Law schools have done away with the traditional “diversity statement” essay prompts due to the US Supreme Court decision abolishing affirmative action practices in higher education. Law schools are now taking a more holistic view of diversity and giving applicants the opportunity to share any aspects of their background that will enable them to bring a diverse perspective to the law school and the legal profession.
So, who can write a “Diverse Perspective” essay and how should you write it? First, it’s definitely more inclusive than prompts used for diversity essays in previous years. This is no longer just for people who have overcome extreme hardship or are members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession. Here are some categories of people who should consider writing a diverse perspective essay:
- Member of a historically marginalized group
- Immigration story (preferably your own or your parents, and not grandparents)
- Religious diversity
- Socio-economic hardship/difficulties
- Having a close family member who struggled with mental health or drug/alcohol addiction
- Taking on financial or other responsibility for a family member
- Military or law enforcement service
- First generation college student
- Sexual or gender orientation outside of family/societal expectations or acceptance
- Living abroad for a significant portion of your life
- Attending a school with an unusual philosophy or being home schooled
- Attending a college or belonging to an organization where you were in the minority in some way
- A profession or significant accomplishment that will help you bring a nuanced understanding
- Ability to speak another language
- A significant volunteer or professional experience
- Leadership in an affinity group
- Membership in a group where you were in the minority
This list of potential diverse perspective essay topics is not exhaustive, nor is it mandatory. If you have already shared this information in your personal statement or other areas of your application, there is no reason to write the same information in a different format – you will get “credit” for this perspective in another way.
For example, a law school applicant who served in the military will have this information on a resume, and likely in a letter of recommendation, and in a personal statement. Therefore, a diverse perspective essay runs the likelihood of duplicating information unless it’s specifically focused on being a minority member within that group.
When deciding what to write about in this essay, brainstorm topics the same way you would your law school personal statement. Instead of listing every possible diverse perspective that you bring, focus your essay on one aspect that is most powerful and significant to you.