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Law School Personal Statement Tips

A General Procedure of Completing Personal Statements

❶Length does not correlate with quality. In developmental psychology, the critical period is a maturational stage when the nervous system is extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli ; , and thus ripe for development.

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No matter where you are in the application process, I make your goals my priority. I am the Law School Expert. I limit my clients each year to ensure you get the time you deserve. Admissions is about more than just getting accepted. My clients are outliers.

Negotiating scholarships, getting in off the waitlist, or choosing which school to actually attend; these final follow-through steps are where the rubber meets the road in achieving your goals. Invest in reaching your law school and career goals. The cost of all other application packages can be applied towards an upgrade to The Works. See what others are saying about working with Ann Read More.

Make Smart Decisions Admissions is about more than just getting accepted. Craft An Impressive Application My clients are outliers. Vivid, active language is crucial. Try to make the reader feel he or she has taken a short mental vacation.

Whisk the reader away into your world. Make the reader smile. This applies to describing your work in a different nation and culture, for example. Your audience will perk up if you describe a campus visit you made and give specific details about which of their colleagues you met with and how that visit changed your perspective.

Appeal to universal human values, including success, freedom, honesty, and friendship, among others. Your topic is related to, but separate from your structure. Your structure is the form of your personal statement, and the topic is the content. You may start with the structure or the topic, depending on which appeals to you more. Personalize your law school personal statement as much as possible by including concrete examples of your characteristics and specific details of your experiences.

Show, rather than tell, the reader about yourself and your accomplishments. Write about coursework, experiences, or research related to your law career or legal interest, such as completing a thesis, working with a professor, or volunteering for a legal aid or clinic. Write about why a particular law school or program fits your goals. Extensive knowledge about that law school or program is essential for this to truly succeed. Write about overcoming any difficulties or adversity in your life.

This may include difficulties faced in your personal life, academic life, or in your local or college community. Be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school. Examine a tragedy in your life loss of a parent or someone close, a severe accident or a triumph recognition for your outstanding performance, overcoming a disease, awards for excellence.

Discuss how you have grown from this experience, and again, be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school. Write about your passions, ideals, or favorite hobbies and how they are related to your choice to attend law school and become a lawyer. If you are still unsure about what you should write or where to begin your personal statement, try some of the following activities.

Expand one or more into a theme for your law school personal statement. List your personal skills and consider how they will make you an asset to the law school or legal community.

Have a friend or colleague do a mock interview with you regarding why you are interested in applying to law school. Your answers to their questions may trigger new ideas. Review all the pivotal or remarkable experiences that you have had throughout your life. Examine how these experiences have directed your life or your decision to apply to law school.

Have you ever volunteered or served a cause of great importance to you? Write about that experience. How has a mentor or experience, a particular book or quote, changed the direction of your life? Write about that life-changing event. Have you assumed a leadership role in any arena, such as a club, sports team, or work? Write about what goals or ideals led you to seek these leadership roles, or what you learned and accomplished as a leader. Write several adjectives that characterize you, and then write a short paragraph explaining how these words describe you.

Use metaphors and analogies. These make extra neurons fire as the mind plays with the levels of resonance. Discuss topics that build your credibility. Your reason for applying should not be that you have wanted to be a lawyer since you were five. What kind of credibility does a five-year-old have? Try to show you have as many of the following qualities as possible: Intellectual ability, analytic ability, imagination, motivation, maturity, organization, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, oral communication skills, written communication skills, and career potential.

The law school professors will be reading your personal statement closely and will immediately be able to spot good writers, with polished ideas, elegant structure, and no errors. Admissions committees have read hundreds of personal statements. They can spot a good one in about two seconds. Use recent stories before older, personal experiences over academic, strongest arguments before weaker.

People can think faster than they can read, so they are able to think about other things when they read your personal statement. Ideally, your essay will grab their attention so that they focus solely on you. Lawyers are master orators. They must know the skills of persuasion. Your essay must be able to persuade your audience to admit you. Use your rhetorical choices to show you have considered the art form. Community service is imperative for advantaged applicants and those interested in public service.

The admissions committee is looking for future leaders in the public and private sectors, and those who value social power. It is rare for an applicant to have taken the time to research the school, the program, and what he or she wants from it and why he or she wants that one experience.

Know what you want. Be clear about it, and simple, but smart. Read through thirty personal statement samples. You will quickly see how they all start to sound the same. Now imagine your audience reading through thousands of law school personal statements.

Try to find a way to make your writing style and content stand out from the crowd. Have a clear idea of what you want to convey before writing. Before starting your law school personal statement, use an outline to determine the structure of your statement. Have a central theme or thesis that is used throughout your personal statement.

Note that you can brainstorm and free write to generate topics for your personal statement, but before you begin writing anything close to your final draft you should have a clear and concise idea of what you are conveying in your personal statement. Conclude your personal statement by referring back to the introductory paragraph and restate your main thesis in a slightly different way. Use your law school personal statement as a means to market yourself.

Most top law schools receive thousands of applications. Admissions committees seek to weave together a class composed of unique individuals whose diverse views symbiotically complement each other. Use this opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are more than a standardized test score and a cluster of grades; showcase your peerless and intriguing personality.

Cultivate a positive ethos. Be genuinely honest and try to focus on your most favorable characteristics. Write clearly and to the point. Effectively utilize the limited words allowed to convey what is unique about yourself as well as why you are a suitable fit for law school or that particular program. Make sure every sentence is clear. Adhere to the page or word limitations. Respect the pages limits! Most well-written personal statements should be no longer than two to three pages double-spaced.

Length does not correlate with quality. If you absolutely must, you can use point font in Times. Consider tailoring your personal statement to reflect the law schools to which you are applying. Making specific references to a particular law school or specialty will demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to a particular law school. Check if professors have retired or changed institutions.

Take your statement through several drafts. Show your statement to professors and lawyers, and listen to their advice. Edit your law school personal statement. Proofread the final draft of your personal statement several times, including at least once orally, for substance, style, and grammatical and spelling errors. Have others edit your law school personal statement as well.

Ideally, ask an academic advisor, professor, or someone familiar with the law school application process to edit your statement. Pay attention to detail. A comma splice or two will send your file to the reject pile. Do use specific details.

If you can exchange the name of the school for others, take out that sentence or rewrite it with a detail specific to the law school. Write about things that make you genuinely excited and enthusiastic. Readers of your statement can tell when your enthusiasm takes over. Do not focus upon your weaknesses! Discussing this weakness will only highlight it. Instead, write about the traits and characteristics that define you as an individual and showcase what you will bring to that law school.

Your tone should be confident and positive. If you do have a weakness to address, such as a severe illness resulting in poor grades for a semester or a documented history of doing poorly on standardized tests with their not truly reflecting your potential, write about this in an addendum.

The best law school personal statements display clear and succinct writing that is well within the specified word limitations. Do not solely discuss why you want to be a lawyer. The fact that you are going through the admissions process evidences your interest in the law. This topic is trite and will not leave a lasting impression upon the admissions committee. Instead, again, try to discuss what experiences led to your choice and what unique attributes you will bring to law school and the legal field.

Admissions committees read thousands of law school personal statements, and a boring introduction will result in the reader skimming over rather than fully considering your personal statement. The tone of the essay should convey the seriousness of the topic and the writer. Steer away from topics such as religion, political doctrines, or contentious issues.

While you may be an outspoken critic of affirmative action or organized religion, the admissions committee may be offended by your views. Do not reiterate your academic accomplishments, unless they are not evident from your transcripts and test scores. As an example, a major family crisis or personal catharsis resulting in a drastic change in your grades is worth discussing, whereas your being on the Honor Roll most semesters is not. Furthermore, your grades are already documented on your transcript, and you should take this opportunity to give the committee information they cannot find in other parts of your application.

Do not solely rely on the spell checker. Avoid using the passive voice. Extensive use of the passive voice will rob your personal statement of clarity, brevity and impact. Sentences written in the active voice are more powerful and succinct than those written in the passive voice.

The passive voice occurs when the subject receives the action of the verb and is acted upon by someone or something. However, the personal statement is not the place for passive voice.

Do not be too influenced by one person or idea. Show you can synthesize ideas and choose your own way. This list, culled from discussions with admissions directors, lists the ten biggest mistakes applicants often make on their law school personal statements.

Most of these were discussed above. Sending a personal statement to school B meant for School A. Using gimmicks such as writing in crayon, modeling your personal statement as a legal brief, or writing it as a poem. For more personal statement sample essays go to or our article Personal Statement Examples. Note — this applicant had a 3. We were packed in the largest of three rooms in a 2, square foot space baking in the heat generated by ten co-workers in close quarters, fifteen running computers, and an abnormally warm summer.

On the glass doorway was etched the ghostly lettering of the former company occupying the space, serving as a grim reminder of the ever-present possibility of failure. Silicon Valley is incestuous: They were selling another David versus Goliath story, featuring a small rag-tag team of engineers defeating a seemingly insurmountable industry leader. Despite my skepticism, I still had a free-running imagination fed with nostalgic thoughts of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard working on their first audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage.

I was lucky enough to join that company late in the game and sell my stock options early, but many others spent a significant portion of their career at a company that came close to glory but ultimately fell short: Goliath 1, David 0. This time they were telling me it was going to be different; they were always saying this time would be different.

With the financial incentive of stock options and the confidence gained by working with a crack technical team, everyone was working at full capacity.

There were scribbled drawings with names and dates taped up on a wall. These were the jotted ideas from our team of electrical engineers and physicists with M. One posting was my recent workings of a carbon nano-tube electro-mechanical configuration bit, an idea that a co-worker and I had developed that I would write up and the company would push through the patent process. By packing a dozen well-caffeinated physics and electronics geniuses into a pathetic three-room rental that resembled a low-budget movie studio, we had created the primordial soup of intellectual invention.

It was immensely exciting to be the tenth employee in a growing start-up company that would have to upgrade offices and dramatically expand staff in an up-scaling war against the industry titan. The increased design responsibility and unbounded architectural creativity that comes with working for a start-up is unparalleled. However, the necessity of side-stepping patented intellectual property belonging to our competitor, which covered all aspects of our design, from manufacturing to testing, placed a heavy burden on the design team.

This danger was extremely real, as a similar start-up had collapsed following an infringement lawsuit related to unauthorized reproduction of a bit stream.

It was immensely satisfying to study, absorb, and then circumvent patent claims as I designed a conceptually similar but un-patented version of three memory blocks. I am interested in serving as general counsel for a corporation focused on advanced semiconductor technology.

I am drawn to the challenges I will find at the intersection of intellectual property, product liability, and corporate law. At this juncture in my life, I seek more challenge and personal growth in a field that calls on my written skills, attention to detail, and love of technology. My background in nano-technology will bring a unique perspective to the NYU classroom and will make me extremely marketable upon graduation.

By pursuing a law degree, I intend to enter a profession that aligns with the interests and aptitudes I have discovered and developed through real work experience.

It is through deep personal reflection that I have decided that law is the natural extension of my training, personality, and talents. This is an excellent personal statement because it shows this candidate has had a tangible impact on organizations, and probably on the global economy.

The statement keeps the reader engaged by giving a meaningful story with background, context, conflict, and resolution. It also provides a peek into the mysterious and increasingly legendary world of Silicon Valley start-ups. The essay is focused on career goals, with career history to back it up. This person is a doer, not a dreamer. The writer shows a depth of technical knowledge and strong analytic reasoning skills that go way beyond linear thinking, especially when he describes finding new solutions to highly technical problems that do not violate patents.

The statement creates desire in the admissions committee to admit this person because other companies seek to hire the applicant and venture capitalists are willing to support the applicant with substantial funds. This applicant demonstrated he has strong written communication skills by writing a compelling statement, using logos, pathos, ethos, and mythos.

Logos is used as evidence of excellence when he discusses the substantial funds invested in his intellectual potential, and the use of his analytical ability to keep the company afloat in the same waters where others have foundered. And the analogy, in which he compares his small start-up and the industry leader to David and Goliath, uses both pathos and mythos to excellent effect: The story is one everyone knows; just by invoking the names, the writer brings another powerful story to his narrative without using valuable space.

This mythic story becomes a theme woven throughout the essay. This reader has also composed the statement so that he comes across as an authoritative, competent, thoughtful, and honest leader.

This essay is too focused on the details of the story rather than giving evidence for why this person is a good candidate for law school. Luckily for the applicant, the story is powerful enough on its own, due to the impact the real events had on many people. The first paragraph is wholly descriptive prose that has very little to do with why this person is a good candidate for law school.

The first paragraph lacks a thesis or a direction for the essay. Ideally, the reader should find a microcosm of the essay in the first paragraph. The main body of the personal statement is full of specific details and action verbs, which is great because visual learners can imagine the office in vivid detail. By far, the second-to-last paragraph packs in the most value to the admissions committee for the space used, but the background story is important for this paragraph to be so powerful.

The writer could plant more indicators of his positive qualities and characteristics throughout the background story. For example, he could mention how he used his oral communication skills to communicate with his design team and supervisors, so that the admissions committee knows he feels, like they inevitably do, that mastery of oral communication skills is important.

The last paragraph is where the applicant draws together his themes with his self-assessment and goals. This writer commits the common error of throwing in the name of the school receiving this statement as a token. Any law school program could fill that place. The writer does not convey that he has done research about the law program at NYU. Nor does the applicant discuss how being in New York City will put him in contact with East Coast technology specialists who will give him an edge up in his career.

NYU Law School admissions counselors would love to hear about how the applicant and law school are an ideal match. Note — this applicant substantially revised his statement based upon the feedback that was provided to him.

This example shows some potential, but offers more lessons on what not to do. Appearing to be a typical straight out of undergraduate law school applicant, I bring much more than that to the table. My academic achievements speak for themselves as I graduated with honors in only three years. However my path toward college was not as successful. I attended a competitive private high school and was among the bottom tier of students in my class. Going into my undergraduate studies, I was excited to get to a new place in my life, but did not realize my potential for academic success.

My success in high school was marginal at best. I was barely a B student.


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To help you write a law school personal statement that best reflects your abilities as a potential law student, we have some recommendations below. DO: Discuss possible personal statement topics with your pre-law advisor (or someone else) before you invest a lot of time writing. The following resources will help you during the brainstorming, outlining, and initial writing stages of your law school personal statement: Leadership in Admissions, .

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These example law school essays were integral components of successful law school applications. 2 Law School Personal Statements That Succeeded these steps will help you choose the right fit. Can law please offer some help Generally, the personal statement is a narrative that explains what led a essay to apply to law school—it might be an intellectual journey, help related to your background and professional experiences, but it is going to be "personal," i.