5 Phrases that Should Not Be in Your Personal Statement for Law School

Law School Expert Blog

The following is an excerpt from The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert, page 92:

5 Words & Phrases that Make Me Cringe in Personal Statements:

1. “Personally”- It’s a personal statement. Of course everything you say is your own personal opinion. If it’s not, you’re doing something wrong.

2. “In conclusion….” Blech! Just conclude, don’t announce that you’re concluding.

3. “I believe…” It doesn’t matter what you believe about your ability to succeed in law school or what you believe is important in your application. The fact that you believe it is immaterial. Just state the facts so that the reader independently concludes that he or she believes whatever you’re trying to prove.

4. “Unique…”Very few things in this world are “unique,” especially the use of the word “unique.”

5.”Firsthand experience….” What is a secondhand experience and why would anyone write about it?


6 Responses

  1. Hello, Ann:

    I thought that I had read your thoughts on this somewhere previously, but I just skimmed your book (yet again) and this blog to try to find it and was unsuccessful.

    What do you suggest in regards to font and size when submitting? I would assume that using something classic, such as Times 11 or 12, is preferred both due to the committee’s preference and to the fact that the font may be converted through submitting it. At the same time, I know that a lot of people advocate for using newer fonts, since Times is considered old now (though perhaps not in the legal field).

    Thank you!

  2. Sorry for posting multiple messages. I noticed in reviewing the .pdf of my application to be submitted that some of the explanations run off of the page. For instance, the “reason for leaving work” consistently runs off of the page – though I stayed within the limit.

    What do you suggest doing?

  3. Liz, you have to shorten your response if it’s not showing up on the PDF.
    I recommend double spaced 12 point times new roman or Garamond another Serif font. It won’t be converted once you upload it.

  4. This is a fantastic post. I started university last year after much deliberation. I took Law CPD courses and the personal statement I feel gives you the opportunity to talk your way into subjects.

  5. I am writing my personal statement and having a rather tough time with it. I am facing old demons in my life in an attempt to show what I’ve overcome. I was raised by a abusive parents and I am not sure how to convey my message. Should I generalize what I have experienced or go into detail or avoid the subject all together?

  6. Sarah,
    You need to be specific enough to be credible, but not so specific that the reader is turned off. Use the TMI test – If someone were saying it to you, would you be thinking “TMI!”?

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