Working on a Penn Law school personal statement? UPenn law school is one of the best law schools in the US, and is also among the famed Ivy League schools, so getting in is very competitive. Writing a stellar law school personal statement can help you stand out from a qualified pool of applicants and make an impression on the admissions committee. In this blog, we’ll look at how to start writing your law school personal statement for Penn Law, what the requirements are and what to avoid in your statement. We’ve also included some Penn law personal statement examples to help inspire your own!
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How to Write Your Penn Law Personal Statement
Penn Law advises students to make the most of their law school personal statement and write an essay that reflects their unique voice. The content of your narrative should be directed by your life experiences, unique perspective and motivations to study law. Since very few applicants have the chance to interview at Penn Law, your law personal statement is essentially your only opportunity to interact directly with the admissions committee through your writing.
In short, your essay needs to be impactful and memorable.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to drafting your law school personal statement for Penn Law:
#1 Brainstorm ideas for your narrative
The first step is always brainstorming. Start writing down a list of your strengths and accomplishments—focus on the most recent or relevant to Penn Law. Research the law school’s core values and mission. Reflect on how your personal values or strengths align with the school’s and what experiences you have which demonstrate these important qualities and values. Try to narrow your list down to 1 or 2 key experiences or personal anecdotes.
#2 Organize your experiences into a narrative
Using the ideas you’ve brainstormed, start mapping out where they will fit in your paragraphs. Use bullet points or short-form to arrange your experiences into a cohesive and clear structure. Remember that your experiences should connect to one another and also connect to your motivation to study law.
#3 Draft, proofread and revise
Once you have a solid outline, draft your personal statement, proofread and revise. Writing a good personal statement will take time, so be patient with the writing and revising process. Try reading your personal statement out loud, or ask someone else to read it for you and give you feedback to see if your ideas come through clearly. And don’t forget to proofread!
Penn Law Personal Statement Requirements
There are no specific requirements for your Penn Law personal statement, but it should use a professional, formal tone and be divided into an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion like any personal essay.
Penn Law suggests limiting your personal statement to 2 pages, double-spaced, or around 500 words. This is fairly small word count for a personal essay, so you may need to revise and trim your final draft a bit to fit under the word count.
As for your content, Penn Law suggests centering your essay on these topics:
Penn Law Optional Essays
If there are some experiences that don’t fit in your personal statement, you’ll have an opportunity to write about these in your law school optional essays. Penn Law has several law school optional essays, including a law school diversity statement and a prompt to share any academic struggles you’ve had. So, if there are experience relevant to your application that are addressed in the Penn Law optional essay prompts, you can leave them out of your personal statement.
Here's what you need to get into Penn Law:
Do’s and Dont’s of a Law Personal Statement
- Take time to reflect. Take your time when brainstorming and writing your law personal statement. This is one of the most important aspects of your application, and it can have a significant impact on your admissions chances. Take the time to self-reflect and choose the experiences that are truly important and relevant to your decision to study law.
- Proofread carefully. Just like writing, proofreading takes time. Make sure your essay is free of errors and polished before you submit. You can ask a friend to proofread for you as a second pair of eyes, or look at some of the best law essay writing services.
- Focus on you. Use your own unique voice and experiences to make your narrative shine. Don’t write about what others would say about you or center your narrative on how others have inspired you to go to law school. Your story should be about your experiences and what they have meant to you and you decision to apply.
- Use legalese or complex language. Don’t use sophisticated language or an abundance of legal terms to show off. Focus on keeping your language precise and clear.
- Use titles or quotes. Avoid using titles or quotations in your statement. They will take up valuable space and they will not add anything important to your essay.
- Include irrelevant information. Your personal statement is not the best place to discuss tangential topics or gaps in your application. These are irrelevant to the main idea of your personal statement and should be addressed elsewhere. For instance, if you want to know how to get into law school with a low GPA, address this shortcoming in an optional essay or law school addendum, not your personal statement.
Here's some tips on writing your law school personal statement!
Penn Law Personal Statement Examples
Personal Statement Sample #1
“You shouldn’t park there.”
As I turned to face the irate driver, leaning halfway out of his car window to berate me, a young teen, for parking in one of many open disabled stalls, I had to sigh. It wasn’t the first, or the last time, I would be confronted over my supposedly inconsiderate parking habits. It was always a shock for the righteous drivers when I lifted my pants leg, revealing the sturdy metal shaft that now serves as my left leg. People don’t expect teenagers to be amputees, or actually have need of a disabled parking spot. In my experience, people often make assumptions about disabled individuals, whether their disability is immediately visible or not. Because of these assumptions, I’ve had to advocate for myself as a disabled person since the age of 15.
Amputees and others with disabilities like mine have plenty of experience advocating for themselves. Even running to the grocery store becomes much more difficult than it needs to be. Not just because of your disability, but because you have to constantly explain yourself and your actions. Often, managing my disability is the easiest part of my day. And despite my experience being my own advocate, I know how important it is to have others supporting and advocating for you, too.
Years ago, a friend of mine had to visit her bank to have a hold taken off. It was placed mistakenly, since the system mixed up her name with someone else’s and put the hold on the wrong account. My friend is deaf, and she had to argue for over an hour with bank staff who didn’t understand sign language and wouldn’t accommodate her when she tried to explain the problem in writing. She eventually asked her sister, who is hearing, to come with her and explain the problem. The block on her account was removed within 10 minutes. Afterwards, my friend remarked that if there was a rule that at least one employee was trained in sign language, she would have been saved a trip.
I know the value of having this kind of support and accommodation. In university, I made it a point to advocate for individuals with disabilities like me and raise awareness about some of the common issues we face every single day. If there were more legal supports and accommodations for persons with disabilities, we could drastically change lives.
I believe the law is meant to protect and empower vulnerable populations. I knew if my goal was to advocate for and be an ally to others like me, the law was the best vehicle to work on creating meaningful impact in people’s lives.
Personal Statement Sample #2
When I was in fifth grade, I never could have expected that one small incident would have lasting repercussions throughout the rest of my life. And an 11-year-old certainly never expects to become the target of a witch hunt. All it takes is one accusation. One accusation, and “innocent until proven guilty” becomes “most likely guilty” or even “definitely guilty.” When a childhood bully pointed the finger at me for stealing something from a classmate, I learned how true this was. I had never stolen anything, and my suspicions that the bully themselves was the thief went unheard by teachers, classmates, the school principal, and even my own parents.
I was suspended from school when I refused to return the item I hadn’t stolen. When I came back, my classmates whispered about me, shot me looks, pretended to hide things from me in their desks so I couldn’t take them. Teachers continually frowned at me in disapproval in class. One teacher went so far as to search my locker and backpack after class every day to make sure I hadn’t made off with anything. Even my classmates’ parents knew of me, turning to gossip among themselves while I waited at the bus stop. I didn’t shake the last of my unearned reputation until my high school years.
When I was in grade 11, a neighbor of ours, Mr. Soon, had his store robbed. Mr. Soon was a friendly guy, and he welcomed the kids from his neighborhood into his store after school. He’d never had an issue with stealing until two teens decided to break in and ransack his store. The police were called, took statements, checked security footage. Nothing came of it. Mr. Soon couldn’t get a call back on the status of his complaint. The police told him it was unlikely the thieves would be caught. Mr. Soon’s insurance all but accused him of staging the robbery, and denied his claims. Mr. Soon’s complaints to the city went unanswered. With so little evidence, there was no case for him to pursue in court, criminal or civil. Others began encouraging the rumors that Mr. Soon faked the robbery for the insurance payout. He had a sick daughter. He was behind on his rent. Neighbors started boycotting the store. I sympathized with Mr. Soon. He’d done nothing wrong, but people’s opinions of him were permanently tainted. I’d never forgotten how it felt to have everyone turn against you. For others to steadfastly refuse to see you any other way, to believe an untrue judgment without proof. Whenever I heard a whisper against Mr. Soon, I spoke out loudly in his defense, even if my voice was the only one on his side. I continued to frequent his store.
Eventually, I took a job with the [city] victim services unit. I was able to become an advocate for victims of crime, helping them find the resources they needed, explaining the options available to them, and acting as a sympathetic ear. I coordinated often with emergency services, police and legal aides assigned to specific cases. Being able to do something tangible and actually helpful for victims was an eye-opening experience. It made me realize how many are re-victimized by the legal system or left behind.
These early experiences shaped my motivation to study the law. As a lawyer, I can continue to be an advocate for people. I can be the one person on their side if they have no one else. I can help them face difficult situations, so they do not have to face them alone, as I once did. I can help ensure everyone receives fair and just treatment.
1. Does UPenn Law require a personal statement?
Yes, like most law schools, UPenn Law does require all applicants to submit a law personal statement.
2. How do I write a law school personal statement for UPenn?
Start by researching the school’s core values and mission. Then, bring brainstorming the personal, professional and educational experiences you have that relate to your core values, align with the school’s mission or demonstrate that you are a good fit for law school. Reflect on which experiences led you to a career in law or which ones influenced you the most. Narrow your list down to 1 or 2 of the most important and relevant experiences to include in your narrative.
3. Does Penn Carey Law do interviews?
Penn Carey Law does invite some applicants to interview, however, the majority of students will be accepted without one. This is why your personal statement is so important, since it is likely the only time the admissions committee will be able to get to know you on a personal level.
4. How long should my law school personal statement be?
A law school personal statement for UPenn Law should be around 2 pages, double-spaced, or 500 words.
5. What type of students does UPenn Law look for?
As with most elite law schools, UPenn is looking for students who have shown they can succeed academically and professionally in the law school environment. They also want to see students with unique voices and perspectives.
6. How should I structure my law personal statement?
Structure your personal statement into an introduction paragraph, 1 to 3 body paragraphs and a conclusion. Include only 1 major point or idea in each body paragraph.
7. What should I avoid in my law school personal statement?
Avoid rewriting your resume or CV, using legalese or complicated language, and including irrelevant information. Your personal statement should serve to inform the admissions committee about your background and personal experiences, not restate your professional experience or discuss why your GPA is low.
8. Is it hard to get into Penn Carey Law school?
Penn Carey law school is among the Ivy League and is one of the top-ranked law schools in the US, so getting in is quite competitive. However, your personal statement is a chance for you to stand out and make an impact on the admissions committee!
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