Writing your Law School Personal Statement?

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An increasing number of law schools are asking you to address your reasons for attending law school, and their law school in particular, as part of your personal statement or in an optional essay. After all, my recent survey of 100 law school applicants showed that 39% felt they “knew nothing” or “only a little” about the legal profession.

After interviewing and surveying 300 lawyers for The Law School Decision Game: A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers, here are some things that I learned that can help you answer the questions “Why Law School?” and “Why THIS Law School?”

  • The #1 reason lawyers say is a good reason for going to law school is Learning to Think Like a Lawyer. #2 is Enjoying Solving Problems and #3 is Enjoying Research and Writing.
  • Lawyers say the top 3 traits for success in their field are: Willingness to Work Hard, Attention to Detail, and People Skills.
  • The #1 reason lawyers say you should choose a law school: Location Near Community Where you Hope to Live. #2 was Cost of Attendance, and #3 was Location Near Job and Internship Opportunities.

These responses should help you phrase your responses to the questions being asked by law schools. For more in depth information about reasons to go to law school, what the legal profession is really like, and what you can expect from a career in law, read The Law School Decision Game: A Playbook for Prospective Lawyers, now available on Amazon.

15 thoughts on “Writing your Law School Personal Statement?

  1. Hey Ann,

    Some schools have diversity statements. I think I am a diverse applicant and it’s a theme in my personal statement. I feel that if I was to write a diversity statement it may be redundant.

    On the applications, I’d check “this doesn’t apply to me” for the Diversity Statement, though I’d want law schools to see me as a diverse applicant…do I need to then write a diversity statement or should it be obvious that I am a diverse applicant from my personal statement?

    Thanks!

  2. Daniela on said:

    Dear Ann,
    Thanks again for all of your advice. Both of your books have become my bibles in the past few months and I was thrilled to read your latest book and reassure myself that I made the right decision in applying to law school.
    My question pertains to my resume`. I realized about 12 drafts into my personal statement that a lot of the stuff I was writing about could just go on my resume`. It’s obvious from my resume` that I’ve worked since high school, but how would I list the facts that I financed my own college education and have been financially independent since turning 18?
    From older posts on resume` writing I’ve read that you should use your resume` to point these things out, but I’m just not sure if it belongs under “employment” section or “skills/interests” section, or how to even list it?
    Thank you!

  3. Hi Daniela,
    You can do this a few ways – you can put on your resume under Education something like “Worked full time while attending college” or “100% self-supporting throughout college”.

  4. Hi Ann,

    My brother recommended me to check out your site after helping him apply to law school last year. The posts I’ve read so far are great. I have a question regarding an aspect of my personal statement. My background is in investments and my interest in practicing law came from researching a specific style of investing that focuses on both Bankruptcies and Mergers & Acquisitions. I am open to the idea of practicing in these areas for my entire career, as well as to the idea of practicing in these areas for several years out of school and transitioning to a more money management role; the specialty knowledge from studying and practicing would be valuable when investing. How would it be looked upon that one of the reasons for my interest in law, and paths that I’m considering, is to practice law for several years but then transition to money management?

    Dan

    • Hi Dan, So glad your brother recommended the site.
      I think that having a goal that is well researched and well articulated is a fine way to go. If you read my new book, you’ll see people use their law degrees in many ways. I like that you’ve put a lot of thought into this and I think you can sell it.

  5. Hey Ann,
    Thanks for your feedback. I think I may go with it. One thing, I was wondering about was I became a working Actor after undergrad, and before entering investment management. How would they look at this being on my resume, and the focus of the statement on the investing theme but Acting excluded?
    Dan

  6. Dan, you need to include acting! Put it in its own section. It shows you are well rounded and it accounts for your time. Don’t be scared of it – one of my actor clients this year just got into two top 15 law schools this week!

  7. Arghh…that’s not what I wanted to hear Ann. 🙂 Not so much scared of it as smoothly incorporating it within my draft. I’ll find a way, Thanks!
    Dan

  8. Duramax80 on said:

    Ann,

    I am applying to law school under strange circumstances. My UGPA is 2.68, where I failed a few classes, but my senior year I was on Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.75, followed by a 3.5, and then a 4.0 for two summer classes. My LSAT is a 159, and I have not received december scores yet.

    I was wondering if I should explain my GPA in my Personal Statement. I dont have a solid reason for a low GPA, just that I didnt know what I wanted to do with my life, and was completely unmotivated toward my schoolwork until I enrolled in a law class. In my law class, everything clicked and I knew I wanted to be an attorney.

    Should I explain this? Do I have a solid chance of acceptance at any Tier 2 schools?

    • Duramax80,
      I’m glad you had the upward trend. This should be explained in an addendum and not in a personal statement. If you read The Law School Admission Game, you will see that I think a personal statement should be 100% positive and not spent explaining weaknesses except for those schools who specifically ask for that information.
      We’ll need to see your December score before you can pick schools but remember to look at the 25th/75th percentiles for schools. Everything in your application materials will matter a lot since you want schools to be inclined to give a lot of credit to your more recent performance.

  9. Grace on said:

    Hi Ann, I really enjoy reading your blog. I am hoping for some advice. I graduated with my AA at 17 from community college and by 19 was preparing for undergraduate graduation. I took my LSAT the first time at this age, unsure what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t ready and insufficiently prepared. Two years later, after working full time and deciding I truly did want to become a lawyer, I studied with more determination and took it again. My score went from 160 to 174. Most of the top ranked schools consider your average unless theres a compelling reason for them to look at you otherwise. Is maturity enough? I had no family emergency, no hospitalization. My GPA was good throughout college and its wrong to say I “got my act together”, just that I honestly realized this was my path. Right now I have written an addendum that essentially says I am no longer the same applicant as I was during the first tests administration. That I have grown more matured and determined and feel the second score reflects this. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    • Grace, schools have EVERY incentive to place emphasis on your 174. Don’t worry! You will need an addendum but if everything else in your application is stellar, the first score will not hold you back. I’ve seen a lot of people with multiple LSAT scores like this get into top 10 and top 5 schools. You have tons of potential!

  10. Michelle on said:

    Hi,

    I am applying to law school and I am working on my personal statement. I have been receiving about a 157 on my LSAT practice exams but my GPA is a low B. What can I do to improve the likelihood of me being admitted into a good school. If I can get my LSAT score even higher will that be enough? I even have failing grades on my transcript.

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