How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Admission to law school is competitive and many applicants will have similar grade and LSAT scores. The personal statement is a precious opportunity to make an impression and separate yourself from the rest. Given its importance to successful admission, a substantial amount of time should be committed to making it the best that you can.

There is a wealth of information on writing personal statements but some of it is contradictory. This is not necessarily because the information is misguided but because there is no correct way to write a personal statement. In fact, if a substantial number of personal statements are written in what is thought to be the correct way then it becomes incorrect because they sound familiar and impersonal. What follows are not strict rules to writing personal statements but some useful information that should be taken on board.

The Essay

The personal statement is in lieu of an interview and is an opportunity for law schools to look beyond the objective aspects of the application and discover something about you as an individual. The subject of the essay can vary between schools but many leave the applicant with significant discretion. An example is the brief provided by Harvard Law School:

  • “Applicants present themselves, their backgrounds, experiences, and ideas to the Admissions Committee in a Personal Statement. Because people and their experiences are diverse, you are the best person to determine the content of your own statement. It is for you to decide what information you would like to convey, and the best way for you to convey it. Whatever you write, readers will be seeking to get a sense of you as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In this context, it is generally more helpful to write what you think readers should know to have a better sense of who you are rather than writing what you think the readers want to read.”

Other schools may be more specific and ask that you write about a specific achievement or experience. Some may even provide a title question. If the school does set specific requirements then you may have to write more than one personal statement but you should be able to write just one, or in some cases, two statements.

This document was written and prepared by Sam Jacobs LL.B.