Writing the Essay
Content is not the only important aspect of the personal
statement. The way in which it is written is perhaps equally
crucial. You must demonstrate that you can express yourself with
clarity and that you have the ability to construct a strong
argument. These skills are vital for any aspiring law student and
vital for any personal statement.
Make a good impression as early as possible
A useful way to think about the writing in your essay is to put
yourself in the position of the admissions deans. They will read
hundreds of essays and you can imagine that not every essay will be
read carefully. However, essays that make a good first impression
will draw more attention. It is therefore vital that your essay has
a great introduction that stimulates interest. You could start with
a question that the reader will want to know the answer to, or a
story, or even the end of a story which will make the reader want
to read on. However you chose to write your introduction, it must
make the reader want to take that extra bit of time to read it
Be clear and concise
The reader must not have to work hard to understand the essay.
The basic theme, tone and subject of your essay must be clear from
early on. It must be coherent, with a clear structure and a logical
progression that is easy to follow.
Be sincere and genuine in your writing
Because the whole idea of a personal statement is to say
something about you, its tone should be honest and sincere. It can
also pay to reveal some personal emotion. A bit of excitement,
sadness or even embarrassment can be an effective means of
conveying a sense of who you are.
Give yourself time
A crucial part of writing a great essay is to give yourself
enough time. If you start writing in the summer before you want to
go to law school then you will have sufficient time to make several
drafts or even to start again if necessary. A useful tool is to
leave a statement and go back to it after a few weeks. A period of
time can give a new perspective on the effectiveness of your essay.
It is also wise to get several people, preferably including
objective readers, to read your essay and offer advice.
Focus on detail
Whatever you do, pay attention to detail. The admission
committee will face a difficult decision trying to separate a lot
of applications. Do not provide them with an easy way to discard
your application by a simple grammatical error or typo. It could
undermine the value of a lot of hard work. Little errors in your
statement reflect poorly on your writing abilities. They also
reflect negatively on how important you consider admission to law
school and what type of lawyer you would be.
Some law schools give guidelines on format and length. If this
is the case then comply with those guidelines. If there are no
guidelines then it is best to keep your essay to a maximum of
around two pages. Any less than two pages and it will be difficult
for the reader to get a sense of you as an individual. Any longer
than two pages and you may appear long winded. In any case, if your
essay is clear and concise then you should not require any more
than two pages. Admissions professionals who have to read thousands
of statements will appreciate brevity.