At the University of La Verne College of Law, the personal statement is a key element of your law school application. It is your one chance to highlight the individual qualities that would make you a great law student. Admissions committees use the personal statement as evidence of both your writing skills and your ability to meet the high demands of a legal education. They also like to see that you have done your research and understand the strengths of their school’s program.
“I enjoy reading personal statements because they are just that – personal,” says Andrew Woolsey, Director of Admissions at La Verne Law. “They give me a chance to understand who an applicant really is and why they want to come to law school in a way that isn’t always evident from the rest of their application.”
What Should You Share?
In your two- to three-page personal statement, you need to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have the motivation and drive to succeed in law school. Before beginning to write, think about why you want to go to law school and what you bring to the table. Brainstorm by asking yourself these questions:
- What are your greatest strengths? Remember that law schools are looking for a number of different qualities in a candidate: intellectual ability, diversity, self-reflection, commitment, and ethics are just a few examples of qualities that make a successful law student. Use concrete examples of accomplishments or experiences that highlight your strengths. Be creative! Tell a story that shows how you have developed and will continue to develop your positive qualities.
- Have I faced a significant challenge in my life? How did I overcome it? Is there anything in my background that is different than the average law school applicant? How might that affect my perspective on life and the law? Keep in mind that the tone of your personal statement should always be positive. If you talk about difficulties you have faced in your life, it is essential that you show what you have done to work around or overcome those challenges.
“I look for evidence that a student has thought about why they want to go to law school and the path that led them to that decision,” says Woolsey. “If they feel like their academic performance doesn’t reflect their true abilities, that’s something they should address as well.”
Get Out the Red Pen
After you draft your personal statement, it’s time to edit. Your personal statement should be one of the best pieces of writing you have ever created. Now is not the time to dash off a few paragraphs and call it a day, so give yourself at least a couple of weeks to work on it.
A few basic pointers can help you in this process:
- Look for problems with style and clarity.
- Be sure that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are perfect.
- Use clear, plain language.
- Use the active rather than passive voice.
After you have edited your personal statement several times, give it to someone you trust to read and edit again. And then read and edit it again – and again until you are absolutely satisfied with the final product.
Your personal statement is your chance to let your personality shine through. While you should always remember your audience – a group of professionals who are determining whether or not you would be a good fit at their law school – and write accordingly, you should also use this opportunity to show them who you are and what you can bring to both the classroom and legal profession.
Dos, Don’ts and Tips
- Be deliberate in the highlights you share to demonstrate your strengths.
- Be creative!
- Don’t rush through the writing process – make it perfect!
- Remember your audience, and convince them that you have what it takes to make a successful law student.