Winning Personal Statement Topics for Law School

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

 

If you are struggling to find the right thing to write about in your personal statement, start by considering what you think your weaknesses are and then think of examples from your life that demonstrate that the opposite might really be true. I talk about this a lot in Chapter 10 from The Law School Admission Game (listen to an excerpt here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ann-levine/2013/05/08/law-school-personal-statement-tips) but here are some examples:

Is your resume scattered? Do you have experiences that range from public relations to interning on Capitol Hill, volunteering at the hospital, and majoring in Chinese Mythology? If so, use this opportunity to emphasize your vast curiosity, passion for engaging with people, and/or diverse interests (because certainly, most lawyers practice in several different areas of law and not just one).

Are you a non-traditional applicant to law school? Do your 15+ year-old grades fail to show how seriously you would take your studies at this point in your life? Show that you bring military experience, law enforcement experience, years as a parent advocating for a disabled child, or teaching experience, how this will help inform the perspective of a law school class, and how your experience has led you to want to become an attorney. (See this post, an oldie but goodie, for law school applicants over the age of 30: http://lawschoolexpert.com/application-tips/over-30-and-applying-to-law-school/ )

Did you have an upward trend in your grades or an otherwise rough start to college? Then maturity, personal growth, seriousness of purpose and focus are great things to emphasize in your personal statement. (These are great themes for non-traditional applicants as well).

Are you afraid that your personal statement will sound like a recounting of your resume? Go deeper by exploring what you learned from difficult situations, how you took on responsibilities that taught you the nuances of the industry/profession, and developed skills and interests that will help you as you make decisions about your future.

Remember that your personal statement doesn’t have to be unique – you don’t have to be working in orphanages in India or brokering peace in Syria to have a stand-out law school personal statement. You just have to show insight into who you are, the decisions you’ve made, and that you are a thinking, productive, capable person.

7 thoughts on “Winning Personal Statement Topics for Law School

  1. Brent on said:

    Hi Ann,
    I plan on visiting schools soon. What should I have accomplished during the visit? What questions should I ask to determine whether the school is right for me and to get information that I could use to show interest in the school in essays?

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Brent,
      Forgive my very late response. I am so sorry. When visiting schools, ask questions related to what is most important to you and relating to things you hope to partake in while in law school.

  2. Hi Ann,

    I’m gonna be honest, I found your blog about 3 hours ago and have been on it ever since! I feel that I am completely new to this whole process, but have been studying with Blueprint and feeling nervous about the upcoming September LSAT.

    I was pretty indecisive in choosing a major and sticking to it in my undergrad. First I started out with Biochemistry (incredibily hard, and my average grades to show that), then changed to Communications with a concentration in Entertainment/Tourism, then switched my concentration to Public Relations. I do have a lot of different passions and interests, but I’m certain about my decision to go to law school because of my long-term, passion to become a lawyer. However, my GPA is only a 3.0. I struggled to save and improve my GPA due to my 1st and 2nd years as being a Biochem major. So I’m wondering what’s the best way to explain my journey without sounding like I took the easy way out? (I used to get teased by my friends about it)

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Tara, glad you found me.
      I think it’s not as much taking the easy way out as finding the right things that interested you and that played toward your strengths, right?

  3. Hello Ann,

    I know this is an old post, so hopefully I’m not too late for a reply. My PS topic is “overcoming depression.” I’ve been cautioned by several people to not discuss this in a PS. (One person even called the subject “offensive” – he didn’t even read my essay!)

    I was bullied in school. The bullying lasted from middle school until high school. I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager (who wouldn’t be suffering to some degre after being bullied since the age of 11?); I was prescribed medication which, frankly, didn’t help me at all. Through all of this, my grades never suffered. I graduated HS with a 3.97 GPA (the top 10% of my class.) After moving away to college, I realized that I had a chance at a fresh start. After some soul-searching, I realized that I had taken the bullying to heart and had begun to believe the awful things people had said about me. I came to the conclusion that I had been a selfish person who was worried being “perfect” all the time. I started to focus on other people and discovered that was the key to fixing myself. The entire second page of my PS is devoted to this realization and its results. However, I’ve been told that any mention of depression is a red flag that could turn an AdComm’s “yes” to a “no.”

    In your opinion, is this a bad topic? The depression was very much the result of bullying. Getting away from the bullies was the first step to recovery; the second step was getting rid of my bad self image. I mention in my essay how I changed internally and put these changes to use to help others with volunteering and service. My college GPA is almost as good as my high school GPA, so anyone who reads the essay should be able to see that whatever problems I had, they never affected my work. Thanks for any insight you can offer. I hope to send my first few applications out in the next couple of weeks!

    • Laura, I think you need to be careful with this topic – I think you can mention overcoming bullying, but be careful about saying anything that would sound like a therapy session….

      • Thank you!

        In the “overcoming an obstacle” essay is there a “rule” about what percentage of the paper should talk about the overcoming and what percentage needs to address the obstacle? Should I remove all reference to depression and just shift the focus of the first couple of paragraphs to bullying? If I take that out, I would be able to add information about volunteer programs I’ve participated in: kid’s art program, animal shelter and food pantry. Is it helpful to highlight volunteer programs that don’t seem tied to the theme of your personal statement? I left it out because it didn’t really seem pertinent.
        As it stands, it’s about 45% past, 45% present and 10% why I want to go to law school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *