Credibility, including perceived competence, character, and likeability. Use ethos to persuade by authority. Belief and value patterns of an audience, including traditional narratives, sayings, metaphors, and symbols. Use mythos to add power, subtle rhetorical control and wider significance to your argument.
You should be able to tell someone how your personal statement is structured, what the logical progression is, what each of the roughly six to ten paragraphs is about, and how each paragraph both interprets evidence for its specific claim and contributes to the overall effect of the essay.
You should also try to have a unifying theme. This might organically develop from your attention-grabbing material at the beginning of the statement. For most people, this will be a story with a moral strong enough to be your motto: There are several standard structures for law school personal statements. You may use more than one:. Tell a personal narrative or story.
This type of essay typically allows you to demonstrate aspects of your character and leadership skills. Show how you have made chronological growth, including steps you will take in the future. It is generally better to avoid giving long narratives about some aspect of yourself before college.
If you have a good reason for mentioning your childhood or adolescence such as an unusual history abroad or a specific obstacle you have overcome , then it is better to keep it to one short, vivid paragraph and refer to it again later in the essay, if you are making it the unifying theme of your statement.
This structure relies on time to move it forward, but that is not enough: Present a problem and how you solved it or would solve it. This is called the problem-solution structure.
This type of essay showcases your analytic reasoning. Use a metaphor or analogy to help your audience understand you. This demonstrates your rhetorical control and usually integrates mythos into your statement. Pose rhetorical questions to your audience or use suspense. This structure showcases your skill in persuasion and argumentation. Describe what you have learned from another lawyer or mentor. Also analyze what you would do differently.
This type of essay allows you to showcase your analytic reasoning. Begin with a meaningful quote, which you explain and refer to throughout your statement. This is a difficult structure to master, but when it is done well, it can be satisfying for the reader. Do not pick a quote by some famous person whose work you have never read or barely encountered.
Spend some time unpacking the various levels and resonances of the quote in relation to your life and goals. List reasons you should be admitted. This structure, like the chronological structure, needs a unifying theme, or it is completely boring.
It is best to avoid this structure. Hook them with a remarkable or a life-changing experience, an anecdote, or a question that will be answered by your law school personal statement. The conclusion is the final chord of music resolved. It should pull together the different parts of the personal statement, rephrase main ideas, interpret the importance of the choice of topics, point towards the future, and give the cue for ending with a rhetorical flourish.
Several ways to use pathos include: Your audience will be one of three types of learners: Try to appeal to all of these by working in visual descriptions for visual learners, discussing times in which you excelled in oral communication for auditory learners, and discussing specific ways in which you were active for kinesthetic learners kinesthetic learners are those who learn by physically doing rather than reading or listening. Your audience will primarily self-select as visual learners, because these typically include people who are good at reading.
The bottom line is this: Vivid, active language is crucial. Try to make the reader feel he or she has taken a short mental vacation. Whisk the reader away into your world. Make the reader smile. This applies to describing your work in a different nation and culture, for example. Your audience will perk up if you describe a campus visit you made and give specific details about which of their colleagues you met with and how that visit changed your perspective. Appeal to universal human values, including success, freedom, honesty, and friendship, among others.
Your topic is related to, but separate from your structure. Your structure is the form of your personal statement, and the topic is the content. You may start with the structure or the topic, depending on which appeals to you more. Personalize your law school personal statement as much as possible by including concrete examples of your characteristics and specific details of your experiences.
Show, rather than tell, the reader about yourself and your accomplishments. Write about coursework, experiences, or research related to your law career or legal interest, such as completing a thesis, working with a professor, or volunteering for a legal aid or clinic. Write about why a particular law school or program fits your goals. Extensive knowledge about that law school or program is essential for this to truly succeed.
Write about overcoming any difficulties or adversity in your life. This may include difficulties faced in your personal life, academic life, or in your local or college community. Be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school.
Examine a tragedy in your life loss of a parent or someone close, a severe accident or a triumph recognition for your outstanding performance, overcoming a disease, awards for excellence. Discuss how you have grown from this experience, and again, be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school.
Write about your passions, ideals, or favorite hobbies and how they are related to your choice to attend law school and become a lawyer. If you are still unsure about what you should write or where to begin your personal statement, try some of the following activities.
Expand one or more into a theme for your law school personal statement. List your personal skills and consider how they will make you an asset to the law school or legal community.
Have a friend or colleague do a mock interview with you regarding why you are interested in applying to law school. Your answers to their questions may trigger new ideas. Review all the pivotal or remarkable experiences that you have had throughout your life.
Examine how these experiences have directed your life or your decision to apply to law school. Have you ever volunteered or served a cause of great importance to you? Write about that experience. How has a mentor or experience, a particular book or quote, changed the direction of your life? Write about that life-changing event. Have you assumed a leadership role in any arena, such as a club, sports team, or work?
Write about what goals or ideals led you to seek these leadership roles, or what you learned and accomplished as a leader. Write several adjectives that characterize you, and then write a short paragraph explaining how these words describe you. Use metaphors and analogies. These make extra neurons fire as the mind plays with the levels of resonance. Discuss topics that build your credibility.
Your reason for applying should not be that you have wanted to be a lawyer since you were five. What kind of credibility does a five-year-old have? Try to show you have as many of the following qualities as possible: Intellectual ability, analytic ability, imagination, motivation, maturity, organization, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, oral communication skills, written communication skills, and career potential. The law school professors will be reading your personal statement closely and will immediately be able to spot good writers, with polished ideas, elegant structure, and no errors.
Admissions committees have read hundreds of personal statements. They can spot a good one in about two seconds. Use recent stories before older, personal experiences over academic, strongest arguments before weaker. People can think faster than they can read, so they are able to think about other things when they read your personal statement. Ideally, your essay will grab their attention so that they focus solely on you.
Lawyers are master orators. They must know the skills of persuasion. Your essay must be able to persuade your audience to admit you.
Use your rhetorical choices to show you have considered the art form. Community service is imperative for advantaged applicants and those interested in public service. The admissions committee is looking for future leaders in the public and private sectors, and those who value social power. It is rare for an applicant to have taken the time to research the school, the program, and what he or she wants from it and why he or she wants that one experience. Know what you want.
Be clear about it, and simple, but smart. Read through thirty personal statement samples. You will quickly see how they all start to sound the same. Now imagine your audience reading through thousands of law school personal statements. Try to find a way to make your writing style and content stand out from the crowd. Have a clear idea of what you want to convey before writing. Before starting your law school personal statement, use an outline to determine the structure of your statement.
Have a central theme or thesis that is used throughout your personal statement. Note that you can brainstorm and free write to generate topics for your personal statement, but before you begin writing anything close to your final draft you should have a clear and concise idea of what you are conveying in your personal statement. Conclude your personal statement by referring back to the introductory paragraph and restate your main thesis in a slightly different way. Use your law school personal statement as a means to market yourself.
Most top law schools receive thousands of applications. Admissions committees seek to weave together a class composed of unique individuals whose diverse views symbiotically complement each other. Use this opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are more than a standardized test score and a cluster of grades; showcase your peerless and intriguing personality. Cultivate a positive ethos. Be genuinely honest and try to focus on your most favorable characteristics.
Write clearly and to the point. Effectively utilize the limited words allowed to convey what is unique about yourself as well as why you are a suitable fit for law school or that particular program. Make sure every sentence is clear. Adhere to the page or word limitations.
Respect the pages limits! Most well-written personal statements should be no longer than two to three pages double-spaced. Length does not correlate with quality. If you absolutely must, you can use point font in Times. Consider tailoring your personal statement to reflect the law schools to which you are applying. Making specific references to a particular law school or specialty will demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to a particular law school.
Check if professors have retired or changed institutions. Take your statement through several drafts. Show your statement to professors and lawyers, and listen to their advice. Edit your law school personal statement. Proofread the final draft of your personal statement several times, including at least once orally, for substance, style, and grammatical and spelling errors.
Have others edit your law school personal statement as well. Ideally, ask an academic advisor, professor, or someone familiar with the law school application process to edit your statement. Pay attention to detail. A comma splice or two will send your file to the reject pile.
Do use specific details. If you can exchange the name of the school for others, take out that sentence or rewrite it with a detail specific to the law school.
Write about things that make you genuinely excited and enthusiastic. Readers of your statement can tell when your enthusiasm takes over. Do not focus upon your weaknesses! Discussing this weakness will only highlight it. Instead, write about the traits and characteristics that define you as an individual and showcase what you will bring to that law school.
Your tone should be confident and positive. If you do have a weakness to address, such as a severe illness resulting in poor grades for a semester or a documented history of doing poorly on standardized tests with their not truly reflecting your potential, write about this in an addendum.
The best law school personal statements display clear and succinct writing that is well within the specified word limitations. Do not solely discuss why you want to be a lawyer. The fact that you are going through the admissions process evidences your interest in the law. This topic is trite and will not leave a lasting impression upon the admissions committee.
Instead, again, try to discuss what experiences led to your choice and what unique attributes you will bring to law school and the legal field. Admissions committees read thousands of law school personal statements, and a boring introduction will result in the reader skimming over rather than fully considering your personal statement.
The tone of the essay should convey the seriousness of the topic and the writer. Steer away from topics such as religion, political doctrines, or contentious issues.
While you may be an outspoken critic of affirmative action or organized religion, the admissions committee may be offended by your views. Do not reiterate your academic accomplishments, unless they are not evident from your transcripts and test scores. As an example, a major family crisis or personal catharsis resulting in a drastic change in your grades is worth discussing, whereas your being on the Honor Roll most semesters is not.
Furthermore, your grades are already documented on your transcript, and you should take this opportunity to give the committee information they cannot find in other parts of your application. Do not solely rely on the spell checker. Avoid using the passive voice. Extensive use of the passive voice will rob your personal statement of clarity, brevity and impact. Sentences written in the active voice are more powerful and succinct than those written in the passive voice.
The passive voice occurs when the subject receives the action of the verb and is acted upon by someone or something. However, the personal statement is not the place for passive voice. Do not be too influenced by one person or idea. Show you can synthesize ideas and choose your own way. This list, culled from discussions with admissions directors, lists the ten biggest mistakes applicants often make on their law school personal statements.
Most of these were discussed above. Sending a personal statement to school B meant for School A. Using gimmicks such as writing in crayon, modeling your personal statement as a legal brief, or writing it as a poem. For more personal statement sample essays go to or our article Personal Statement Examples. Note — this applicant had a 3. We were packed in the largest of three rooms in a 2, square foot space baking in the heat generated by ten co-workers in close quarters, fifteen running computers, and an abnormally warm summer.
On the glass doorway was etched the ghostly lettering of the former company occupying the space, serving as a grim reminder of the ever-present possibility of failure. Silicon Valley is incestuous: They were selling another David versus Goliath story, featuring a small rag-tag team of engineers defeating a seemingly insurmountable industry leader.
Despite my skepticism, I still had a free-running imagination fed with nostalgic thoughts of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard working on their first audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage.
I was lucky enough to join that company late in the game and sell my stock options early, but many others spent a significant portion of their career at a company that came close to glory but ultimately fell short: Goliath 1, David 0. This time they were telling me it was going to be different; they were always saying this time would be different.
With the financial incentive of stock options and the confidence gained by working with a crack technical team, everyone was working at full capacity. There were scribbled drawings with names and dates taped up on a wall. These were the jotted ideas from our team of electrical engineers and physicists with M. One posting was my recent workings of a carbon nano-tube electro-mechanical configuration bit, an idea that a co-worker and I had developed that I would write up and the company would push through the patent process.
By packing a dozen well-caffeinated physics and electronics geniuses into a pathetic three-room rental that resembled a low-budget movie studio, we had created the primordial soup of intellectual invention. It was immensely exciting to be the tenth employee in a growing start-up company that would have to upgrade offices and dramatically expand staff in an up-scaling war against the industry titan. The increased design responsibility and unbounded architectural creativity that comes with working for a start-up is unparalleled.
However, the necessity of side-stepping patented intellectual property belonging to our competitor, which covered all aspects of our design, from manufacturing to testing, placed a heavy burden on the design team.
This danger was extremely real, as a similar start-up had collapsed following an infringement lawsuit related to unauthorized reproduction of a bit stream. It was immensely satisfying to study, absorb, and then circumvent patent claims as I designed a conceptually similar but un-patented version of three memory blocks. I am interested in serving as general counsel for a corporation focused on advanced semiconductor technology. I am drawn to the challenges I will find at the intersection of intellectual property, product liability, and corporate law.
Give the admissions officers genuine insight into who you are. Don't use cliches or platitudes. The more personal and specific your personal statement is, the better received it will be. Applying to law school? Take a LSAT practice test with us under the same conditions as the real thing. You'll get a personalized score report highlighting your strengths and areas of improvement.
We know that great scores take work. That's why we design our courses to be efficient, targeted and strategic so you make the most of every minute you spend prepping.
Good writing is writing that is easily understood. Why The Princeton Review? Productive Preparation We know that great scores take work.
Engaging Teachers We love our teachers, and so will you. Yes, I love saving money! No thanks, I'll pay full price.
Advice on writing your law school personal statement and examples of law school personal statements with commentary.
These example law school essays were integral components of successful law school applications.
Law schools want to recruit people who are qualified for reasons beyond grades and scores. The essay or personal statement in your application is the place to tell the committee about yourself. The essay or personal statement in your application is the place to tell the committee about yourself. In these pages, meet six of our students in the way we first met them: through the personal statements they wrote for their law school applications. And through their photos, meet a seventh: Andreas Baum, ’12, the talented student photographer who took these pictures for us.
Law schools use the personal statement to learn about your ability to write concisely, precisely, and well. The personal statement gives you an opportunity to showcase your abilities. So, the best statements not only follow the schools' instructions, but are tied together by a theme and a logical progression of ideas, making good use of. The personal statement, one of the most important parts of your law school application, is an opportunity to highlight your writing ability, your personality, and your experience. Think of it as a written interview during which you get to choose the question.