To apply to Stanford Law, one of the most competitive , you’ll need to leverage everything you’ve got, and looking at Stanford Law personal statement examples will help immensely in crafting one of the most noteworthy components of your application.
In this article, we will provide a quick overview of what goes into a personal statement, what the format should be for Stanford Law, and then provide some example statements for your perusal.
Unlike with other admissions essays, in which you have , the only topic in a is you. What you’re going to talk about is your story, how you came to be applying to law school, and what your aspirations and dreams are.
The objective of your personal statement is to introduce yourself to the admissions committee as a unique person. This is why you focus on your story – because anybody could have a similar or transcript to yours, but only you have your specific story.
Check out the top Harvard Law School personal statement examples in this video:
You can focus on two or three main points or events in your life, taking yourself from your first inkling of wanting to be in law, to your current condition of applying to law school, and along the way talking about accomplishments you’ve had and lessons you’ve learned. These might take the form of , jobs, courses, or other growth events in your life, but you should choose only the best – the ones that give the clearest, most impressive picture of who you are.
You want to include anything that will make you fit in with Stanford Law in particular. While you don’t need to specifically mention Stanford, you should look out for any way you can synchronize your values or ambitions with those of your chosen school.
- Remember : with a “hook” sentence – the opening statement that grabs the reader’s attention. Use something that forces the reader to keep reading, even if they didn’t have to as part of their job.
- The rest of the introduction sets up the body of the essay. Your introduction should quickly establish what you’re going to talk about next.
- The body of the essay contains one or two main ideas – don’t go beyond this, you don’t have the space – and drives forward to the conclusion.
- The conclusion wraps up the essay. You might want to talk about your career goals and aspirations here.
The best way to approach formatting your story is chronological. Other structures might work, but a chronological story is easier to write and easier to follow as a reader.
We almost lost everything, and I spent a large part of my high school days not knowing if my parents would have a job tomorrow. They are entrepreneurs and small business owners, and everything seemed great until they hired an employee I’ll call “John,” who caused them no end of trouble. John put so much effort into not working that he could have been a millionaire if he put the same effort into jobs. At the end of his employment with my parents, John got injured on the job and locked our family into legal battles for almost two years.
My dad stayed up late at night, looking over the legal documents. He didn’t understand them but looking them over made him feel a lot better. I was a night owl, so I was often right there with him, and at first, he didn’t really talk to me. But, as the nights went on, he started to talk to me about the documents and what was happening with the case. I think it was his way of venting stress. But for myself, I was fascinated by the documents, and I started to read them closely.
I discovered something strange: what should have been opaque to me – all the legal jargon – didn’t seem terribly impenetrable. So, I started to look up the terms I didn’t know and make my way through the case. This improbable incident started me on my journey toward law school. The law was something I was developing a passionate interest in, that I enjoyed reading about, and that was affecting me and my family on a deeply personal level.
At some point – I don’t even know how – I managed to work up the courage to ask our lawyer if he would mind talking to me about his job and what went into it. He agreed, although I think at first, he thought I was only interested in what was going on with my family’s case. Soon, he understood that what I wanted to know was everything, and he suggested that I shadow him for a couple of days to see what a lawyer went through on a day-to-day basis. I accepted with enthusiasm.
He showed me the nitty-gritty of the daily life of a lawyer, thinking I would be frustrated by the paperwork and how slow the law moved. I wasn’t. I was fascinated from end to end. Once, while discussing case law, I offered several insights I had obtained while going through my parents’ files at home. While these insights were hardly novel and had certainly not been overlooked by our attorney, he was impressed by my acumen and told me so. He wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation to study pre-law in college.
As I progress in my college journey, I continue to be a bit of an anomaly. While many of my peers seem to seek the heady thrills of courtroom law, I am content to sit at a desk and scrutinize documents for the optimal strategies, precedents, and data necessary to operate as a lawyer.
I had a cruel introduction to the law, but it ended in the best possible way. Not only did my parents win their case against their former employee, but I also found a vocation in life that fascinates me endlessly, and for which I have an aptitude. It is rare to receive such a fine gift as a job you are truly excited about, but I say without reservation that I cannot wait to study law and start practicing. Ultimately, I want to work in the corporate sector and handle the complex cases that come along with any employers and businesses. This is how I first came to love the study of law, and it’s what I’m most passionate about pursuing.
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Pacing back and forth during a brief recess, I wasn’t sure where I could go next. I was due back in the courtroom at any moment, and I couldn’t seem to stop sweating. Perspiration cut down my temple like condensation on a water glass. I felt like I was made of water when I should be made of stone. The jury were implacable, unreadable – a team of twelve poker players, or so it seemed. I heard the bell, mopped my brow, and strode out to my desk to meet the rest of the trial.
The cafetorium had been outfitted with a judge’s bench, and I can still remember my buddy Rod sitting up there, playing the role of the court. He had joked that he wished we were holding a mock trial based on England’s justice system because then he could wear a powdered wig.
I was taking part in an ongoing program with my school during which we staged mock trials to get to know the legal system better and learn various aspects of the law, particularly trial law, as well as how to study for and present cases. All of this was in partnership with several local law offices, which generously donated time and resources to our school so that we could get the best possible legal education.
Most of the mock trials were based on high-profile cases, but we also had more obscure or completely fabricated cases so that we could experience a trial with less knowledge and fewer biases or preconceptions concerning what would occur. In this particular case, the trial that I was getting so sweaty over, it was a fabricated case about a shooting incident, and I was acting as prosecutor.
Mr. Thompson was my advisor. He came from a law firm called Gould and Partners, and if you didn’t know him professionally, you’d think Mr. Thompson was nothing but easygoing and jovial. In court, he was an absolute pit bull. Mr. Thompson was generous with his time and with giving me access to his work. I had sat in court several times as a member of the public and watched him work. Gone was the joviality, replaced by tenacity, and although never angry or inappropriate, Mr. Thompson was always direct and powerful whenever he took the floor.
I tried to channel this energy into my own trial, and as I walked from the recess room – which was really just the cafetorium’s supply closet – I locked eyes with Mr. Thompson at our desk, who nodded. Then, I went into my closing arguments.
In the days preceding the mock trial, Mr. Thompson had looked over the case I had prepared. He grilled me, just as if I was on trial, and made sure I knew the case inside and out.
“If you’re nervous,” he told me, “Just think back to all this prep stuff – the boring stuff, for most people – and remember that it isn’t paperwork. It’s stonework. This is your foundation.”
I swear I could feel those stones beneath my feet as my shoes clicked on the linoleum. That foundation was solid, and my arguments were delivered without another bead of sweat trickling down my forehead. I knew the case backward and forward; I had learned from experience with these mock trials to prepare thoroughly. It felt good and right, and when the jury returned a guilty verdict, Mr. Thompson shook my hand.
“This feeling never goes away,” he said. “You’re made of stone now.”
I was getting snowed under between work, school, and family life. My father had recently had an invasive operation performed, and while he was recovering nicely, he was frequently on my mind during my studies. It made any additional responsibilities unfeasible for me that year.
I was taking a Victimology course, and we had been assigned group projects. Our presentation was going to be on victim statistics, both in terms of how to accurately gather data and how to read those data to best serve future victims and prevent crime. This was a huge subject, and I was at first quite grateful to have the benefit of a team to rely on. It became apparent to me, however, that I could not rely on all team members equally.
It always seems to be the case that there is one team member who just isn’t as effective in their role in the group as the others are. In this case, I had a classmate named Stacy who was habitually late to meetings and who didn’t understand the material. Working with Stacy became a large hurdle on my path to becoming a lawyer.
My journey into law started back in high school when I got involved with every kind of club that I could think of and found that I most loved our model UN, debate club, and classes on political science and civics. This led me to a series of conversations with our career counsellor, who helped me choose law as a good career path for my skillset and interests. Along the way, I have dealt with all manner of hang-ups and problems.
My first major hurdle was the sheer amount of knowledge there was on the subject, and it often felt like I would never get it all sorted out in my head. Of course, there are so many different kinds of law to go into as well, which meant that there was a tremendous amount of potential information to learn. Through these experiences, I was forced to develop better study habits and better time management skills. I’m glad I did, too, because thanks to better scheduling, I have more time to continue getting involved in all kinds of clubs and activities, like student government, which I have been in since starting my undergrad.
However, all those obstacles were nothing compared to Stacy. My main problem here was that all other obstacles were about the amount of work there was to be done. I could improve my own study habits myself. I could employ my organizational skills to narrow down my legal readings and get all the information I needed. I could even grapple with problems in student government or in the debate club because I was up against or working with people who were as passionate as I was. Although it was hard, we all wanted the same things.
However, Stacy needed a different motivator because she just wasn’t as dedicated as we were; she was contemplating switching majors and wasn’t sure she would need victimology. Once I found that out, I had a conversation with her. It was friendly, over cups of tea in the cafeteria after a team meeting. I told Stacy that I liked to stay organized, and if she wanted to, I might be able to help. I helped her work through logical possibilities, which amounted to two real choices: drop the course or give it everything she had to help us. She elected to stay the course, work harder, and help us out. She committed.
I learned something invaluable through working with Stacy. It was a strange obstacle to encounter: trying to accomplish something with someone who isn’t on my wavelength. My attempt at mediation – calm, friendly, but professional – was a new way to approach adversity for me. I hope to build on that approach going forward, as I think it will be very useful when I am trying to be part of or lead a team at a firm, or when I am in negotiations with other firms and their clients.
Stacy and I are still friends, my dad is fully recovered, and I’m on track to head into law school with the best experiences I could possibly have, showing that I have persistence as well – a much-needed quality of fine lawyers.
1. How long is a Stanford Law personal statement?
Stanford says that statements should be “about 2 pages” long. While you could go a little more than 2 pages, try not to fill 3 pages completely. In fact, in this case, less is more, and you should probably aim for a little less than 2 pages. This means that your personal statement will be, on average, 600–1,000 words.
2. Is that double- or single-spaced?
Stanford doesn’t officially say, but most essays are written double-spaced, so you can assume double-spaced.
3. Do they care about spelling and grammar?
Yes. This isn’t a spelling test, but you won’t leave a good impression with bad syntax.
4. Should I mention Stanford in my personal statement?
It’s not necessary, but you can. The statement is focused on you, personally, not Stanford, but it’s not off-limits.
5. How long does it take to write a personal statement?
6. Is my statement graded?
Not formally, but every aspect of your application is part of the complete picture you give to Stanford, so take it as seriously as you would if it was graded. You may even wish to work with a to ensure that this crucial component of your application is the best it can be.
7. How tough is Stanford to get into?
8. Can I edit my personal statement after submission?
Not directly. You would need to contact Stanford and ask to make the correction.