Most law schools do not interview their applicants, and your essays are often the only opportunity to make a positive, personal impression. Almost all law schools require a personal statement. In addition, it may be possible to submit optional essay topics and/or addenda. Keep in mind that each essay should succinctly address any prompts provided by the law school, and you should carefully avoid redundancy between essays.
Your essays must reflect your development of the qualities and core competencies valued by law schools. It is unlikely that you have the space to elaborate on all of the examples listed below. Choose those that feel most authentic, illustrating the qualities you choose to discuss by providing examples of active engagement and careful self-reflection. It is possible to reveal some of these qualities through your personal statement, while others may be more evident in the content of an optional essay.
|Intellectual Ability||Analytic Ability||Imagination|
|Teamwork||Written/Oral Communication Skills||Professionalism|
Law schools typically provide very little guidance about the content of the essay. The personal statement should tell your unique story, highlighting experiences that are foundational to your pursuit of an advanced degree. Use your statement to persuade reviewers of your strengths as an applicant and potential to succeed in a challenging program. An authentic personal narrative will enable a reader to understand who you are and what has motivated your professional choices.
1. Selecting a Statement Topic
Choose a topic that reveals that best parts of your character, accomplishments and aspirations. A well-chosen topic provides a meaningful context for your accomplishments, skills, or experiences. Here are some potential topics, but don’t feel constrained by these suggestions:
2. Things to Do and Not Do
These essays are truly optional. Do not feel compelled to submit an optional essay if a response feels inauthentic or superficial. If you do have a meaningful response, this can be a valuable opportunity to share additional information with admission staff allowing them to get to know you more fully. Be careful to avoid regurgitating the information you already provided in other parts of the application.
An addendum is an opportunity to explain a problem or setback that you may have encountered either personally or academically. It is a good idea to offer an explanation regarding long absences from school during your undergraduate degree, semesters where you underperformed or had to withdraw from school, a track record of dropping multiple courses, issues of academic integrity, or anything that may result in character and fitness challenges when you sit for the bar exam. If you are considering writing an addendum, it is best to discuss the content with a pre-law advisor.
It is important that others read and critique your writing. Ask them what they learned about you, whether the topic is compelling, whether the evidence supports the main point of the essay, and whether they feel they developed a good sense of who you are as a person. Be open to the idea that you may need to start a completely new draft if your first attempt is not having the desired impact.
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