TL;DR / Key Takeaways
While the LSAT is important, the personal statement is your one opportunity to speak directly to the law school admission team. Your writing can demonstrate what you can contribute as a member of the student body and help differentiate you from other applicants with similar test scores and GPAs.
The personal statement is a unique opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are as a person, to highlight work experience and life experience, and to make the case for why you will be a law school success. The statement is a chance to show the admissions officers that you are more than just your LSAT score and your college GPA; it is an exercise in advocacy—you are advocating for your admission to law school.
The personal statement also gives you the chance to provide the admissions committee with another example of your writing abilities. Writing is critical both in law school and in a career as a lawyer (which is why one part of the LSAT is the Writing Sample). Your statement will indicate to the committee what level of work product you will deliver in law school and in the workforce. Therefore, just as if you were writing a legal brief or memo to a partner, it is incredibly important that your writing in the personal statement is clear, succinct, and free of typos and grammatical errors.
Here are a few law school personal statement tips as well as some resources available to help you make the strongest case possible.
Write About You
Arguably, the most important thing you can do in your personal statement is write about yourself. This may seem self-evident, but it is easy to fall into the trap of writing about a family member or public figure who inspired you to apply to law school. The personal statement may be the only chance for the admissions committee to “meet” you, so use the word count wisely. Similarly, write in a manner that is true to you and your personal experience. Law school admissions officers read hundreds if not thousands of personal statements from applicants every year; they will be able to detect immediately if you are being disingenuous.
Not all law schools provide a prompt for the personal statement; therefore, it is important to carefully consider your personal statement topic. You are making the argument that you would be a valuable addition to the community, so be sure to pick a topic that supports this argument. Emphasize areas of personal growth and accomplishments that would not otherwise be evident from your law school application. Your statement does not have to address why you want to enroll in law school, but it should serve to distinguish you from other law school applicants. Is there an aspect of the law you are passionate about such as social justice? Or is there a particular career path that a law degree will enable you to pursue? Ultimately, you must answer a basic question for the admissions committee: why is this applicant compelling?
You Are More Than Your Numbers
While very important, your LSAT score and college GPA do not define your entire law school application. If you are a splitter or a reverse splitter, the personal statement is not the place to dwell on that fact or explain why. You may have an opportunity in a letter or optional essay to address your test score or performance in college, but the personal statement should not be used for that purpose.
Do Not Recite Your Résumé
Your personal statement should not read like a résumé. While it is good to highlight work experience or other graduate school experience, focus on the aspects of you that cannot be ascertained by reading your LinkedIn profile. Remember that the admissions team will also have the letters of recommendation, which will also highlight your accomplishments.
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Your Writing Should Be Polished
Your personal statement is likely the only example of your work product that the admissions officers will see; it should be polished. Make sure to outline your personal statement in advance of writing it. You should proofread your statement and you should ask others to proofread it as well. If you do not have a family member, friend, or colleague who can review your statement, companies like EssayEdge and 7Sage can proofread your personal statement and edit drafts. Likewise, admissions tutors and admissions counselors can help you zero in on a topic for your personal statement and ensure that you stick to your outline.