Law School Personal Statements (Part 1): Reading Comes First

Every person has a story to tell.

Many stories, in fact.

The personal statement for law school is a vehicle for you to tell one of your stories to a committee of strangers.

No biggie, right?

Wrong!

It takes a lot of time, introspection, and hard work to write a great personal statement. Not a mediocre or good statement, but a great one.

In the law school application process, you are nothing but ink on paper.

Just like I mention in the video above, when your GPA and LSAT score are equal with hundreds or thousands of other applicants, a memorable and authentic personal statement can help your application rise to the top.

It can mean the difference between getting into a good school versus a J.D. mill, between getting into a great school versus a good school, and between getting a scholarship versus no money at all.

So, now that you know how important your personal statement is, you’re probably thinking, how the heck do I even begin?

Simple. You’re going to read.

Like many writers have professed before me, good writing begins with good reading.

Now, there are prelaw advisers and consultants who will disagree with me. They say that applicants should just write their drafts first, without looking at any examples, so as not to taint their ideas of a what a personal statement should be.

I respectfully disagree with that.

If law schools required that applicants write a sonnet instead of a personal statement, you better believe you’d research some great sonnets before you started drafting your own. In doing your research, you’d discover that sonnets are poems that consist of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, and they include a problem and solution, or question and answer. If you didn’t do your research, how would you even know how to begin writing one?

Learn from others. Read first.

First, click here to download our FREE Personal Statement Packet.

OPEN and PRINT OUT the 16-page packet. You will gain a more thorough understanding if you read these documents on paper and take notes. So again, I highly recommend that you print them out.

The packet contains seven sample personal statements and four sample diversity statements. These are all real essays by real students, the majority of whom I advised when I was a prelaw adviser at the University of Washington. All of these students were admitted into the law schools of their choice, many in the Top 20, and many with scholarships.

Read through the packet and tips sheet at least twice.

Notice how each statement is very personal. Remember, you are not writing a statement of intent, you are writing a personal statement. You are telling the admissions committee a story from your life that changed you, your life, and/or your way of thinking.

For each personal statement, write down your answers to the following.

  1. What did this person learn about himself or herself?
  2. What strengths, skills or values does this person have?
  3. What makes this person a good candidate for law school?

Read carefully and you will be amazed at how much you can learn. By analyzing each personal statement, you will absorb the personal statement form and understand how someone might tell a story from their life within the confines of this form.

Want more help? Sign up for my class, Write Your Personal Statement in 7 Days. It’s a great way to get support and structure for writing a law school personal statement in a short amount of time.

Have questions or comments about the law school personal statement? I’d love to hear from you! I’m here to help. Post your questions below and I’ll respond.