece.   

Connected to this, this statement focuses on showing rather than telling. Rather than simply telling the reader about their commitment to law, the applicant describes specific situations they were involved in that demonstrate their commitment to law. “Show don’t tell” means you want to paint a vivid picture of actions or experiences that demonstrate a given quality or skill, and not simply say "I can do X." Make it an experience for your reader, don't just give them a fact. 

In my home community, the belief is that the law is against us. The law oppresses and victimizes. I must admit that as a child and young person I had this opinion based on my environment and the conversations around me. I did not understand that the law could be a vehicle for social change, and I certainly did not imagine I had the ability and talents to be a voice for this change. I regularly attended my high school classes because I enjoyed the discussions and reading for English and history, and writing came easily to me, but I wasn’t committed to getting good grades because I felt I had no purpose. My mindset changed as I spent time with Mark Russell, a law student who agreed to mentor and tutor me as part of a “high school to law school” mentorship program. Every week, for three years, Mark and I would meet. At first, Mark tutored me, but I quickly became an “A” student, not only because of the tutoring, but because my ambitions were uncorked by what Mark shared with me about university, the law, and his life. I learned grades were the currency I needed to succeed. I attended mock trials, court hearings, and law lectures with Mark and developed a fresh understanding of the law that piqued an interest in law school. My outlook has changed because my mentor, my teachers, and my self-advocacy facilitated my growth. Still, injustices do occur. The difference is that I now believe the law can be an instrument for social change, but voices like mine must give direction to policy and resources in order to fight those injustices.

Early in my mentorship, I realized it was necessary to be “in the world” differently if I were to truly consider a law career. With Mark’s help and the support of my high school teachers, I learned to advocate for myself and explore opportunities that would expand my worldview as well as my academic skills. I joined a Model UN club at a neighboring high school, because my own school did not have enough student interest to have a club. By discussing global issues and writing decisions, I began to feel powerful and confident with my ability to gather evidence and make meaningful decisions about real global issues. As I built my leadership, writing, and public speaking skills, I noticed a rift developing with some of my friends. I wanted them to begin to think about larger systemic issues outside of our immediate experience, as I was learning to, and to build confidence in new ways. I petitioned my school to start a Model UN and recruited enough students to populate the club. My friends did not join the club as I’d hoped, but before I graduated, we had 2 successful years with the students who did join. I began to understand that I cannot force change based on my own mandate, but I must listen attentively to the needs and desires of others in order to support them as they require.

While I learned to advocate for myself throughout high school, I also learned to advocate for others. My neighbors, knowing my desire to be a lawyer, would often ask me to advocate on their behalf with small grievances. I would make phone calls, stand in line with them at government offices, and deal with difficult landlords. A woman, Elsa, asked me to review her rental agreement to help her understand why her landlord had rented it to someone else, rather than renewing her lease. I scoured the rental agreement, highlighted questionable sections, read the Residential Tenancies Act, and developed a strategy for approaching the landlord. Elsa and I sat down with the landlord and, upon seeing my binder complete with indices, he quickly conceded before I could even speak. That day, I understood evidence is the way to justice. My interest in justice grew, and while in university, I sought experiences to solidify my decision to pursue law.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to work as a summer intern in the Crown Attorney’s Office responsible for criminal trial prosecutions. As the only pre-law intern, I was given tasks such as reviewing court tapes, verifying documents, and creating a binder with indices. I often went to court with the prosecutors where I learned a great deal about legal proceedings, and was at times horrified by human behavior. This made the atmosphere in the Crown Attorney’s office even more surprising. I worked with happy and passionate lawyers whose motivations were pubic service, the safety and well-being of communities, and justice. The moment I realized justice was their true objective, not the number of convictions, was the moment I decided to become a lawyer.

I broke from the belief systems I was born into. I did this through education, mentorship, and self-advocacy. There is sadness because in this transition I left people behind, especially as I entered university. However, I am devoted to my home community. I understand the barriers that stand between youth and their success. As a law student, I will mentor as I was mentored, and as a lawyer, I will be a voice for change.

Although the applicant expressed initial reservations about the law generally, the statement tells a compelling story of how the applicant's opinions began to shift and their interest in law began. They use real examples and show how that initial interest, once seeded, grew into dedication and passion. The statement, therefore, shows adaptability—receptiveness to new information and the ability to change both thought and behavior based on this new information. The writer describes realizing that they needed to be "in the world" differently! It's hard to convey such a grandiose idea without sounding cliché, but through their captivating and chronological narrative, the writer successfully convinces the reader that this is the case with copious examples. It’s a fantastic case of showing rather than telling, describing specific causes they were involved with which demonstrate that the applicant is genuinely committed to a career in the law. 

This law school personal statement also discusses weighty, relatable challenges that they faced, such as the applicant's original feeling toward law, and the fact that they lost some friends along the way. However, the applicant shows determination to move past these hurdles without self-pity or other forms of navel-gazing.  Additionally, this personal statement ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. The writer manages to craft an extremely immersive and believable story about their path to the present, while also managing to curate the details of this narrative to fit the specific values and mission of the school to which they’re applying. 

Check out our video discussing other Law School Personal Statement examples here:

Law School Personal Statement #3 

Click here to read this example.   

What’s Great About This Third Law School Personal Statement? 

This writer opens with rich, vivid description and seamlessly guides the reader into a compelling first-person narrative. Using punchy, attention-grabbing descriptions like these make events immersive, placing readers in the writer's shoes and creating a sense of immediacy. 

They also do a fantastic job of talking about their achievements, such as interview team lead, program design, etc., without simply bragging. Instead, they deliver this information within a cohesive narrative that includes details, anecdotes, and information that shows their perspective in a natural way. Lastly, they invoke their passion for law with humility, discussing their momentary setbacks and frustrations as ultimately positive experiences leading to further growth. 

Law School Personal Statement #4

Click here to view the example.  

What’s Great About This Fourth Law School Personal Statement?

 Like the third example above, this fourth law school personal statement opens with engaging description and first-person narrative. However, the writer of this personal statement chooses to engage a traumatic aspect of their childhood and discuss how this adversity led them to develop their desire to pursue a career in law.  

Overcoming adversity is a frequent theme in personal statements for all specialties, but with law school personal statements students are often able to utilize uniquely dramatic, difficult, and pivotal experiences that involved interacting with the law. It may be hard to discuss such emotionally weighty experiences in a short letter but, as this personal statement shows, with care and focus it's possible to sincerely demonstrate how your early struggles paved the way for you to become the person you are now. It's important to avoid sensationalism, but you shouldn't shy away from opening up to your readers about adverse experiences that have ultimately pointed you in a positive direction. 

Law School Personal Statement #5

Click here  to read this example.  

What’s Great About This Fifth Law School Personal Statement?  

This writer does a fantastic job of incorporating their accomplishments and impact they had on their community without any sense of bragging or conceit. Rather, these accomplishments are related in terms of deep personal investment and a general drive to have a positive impact on those around them—without resorting to the cliches of simply stating "I want to help people." They show themselves helping others, and how these early experiences of doing so are a fundamental part of their drive to succeed with a career in law.   

Additionally, they do a great job of explaining the uniqueness of their identity. The writer doesn't simply list their personal/cultural characteristics, but contextualizes them to show how they've shaped their path to law school. Being the child of a Buddhist mother and a Hindu father doesn’t imply anything about a person’s ability to study/practice law on its own, but explaining how this unique aspect of their childhood encouraged a passion for “discussion, active debate, and compromise” is profoundly meaningful to an admissions panel. Being able to express how fundamental aspects of law practice are an integral part of yourself is a hugely helpful tactic in a law school personal statement. 

If you’re heading North of the border, check out list of  law schools in Canada  that includes requirements and stats on acceptance. 

Law School Personal Statement #6

Click here to read this example.  

What’s Great About This Sixth Law School Personal Statement? 

Similar to the writer of personal statement #5, this student utilizes the cultural uniqueness of their childhood to show how their path to law school was both deeply personal and rooted in ideas pervasive in their early years. Unlike the writer of statement #5, this student doesn't shy away from explaining how this distinctiveness was often a source of alienation and difficulty. Yet this adversity is, as they note, ultimately what helped them be an adaptable and driven student, with a clear desire to make a positive impact on the kinds of situations that they witnessed affect their parents.  

This writer also doesn't shy away from describing their temporary setbacks as both learning experiences and, crucially, springboards for positively informing their plans for the future. 

Are you preparing for the LSAT?

Click here  to read this example.  

What’s Great About This Seventh Law School Personal Statement? 

One of the hardest things to accomplish in a personal statement is describing not just early setbacks that are out of your control but early mistakes for which you must take responsibility. The writer of this personal statement opens with descriptions of characteristics that most law schools would find problematic at best. But at the end of this introduction, they successfully utilize an epiphany, a game-changing moment in which they saw something beyond their early pathological aimlessness, to clearly mark the point at which they became focused on law.  

They clearly describe the path forward from this moment on, showing how they remained focused on earning a law degree, and how they were able to work through successive experiences of confusion to persist in finishing their undergraduate education at a prestigious university. Of course, you shouldn't brag about such things for their own sake, but this writer makes the point of opening up about the unique feelings of inadequacy that come along with being the first person in their family to attend such a school, and how these feelings were—like their initial aimlessness—mobilized in service of their goal and the well-being of others. Their statement balances discussion of achievement with humility, which is a difficult but impactful tactic when done well. 

Law School Personal Statement #8

What’s great about this eighth law school personal statement .

Commitment to one’s community is a prized value in both law students and law professionals. This writer successfully describes not only how they navigated the challenges in their group environments, such as their internship, the debate team, etc., but how these challenges strengthened their commitment to being a positive part of their communities. They don’t simply describe the skills and lessons they learned from these challenging environments, but also how these challenges ultimately made them even more committed to and appreciative of these kinds of dynamic, evolutionary settings.  

They also avoid placing blame or negatively describing the people in these situations, instead choosing to characterize inherent difficulties in terms neutral to the people around them. In this way, you can describe extremely challenging environments without coming off as resentful, and identify difficulties without being accusatory or, worse yet, accidentally or indirectly seeming like part of the problem. This writer manages to convey the difficulty and complexity of these experiences while continually returning to their positive long-term impact, and though you shouldn’t seek to “bright-side” the troubles in your life you should absolutely point out how these experiences have made you a more capable and mature student. 

Law School Personal Statement #9

Click here to read this example.  

What’s Great About This Ninth Law School Personal Statement?  

Expressing privilege as adversity is something that very few students should even attempt, and fewer still can actually pull it off. But the writer of this personal statement does just that in their second paragraph, describing how the ease and comfort of their upbringing could have been a source of laziness or detachment, and often is for particularly well-off students, but instead served as a basis for their ongoing commitment to addressing the inequalities and difficulties of those less comfortable. Describing how you’ve developed into an empathic and engaged person, worked selflessly in any volunteer experiences, and generally aimed your academic life at a career in law for the aid of others—all this is incredibly moving for an admissions board, and can help you discuss your determination and understanding of exactly why you desire a career in law.  

Additionally, this writer is able to show adaptability while describing their more prestigious appointments in a way that’s neither self-aggrandizing nor unappreciative. One of the big takeaways from this statement is the student’s commitment and flexibility, and these are both vitally important qualities to convey in your law school personal statement.  

Law School Personal Statement #10

What’s Great About This Tenth Law School Personal Statement? 

In a word: passion. If you’re one of the rare students for whom service to others has always been a core belief, by all means find a novel and engaging way of making this the guiding principle of your personal statement. Don’t overdo it—don’t veer into poetry or lofty philosophizing—but by all means let your passion guide your pen (well…keyboard). Every step of the way, this student relates their highs and lows, their challenges and successes, to an extremely earnest and sincere set of altruistic values invoked at the very beginning of their statement. Law school admissions boards don’t exactly prize monomania, but they do value intense and sustained commitment.  

This student also successfully elaborates this passion in relation to mature understanding. That is, they make repeated points about their developing understanding of law that sustains their hopefulness and emotional intensity while also incorporating knowledge of the sometimes troubling day-to-day challenges of the profession. Law schools aren’t looking for starry-eyed naivete, but they do value optimism and the ability to stay positive in a profession often defined by its difficulties and unpredictability. 

If you’re eager to get started, check out our video on How to Write a Law School Personal Statement here

Every pre-law student blames their lack of success on the large number of applicants, the heartless admissions committee members, or the high GPA and LSAT score cut offs. Check out our blog on  law school acceptance rates  to find out more about the admission statistics for law schools in the US. Having taught more than a thousand students every year, I can tell you the REAL truth about why most students get rejected: 

These mistakes put the student in a vicious cycle of self-condemnation and rejection letters. The savviest and successful students normally escape the rejection letter by: 

5 Additional Law School Personal Statement Examples for You to Review

Now that you have a better idea of what your law school personal statement should include, and how you can make it stand out, here are five additional law school personal statements for you to review and get some inspiration:

Law school personal statement example #11

According to the business wire, 51 percent of students are not confident in their career path when they enroll in college. I was one of those students for a long time. My parents had always stressed the importance of education and going to college, so I knew that I wanted to get a tertiary education, I just didn’t know in what field. So, like many other students, I matriculated undecided and started taking introductory courses in the subjects that interest me. I took classes from the department of literature, philosophy, science, statistics, business, and so many others but nothing really called out to me.

I figured that maybe if I got some practical experience, I might get more excited about different fields. I remembered that my high school counselor had told me that medicine would be a good fit for me, and I liked the idea of a career that involved constant learning. So, I applied for an observership at my local hospital. I had to cross “doctor” off my list of post-graduate career options when I fainted in the middle of a consultation in the ER.

I had to go back to the drawing board and reflect on my choices. I decided to stop trying to make an emotional decision and focus on the data. So, I looked at my transcript thus far, and it quickly became clear to me that I had both an interest and an aptitude for business and technology. I had taken more courses in those two fields than in any others, and I was doing very well in them. My decision was reaffirmed when I spent the summer interning at a digital marketing firm during my senior year in college and absolutely loved my experience. 

Since graduating, I have been working at that same firm and I am glad that I decided to major in business. I first started as a digital advertising assistant, and I quickly learned that the world of digital marketing is an incredibly fast-paced sink-or-swim environment. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted to swim with the best of them and succeed. So far, my career in advertising has been challenging and rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. 

I remember the first potential client that I handled on my own. Everything had been going great until they changed their mind about an important detail a day before we were supposed to present our pitch. . I had a day to research and re-do a presentation that I’d been preparing for weeks. I was sure that I’d be next on the chopping block, but once again all I had to was take a step back and look at the information that I had. Focusing on the big picture helped me come up with a new pitch, and after a long night, lots of coffee, and laser-like focus, I delivered a presentation that I was not only proud of, but that landed us the client. 

Three years and numerous client emergencies later, I have learned how to work under pressure, how to push myself, and how to think critically. I also have a much better understanding of who I am and what skills I possess. One of the many things that I have learned about myself over the course of my career is that I am a fan of the law. Over the past three years, I have worked with many lawyers to navigate the muddy waters of user privacy and digital media. I often find myself looking forward to working with our legal team, whereas my coworkers actively avoid them. I have even become friends with my colleagues on the legal team who also enjoy comparing things like data protection laws in the US and the EU and speculating about the future of digital technology regulation. 

These experiences and conversations have led me to a point where I am interested in various aspects of the law. I now know that I have the skills required to pursue a legal education and that this time around, I am very sure about what I wish to study. Digital technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, and it is just now starting to become regulated. I believe that this shift is going to open up a more prominent role for those who understand both digital technology and its laws, especially in the corporate world. My goal is to build a career at the intersection of these worlds.

Law school personal statement example #12

The first weekend I spent on my undergrad college campus was simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life. I was so excited to be away from home, on my own, making new friends and trying new things. One of those things was a party at a sorority house with my friend and roommate, where I thought we both had a great time. Both of us came from small towns, and we had decided to look out for one another. So, when it was time to go home, and I couldn't find her, I started to worry. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I got her message saying she was already back in our dorm. 

It took her three months to tell me that she had been raped that night. Her rapist didn't hold a knife to her throat, jump out of a dark alleyway, or slip her a roofie. Her rapist was her long-term boyfriend, with whom she'd been in a long-distance relationship for just over a year. He assaulted her in a stranger's bedroom while her peers, myself included, danced the night away just a few feet away. 

I remember feeling overwhelmed when she first told me. I was sad for my friend, angry on her behalf, and disgusted by her rapist's actions. I also felt incredibly guilty because I had been there when it happened. I told myself that I should have stayed with her all night and that I should have seen the abuse - verbal and physical harassment- that he was inflicting on her before it turned sexual. But eventually, I realized that thinking about what could, should, or would've happened doesn't help anyone. 

I watched my friend go through counseling, attend support groups, and still, she seemed to be hanging on by a thread. I couldn't begin to imagine what she was going through, and unfortunately, there was very little I could do to help her. So, I decided to get involved with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus, where I would actually be able to help another survivor. 

My experience with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus was eye-opening. I mostly worked on the peer-to-peer hotline, where I spoke to survivors from all walks of life. I was confronted by the fact that rape is not a surreal unfortunate thing that happens to a certain type of person. I learned that it happens daily to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. I also learned that most survivors try to manage this burden on their own, afraid of judgment and repercussions and fearful of a he-said-she-said court battle.

I am proud to say that I used my time in college to not only earn an education, but also to advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I protested the university's cover-up of a gang rape that took place in one of the fraternity houses on campus. I spearheaded a 'no means no' campaign to raise awareness about consent on campus. I also led several fundraising campaigns for the Sexual Assault Responders Group that allowed us to pay for legal and mental health counselors for the survivors who came to us for support. 

One of the things that this experience helped me realize is that sexual assault survivors often do not know where to turn when the system tries to tell them that it'd be best to just keep quiet and suffer in silence. My goal is to become one of those people that they can turn to for counsel and support. I believe that a law degree would give me the knowledge and tools that I need to advocate for survivors on a more significant scale. 

Have you started working on your law school resume? Check out this infographic for tips

I grew up in two different worlds. My world at home was full of people of various skin tones and accents. It was small, loud, and often chaotic in the best ways. I remember walking home and getting to experience music from across the world before I got to my apartment building. Loud reggaeton and afrobeat were always playing somewhere in the distance. Aunties and uncles usually stopped by unannounced and slipped money in your palm when they hugged you goodbye. And the smell of fried plantains was almost always present. 

My other world was in school. It was a much quieter, more organized world with white hallways, navy blazers, and plaid skirts. It was full of people who did not look or sound like me and teachers who thought my hair was "interesting." It was also full of great books and engaging debates about everything from foreign policy to the influence of Jazz on hip hop. 

I lived in these two worlds because I was born and raised in Xtown, but I went to a private school in a much richer neighborhood. I loved both of my worlds, but I hated that I had to act differently in both of them. When in school, I had to "code switch" to sound like I belonged there. When I was at home, all the people who shared the interests I was developing in school were either working or in college, so I had no one to talk to about them. 

My words never felt more divided until I started considering a career in law. I remember telling one of my uncles that I wanted to become a lawyer and his response was, "So you want to become the man, huh?" 

I wasn't surprised by his response, or at least I shouldn't have been. One of the things that I know for sure about the first world I lived in is that many of its inhabitants do not trust the law. I had believed this for so long simply because of the conversations that I would hear around me. However, in my second world, I was learning about all of these great freedoms and rights that the law was designed to give all Americans, and I wanted to bring those to my community. 

I started working on this during the summer before my final year of high school. I got an internship with the legal aid office in my neighborhood and spent three months learning from people who, like me, had grown up in Xtown and wanted to help people. During my time in the legal aid office, I understood that the people in my community did not trust the law for two main reasons: 1. They did not understand a lot of it, and 2. It had been used against people like us many times. 

I remember one particular case that Ms. Sharma - the lawyer I was learning from then and who still mentors me today - handled that summer. It was the case of a young mother who had received a notice of eviction from her landlord two days after refusing his advances. The man claimed that she violated her contract because she made homemade shea butter that she sold on Etsy. Ms. Sharma had me look through her rental agreement. After she confirmed that I was right in determining that the young mother had not violated her contract, she contacted the landlord to advise him that what he was doing was intimidation and sexual harassment. 

My experiences in the legal aid office with Ms. Sharma opened my eyes to the disgusting behavior of human beings, but it also gave me the opportunity to see that the law was my opportunity to use what I learned in my second world to help the community that I was raised in. I returned to school with a new motivation that followed me to college. In addition to completing my bachelor's degree in sociology and African American studies, I spent most of my college years participating in legal internships and community outreach programs. 

I believe that these experiences have given me the foundation I need to be a successful law student and, eventually, a lawyer who can truly be an advocate for members of his community. 

Law school personal statement example #14

One day, my parents noticed that the other children in my age group had been speaking and communicating, but I had not. At first, they thought that my lack of speech was just me being shy, but eventually, they realized that on the rare occasions that I did speak, my words were practically incomprehensible. It wasn't long before they took me to a specialist who diagnosed me with a severe phonological disorder that hindered my ability to verbalize the basic sounds that make up words.

I started going to speech therapy when I was three years old. I saw numerous speech therapists, many of whom believed that I would never be able to communicate effectively with others. Lucky for me, my parents did not give up on me. I went to speech therapy thrice a week until the 8th grade, and I gave every single session my all. I also spent a lot of time in my room practicing my speech by myself. My efforts paid off, and even though I didn't become a chatterbox overnight, I could at least communicate effectively. 

This was a short-lived victory, though. A year later, my speech impediment was back, and my ability to articulate words was once again severely limited. This complicated matters because it was my freshman year of high school, and I was in a brand-new school where I did not know anyone. Having been bullied in middle school, I knew first-hand how vicious kids can be, and I didn't want to be the butt of any more jokes, so I didn't try to speak at school. I knew that this was preventing me from making new friends or participating in class and that it was probably not helping my impediment, but I was not ready to face the fact that I needed to go back to speech therapy. 

Eventually, I stopped resisting and went back to speech therapy. At the time, I saw it as accepting defeat, and even though my speech improved significantly, my self-confidence was lower than it had ever been. If you ask any of my high school classmates about me, they will likely tell you that I am very quiet or timid – both of which are not true, but they have no way of knowing otherwise. I barely spoke or interacted with my peers for most of high school. Instead, I focused on my studies and extracurricular activities that didn't involve much collaboration, like yearbook club and photography. 

It was only when I was getting ready for college that I realized that I was only hurting myself with my behavior. I knew I needed to become more confident about my speech to make friends and be the student I wanted to be in college. So, I used the summer after my high school graduation to get some help. I started seeing a new speech therapist who was also trained as a counselor, and she helped me understand my impediment better. For example, I now know that I tend to stutter when stressed, but I also know that taking a few deep breaths helps me get back on track. 

Using the confidence that I built in therapy that summer, I went to college with a new pep in my step. I pushed myself to meet new people, try new things, and join extracurricular organizations when I entered college. I applied to and was accepted into a competitive freshman leadership program called XYZ. Most of XYZ's other members were outgoing and highly involved in their high school communities. In other words, they were the complete opposite of me. I didn't let that intimidate me. Instead, I made a concerted effort to learn from them. If you ask any of my teammates or other classmates in college, they will tell you that I was an active participant in discussions during meetings and that I utilized my unique background to share a different perspective.

My experience with XYZ made it clear to me that my speech disorder wouldn't hold me back as long as I did not stand in my own way. Once I understood this, I kept pushing past the boundaries I had set for myself. I began taking on leadership roles in the program and looking for ways to contribute to my campus community outside of XYZ. For example, I started a community outreach initiative that connected school alumni willing to provide pro bono services to different members of the community who were in need. 

Now, when I look back at my decision to go back to speech therapy, I see it as a victory. I understand that my speech impediment has shaped me in many ways, many of which are positive. My struggles have made me more compassionate. My inability to speak has made me a better listener. Not being able to ask questions or ask for help has made me a more independent critical thinker. I believe these skills will help me succeed in law school, and they are part of what motivates me to apply in the first place. Having struggled for so long to speak up for myself, I am ready and eager for the day when I can speak up for others who are temporarily unable to. 

Many law schools have started conducting video interviews. This video can help you prepare :

Law school personal statement example #15

“ You talk too much; you should be a lawyer.” 

I heard that sentence often while growing up because Congolese people always tell children who talk a lot that they should be lawyers. Sometimes I wonder if those comments did not subconsciously trigger my interest in politics and then the law. If they did, I am grateful for it. I am thankful for all the experiences that have brought me to this point where I am seeking an education that will allow me to speak for those who don’t always know how to, and, more importantly, those who are unable to. 

For context, I am the child of Congolese immigrants, and my parents have a fascinating story that I will summarize for you: 

A 14-year-old girl watches in confusion as a swarm of parents rush through the classroom, grabbing their children, and other students start running from the class. Soon she realizes that she and one other student are the only ones left, but when they both hear the first round of gunshots, no one has to tell them that it is time to run home. On the way home, she hears more gunshots and bombs. She fears for her survival and that of her family, and she starts to wonder what this war means for her and her family. Within a few months, her mother and father are selling everything they own so that they can board a plane to the US.

On the other side of the town, a 17-year-old boy is being forced to board a plane to the US because his mother, a member of parliament and the person who taught him about the importance of integrity, has been executed by the same group of soldiers who are taking over the region. 

They met a year later, outside the principal’s office at a high school in XXY. They bonded over the many things they have in common and laughed at the fact that their paths probably never would have crossed in Bukavu. Fast forward to today, they have been married for almost two decades and have raised three children, including me. 

Growing up in a Congolese household in the US presented was very interesting. On the one hand, I am very proud of the fact that I get to share my heritage with others. I speak French, Lingala, and Swahili – the main languages of Congo – fluently. I often dress in traditional clothing; I performed a traditional Congolese dance at my high school’s heritage night and even joined the Congolese Student Union at Almamatter University. 

On the other hand, being Congolese presented its challenges growing up. At a young age, I looked, dressed, and sounded different from my classmates. Even though I was born in the US, I had picked up a lot of my parents’ accents, and kids loved to tease me about it. Ignorant comments and questions were not uncommon. “Do you speak African?” “You’re not American! How did you get here?” “You don’t look African” “My mom says I can’t play with you because your parents came here to steal our jobs”. These are some of the polite comments that I heard often, and they made me incredibly sad, especially when classmates I considered my friends made them. 

My parents did not make assimilating any easier. My mother especially always feared I would lose my Congolese identity if they did not make it a point to remind me of it. She often said, “Just because you were born in America doesn’t mean that you are not Congolese anymore.” On one occasion, I argued that she always let me experience my Congolese side, but not my American side. That was the first time she told me I should be a lawyer. 

Having few friends and getting teased in school helped me learn to be comfortable on my own. I Often found refuge and excitement in books. I even started blogging about the books I read and interacting with other readers online. As my following grew, I started to use my platform to raise awareness about issues that I am passionate about, like climate change, the war in Congo, and the homeless crisis here in XXY. I was able to start a fundraising campaign through my blog that raised just under $5000 for the United Way – a local charity that helps the homeless in my city. 

This experience helped me understand that I could use my skills and the few tools at my disposal to help people, both here in America and one day, maybe even in Congo. I realized that I am lucky enough to have the option of expanding that skillset through education in order to do more for the community that welcomed my grandparents, uncles, aunties, and parents when they had nowhere else to go. 

The journey was not easy because while I received immense support and love from my family for continuing my education, I had to teach myself how to prepare and apply to college. Once there I had to learn on my own what my professors expected of me, how to study, how to network, and so much more. I am grateful for those experiences too, because they taught me how to be resourceful, research thoroughly, listen carefully, and seek help when I need it. 

All of these experiences have crafted me into who I am today, and I believe that with the right training, they will help me become a great attorney. 

Assuredly, but this length varies from school to school. As with all important details of your law school application, thoroughly research your specific schools’ requirements and guidelines before both writing and editing your personal statement to ensure it fits their specifics. The average length is about 2 pages, but don’t bother drafting your statement until you have specific numbers from your schools of choice. It’s also a good idea to avoid hitting the maximum length unless absolutely necessary. Be concise, keep economy of language in mind, and remain direct, without rambling or exhaustive over-explanation of your ideas or experiences.

You should keep any words that aren’t your own to a minimum. Admissions committees don’t want to read a citation-heavy academic paper, nor do they respond well to overused famous quotes as themes in personal statements. If you absolutely must include a quote from elsewhere, be sure to clearly indicate your quote’s source. But in general, it’s best to keep the personal statement restricted to your own words and thoughts. They’re evaluating you, not Plato! It’s a personal statement. Give them an engaging narrative in your own voice.  

Admissions committees will already have a strong sense of your academic performance through your transcripts and test scores, so discussing these in your personal statement is generally best avoided. You can contextualize these things, though—if you have an illuminating or meaningful story about how you came to receive an award, or how you enjoyed or learned from the work that won you the award, then consider discussing it. Overall though, it’s best to let admissions committees evaluate your academic qualifications and accomplishments from your transcripts and official documents, and give them something new in the personal statement. 

When you first sit down to begin, cast a wide net. Consider all the many influences and experiences that have led you to where you are. You’ll eventually (through editing and rewriting) explain how these shape your relationship to a career in law, but one of the best things you can give yourself during the initial drafting phase is a vast collection of observations and potential points for development. As the New England School of Law points out in their  tips for applicants , “just write!” Let the initial draft be as messy as it needs to be, and refine it from there. It’s a lot easier to condense and sharpen a big draft than it is to try to tensely craft a perfect personal statement from nothing.  

Incredibly important, as should be clear by now! Unlike other specialties, law schools don’t usually conduct interviews with applicants, so your personal statement is in effect your one opportunity to speak with the admissions committee directly. Don’t let that gravity overwhelm you when you write, but keep it in mind as you edit and dedicate time to improving your initial drafts. Be mindful of your audience as you speak with them, and treat writing your personal statement as a kind of initial address in what, hopefully, will eventually turn into an ongoing dialogue.  

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How long should a Personal Statement be? Is there any rule on that?

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello V! Thanks for your question. Some schools will gave very specific word limits, while some will not. If you do not have a limit indicated, try to stick to no more than a page, 600-800 words. 

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In This Section

9 Important Personal Statement Tips for Law School Applicants

As a law school applicant, you may not have a chance to sit down with the admissions committee and explain why you’d be the perfect fit for their institution. But you do have the personal statement, and that’s almost as good—as long as you follow these tips...

You are so much more than your LSAT score, undergrad GPA, and extracurricular activities. That's why your personal statement is a critical part of your law school application: It's your chance to address the law school admissions committee directly and show us your character, what’s important to you, and why you’re a great fit for the school. It’s also an opportunity to set yourself apart in a sea of competitive law school applicants. So don’t let it go to waste!

Follow these tips to make sure your law school personal statement really shines.

Related:   4 Outstanding Real-World Law School Personal Statement Examples

Tip 1: Focus on you

This may seem obvious, but law school applicants sometimes miss this important point: Your personal statement needs to be about you . Not the people or work that influenced you. You. (While a mother, father, or grandparent can inspire an interest in law, don’t focus your personal statement on that person; otherwise we’ll wish they were the one applying to law school!)

We want you to use the personal statement to show us that you have the skills needed to succeed in law school, beyond what your LSAT score or GPA can tell us. We're looking for things  like a strong work ethic, motivation, and the determination to overcome obstacles.

Think about your strengths, defining characteristics, and values—especially the ones that might come into play as a lawyer: Are you thoughtful, analytical, empathetic, service-oriented? Think about how you spend your free time: Do you love traveling, researching, or volunteering? Think about what motivates you: Do you want to work in a burgeoning legal field like intellectual property law, help others by developing public policy, or start your own firm?

Once you’ve zeroed in on some qualities you want to highlight, it's time to brainstorm anecdotes from your life that demonstrate those things…

Tip 2: Brainstorm broadly

The personal statement often gives you lots of freedom in what you write about, so feel free to brainstorm broadly about possible topics.

In the New England Law application requirements , we advise applicants to “write about personal characteristics and circumstances; strengths; work experiences; extracurricular activities; ethnic, economic, and educational background; or any other topic that will help the committee evaluate you.”

Not sure what to write about? Good law school personal statement ideas often come from:

As you brainstorm personal statement ideas, remember that you want to put your best foot forward, show how you’ve grown, and prove that you’re ready for law school. After all, you’re ultimately trying to convince the admissions committee that you’ll be an asset to the school.

Handy tip: update your résumé before you brainstorm personal statement topics. Even though you definitely don’t want to just repeat your résumé in your personal statement, it helps to update your résumé before you start writing, because you’ll be forced to remember all the things you’ve been involved in since you became an undergrad. And those experiences and accomplishments might make great essay topics!

Tip 3: Be genuine

You don’t need to be a superhero to impress the law school admissions committee. You can show your passion, dedication, and law school readiness in lots of everyday anecdotes from your life. You can even write your personal statement about a mistake or a weakness—just make sure you turn it around to show how you ultimately overcame that mistake or weakness.

Finally, this may go without saying, but don’t stretch the truth (ahem) in your personal statement. We can tell. And we will check.

Related:  Everything You Need to Consider in Choosing a Law School

Tip 4: Just write

Once you have a personal statement topic in mind, set aside some time to write—and just let yourself go. Give yourself permission to bang out a crummy first draft. Write in a stream-of-consciousness style. Don’t worry about making it sound good; just focus on getting your ideas on the page (er, screen).

This will make the process much easier when you go back to edit the application essay later (see tip #9!).

Tip 5: Remember your “why”

You want to go to law school to work in the legal field. But why? Why is law school a critical next step in your career plan and life path?

While you don’t need to spell out your ten-point plan for becoming a lawyer, your underlying reasons for going to law school should be the foundation of your personal statement. For example , maybe you want to be a lawyer because you want to correct the injustices you see in the world around you. You might write your personal statement about a memorable protest you once participated in as an undergrad, and how it made you want to do even more to help people.

Tip 6: Be specific

Don’t try to fit your life story into your personal statement. Keep your essay focused on a particular theme, thesis, or even moment in time.

Part of the challenge is that you’re limited in space, so you have to be both succinct and efficient with your writing. And whatever you do, don’t just rehash other information that’s elsewhere in your application. You’re only going to be able to highlight one or two things about yourself, so be thoughtful about what those things are.

And remember: If you start with a story, let us know what happens at the end. Don’t leave the admissions committee hanging!

Tip 7: Grab our attention

Unlike your undergrad application essay, you may need to be more straightforward with your personal statement for law school. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. You still want to tell a story that allows the admissions committee to get to know the real you and remember you in a sea of applicants. So tell the story no one else can tell.

Start your personal statement with an attention-grabbing anecdote, a surprising fact, or an intriguing line of dialogue. That being said, write like you normally would— don’t write in a style you haven’t mastered. In particular, jokes and other attempts at humor can easily get lost in translation, so be careful.

Tip 8: Know what makes the school tick

You probably already did lots of research to determine which law schools really fit you (you did, right? Right?!). So by the time you’re drafting the personal statement portion of your application, you should have a good sense of what your intended schools are all about. But if you don’t—if you can’t talk about what a school values, its defining characteristics, its mission—then you don’t know the law school well enough to write a great personal statement.

So read the school's mission statement, news and blogs, and social media feeds. Get a sense of what’s important to the institution, and then try to weave those values in your personal statement. 

Related:   How to Have an Amazing Law School Visit: Tips and Questions You Need to Ask

Tip 9: Polish it up

By the time you apply to law school, you’re probably accustomed to writing at the collegiate level. But it’s good to be reminded to send in your very best work with your law school applications. Competition is tough, and you want your application to be as strong as it can be. Plus, there’s a lot of writing in law school, and you need to prove that your skills are up to snuff.

Carefully proofread your personal statement—not to mention the rest of your law school application—before you send it in. Also double-check to make sure you followed the application directions to the letter: Did you stay within any given word count? Did you fully respond to any given essay prompt? Did you adhere to any special formatting or submission criteria? Have you used the right law school name? (You might be surprised how often law school admissions folks get essays that reference the wrong school!)

Finally, ask others to review your personal statement too, like an undergrad professor, mentor, or that good college friend who aced English. You can also take your essay to the writing or career services office of your undergrad school (these services are often available long after you graduate too).

You don’t need to be the next Stephen King to craft a great personal statement for your law school applications. Just follow these tips, and you’re sure to write an essay you can be proud of.

Learn more about our law school personal statement and other application requirements here .


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