It may seem like you know what you are doing: Your personal statement for law school will be easy because you wrote a stellar personal statement that got your admission into college. Right?
You won’t know what worked or didn’t if you don’t get specific feedback about your personal statement. Perhaps your personal statement was the weakest section of your application, but you were able to get into college because of stellar test scores and extracurricular activities.
Personal statements for law school require that you improve your writing skills. Writing is a large part of an attorney’s professional life. Your grammar and style should be perfect. You must also make your application stand out among the thousands of applicants with impressive resumes and high GPA perfectionists.
Here are five tips that will help you create a personal statement to increase your chances of being accepted into law school.
Tip #1: Reduce the legalese
Most likely, the law school admissions panel has guessed that your goal is to become a lawyer. It doesn’t have to be a dazzling story about your love for To Kill a Mockingbird or legal jargon. You don’t have to sound like an attorney if you are giving a personal statement about the practice of law. You can use standard language, but still be grammatically correct.
Tip #2: Talk about your strengths
In most cases, being unique can be a positive thing. Consider your life and think about the events and challenges that shaped you into the person you have become. It could have been a friend, family member or teacher. Perhaps you were there to witness something extraordinary. Those memories could be the basis of great personal statements. Although personal statements often choose to express sadness, the memory does not have to be negative. The way you want your reader to feel about the memory should be based on how you feel. Keep your attention on the event or person, not your entire life.
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Tip #3: Make your message as compelling as possible
It is important to understand that admissions officers at law schools read hundreds of personal essays. Even the most passionate reader can become tired of reading essays after some time. Your personal statement can have a significant impact on how people perceive your story. These are some tips to help you write a personal statement that is more engaging.
Make your intro bold and engaging. To make your statement stand out, don’t wait until the end.
Make sure your conclusion has impact. Too often, the conclusion becomes a boring summary that states “and that’s how I want to become a lawyer.” Instead of writing a boring conclusion, make sure your last sentences are as engaging as the rest.
Use a concise, direct style. In your personal statement, you don’t want to sound like Charles Dickens. Your audience will be turned off by overuse of details and SAT words. You can reduce the amount of fluff in your speech by writing it as an essay rather than a speech.
Ask for multiple opinions. It is a good idea to have friends, family and mentors review your essay. They can not only spot typos but can also tell you if your statement is clear and interesting. Get a few opinions from admissions reviewers to help you target a wider audience.
Tip #4: Do not oversell yourself
It’s possible to be proud of an achievement. That’s fine! It doesn’t matter what topic you choose, but it is important to be careful about how you write about it. Overinflated egos can be detected by admissions council members. The reader will also appreciate you being genuine and not pompous. The personal statement you write is an opportunity for law schools to get to know you, not for you to make it into an advertisement campaign. Your resume, GPA, and LSAT score should speak for themselves. However, your personal statement should reflect your personality and character.
Many applicants also use their personal statements to “right wrongs.” This means that they will try to justify bad grades or justify a crime such as a DUI, ticket, etc. This is not the place for your personal statement. Your personal statement should be used to highlight your strengths. You can use your personal statement to highlight your strengths and fix any negative aspects of your application.
Tip #5: Remember your audience.
Too often, law school applicants attempt to create a personal statement that fits everyone. Every law school would appreciate your story of life-changing charitable work, right? Not necessarily.
For personal statements, many law schools require that students answer a particular question. Your personal statement will look incomplete and disingenuous if it doesn’t address the question at all or avoids it entirely. Attention to detail is a key component of the practice and enjoyment of law. You will probably do more harm than good if you send a generic or broad personal statement to law school.
Many law schools also try to promote a unique aspect of their pro bono work or legal training. This is not a common practice among law schools. Make sure to check out their mission statement and press releases. It is important to be authentic, not just appeal to admissions officers. Try to convey why the school is the best fit for you. Before your application goes straight to the reject pile, make sure that you include the correct school name in your application.