Yale Law School personal statement examples are useful tools to understand the content, structure, and narrative flow of strong personal statements. The personal statement is only one component of , which also includes a 250-word essay and other, supplementary essays. There are many types of , but Yale Law School has specific requirements for their program. One unique aspect of the Yale Law School personal statement is that candidates do not have to explain why they want to go specifically to Yale Law School, but rather why they want to go to law school in general.
This article will detail other, sought-after characteristics of personal statements for Yale Law and provide examples.
As an Ivy League school, Yale is one of the most prestigious law schools in the world, and there are thousands of applicants each year for only a few hundred spots. The Yale Law School’s acceptance rate hovers around 8% of applicants, so it is a very competitive program. All aspects of a potential candidate's application, including personal statements, are considered in the admissions process.
Want to learn how to write a law school personal statement that will stand out while avoiding common mistakes? Check out this video:
LSAT and GPA
Two central components of a Yale Law School application are your LSAT and GPA scores, which should be higher than 155 and 3.32, respectively. However, if you're exploring , keep in mind the importance of your personal statement and other writing samples like a .
Law School Diversity Statement
Yale Law School also asks – but does not require – that applicants submit a , which is more of an opinion-style essay about what your identity means to you than a personal statement, which is a general narrative about your motivation for going to law school and becoming a lawyer.
Applicants may also submit any addenda as a supplement to the rest of the application. Reading is a good way to brush up on what to include and how to write one, but they are not that different from personal statements, and you should consider whether you need to include one with your application.
Letters of Recommendation
Another written section of the Yale Law School application is the activities section, which covers basic questions, including what you have been doing since you graduated (if it has been more than three months), what you did as an undergrad, what you did when you had time off during your undergrad, and a general question about personal activities or pursuits.
Yale Law School will accept scores from several types of standardized tests, including the LSAT (Law School Application Test), GRE (Graduate Record Examinations), LSAT-Flex, and GRE General Test at Home. However, you must submit scores from only one of your tests and declare which test score you are submitting on your application.
Yale Law School has specific formatting requirements for personal statements that include:
Yale Law School also asks applicants to pay attention to what the school’s admissions officers refer to as “movement” in the personal statement. “Movement” is a that can help push along your story, so you don’t get stuck describing one single event in unnecessary detail.
Two to four pages is more than enough space to encompass important, relevant aspects of your personal story, but you should not feel like you must write up to four pages. Write down things about your past, present, and future that affected your decision to become a lawyer, but do not deviate into recalling difficult moments in your life, or inane details from your .
I had two choices before me: working as an entry-level inventory clerk at a high-end clothing retailer or becoming a community organizer in a low-income neighborhood, organizing residents to improve their environment. I was very proud of my application to the luxury clothes retailer and was charmed by my interviewer, who was friendly, outgoing, and sympathetic.
At the time, I was in my second year of undergrad at Emory as a philosophy major. A lot of my classes were about modernist and existentialist philosophy – Spinoza, Heidegger, and Sartre – but by some accident, I had started reading more politically minded thinkers like Antonio Gramsci, Rosa Luxembourg, and Marx himself.
I felt a kind of bombast when I started learning more about political and economic exploitation in our society. I had always had a keen desire for the pursuit of justice, and after learning more about the ingrained, systematic exploitation our society is based on, I felt the need to put my reading, learning, and knowledge into action.
The job at CORE (Community Organization for Residents of Emory) seemed to offer that opportunity – at least, I thought it did at the time. I called the personable interviewer from my other job offer, who graciously accepted my refusal and even supported my decision when I told him the job I was taking. I felt even more justified in my decision.
My first day at CORE involved going door-to-door in high-rise buildings trying to organize (read: sign up) new members and get them to commit to paying monthly dues to support the organization. I was a little disappointed that my job as a community organizer involved getting money from working-class people and immigrants.
I imagined rousing residents of these high-rises into action, marching in the streets to demand more affordable rents, more accountability from landlords, more maintenance and repairs, and better living conditions, in general. But people were not interested. In my first few weeks, I went to various low-income neighborhoods trying to sign people up.
I told my supervisor about my reservations, and he put things into perspective. “All those things you are talking about,” he said, referring to my desire for direct political action, “will only be possible if we remain independent, which means collecting dues and having a strong, active membership who supports the organization."
I took his words to heart and rededicated my efforts to sign up more people. But my zeal took me to another extreme. I did not realize how far I had gone to the other side until we had a free tax clinic at our offices. Before they met with our accountant, I was supposed to pitch people to become a dues-paying member of CORE.
I met with one woman who was initially receptive to my pitch but declined when I asked her to become a member. I had been trained to answer a “no” with prepared prompts that could skirt their refusal, and every time she repeated “no,” I kept pushing. Frustrated with my insistence, she got up and said she was going to leave if I didn’t stop.
Taken aback, I stopped, got up, and left the room. This is not what political organizing was supposed to be. I was ashamed that I had not listened to that woman who was clearly not interested and concluded that I did not have the skillset to become a community organizer, even though I still had an intrinsic desire to do good.
It was around that time that Obama had been elected president, and I remembered one day as I rode the bus home that he too had worked as a community organizer in Chicago after completing his undergrad and before attending Harvard Law School. I don’t have any political aspirations, but I understood that real, definitive change is won through the framework of the law, more than direct political action.
I switched my major from philosophy to political science and graduated with Honours. By the time I graduated, I knew that I wanted to become a lawyer, but I wasn’t sure of what law to practice. I worked as a summer associate for Alden Reid, a law firm in Atlanta, where I spent time carrying out law research, conducting mock interviews with lawyers, and drafting motions for all kinds of cases.
I formed a close relationship with one of the lawyers at the firm, Galen Rizzuto, who encouraged me to apply to Yale Law School because it was where his mentor went. The flashy Mr. Rizzuto was always dressed to the nines and could remember the fineries of a legal brief faster than anyone I have met.
After my stint at Alden Reid, I spent another year working as an intern at the Legal Defense Fund for the South Side, which helped low-income offenders find legal representation. The people who came into my office had not committed violent crimes but had other legal problems, like unpaid parking tickets, misdemeanor, and simple loitering charges. Their lives had been upended for little more than jaywalking, and things snowballed from there. Hearing their stories made me see the other side of what I did at CORE. Instead of getting people to sign up and pay dues, I was listening to people who needed help for their very real problems.
It was in that clinic that I realized I could actually help people and not just promise them change in exchange for a few dollars a month. I knew that my future lay in learning the law, preferably housing and tenant law, which is an area of the law that has grown in significance with the colliding interests of corporate ownership, gentrification, and the loss of affordable housing.
We had spent almost a year preparing the motion to grant a new trial, and it felt like another year waiting in the courtroom hallway for the judge’s decision. I was part of a twelve-member team made up of pre-law students that worked to help exonerate James Sweeney, who had been convicted of a double murder based on dubious, now-discredited evidence.
Sweeney was an itinerant, drug-addicted unhoused person who was caught with clothes and other personal items he claimed he found, but which the police believed made him the prime suspect in the murders of a local, married couple. Having no idea of his right to legal representation, Sweeney went willingly with the police, believing he could get a warm meal and a few hours out of the cold.
The police interrogated Sweeney for almost twelve hours, and he offered up a full confession, even though he knew he was innocent. The officers celebrated, and the prosecutor’s office was more than happy to go to trial, but on the legal advice of a comprised and incompetent public defender who has since been disbarred, Sweeney accepted a plea deal that saw him go to prison for life.
Sweeney entered prison with a fourth-grade education, but seeing that he had nothing but time, he set about educating himself. He earned his GED within a year of entering prison and later applied to a pre-law correspondence course, which he successfully completed in four years. Having gained an in-depth knowledge of the law, Sweeney began advocating for his innocence, writing letters to law firms all over the country.
While Sweeney was writing his letters, I was still pondering my future. I had entered undergrad at Cornell as an English major because I had vague ambitions to become a writer, even though I knew I was not particularly talented. One evening, I went with a friend to see the Norman Jewison film, The Hurricane, which was – something I did not know at the time – based on the true story of the wrongly convicted boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. As Carter’s story unfolded on-screen, it was easy to see how racial prejudice, police overreach, and prosecutorial malpractice could all combine to create an environment ripe for injustice. Yet no one spoke up, save Carter himself.
As you will know, Carter was ultimately exonerated and became involved in helping free other wrongly incarcerated prisoners. Carter’s story was a revealing portrait of the complexity of the law and how it can be used to send an innocent man to prison – but also to free him. I left that cinema wanting to know more about Carter’s story, which eventually led me to the work of Bryan Stevenson. He runs the Equal Justice Initiative and has participated in the exoneration of countless wrongly convicted people.
However, as inspiring as Stevenson’s story is, I realized that it is a sad commentary on how our society has barely changed since the time when Carter was falsely accused and convicted. People continue to be caught up in legal dragnets without any oversight or accountability, and it takes the Bryan Stevensons of this world to shine a light on these injustices.
I read that the Equal Justice Initiative and other similar organizations offer internships to pre-law students to help with researching and investigating. I immediately became excited at the prospect of working with other dedicated students to help right the wrongs of a disinterested and indifferent justice system.
I decided to change my major to criminology with a focus on habeas corpus, sentencing prejudices in the modern jury system, and how social changes can move toward legitimacy via the legal system. In my third year, I applied for an internship at the Innocence Project, which is where I worked on the Sweeney case. Sweeney continued writing letters until he reached a partner at a Toronto firm who had attended a lecture given by Stevenson and referred Sweeney to the Innocence Project. The case was easy enough to investigate given that many of the witnesses, police officers, attorneys, and prosecutors were still alive.
Sweeney’s conviction was based entirely on his confession, so there was no physical evidence tying him to the crime. When none of Sweeney’s DNA matched any found at the crime scene, we decided it was time to file a motion to have his case dismissed. We worked to collect as much exculpatory evidence as possible from witnesses who saw Sweeney when he was supposedly committing the murders.
The lead attorney had delivered arguments in court, but we were not permitted to be in attendance and had to wait outside. Word came from the court clerk that the judge had reached a decision. The attorneys went back inside, while we listened on the closed-circuit TV. The judge granted the motion, and Sweeney walked free that same day.
I got the chance to befriend Sweeney, and he was a great source of inspiration and motivation. He helped me define my interests in the law and focus on social justice as a form of social defiance that uses the law to undo or right injustices performed by the law. James Sweeney passed away a few months ago, and his memory, dedication, and perseverance in the face of such incredible odds are what inspire me to write this letter and apply for this program.
Yale Law School personal statement examples are key to helping you write your own personal statement for Yale Law, along with all the other writing pieces you need to submit. The personal statement is required, but the other parts, like the diversity statement and other addenda, are optional, so you should think about the scope, content, and structure of your personal statement before submitting additional writing.
1. What is unique about writing a personal statement for Yale Law School?
There are only a few unique aspects of writing a personal statement for Yale Law School, like the formatting requirements, but you also do not have to specify a reason for attending Yale Law specifically.
2. What are the requirements for writing a personal statement for Yale Law School?
The Yale Law School personal statement requirements are that your statement must be two to four pages in length, double-spaced, and divided between an inciting incident and your reflection on it.
3. What should I include in my Yale Law School personal statement?
You should include personal details about why you decided to go to law school and become a lawyer, and the fact that you are ready to commit yourself to law school.
4. What should I leave out of my Yale Law School personal statement?
You should not overshare about a personal problem that is unrelated to your academic career, or mention things about your CV, resume, or transcripts. You should also keep your story short and make connections between it and your desire to become a lawyer.
5. Is a personal statement required to enter Yale Law School?
Yes, a written personal statement is a requirement to enter Yale Law School, along with submitting your score from a standardized test, three letters of recommendation, and a letter outlining your activities during your undergrad.
6. What are Yale Law School admissions officers looking for in my personal statement?
Yale Law School admissions officers emphasize that your personal statement should embody “movement”; that is, your statement should not get bogged down in describing irrelevant details. You should move your story along to create a compelling narrative.
7. What is the acceptance rate for Yale Law School?
8. Can I get into Yale Law School with a low GPA?
Yes, it is possible to be accepted into Yale Law School if your GPA is lower than the threshold, as admissions officers examine all aspects of your application and judge them against each other to create a fuller picture of you as a candidate.