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law | opinions & advice | applying to law school
Topics to Avoid on Your Personal Statement
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We all know the maxim "some things are better left unsaid." Well, this rings doubly true for your personal statement. Not every approach you can take is a winner. Some are outright losers and you should avoid them!
Don't write about bad grades or bad test scores
A low LSAT score speaks for itself. So does a C– in Macroeconomics. There are very few things you can say to make the situation better, so don't try
Remember that law school is a test–rich environment. In most classes, a single exam will determine your entire grade. Being a bad test-taker is not a good start to a successful law school career, so it's not a point you should hammer home.
Don't write about your lifelong dream of being a lawyer
Many applicants feel the need to say that they really, really want to become attorneys and have spent their lives pining for law school. Avoid this temptation. Applications committees know that when you were six, you wanted to be a firefighter.
Instead, tell them why you're interested and what you bring to the table. Be straight–forward and honest. Don't say you want to be a public interest lawyer unless you genuinely believe you'll go into public interest law. And remember that your aspirations are likely to change because law school will change you.
Keep it concise
Although some law schools set no limit on the length of your statement, you shouldn't take their bait. No one wants to spend their day reading long, boring material. Limit yourself to two or three typed, double–spaced pages. Use specific examples and details to help your personal statement stand out. Setting these constraints will force you to be concise and precise.
If you worked for a campaign or at City Hall, then it makes sense to discuss your interest in politics. You shouldn't write a polemic about your pet issue, however, no matter how near and dear it is to your heart. Use your statement to talk about yourself, not about your thoughts on abortion or defense spending.
Don't throw in the kitchen sink
If you want to stand out, discuss the events in your life that have had a significant impact on you. The open mic night you organized in 9th grade doesn't count, nor does that one Tuesday you volunteered at the soup kitchen.
No gimmicks, no gambles
You want to differentiate yourself, but don't go off the deep end. Don't rhyme. Don't write a satire or a mocked–up front–page newspaper article. Gimmicky personal statements often appear contrived and usually fall flat. Stick to a straightforward narrative.