Personal Statement for Law School

The Audience

Law school admissions committees consist of a combination of full-time admissions officers and faculty members, as well as current students in some cases. Often, clear-cut cases will be decided by one or two readers, while borderline cases may receive as many as six reviews.

“Some schools have full committee deliberation on every file; at the other end [of the spectrum] you have the dean of admissions who essentially makes all the decisions. All law schools are somewhere on that continuum between those two poles.” — Admissions Officer, University of Michigan Law School

The most important question to ask yourself as you begin the process is this: How can I make myself stand out? The bad news is that you may be dealing with short attention spans and cursory skimming. The good news is that many of your competitors will make the mistakes that you will have learned to avoid by reading this guide and by using our editing services.

This course will cover many tips and guidelines for themes and ideas, but this section will outline mainly two principles of the utmost importance that have to do with writing audience-friendly essays.

First, Be Concise.

Nearly all the admissions officers we interviewed stressed this point, and the reason is obvious. They have too much work on their hands to be spending extra time on your application. Moreover, longwinded writing will not sustain their interest and can potentially hurt your chances. A good essay will make its point within the required space, or stay close to the suggested length.

“Make your essays readable and manageable in length. Avoid using tiny fonts, small margins or small spacing. Don’t think that your file is going to be read at 10 o’clock in the morning after the reader’s first cup of coffee; assume instead that it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and yours is the last of many files the reader is going to look at for the day. If you were the reader, how would you like something to look under these circumstances, and how long would you want it to be if you were going to read it carefully in 10 to 20 minutes?” — Admissions Officer, University of Michigan Law School

Second, Be Interesting.

Now there are many factors that will go into making an essay interesting, but, at the same time, everyone has a basic idea of what that entails. If you didn’t already know about the exciting particulars of your life, would you find the essay, on its own terms, enjoyable to read? Keep in mind that no matter how strong or fascinating your content is, the reader cannot appreciate this if he or she has stopped reading or paying attention.

These are the two principles you must keep in mind when evaluating your results and trying to determine how the audience will respond. If you can be concise and interesting, you will have gone a long way toward winning the reader’s sympathy and standing out from your competitors.

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