Law schools admissions essay topics involve questions or themes that you address in one or more of your admissions essays. Most law schools require you to complete an essay in which you discuss your aspirations in the field of law and the experiences that make you the right candidate. The tone of your essay should be personal, and you should aim to express the sincerity of your desire to become a law school student through evidence from your academic and non-academic background. In this blog, we are going to discuss various law schools admissions essay topics and prompts with sample answers to help guide you as you develop your own essays. Remember, you will most likely have to write more than one essay, including a , a diversity statement, and sometimes an addendum. Referring to common topics can help you find patterns and plan your essays ahead of time.
Each law school you’re planning to apply to is going to ask for an essay with specific requirements, usually in the form of a law school personal statement, and . Some schools also allow optional essays, such as a diversity statement or a . An addendum is a document in which you explain various weaknesses on your application. These may include poor grades or gaps in work history. Definitely check the schools you want to apply to to see if this is a requirement. Some schools will supply the applicant with a specific format for their personal essays, where they have to address a certain or essay topic. On admissions pages, you will find that a lot of programs give a general outline of what they want you to write about for each essay. For example, asks their applicants to provide context for how they think they can contribute to Harvard Law and legal communities.
The topics you can write about generally involve a combination of work/volunteering history, behavioral or situational questions, or references from your academic background. In your responses, you will not only want to provide information about how your experiences shaped your desire to pursue a career in law, but you will also want to choose a topic that can fully represent the scope of your goals and background. If a school requires you to answer a very specific prompt, and even if they only provide a rough sketch of what they want you to write about, if you don’t do so, you will likely get rejected. Before you even start writing, find out what various schools are looking for in all variations of written documents. As a side note, if you find you need help creating a compelling response to some of the topics, can help.
As you’re developing your law school admissions essay(s), pay particular attention to the formatting guidelines on each school’s website. Not all are going to give you a rigid structure you must follow for your essays, but for those that do, make sure you respect any word count or page limitations. If no format is specified, assume a word count between 500 and 800, and a page count between one to two pages. Some law schools like Harvard mention they want applicants to use the full two pages.
We will go over some common topics and themes you need to pay attention to as you begin brainstorming for your essays. While the wording of the prompts may be different for the schools you are applying to, there are some common tropes that you need to detect to write an essay that will get you in.
Here are some law school admissions essay topics for you to consider:
1. Can you describe a project you worked on that contributed to personal growth?
This essay topic is really asking you what steps you took to prepare yourself for law school and why you are pursing this career path in general. Though it does not specifically asking you about law, make sure to connect the project you choose to write about to your desire to become a layer. This essay topic is a common example of a prompt you would use in an optional essay. Some students would also describe a project they worked on in their personal statements without necessarily making it the theme of the essay. What makes this topic so well-rounded is that it gives you the opportunity to show that you’re persistent, hard-working, and able to problem-solve your way through challenges or unexpected conflicts – very important qualities to have as a lawyer. You can describe a project you worked on during an internship relevant to law or community service project. Once you describe the detail of the experience, demonstrate what you learned and how the experience shaped you both personally and professionally. Make sure to show rather than tell what your role was, how you affected the outcomes of the project, and how it affected you and your desire to pursue law. Most students will find success for this topic if the project also happens to be one of their proudest achievements, since you will be answering another common prompt, “what is one of your proudest achievements?” As a starting point, reflect on who you are as an individual, and try to avoid mentioning anything that programs can see or infer from your resume or transcript.
I became interested in the field of law after taking a criminology class in my first year of undergrad. I was amazed at some of the statistics regarding disproportionate sentencing and the challenges certain criminals faced when they were released from prison as they attempted to assimilate back into society. Compounding with this new statistical knowledge, was a situation in which I was asked to pull over to the side during a routine traffic stop. I wondered if it was possible that part of the reason I was pulled over was due to the fact that I’m a person of color. Having this direct experience reminded me of what I read in class, and was immediately looking for ways to get involved in some small way in rectifying small injustices. When I mentioned to my parents that I was the only one being asked to pull over, my father mentioned that when I was too young to remember, he served a small sentence for possession of marijuana, despite having a medical prescription to manage chronic pain. What disturbed me the most about this epiphany about injustice was that there were examples that were far worse than both mine and my father’s.
I decided to investigate what I could find out about the field of law, so I joined a legal studies club in which I was introduced to faculty and other students interested in law, and who were planning on pursuing a career in law after they completed their undergraduate degree. During this time, I was offered an opportunity to join a pre-law internship in which students were tasked with developing some aspect of public-interest law. I was enthusiastic about the prospect of making a difference, even if it was small, so I signed up to participate in the program in the succeeding semester. The objective of the project I was designated to work on was to remedy the gap between the number of people who need attorneys and the number of people who can afford one. This objective was part of a larger project to minimize the justice gap, which denotes a number of disparities between those who can access various legal means.
During the project, my team and I worked for a non-profit organization comprised of limited license legal technicians (LLLTs). We were working on a case for one particular family that reminded me of my own. They’d immigrated from Nigeria, and one of the family members wanted to pursue legal action against his employer for wrongful dismissal when he wasn’t provided with the severance mentioned in his employment contract. As they were struggling to maintain financial security as new immigrants trying to establish themselves in a new country, I sympathized with their situation given that my parents immigrated to the country before I was born. My job during was to gather all the relevant client information related to the case, including contracts and other personal information. We also performed some legal research for the client, and we were able to underline the applicable state laws that revealed that because it was a large-scale layoff, the client was legally owed his severance package, but enduring health benefits as well. I was also involved in drafting the pertinent legal documents for the court.
What resonated with me from this experience was how deeply affected the client and his family was from what to many would think was only a small injustice. It reminded me that however inconsequential it may seem, without the access to legal services provided by the non-profit organization I worked with, my client and many others would fail to receive what they are legally and morally owed. From this experience, I also developed my own personal definition of justice: that justice is what someone is morally owed, regardless of status or background. What I venture to contribute to in your program is the championing of this principle of justice, as well as my zeal for working with others to fulfill any small role in pushing the needle forward in various domains of community law.
2. Describe an experience that shaped your desire to want to pursue a career in law
This topic is your chance to describe an event or experience from your formative years that you think influenced your decision to want to apply to law school. This topic is a variation of the which you will get a chance to practice in your . Programs ask this question because they want to get an idea of who you are as a person and what makes you right for this career path. Leveraging critical events or experiences from your background also allows you to demonstrate how the skills and proclivities you gained during these years will help you contribute to their program. While there aren’t any “wrong” personal experiences that may have led to your decision to pursue a career in law, an admissions committee is looking for specific details about your past, such as accomplishments or memorable moments that tell a story about who you are. Think of it like you’re summarizing the chapter on the education and careers section of your autobiography. What would you want it to include? Always conduct research on the school that you're applying to when you’re writing a personal statement or optional essay so you can choose experiences that resonate with their mission.
Growing up as the child of a politician and a professor of criminal justice, I travelled around the country a lot as my parents had new career opportunities. Because both of my parents were heavily involved in various community service programs, I was also exposed to a lot of the incongruities in outcomes among families of diverse backgrounds. Having parents who were working in a very closely related field to law, I had the benefit of early exposure to some of the issues that the field faces, and the people they often encounter. Despite the frequent travel, one thing that I took for granted prior to campaigning around with my father was how stable my upbringing was. All my needs were constantly met, and I never had to worry about the things that were often addressed in certain social services programs like meal plans, financial services, and homelessness. This realization sparked the development of my critical thinking about social issues.
One year, my dad had been working on implementing a new social service program focusing on investments for families with disabilities or financial strife. During the campaign in which he was promoting this new development and ensuring various cities could provide the educational resources for those who wanted to access this program, we were visiting some of the families who were among the first to access it. We were sitting down with the family at their home to discuss what the program would involve. The family included two young children and their mother. She explained that her husband passed away from a work accident, and while she was able to work from home to support her children, it was still difficult to balance other needs with supporting them financially. Seeing how emotional and grateful she was for what my father had developed was inspiring to witness, and I knew immediately that I wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps and get involved in something similar.
That same year, in my sixth grade of elementary school, I started a program at my school for providing lunches to the students twice every week based off the donations I collected. This way, students who weren’t always able to afford to bring their own lunches could eat. As per the design of the program, students who weren’t able to afford lunches were kept anonymous because everyone was allowed to participate. This experience shaped my desire to want to go to law school, because I learned the valuable lesson of making positive change in my environment that was both fulfilling for me, but also made a huge difference in the lives of others. I believe this is the basis of what the purpose of law school is.
That experience seeing my father working with that family, along with my own efforts, were what catalyzed not just for my commitments to making a difference in my own way, but also for choosing political science as my undergraduate field of study. I knew from travelling around the country with my father, a politician, that it was not only possible to do some good for individual lives, but for whole communities and groups of people. In law school, my aim is to leverage the assortment of experiences that have shaped my political sensibilities to continue to investigate the incongruities and innovate new methods of rectifying injustice in my community, wherever that may be.
3. What are your long-term career goals?
Law schools want to identify the students who they think can not only succeed in their program, but who can also improve the reputation of their program. In other words, these kinds of prompts are asking “why our school?” Your long-term career goals should explain what you hope to achieve in five to ten years from now, and how you think the program can help you achieve those goals. Take this opportunity to outline one or more of your major goals and the steps you can take to achieve them. To impress the admissions committee, make your answer personal but also organized, detailed, and concise. Admissions committees read hundreds of essays from applicants, so you want to show that your goals have been the subject of deliberation and that you’re serious about executing them. Anyone can have goals. A committee is looking for someone who can deliver on those goals by developing a plan of action. If you have examples of when you delivered on your goals in the past, you may also use this to support the main content of this essay. Be precise with your wording here, as any vagueness can corrupt the intent behind this topic. Review the program overview to determine what kind of goals you want to highlight in your essay. For instance, if a program emphasizes community outreach and diversity, mention a volunteering experience involving a situation where you were directly involve in such initiatives, and how this contributed to your long-term goals.
In my sophomore year of college, I joined my school’s journal team for the philosophy section of the monthly issue. Most of the philosophy content was comprised of recent developments in the field from contributions made by our faculty and students. My job was to read various submissions from the student body about topics within the field of philosophy. One of the essays I read was about how implicit bias affects admissions rates among different races, ethnicities, ages, and sex/genders, which I found so profoundly interesting that I decided I wanted to investigate this issue further. In my studies, I learned about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that introduced the term ‘affirmative action’ in an attempt to remedy the alleged discrimination taking place within schools and workplaces. I also learned that while schools no longer employ an affirmative action framework for admissions, they still focus on trying to make their student body diverse though a more qualitative metric. Learning about the fact that discrimination still takes place on the implicit level was what inspired me to want to be an advocate for diversity. My goal was to promulgate the inaccessibility of certain educational resources that prevent people from being able to attend a post-secondary institution. I was able to find an organization in my community that was partnered with one of the local high schools to help low-income students afford college.
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My goal since then hasn’t changed. My primary long-term career goal is to become a lobbyist so I can integrate the reality of disparate outcomes among different classes of social groups into government decisions and actions. This will give me the best chance to become a spokesperson for the issues that affect my clients so I can make the case for certain actions that will improve the outcomes for specific groups of people. My long-term goal is to have my own lobbying firm, but I know that to gain the necessary experience, I will want to join a lobbying firm that has a reputation of championing the issues and client base that I can effectively represent. Because I know that in order to realize this goal I will have to apply for a line of credit and build a reputation through networking and other advocacy initiatives, a key step to achieving this goal is to apply for the internship offered at your program for congressional aide. This internship will give me the opportunity to develop key relationships with influential members within the field, and gain the experience I need handling research and other administrative tasks that are crucial to becoming lobbyist, and eventually opening my own firm. Being someone who is already familiar with how to conduct quality research to build persuasive arguments as per my training in philosophy, I know that if I continue to refine my public speaking skills and knowledge through your program in law, my goal is attainable.
The issue I want to address is the difficulty some groups of students have in accessing higher education. I believe that everybody should be able to attend college or university if they wish to, and the fact that there are still many barriers is an issue that deserves more attention. I hope that you will consider my zealous attitude toward achieving my goals within the field of law as evidence of my ability to thrive in your program.
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To recap, law school admissions essay prompts can be in one of four categories: “why X Law school?”, “why our program?”, “what can you contribute to our program and culture?”, and “are there any gaps or weaknesses in your background that we should know about?” Some law schools might request one or more essays from different categories. Choose the topics of your essays strategically to explain why you’re a strong candidate for the program. Here are some topics that you can expect some schools to ask their applicants to address:
4. Write about a time you changed your mind about an idea or issue that is of interest to you.
5. What do you believe X school has to offer to you and you to X school?
6. Describe a failure, challenge, or setback you faced.
7. Describe an experience that speaks to the problems and possibilities of diversity in an educational or work setting.
8. Describe your academic experience so far.
9. How would someone you just met describe you?
10. How can you contribute to the diversity of X school based on your achievements, background, and perspectives?
1. What are law school essay topics?
Law school essay topics are essentially prompts or questions that schools may directly ask their applicants to answer in a personal or optional essay.
2. Do all schools ask for specific topics for you to address in an essay?
Specificity can range depending on the school. Some will request very specific details and questions they want you to include, where others will only ask for the type of essay or letter they want to receive.
3. What is a common topic for law schools to request?
Common examples include “what are some of your career goals?”, “what experiences influenced your decision to pursue law?”, and “describe a project that helped you grow as an individual?” Most of all, you should always keep in mind the following questions when you write your essays: “why law?” and “why our program?” You may also encounter diversity topics and questions about any setbacks you experienced.
4. Do I have to submit an addendum?
You don’t have to submit an addendum, but it is advisable if you want to explain any gaps or weaknesses in your resume or academic record.
5. How should I focus my essay if there are no topics required for admissions?
You can treat your optional essay as an opportunity to write about why you want to pursue law and why you want to join their program.
6. How can I decide on what topic to choose for my optional essay?
You can choose based on topics that appeal to you the most. For example, if you have very defined and concise career goals, you might choose to write about this as your topic rather than something else.
7. What is a diversity statement?
A diversity statement is your chance to reflect on your own values and background as it relates to any aspect of diversity and how it shaped you as a person and as a prospective law school student.
8. How long should my essay be?
Generally, its best to stay within 500 to 800 words. No less than one page, no more than two. Some schools will ask that for a specific word or page count, so take note of any specifications when you’re researching admissions requirements.