Before we begin discussing some law school personal statement tips, we need to clarify the differences, and highlight the similarities, between a “Personal Statement” and a “Statement of Intent” for law school, as there are common misunderstandings about what is expected from each. At times, some schools may use these terms interchangeably.
The overall purpose of asking for either a law school Personal Statement or for a Statement of Intent is to provide the admissions committee with information about:
- Who you are;
- Why you want to be admitted to the particular program, and;
- Other unique, interesting, and relevant information that cannot be found in your transcripts or from your references.
Essentially, writing a law school Personal Statement or a Statement of Intent presents an opportunity for you to stand out from the rest of the applicants by making your story heard.
You will learn about the following:
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The law school Personal Statement has a wider scope than a Statement of Intent. Here, you want to highlight the following:
- Individual, personal experiences that have influenced your decision to apply to the particular program
- How your personal experiences, along with your future education, will shape your short-term and long-term career goals
- When you became interested in the field and developed your career goals, and what have you done to reinforce your conviction that you are well-suited for the field.
Personal experiences can stem from events that have occurred in your personal life including you and your family/extended family; history; education; employment; work experience; volunteer experience; travels; special athletic abilities; or other facet of life that is relevant. Perusing law school personal statement examples can be useful in understanding how to organize and draw on these different kinds of experiences.
Statement of Intents are tailored toward your specific field of study and career goals. In this case, you want to address questions such as:
- What field of law you would like to specialize in and why?
- What have you learned about the field (through formal and informal education, and work experience, for example), and how that experience has contributed to your growth in the field?
- What courses would you like to take to meet your career goals?
- After you complete the program, what do you plan on doing with the knowledge and skills you developed?
- What soft skills (e.g., compassion, persistence) do you hold that will help you be successful in the profession?
Check out our law school personal statement tips video below!
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #1
If the school you are applying to does not clearly specify whether they are looking for either a Personal Statement or a Statement of Intent, email or phone the admissions office to clarify their expectations.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #2
Research the law school inside and out. Understand their mission and values, as well as the key qualities they seek in prospective students. This understanding will help tailor your Personal Statement of Statement of Intent to the specific school and program.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #3
Ask yourself, and write down your response to, the following question: “Why do I want to go to law school?” You should have a clear and precise reason for your choice in profession. Addressing this will take time and patience so this is one reason why you need to start thinking about your application early. After you have thought about this response, you should be able to write the following: “I want to pursue this profession because of reasons X, Y, and Z”.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #4
Ask yourself, and write down your response to, the following question: “What are my short- and long-term career goals?” You should have a clear idea about what you would like to do. Although this may change as you progress through your education and gain more personal experiences, you need to understand what you want at that point of time. After you have thought about this response, you should be able to write the following: “My short- and long-term career goals include X, Y, and Z”.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #5
Before writing your law school Personal Statement or Statement of Intent, reflect on your past experiences and key aspects of your experiences and personality that will make you stand out.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #6
If you are re-applying, do not use the same Personal Statement or Statement of Intent as you did from the previous year's law school application. A lot changes in a year in terms of your writing ability and in terms of the aspects of your experiences and personality that you would like to highlight. Also, note that you were not accepted based on your previous application, so re-writing your Personal Statement or Statement of Intent will be beneficial as it will more than likely be improved. Using a law school Personal Statement or Statement of Intent from an unsuccessful application just doesn't make sense (though plenty of re-applicants do precisely this!).
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #7
Start early. I cannot put enough emphasis on the need to begin writing your application early. No matter how strong a writer you are, it will take you several revisions before your law school Personal Statement or Statement of Intent is ready for submission. It does not matter how talented you are with regard to writing, you need to edit, edit, edit; revise, revise, revise. Also, when people rush to finish this application, they can forget important details that could have gotten them an acceptance. You do not want to be one of those people!
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #8
Write your law school Personal Statement or a Statement of Intent so that it reads like a story book filled with evidence that you are an excellent candidate for the program. It should be easy to read, clear, engaging, and memorable, with a good sense of flow and direction. Avoid making clichés, jokes, or references to popular media. You may want to consider writing your story in chronological order to showcase your growth and development.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #9
Write specific details and use action words to allow the reader to visualize your story.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #10
Skills and characteristics you want to highlight in your law school Personal Statement or Statement of Intent:
- Leadership skills (can you delegate tasks and work with a team?)
- Organization and time management skills
- Communication (additional languages, verbal, written) skills
- Research and scientific inquiry
- Interpersonal and teamwork skills
- Self-motivated and goal oriented
- Easily adapt to new situations
- Hardworking, trustworthy, and dependable
- Confident and enthusiastic
- Ability to deal with people, problems, and situations tactfully and professionally
- Enjoy new challenging and willingness to learn
- Community involvement
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #11
Do not regurgitate facts or quotes that are already known. The admissions committee does not want to read an academic paper or essay - they want to learn about you!
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #12
Show your enthusiasm for entering the profession via your writing. Don't simply tell them that you're enthusiastic. Show that energy through narrative and prose, selecting anecdotes and experiences that put your excitement and dedication on display.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #13
Do not speak negatively about other candidates to make yourself look good. Doing this makes you look like a bad team player. For example, do not say statements such as: “Unlike other candidates, I have X, Y, and Z education and work experience”. True professionals will demonstrate their strengths through their actions, not through putting others down.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #14
Do not be shy to humbly highlight your attributes and accomplishments that make you unique and a strong candidate.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #15
Do not summarize your resume, CV, or transcripts. This is an opportunity to discuss what makes you unique, and why you should be accepted. They already have your resume/CV and transcripts, so they don't need a dry recitation of this information in your Personal Statement or Statement of Intent.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #16
Write in first-person ("I").
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #17
Adhere strictly to the word, page, or character limit. If not, this may cause you to be rejected because you didn’t follow the instructions. No one wants to read a 2-page Personal Statement of Statement of Intent if it is supposed to be a maximum of 1 page.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #18
Do not try to write like a lawyer. Be genuine, optimistic, enthusiastic, and honest, and show the admissions committee who you are and why you should be accepted.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #19
Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #20
Have a strong introduction and strong conclusion. Sometimes, the introduction and the conclusion will be the only aspects of your work that the reader will remember. If your introduction or conclusion is weak, it may set a negative tone for the rest of your paper, regardless of how great it is. A strong introduction will draw your reader in, and a strong conclusion will leave them wanting more (and them wanting more means you getting an interview!).
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #21
A common mistake is to repeat exactly what you said in the introduction for the conclusion. Do not do this - your conclusion should be memorable. It should pull together the main ideas by creatively selling yourself to the reviewer to be admitted.
Law School Personal Statement Tips: #22
An excellent Personal Statement and Statement of Intent will include how you have had a tangible impact on an organization, community, body of literature, or institution, for example, and how that impact provides background and context as to why you are pursuing the profession. Past actions often indicate future potential, so compose impact statements with this in mind.
To conclude our tips about how to make your law school application stand out, you need to ensure that your Personal Statement or Statement of Intent is believable and convincing as to why you should be admitted. We suggest having multiple friends, family members, colleagues, professors, and BeMo consultants review your statements prior to submission. Check out our blog on law school acceptance rates to find out the admission stats at schools you may be interested in applying to.
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About the Author:
Dr. Sarah Lynn Kleeb is an admissions expert at BeMo. Dr. Kleeb holds a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from the University of Toronto where she examined the connections between Critical Theory and Liberation Theology. She brings 10 years of experience teaching, advising, and mentoring undergraduate students to her role as an admissions expert, having taught extensively at UofT.
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