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Law School Personal Statements Advice

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❶For 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. 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.

Productive Preparation




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. My first days of high school were rough, leaving my home area to attend a private school where I did not know a single other person. The discomfort I felt translated into a not so great first two years and I only ended up a B student because of a fairly successful senior year. I again decided to leave my comfort zone as I attended the University of Southern California USC , six hundred and fifty miles from home.

The Student in University. To most people including myself, this class appeared to be a waste of time. I could not have been more wrong. I quickly began to get very involved in the class, and it became a major factor in my comfort and success at USC. Smith, was a huge part of this. Smith helped me become comfortable on campus and get involved with various activities. He pushed everyone in the class to succeed, and I soon realized it was not about University , it was about the rest of our first semester, and our continued success as we went onto our degree.

I realized how poorly I began high school. With that in mind and my new found comfort at USC, I thrived early on.

I knew I could succeed, and I had an instructor that cared as a great resource to my success. While other students were struggling to adjust to college life, I was able to relax and easily make it through my first group of classes. I felt as if I was better prepared for college life because of my tough course through high school, and my comfortable introduction to college life.

The College lifestyle seemed to work together with my learning style. Many students get to college, have an abundance of time on their hands and end up wasting all of it. For me it was a relief to have some free time, and I used the time to excel in my class work and still have a great social experience. The more independence I obtained, the better I was able to deal with it. My early success has allowed me to push myself as of late in order to graduate in three years.

My comfort at school allowed me to take up to 21 credit hours per semester, get involved on campus with activities and part-time jobs, and continue to succeed in my coursework. I entered my undergraduate studies as someone who struggled in high school, coming into school with only 4 of my required credits completed. Presently, I look forward to graduating with a perfect grade point average in only three years and attending law school to pursue a career as an attorney.

I look forward to the challenges ahead, and am finally realizing my full potential for success. This applicant chose to structure the personal statement around a quote. Winston Churchill wrote some of the most memorable quotes in the English language; he was an artist of the epigram.

For this reason, he is over-quoted and often cited out of context, but he is always loved. This applicant also chose to tell a personal narrative about a mentor who changed his life.

The title and the quote are both about change through time. The quote suggests the writer will look at his past mistakes and accomplishments in order to make well-evaluated choices about the future. The biggest problem with this personal statement is its lack of specific details. Furthermore, he gives no specific details about the law school he is applying to and why he feels he is a good match for that school.

The reader learns from this statement that the writer feels he has improved as a student thanks to a teacher named Dr. There are no specific details about the author or his mentor.

The reader is also told that the applicant began school with four credits and graduated from USC in three years, all of which can be learned from the transcript. The essay sets up valuable points of entry where specific details could illustrate why this applicant would make a good law school candidate, but these opportunities are missed.

For example, the personal narrative about the mentor, Dr. Smith, lacks a story. This personal statement also sets up a potentially powerful quote to create a thematic backbone for the essay, but the essay does not unpack the rhetorical power of the quote and weave that power through the essay.

This writer needs to sit down with the quote and spend time unpacking the various levels and resonances of it in relation to his life and goals. For example, if the applicant were able to mention a grandparent who had some significant connection to World War II and therefore Churchill and who influenced the applicant by teaching him lessons about life or law, then the quote would have both mythic and personal significance, in addition to specific details that would contribute to a positive ethos.

A rhetorical strategy such as this would allow the quote to unfurl its full rhetorical power, and it would elegantly bind the quote to a personal history, one that impacts, and is impacted by, others.

Focusing on the fact that the applicant was among the bottom tier of students in his high school class does nothing to recommend the applicant for law school. Law schools, especially top law schools, expect applicants to have been high-achievers all along. Showing improvement over time might not be the best structure for this applicant to choose in the final draft of the personal statement. Improvement over time is best used when the applicant has had to overcome a major difficulty, such as a learning disability, a major accident, or moving to a new country with a new language, not just moving to a new school.

Law School Personal Statements Advice There is no other component of your application that you can control as much as your law school personal statement. See the following articles for more information: Write for Your Audience 3. Topics for Law School Personal Statements 6. Things to Remember Once You Begin 7. Inside Secrets You Should Know 8. Top 10 Personal Statement Mistakes Sample Personal Statements and Commentary 1. Your personal statement is essential to gaining admission. Write for Your Audience 1.

A well-crafted personal statement will not answer the following questions directly, but it will embed the desired answers in the narrative: Will you be a good lawyer?

What was your tangible impact on an institution, an organization, or individuals? Have you reached beyond the safety net of college into the real world? Do you have a plan for your goals, or are you a dreamer? Can you put yourself in another subject position in order to see all sides of an issue?

What will you bring to our law school? Have you been a pro-active starter in the past? Did you raise money for what you started? Do you know how to organize? Do you follow through on what you began? Have you demonstrated your ability both to work with a team and to delegate? The First Steps to an Exceptional Personal Statement Argumentation and Persuasion You have three purposes in your personal statement that demand the art of persuasion: To make your reader believe you should be admitted.

To clear away any doubts your reader might have about you. To make your reader act on your behalf. Reason and logic, including facts, figures, expert testimony, and syllogism. Use logos to persuade with facts. Emotional appeals, including examples and narratives that build sympathy. Use pathos to persuade with feelings. Show you care passionately about something. Using too much pathos, including wretched descriptions, fear or guilt, or even too many glowing adjectives can make your audience feel manipulated, offended, or turned off.

Structuring Your Statement You should be able to tell someone how your personal statement is structured, what the logical progression is, what each of the roughly six to ten paragraphs is about, and how each paragraph both interprets evidence for its specific claim and contributes to the overall effect of the essay.

You may use more than one: How to Write a Strong Introduction 1. Make your essay worth their time to read. Tell them your thesis and structure. How to Write a Strong Conclusion 1. Discover something new for your audience that you set up along the way. 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. 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.

I led a multi-million dollar design team; I can succeed in law school. 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. This person is a doer, not a dreamer. The writer shows a depth of technical knowledge and strong analytic reasoning skills that go far beyond linear thinking, especially in the description of 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 his strong written communication skills by writing a compelling statement that uses several kinds of rhetorical appeals.

Logic is used to show how his analytical ability helps to keep the company afloat in the same waters where others have foundered. 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, and so just by invoking the names, the writer brings a powerful story into his narrative without using valuable space. This mythic story becomes a theme woven throughout the essay.

This writer 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 and fails to give sufficient evidence for why this person is a good candidate for law school. The first paragraph is well written but 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 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.

To make the background story do more work for him, the writer could plant more indicators of his positive qualities and characteristics in the early part of the essay. 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 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. Does the applicant feel that 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? Or, is the applicant focusing upon NYU because of their strength in intellectual property law? Despite these quibbles, though, this is overall a fantastic personal statement.

I am a thinker, but not one to think out loud. I love myself, but am not in love with the sound of my own voice. I want to be loved, but not at the cost of not loving myself. I want to know everything, but realize that nothing can ever be known for sure. I believe that nothing is absolute, but I can absolutely defend my beliefs. I understand that chance is prevalent in all aspects of life, but never leave anything important to chance.

I am skeptical about everything, but realistic in the face of my skepticism. I base everything on probability, but so does nature I believe that all our actions are determined, but feel completely free to do as I choose.

I do not believe in anything resembling a God, but would never profess omniscience with regard to such issues. I have faith in nothing, but trust that my family and friends will always be faithful. I feel that religion is among the greatest problems in the world, but also understand that it is perhaps the ultimate solution. I recognize that many people derive their morals from religion, but I insist that religion is not the only fountainhead of morality.

I respect the intimate connection between morality and law, but do not believe that either should unquestioningly respect the other.

I want to study the law and become a lawyer, but I do not want to study the law just because I want to become a lawyer. I am aware that the law and economics cannot always be studied in conjunction, but I do not feel that either one can be properly studied without an awareness of the other.

I recognize there is more to the law than efficiency, but believe the law should recognize the importance of efficiency more than it does. I love reading about law and philosophy, but not nearly as much as I love having a good conversation about the two. I know that logic makes an argument sound, but also know that passion makes an argument sound logical. I have philosophical beliefs informed by economics and economic beliefs informed by philosophy, but I have lost track of which beliefs came first.

I know it was the egg though. I always think very practically, but do not always like to think about the practical. I have wanted to be a scientist for a while now, but it took me two undergraduate years to figure out that being a scientist does not necessarily entail working in a laboratory. I play the saxophone almost every day, but feel most like an artist when deduction is my instrument. I spent one year at a college where I did not belong and two years taking classes irrelevant for my major, but I have no regrets about my undergraduate experience.

I am incredibly passionate about my interests, but cannot imagine being interested in only one passion for an entire lifetime.

I love the Yankees, but do not hate the Red Sox. I love sports, but hate the accompanying anti-intellectual culture. I may read the newspaper starting from the back, but I always make my way to the front eventually.


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In these pages, meet six of our students in the way we first met them: through the personal statements they wrote for their law school applications. And through their photos, meet a seventh: Andreas Baum, ’12, the talented student photographer who took these pictures for us.

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These example law school essays were integral components of successful law school applications.

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Law schools use the personal statement to learn about your ability to write concisely, precisely, and well. The personal statement gives you an opportunity to showcase your abilities. So, the best statements not only follow the schools' instructions, but are tied together by a theme and a logical progression of ideas, making good use of. The personal statement, one of the most important parts of your law school application, is an opportunity to highlight your writing ability, your personality, and your experience. Think of it as a written interview during which you get to choose the question.

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The law school personal statement is an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Perfect your law school application essay with our tips. Law School Personal Statements Advice. There is no other component of your application that you can control as much as your law school personal statement.