“Why this law school?” is a common law school optional essay prompt and law school interview question you must prepare for. This question is particularly intimidating because you need to do a bit of homework before you can compose a strong response to this question. How do you do this? In our article, we go over sample answers to this question, as well as explain the rationale behind it and provide you with the most comprehensive guide on how to compose your answer. Let’s dive in!
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Important Note on the “Why This Law School?” prompt
Firstly, you should know that this law school essay prompt can be worded in many, many ways. It is not guaranteed that your chosen law schools in Canada and the US will present you with the exact prompt “Why are you choosing our school?”. But you must read between the lines. Some schools will ask you questions like:
“How do your goals and values match Penn Carey Law’s core strengths?” (University of Pennsylvania)
“What do you want to experience at Stanford?” (Stanford University)
What are these prompts really asking you? They are asking why you are pursuing UPenn and Stanford specifically – in other words, “why this law school?”.
After you read this blog, you will have a strong strategy for writing this type of essay or answering this law school interview question and therefore will be able to compose a great narrative for any school you pursue. The key is not to miss identifying this common prompt among the prompts you encounter during the application or interview. So, it’s important to be on the lookout for this question even if it is not worded exactly the same way in every school.
Still working on your law school personal statement? Check this out:
“Why Our Law School?” Essay Example
Since we already mentioned a prompt from Stanford Law School, let’s review a sample essay for their prompt. And before we jump in, this is what Stanford Law School has to say about its culture:
“At SLS, we are driven by a passion for new ideas and a commitment to transformative solutions. True to our roots in Silicon Valley and our Stanford heritage, we focus on the future — not the past. Experimentation, exploration, the translation of new knowledge into entrepreneurial solutions: All are in our DNA.”
So, how can this inspire your essay? Here’s an example:
Prompt: “What do you want to experience at Stanford?" (100- to 250-word max)
Stanford Law School is always at the frontlines of innovation, and I want to experience and, more importantly, contribute to the transformations that will be taking place in our country's legal and social systems with the help of Stanford Law School, its faculty, and alumni. My background and achievements clearly demonstrate my dedication to innovation and progress. As the president of my college’s Law and Business Society, I have had the privilege of organizing and hosting our annual conference “Innovations in Digital Law” for three consecutive years. These colloquiums were a great chance to collaborate with and learn from my peers all over the United States and Canada. With over 2000 people in attendance, we were able to team up with many other college law societies to publish a small student journal “Law Innovations Today” that included 10 of the brightest works presented at the conference. The success of our conference led to an invitation to the Global Legal Innovations Summit in 20xx, which I attended as a speaker. Not only was I able to showcase my research and findings on global laws regarding terrorism, but I was able to meet with Stanford Law School faculty member Dr. ABC, whose course on Biomedical Innovation Law and Policy I look forward to taking at Stanford. (213 words)
By the way, try not to repeat yourself too much in your application. So if you already shared an experience with the admissions committee via your law school personal statement, then you should avoid telling the same story in your “why this law school?” essay. However, you can try to highlight different aspects of the same story in different application components. For example, your Stanford Law School personal statement can emphasize your leadership and logistical skills demonstrated in the Law and Business Society, but your “why this law school?” essay can emphasize your public speaking skills and dedication to innovation (as per the prompt). But keep in mind that we strongly encourage you to showcase different strengths and experiences in different parts of your application – so using different stories is best.
“Why This Law School?” Interview Answer
The last hurdle before the admissions committee makes its decision is the interview, which has a great effect on law school acceptance rates. This means that every one of your answers will impact your admissions chances.
You should also be expecting the "why our law school?" question in an interview. Along with “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want to study law?”, this is one of the most common questions in law school admissions. A verbal answer is a little more difficult to deliver, but a strong strategy and practice in mock law school interviews will lead to strong results. And remember that if you are asked the question “why this law school” both via application and interview, you should not provide the same answer. Use this as an opportunity to express other aspects of your candidacy to showcase further what a perfect candidate you are. To find more inspiration, check out the law school’s mission statement, research projects, faculty, and other academic and social goals. For example, here's a part of Stanford’s mission statement:
“[to] Bring legal services to those groups that would otherwise lack access to adequate legal representation.”
If we stick with Stanford Law School, here's a verbal interview answer you could provide for the question “What do you want to experience at Stanford?”:
Growing up, I did not know what it means to have a right to legal representation. I did not know that every citizen has the right to a lawyer. I might have heard of this in movies or TV shows, but I thought this never applied to me or anyone like me. Attorneys and the rule of law were something from a different life, not the one I was living.
But as our country went through social changes and upheavals like the Ferguson uprising, I became obsessed with learning about our legal system and the rule of law. It was disturbing to realize that while the law was used against certain groups of citizens, these groups could not use the law to defend themselves. I was about to start high school when the Ferguson uprisings began, and when I began grade 9, I formed a small legal club in my high school. There were just 3 of us at first, the other two being my best friends and neighbors since we were 6. But our spirits were not diminished due to our small size – we organized an assembly on racial disparities in criminal justice before a basketball game. While most students were bored and couldn’t wait for the game to start, we did get 2 new members after the assembly. This is how our club grew, and eventually, we started having assemblies before every sports game to educate our peers on their legal rights and opportunities. At Stanford, I want to be a part of the change that promotes awareness and knowledge of every citizen’s legal rights. As an institution that is dedicated to diversity, I hope that it will help me become an educational and helpful voice in my community.
Note that this essay would have also been a wonderful submission for the law school diversity statement, but it works really well here too because the speaker addresses the school’s prompt, as well as its values and goals. This just goes to show that you can speak to a variety of experiences and qualities in your application – use these opportunities to demonstrate your strengths and suitability for your chosen schools!
Best Step-by-Step Strategy for “Why This Law School?” Question
Here's why the "why this law school?" question is tricky: while the question is asking you why a certain school attracted you over others, it’s also asking you why you would be a good fit for it. So, you cannot and should not leave your answer one-sided. In other words, you cannot focus only on what the school can give you – you must also showcase what the school will gain by admitting you. And this is the balance you must keep in your essay or interview answer.
Note the two responses we include above. Why were they strong? Here’s why:
So, your number one strategy for the "why our law school?” question should be to identify which experiences and qualities make you a suitable applicant for the school you’re applying to and to demonstrate this suitability via an example of an experience that reveals that you share values and goals with your school.
Easier said than done, right? Here’re the steps you can take to accomplish just that:
- Thoroughly research the school you’re applying to/interviewing with. Find out everything you can about its culture, mission, goals, faculty, projects, course curriculum, diversity efforts, history, campus life, and so on.
- Write down the aspects of the school that most interest you and the ones you resonate with the most. For example, if you are a strong advocate for diversity, you may be drawn by the diversity programs of the school; or maybe there is a course that you are particularly interested in, or maybe there is an internship opportunity only this school provides.
- Brainstorm which of your experiences, events, and skills align with the most attractive part of the school for you. Essentially, you need to showcase what you can add to this already existing aspect of the school and improve it further. So, if it’s diversity, maybe you are an immigrant with experience advocating diversity in the legal profession. If it’s curriculum, you can demonstrate how you prepared for it via undergrad courses, work experiences, law school extracurriculars, and so on, and how your classmates will benefit from you being there.
Take your time to reflect on this. Your answer may change and morph over time. This is why it is so important to browse and brainstorm law school essay topics and learn how to prepare for a law school interview in advance. Once you narrow down what you want to say, follow this structure to formulate your answer:
- Give a brief statement about which aspect of the school attracts you most. It can be a couple of things, but stick to 1 or 2 at most.
- Use an event or experience from your life that demonstrates why you are interested in this aspect of the school and what would make you a valuable member of the law school community.
- Finish with what you hope to accomplish at your law school with regard to its most attractive quality.
Follow this structure, and you will be sure to ace any “why this law school?” question variations.
Here're some more tips for your law school essays:
Tips for the Best “Why this law school?” Answer
If it’s an essay, make sure to keep it within the required length. Do not go over the word/character limit. However, you can keep it under the maximum length. If you can create a strong narrative under the word limit, that’s wonderful. Strong, succinct answers are always best.
If it’s an interview, try to keep your answer no longer than 2 minutes. Brief, but complete answers will be valued more than long and rambling ones.
Address the prompt
Remember what we said at the beginning: this question can be posed in many different ways. The intent of this prompt stays the same no matter how it is worded, but its wording may affect what qualities and experiences you highlight. For example, we referred to a prompt from the UPenn Law School earlier in the article and here it is again:
“How do your goals and values match Penn Carey Law’s core strengths?”
The prompt is very clear that you have to refer to a specific aspect of Penn Carey Law’s values and mission, so do not dismiss this and write about something else.
Keep it structured
There may be dozens of reasons you want to go to a specific law school, but for the best and most effective answer, you should choose no more than 1 or 2. This will help you keep your answer to the point and make sure you stick to answering the question. If it’s an interview, you do not want to ramble on; if it’s an essay, you do not want to submit an unstructured, confusing answer. Follow the structure we outline above and keep it sweet and short.
Show, don’t tell
We encourage our students to follow this rule for all essays and interview questions. It just makes for a better answer if you paint a picture by sharing an experience or a story that highlights your suitability. No number of claims that you possess a quality will replace a story that truly showcases that you possess it.
Get professional help
If you are struggling with your applications and interview prep, get some professional help. Many law school applicants find it difficult to talk about their accomplishments, their unique qualities, and their suitability. In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of the law school application is the supplemental essays. Most students struggle with the law school diversity statement thinking that they have nothing to write about, or they really want to avoid speaking about their setbacks in prompts that ask for any gaps in their academic background. But all you need is a good strategy and even the setbacks will be seen as strengths! Professionals can help you get into law school with a low GPA, low LSAT, and other common setbacks. If you are not sure about your application or interview strategy, we strongly recommend getting the help of law school admissions consulting experts.
1. Why is the “why this law school?” question asked in essays and interviews?
The law schools want to see whether you are a good candidate for their schools and whether you are being selective or applying to any school. Demonstrating knowledge of the school’s mission and values will showcase that you have done your homework and selected a specific school where you will excel.
2. Do all law schools ask “why this law school”?” question?
In some way or another, most law schools will ask you this question in the supplemental application or the interview.
3. Is this essay different from a law school personal statement?
Yes, they are different. Whether explicit or not, your law school personal statement should answer a more general question “why do you want to be a lawyer?”.
4. Should I complete law school supplemental essays?
Some schools make supplemental applications a requirement that you must complete. Others make them optional. In the latter case, we advise you to submit optional essays because they are a great way for you to further demonstrate your suitability.
5. How do I structure the "why this law school?" answer?
Start by providing a brief explanation about why this school interested you so much. Then talk about an experience that would contribute to this aspect of the law school you’re pursuing.
6. How long should my law school essay be?
Make sure to follow the word/character limits provided. If they are not indicated in the instructions, try reaching out to the admissions office.
7. How long should be law school interview answer be?
Keep your answer to 1 or 2 minutes long.
8. What other law school supplemental essay prompts are common?
Law school supplemental essay prompts can include questions that ask you to discuss gaps and setbacks in your journey to law school, what you can contribute to the incoming class and campus, and what steps prepared you for the study of law. While these are the most common, you should be prepared for quirky and unexpected questions as well.
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