As we stated at the outset of this lesson, what’s most important is showing why you’re unique and how you can contribute to the class. Unlike medical schools, which want to assess specific personal qualities in their applicants, law schools use academic achievement as the primary criterion in evaluating your ability to succeed in law. Thus, you need not be concerned if nothing in your essay directly addresses the issue of why you’re qualified for a legal career. However, if you have substantive points to make within this area, you can certainly help your case.
When Goals and Qualifications Intersect
It’s most essential to discuss your background and qualifications when these overlap with your current goals. In this essay (also referenced in the previous section), the applicant’s interest in intellectual property law makes sense to the reader precisely because of his experience as a scientist.
Similarly, this applicant discusses her interest in international law. She succeeds in tying this interest to several aspects of her background, from her multicultural upbringing to her global work experiences. The commitment seems very focused because she links her goals to specific programs that the law school in question offers.
Experiences in Law
Applicants who have worked in firms or other legal offices may want to describe their experiences to demonstrate their relevant abilities. This applicant describes her duties as a paralegal/legal secretary:
“I have done research and court filings, interviewed clients, sat in on depositions, and had the opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of legal documents and procedures. It is work that I love, even on the frequent occasions when it is tedious, frustrating, and anything but glamorous. I like trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle, doing the necessary analysis, facing the challenge that any case poses. I thrive on feeling productive. I find great pleasure in arguing a point, whether verbally or in writing, and am quite adept at doing this.”
Note that she cites specific work in which she has been involved, while offering insight into both her skills and interests.
As always, the details you provide make or break your discussion. But the strength of an Experiences in Law essay depends more than usual on the originality of your experience. The fact is that many people will have similar experiences and even perform the same level of duties. While such an essay can establish your competence, it will be unlikely to make you stand out. Less conventional experiences, however, are certainly worth highlighting. This applicant describes his judicial role within an academic community. In discussing both his hands-on work and the philosophical concerns that he has explored, he reveals a perspective that is original and relevant.
Showing the Qualities of a Lawyer
It’s possible to demonstrate qualities that are relevant to your future profession without actually having direct involvement in law. You may want to discuss, for example, intellectual pursuits or activities in which you’ve shown analytical skills or debate prowess. This applicant discusses his “passion for writing and politics.” Without forcing a connection to law (though you should not hesitate to draw links that seem natural), he offers details about the work he has done in journalism in order to demonstrate his ability to think critically and construct arguments. Essays like these can be very effective because they serve the dual purpose of highlighting unique experiences and providing evidence for potential in the field of law.
Next: Issue-Based Essays