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law | opinions & advice | applying to law school
Tips for Your Personal Statement
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Your grades and LSAT score are the most important part of your application to law school. But you shouldn't neglect the personal statement–it's a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants, especially those with similar scores.
You want to present yourself as intelligent, professional, mature and persuasive. These are the qualities that make a good lawyer, so they're the qualities that law schools seek in applicants. Talking about your unique background and experiences will help you stand out from the crowd. But don't get too creative. The personal statement is not the time to discuss what your trip to Europe meant to you, describe your affinity for anime, or try your hand at verse.
Some guidelines to consider:
Be specific to each school. You'll probably need to write only one basic personal statement, but you should tweak it for each school to which you apply. There are usually some subtle differences in what each school asks for in a personal statement.
Good writing is writing that is easily understood. Good law students–and good lawyers–use clear, direct prose. Remove extraneous words and make sure that your points are clear. Don't make admissions officers struggle to figure out what you are trying to say.
Get plenty of feedback. The more time you've spent writing your statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. You should ask for feedback from professors, friends, parents and anyone else whose judgment and writing skills you trust. This will help ensure that your statement is clear, concise, candid, structurally sound and grammatically accurate.
Find your unique angle. Who are you? What makes you unique? Sometimes, applicants answer this question in a superficial way. It's not enough to tell the admissions committee that you're an Asian–American from Missouri. You need to give them a deeper sense of yourself. And there's usually no need to mention awards or honors you've won. That's what your resume is for.
Instead, use your essay to explain how your upbringing, your education, and your personal and professional experiences have influenced you and led you to apply to law school. Give the admissions officers genuine insight into who you are. Don't use cliches or platitudes. The more personal and specific your personal statement is, the better received it will be.