If you’re applying to , you must first take a look at some Columbia Law School personal statement examples that can help you understand what you’re up against and what you will be expected to showcase in your own law school personal statement. Columbia is the home to one of the best and has a reputation for excellence and a rigorous admissions process. In this article, we will go over three Columbia Law School personal statement examples and provide you with tips that will help you write your own outstanding submission!
English is not my first language, but I have always felt like I was born to speak it. While my high school classmates sighed with frustration every time we were asked to read Shakespeare or Chaucer, I looked forward to the challenge. It gave me great satisfaction to decipher the Bard’s winding phrases and encrypted aphorisms. I feel great joy in reading English writers in their original form, without resorting to reading them in my native tongue. While I love my first language, I am glad I can transition between my native language and English with ease.
This did not go unnoticed by my professor, Dr. Linda Hamel, who taught me in a second-year course in Medieval literature. In addition to being an instructor at X University, Dr. Hamel also taught an ESL course at a local language center. We often spoke after class and seminars, and when she learned that I was an immigrant, she asked if I would be interested in helping her students practice their English after class.
I decided to pursue this opportunity because I remember how hard it was to talk with native-English speakers as a newcomer to the United States. I remembered the discomfort I felt due to my accent, the fear of mispronouncing words, the unease at the thought my interlocutor would not understand me. It was always much easier to speak with another immigrant, even if they were not from the same background as me! Dr. Hamel also noticed that her students did not feel too comfortable chatting with her after class about their day-to-day lives, hobbies, and interests. They were afraid of making mistakes and making a bad impression on their teacher.
I started coming to visit her classes every Thursday night. Dr. Hamel allowed me to take the last 30 minutes of her classroom time to set up practice opportunities with her students. I restructured the practice time to allow everyone to have the opportunity to use what they learned in the latest class and previous weeks. I also invited my brother and sister to visit from time to time to help with the students’ practice. Dr. Hamel noted that within a few weeks her students showed improvement in using newly learned words and phrases and showed more initiative in speaking with her after class.
This experience also opened up another interest that led me to apply to law school: many of my new acquaintances in the ESL class were unfamiliar with the local legal culture and found it difficult to navigate the challenging landscape of immigration law. This discovery led me to join the Immigration Law Society at my college in my third year of undergrad. Not only was I able to learn more about US immigration policies, but I was also exposed to working in the legal field with immigration agencies, non-profits, and government institutions. We disseminated legal information in immigrant communities by sharing fliers, organizing free workshops, and helping local law firms with pro-bono work in these communities.
During this time, I met another mentor, Mr. Jack Turner, a local immigration lawyer, who invited me to work in his law firm to help with paperwork. As an Immigration Law Clerk, I helped prepare and file LMIA-based work permit applications and a wide range of LMIA-exempt work permit applications. I also helped organize and file permanent residence matters, including Express Entry-based PR applications, PNP applications and Family Sponsorship applications. Not only was I able to gain firsthand experience with the paperwork, but I also got to learn how to work with immigrants and their families and provide them with knowledge on these matters so they could learn more about their immigration journey.
Immigration is a huge part of US history, but it is not always recognized as such. As a lawyer, my goal is to continue working in immigration law and help people from all over the world find home here, in America, and I cannot think of anywhere better to pursue this goal than Columbia Law School. One of my goals as a Columbia law student is to join the Immigrants’ Right Clinic – this experiential and inspirational learning opportunity is one of the biggest draws for me. In most recent history, immigration has become the ground for some of the most prominent political and human rights issues in our history and I will be proud to contribute to the legal discourse on immigration law as a Columbia Law student and alumnus.
From the moment I stepped into my high school's mock trial team meeting, I felt an undeniable surge of excitement. I am what some would call a typical “prelaw” student. As a teenager fascinated by courtroom dramas and legal intricacies, I knew that law was more than just a passing interest for me. The dynamic exchange of ideas, the art of persuasive argumentation, and the pursuit of justice ignited a fire within me that has burned brightly ever since. I knew, going into my undergrad, that I would major in political science and law courses because I realized at an early age that it was not merely a profession but a means to effect profound societal change.
I continued to nurture my passion during my college years, as I sought opportunities to immerse myself in the field and gain practical experience. During my sophomore year of college, I joined the International Law Society, a decision that would profoundly shape my understanding of the legal world. As a member of this society, I was exposed to a diverse range of legal issues transcending national boundaries. Through panel discussions, guest lectures, and case studies, I explored the complexities of international law, witnessing firsthand how legal principles could foster cooperation, resolve conflicts, and promote justice on a global scale. This exposure solidified my belief that law was a powerful instrument for change and propelled me to take a more active role in the society. By my fourth year, I became the Vice President of the society and continue with this role today.
Inspired by my involvement in the international law society, I sought opportunities to contribute my time and skills in a meaningful way. I eagerly volunteered to organize an international law conference hosted by our society. Coordinating with renowned legal scholars, practitioners, and students from around the world, I assumed responsibility for logistical arrangements, speaker coordination, and publicity efforts. This experience allowed me to witness the immense power of collaboration and the profound impact of legal dialogue. As I observed legal professionals engaging in thought-provoking discussions and striving for innovative solutions to complex global challenges, I realized the transformative potential of international law.
Driven by the impactful experiences I had in organizing the conference, I sought to expand my legal knowledge and practical skills further. Seeking to enhance my understanding of legal systems and their impact on society, I pursued an internship at ABC law firm. This experience provided me with invaluable insights into the practical aspects of law, offering glimpses into the real-world implications of legal decisions and the intricate workings of the justice system. Whether drafting legal briefs, conducting legal research, or advocating for marginalized individuals, each encounter reinforced my commitment to pursuing a legal career focused on promoting justice and advocating for those who lack a voice.
Building on my experiences, I am now ready to embark on the next phase of my journey as a law student at Columbia Law School. Moreover, I am excited about the opportunities for experiential learning, such as participating in moot court competitions and pro bono initiatives, for which Columbia Law School is famous. With my unwavering dedication, diverse experiences, and strong passion for justice, I am confident that I will thrive as a law student at Columbia and, in due course, as a legal professional committed to making a lasting impact on our world.
Becoming a paralegal was never my first career choice, but it became the most lifechanging experience for me. I got the position after completing my political science degree, unsure of what I want to do next. In the meantime, I wanted to work in a meaningful environment and contribute to my community by using my analytical and research skills. After completing my training as a paralegal, I joined a local firm that specialized in criminal law. Working as a paralegal after graduating college provided me with a profound glimpse into the world of law. A world I never really understood before I was plunged into this environment. This relatively accidental turn in my journey determined the course of my life and led to me writing this law school application.
As I assisted criminal attorneys in conducting legal research, preparing briefs, and interacting with clients, I realized the immense power and responsibility entrusted to legal professionals. Witnessing the impact of their work firsthand, I became captivated by the intricacies of the legal system and its potential to effect meaningful change not only in a person’s life, but also in the legal system. My research has helped my superiors with dozens of cases, and they continued to delegate more tasks and responsibilities to me as I grew in my role.
As I continued to thrive as a paralegal at the firm, I sought out opportunities to attend conferences, seminars, and lectures, where I could expand my understanding of legal theory and witness the dynamic nature of legal discourse. In June of 20XX, I attended the XYZ Law Conference in Los Angeles where I was able to participate in a panel on legal education among refugees. Through this experience, I recognized that attending law school would not only enhance my analytical and critical thinking abilities but also provide me with a platform to effect change on a broader scale. Encouraged by my growing fascination with the law, I decided to seek deeper understanding of the law among professionals around me.
I actively reached out to mentors at the law firm where I worked who generously shared their insights and guided me along my path. Mrs. Lauren Call, a senior partner at the firm, provided me with invaluable advice and inspired me with her dedication to justice and service. Her guidance deepened my appreciation for the multifaceted nature of the legal profession, and it became clear to me that attending law school was the logical next step in my journey. Armed with a newfound clarity of purpose, I eagerly embraced the challenge of applying to law schools.
Columbia Law School is famous for interdisciplinary studies, which aligns perfectly with my belief that the law must be contextualized within a broader societal framework. The opportunity to engage with accomplished scholars from various disciplines would provide me with a well-rounded legal education, equipping me with the skills necessary to tackle complex legal issues and effect meaningful change. My journey from working as a paralegal to the decision to attend Columbia Law School has been fueled by a deep desire to effect positive change within the legal system. I am eager to embark on this new chapter of my life and further cultivate my passion for justice, advocacy, and intellectual growth.
Learn more in our video!
1. A story.
A is a story of your journey to applying to law school. Forget about statistics like your GPA or LSAT; forget about listing your accomplishments and experiences as you would in a . This is a narrative, and you must approach it as a writing assignment. Essentially, you are writing an essay to answer the question “?”
It may sound simple, but it’s truly a great challenge to compose a narrative that tells the story of what prompted you to pursue law. Keep in mind that Columbia Law School asks for a statement that’s no more than 2 pages long, double spaced. This is not very much space at all, so you need to be mindful with what aspects of your story you tell and how you link them together into a captivating narrative.
It should be formatted as an academic essay, with introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. But do keep in mind that it should be vibrant and engaging. Simple narration of facts and events will not do. You must have a captivating introduction, strong transitional sentences, and conclusion that tell us what you want to achieve as a law student or a lawyer, and what you look forward to as a legal professional. Be creative – this is the best place for creativity in your entire law school application. And frankly, this is where your creativity can really make you stand out.
The core of your story should be examples of events and experiences that led you to pursue law. It might be best to keep it to 1 or 2 experiences. As we already mentioned, you do not want to list too many events in the statement. Your story should revolve around 1 or 2 experiences that really motivated you to pursue law. They do not need to be law-related necessarily, but they should give us an idea that you understand the kind of career you are pursing and that you have a general knowledge of what a career in law entails. The story can cover your work experience, academic experiences, personal experiences, as well as you participated in.
Most importantly, your story needs to tell what kind of skills and lessons you learned that prepared you to become a law student. Do you possess curiosity, attention to detail, analytical and research skills, patience, intrinsic motivation, and so on? Give us examples of events and experiences in your life that showcase this!
Never underestimate the amount of time you will need to write your law school personal statement. Give yourself at least 8 weeks to write your submission. We cannot stress this enough. This is a challenging and time-consuming task.
Consider reaching out to a professional to get feedback. You do not want to leave your statement to chance. An outstanding law school personal statement can really mean the difference between a rejection and an interview invite.
1. How long should my Columbia Law School personal statement be?
It should be no longer than 2 pages, double spaced. However, keep in mind that a shorter essay can sometimes be a better choice. As long as it’s a strong essay and tells a captivating story of why you want to be a lawyer, your essay can be and should be shorter than 2 pages. Admissions committees review thousands of documents, so if you can showcase your strong communication skills in a shorter submission, do not hesitate.
2. What should my Columbia Law School personal statement cover?
Your personal statement should answer the question of why you want to become a lawyer. Choose 1 or 2 events that led you to apply to law school and create a captivating narrative.
3. Is there a prompt for Columbia Law School personal statement?
4. Can I reuse my Columbia Law School personal statement to apply to other schools?
You can tailor your personal statement for different schools but try to not be too school specific in your personal statement if you plan on using it for different schools.