Your Cornell law school personal statement is one of the most important parts of your application. Getting into one of the is a challenge, as they are home to some of the best and admissions is highly competitive. Your law school personal statement is an opportunity to stand out from a crowd of thousands and make an impact on the admissions committee. In this blog, we’ll look at the personal statement requirements for Cornell law school, how to write your personal statement, and some Cornell law personal statement examples!
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is one of the highest-ranked law schools in the US, and admissions is very competitive. The admissions officers read thousands of every year, so it is vital to write something intriguing and original, and write it well.
Cornell advises students to use their personal statement to share their background, experiences, motivation for studying the law and why they think they are a good fit for the school. In other words, they want to know more about your journey to law school and . The admissions office at Cornell Law advises students to write about personal experiences that may come up in if they are not sure where to start. You should also check out some to learn how to structure and format a strong personal essay.
Cornell Law doesn’t use specific , and the instructions for writing your personal statement are relatively vague. This can be an issue if you’re not where to start or how to write a personal statement. Cornell center on your background and any notable experiences which have led you to pursue a legal career. You should include 1-3 important experiences at most, to keep your essay on track. Center your writing on a central idea or theme, and choose key experiences which relate to this topic.
Cornell law personal statement content and format
In general, Cornell suggests writing a personal statement that is 2 pages, double-spaced, in length, or around 500-750 words. You should use formal, professional language and tone. You’ll be evaluated on content and construction, so impeccable grammar and spelling is a must. For content, you should center your essay on these personal experiences:
- Your intellectual or research interests
- Significant accomplishments or awards, personal or professional
- Obstacles or challenges overcome
- Personal or professional goals
- Educational achievements
- What you will contribute to Cornell Law or how the school will impact your future as a lawyer
Want to know how to get into Cornell Law? Check out this infographic:
Do’s and Dont’s of your law school personal statement
Here’s a quick guide on what to include in your personal statement and mistakes to avoid:
- Stand out from the crowd. Your personal statement needs to be attention-grabbing and interesting to read, or it will fail to distinguish you from other applicants. In structuring your essay, start with a good introduction sentence—your hook. Once you have the reader interested in reading more, lead them through your essay in a logical, linear way, ending with a conclusion that leaves them wanting to learn more about you.
- Show maturity, growth and passion. Your essay should take your reader on a narrative journey, demonstrating how your interest in the law has grown and how you have personally grown and matured over the years. Your experiences are unique and diverse, so dig deep when you’re deciding which ones to include in your statement. Brainstorm which experiences have had a profound impact on you and reflect on what they have taught you and what skills and insights you have gained.
- Share both your ups and downs. Don’t be afraid to address your challenges and obstacles just as much as your achievements. An obstacle that you overcame or a hardship you’ve conquered can be powerful narratives, even if they are small. For instance, if you failed a course in your undergraduate and had to work to push your GPA back up, or if you previously applied to law school and were rejected. Discuss how those experiences affected you and what actions you took to overcome them.
- Restate your . Avoid relisting the experiences you include in your resume or . Your personal statement should be a unique part of your law school application and include new insights into who you are. The admissions committee wants to see information you haven’t shared elsewhere in your application.
- Forget to proofread. Your essay should be polished and professional, so this means giving it a few reads to ensure your essay is error-free. You can ask someone to act as a second set of eyes to proofread your work, just in case.
- Write just about how you will make a great lawyer. Your essay needs to stand out from thousands of others, so writing about how you will be a great lawyer or that you chose Cornell because it is an Ivy League school is tired and cliché. Don’t be afraid to share your uniqueness and talk about why you want to study law and what it means to you; don’t just butter up the admissions committee.
Personal Statement Sample #1
As a foster child, I often felt I didn’t have a voice. I went through the family court system many times before I turned 18, and it sometimes felt like I was always being shuffled in and out of a courtroom. From a young age, I realized my presence in the courtroom didn’t actually mean a lot—it wasn’t until I was older that my voice and opinion would be heard by the judges in their towering seats or acknowledged by the social workers and various lawyers.
I had always been an outspoken and opinionated kid, so I started advocating for myself even before I was deemed old enough to make decisions about my life. It was a frustrating experience to have so little say in my own life, and to be told that I didn’t know what I wanted. Foster kids like me often felt silenced, or voiceless, and the lack of control can be very disheartening. The first time a social worker actually encouraged me to speak up and use my own voice, I was shocked. She even coached me on how to address the judge and how to make sure my points were clear and well-spoken. Her example inspired me so much I decided to enroll in community college once I turned 18, with the goal of attending university.
I wanted to become a social worker, like her, and help other kids like me who had gone through the system. I worked two jobs and sometimes three jobs to put myself through school. When I graduated from community college, I was all set to pursue my dream. But I attended a career fair on campus, and my eyes were drawn to a booth promoting a prelaw program at a local university. After speaking with the promoters, my mind was opened to new possibilities. There are many excellent social workers out there, and there is no end to the need for good people to work with foster kids. But as a lawyer, I knew I could be that person in the courtroom, being a voice for kids and helping them discover their own. I could be the one making sure kids like me are heard.
My path was irrevocably altered then. I took a job as a legal aide, then a paralegal. I hungrily absorbed information, volunteered for cases, and learned absolutely everything I could about the law. In the little free time I had, I continued the volunteering I started in high school at women’s shelters and volunteered with youth mentorship programs. I was committed to studying the law and gaining the experience I needed, but I didn’t forget who I was working for, either.
Throughout this journey, it has become clear to me that I am coming full circle. I am excited at the prospect of entering the courtroom on behalf of kids and families—a place that used to make me feel angry and scared. Now, the prospect of studying the law and stepping to that courtroom fills me with a sense of purpose and achievement. Now, I have a voice of my own.
Working on your law school personal statement? Here are some tips!
Personal Statement Sample #2
Uprooting your life and starting over somewhere new is always an unforgettable experience. It can be eye-opening and rewarding, but I know from experience that it can be one of the most stressful and scary periods, too. Aside from adapting to a new culture, learning a new language or even just getting to know a new neighborhood, immigration involves following complex rules, learning foreign laws and tracking down difficult-to-find information.
My first experience with immigration and its stressors came when I decided to take the plunge and study abroad in Germany. I didn’t speak the language and had no previous experience with the intricate processes required to live, study and work in a foreign country. I knew the experience itself would be unparalleled, and extremely beneficial to my education, personal growth and professional development. But I was completely clueless when it came to German tax law, or the requirements for residency status. It was a struggle to navigate the various laws and regulations at times, but fortunately I had access to plenty of student resources through my program, and many of the government officials I interacted with spoke perfect English. For many immigrants, or even students studying abroad like I was, this access and accessibility is not guaranteed.
My brother’s wife is an immigrant. Unlike me, she struggled to communicate in a foreign country as a new immigrant, and she didn’t have adequate support or resources to help her, as English is her third language. When she first immigrated, she had hardly anything to her name, so hiring an expensive immigration lawyer was out of the question. And then, due to a clerical error, her permanent resident application was lost, and she was forced to start the process all over again from the beginning. The entire process was incredibly stressful and frustrating for her, and it could have been made much smoother with expert and accessible legal help. Even having a supportive ear or being able to communicate in person can make a world of difference to someone working in an unfamiliar situation.
In my sophomore year of college, I started working in the student affairs office, and I often saw the impact we could have for international students. From helping international students navigate how to register for students benefits, to figuring out their course schedules to providing information on the visa documents they needed, I did my best to help any student that walked through the door. It was always gratifying to see the relief and relaxation cross their face when I was able to solve their problem or answer a question.
Legal matters are intrinsically tied to immigration, and the law can often mean entering an entire new and unfamiliar world. It can be scary, but also rewarding. I want to study the law because I want to help others navigate the challenging and unfamiliar times in their lives, but also because I want to be that reliable, accessible source of information and support that so many of us need.
1. Does Cornell Law require a personal statement?
Yes; Cornell Law asks students to write a personal statement as part of their application to the program. Your law school personal statement is your opportunity to share your personal background and other information you haven’t shared with the admissions committee elsewhere in your application.
2. What should I write about in my Cornell Law personal statement?
Your law school personal statement can include a number of different topics, such as your personal, professional or academic achievements or obstacles, your motivations for studying the law and any experience you have with the legal profession and your personal and professional goals. Your essay should center on a central theme or idea, and include 1-3 important experiences you can expand on.
3. How long should my law school personal statement be?
Your law school personal statement for Cornell should be around 2 pages, double-spaced, or 500-750 words in length.
4. How hard is it to get into Cornell Law?
As an Ivy League school and one of the highest-ranked law schools in the US, getting into Cornell Law is competitive. Only around 20% of applicants are accepted.
5. What does Cornell Law look for in applicants?
Overall, Cornell Law looks for applicants who are academically accomplished, have at least some legal experience and are highly motivated. Like most law schools, Cornell wants to accept candidates who align with the school’s values and mission.
6. How do I structure my law school personal statement?
Start your law school personal statement with a strong “hook” or introductory sentence. Your introduction should outline the main idea of your essay, transitioning into your body paragraphs, where you can write about 1-3 key experiences or notable moments in your journey. Your conclusion should wrap up the main points of your essay while keeping the reader interested in learning more.
7. Is Cornell a good law school?
Yes, Cornell law is considered one of the best law schools in the US for its high educational standards and high bar pass rate. It is also one of the Ivy League law schools.
8. What is a good opening sentence for a law school personal statement?
A good opening sentence should take the reader by surprise, pique their interest or reveal something unique about you. Avoid using cliches or standard sentences such as “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer” or “I first decided to become a lawyer when…” Use your opening sentence to set the tone for your essay and invite the reader to read the next sentence.