Writing a Great Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement for law school is not easy.  Everyone hates it, and it takes time and multiple drafts. This is not something you can finish over a weekend.

The vast majority of personal statements are 2 pages, double-spaced. Your personal statement should never exceed the page limit or word limit you are provided.

Personal Statements Serve 2 Important Purposes.

  1. It is a writing sample, so it must be grammatically perfect. Have multiple people look it over, including your pre-law advisor and staff at your university’s Career Center and Writing Center.  But it also needs to be in your voice. Do not allow someone else to edit it to the point that you no longer recognize it.
  2. While you should respond directly to any specific questions schools want you to write about, this is an opportunity for you to explain why you want to attend law school.

Your Personal Statement Has One Major Goal:  TELL YOUR STORY

The word “personal” in this situation does not mean an entry from your diary or lyrics from a Taylor Swift song.  It means that nobody else should be able to write a personal statement like yours. Focus on one particular event or situation you were in and tell the story!!  The more detailed, the better. 

This also means that writing about how studying abroad changed your life is probably not going to make a very good personal statement. Law school admissions staff read hundreds of personal statements on this topic. Also, do NOT start your personal statement with the sentence, “I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was five years old.” YAWN.

Do NOT Just Give a Run-Down of What Is On Your Resume. 

The point of a personal statement is to get beyond your resume. Your resume is “breadth.”  Your personal statement is “depth.” Your resume should not read like a list. It should create a picture in someone’s mind.

The First Draft You Write Is Going To Be Terrible, So Just Suck It Up and Do It.

But there will always be “gold nuggets” in this first draft:  things that you can expand on and write a really good second draft. The goal of your first draft is just to get all your ideas on paper.  

General ideas of things to tell a story about:  how you solved a problem or faced adversity, how you faced a challenge, how you learned to see issues or problems from multiple perspectives, how you used your creativity to help someone, or how you learned to listen.

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