1. Your personal statement should give a sense of who you are – your values and passion, but don’t beg for admission!

  2. Law schools want to know who you are – not the specialty area that interests you. Law schools want you to be open to all areas of law.

  3. Your personal statement is a substitute for the interview. Law schools deliberately do not have interviews because they expect applicants to utilize the English language, since the written word is an important part of being a lawyer. Use the essay to write about what you would have said in the interview. Here’s an example: If you had 5 minutes to make a pitch about yourself in an interview, figure out what you would say, speak into a tape recorder, play it back, and write about it.

  4. Don’t use your personal statement as a time to review your resume and waste valuable space! Keep your personal statement limited to what has been stated on the application.

  5. Your statement should be personal and self-revealing, but not maudlin. Use good judgment by not writing something too personal. Your statement must sound like you, not like a legal brief; it can have a “chatty” tone, but should be written in your own voice.

  6. Let the reader in on the process. For example, explain why you did something, or what caused you to make a change in life circumstance, or what led you to law school. You should lay out the process in your statement – include anecdotes, how you problem-solved, what you expected, and what you learned about yourself. The reader should be able to understand how your mind works, and how you came to a particular conclusion, without giving every detail. Engage the reader and lead the reader to the conclusions you want; in other words, “show, don’t tell”.

  7. Use good judgment. Don’t be too intimate in your statement; use discretion – it is a balancing act. Everything you write about must be true, but you don’t have to tell everything about you!

  8. Don’t name traits – describe them. For example, instead of saying you are hard working, provide an example or evidence for your claim. (i.e., “I was studying so hard, I was locked overnight in the library.”) Tell a story that highlights the traits you want someone to learn about you.

  9. Always be positive in your personal statement. Even if you are writing about something sad, end your story on a positive note (i.e., turning your life around.)

  10. Your personal statement should be non-speculative. You should stick to writing about the past and the present. Let the law schools draw their own conclusions about your future.

  11. Pick a story (or two related stories) that most define you. The story should be distinctive so that it gives you a “label” as a candidate. You want the law school to REMEMBER you as “the candidate who wrote about [something good and memorable]”. Your essay should be prosaic, and constructed around a metaphor, theme, or label. It should be written in-depth enough so that it says something important about you. Law schools want classic prose – write intellectually acute – not cute!

  12. Seek feedback on your personal statement from trusted friends, faculty, and pre-professional advisors.