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Pre-Law Program Guidelines for Personal Statements

Most law schools require you to submit a personal statement when you apply. Some schools make a specific request (e.g. write 250 words on “why you want to go to law school”), while others leave the length, subject and format up to you. Use these guidelines to write the best law school application personal statement you can.

1. Remember the goal. This is your chance to make your application stronger and give the admissions committee any information that is not available elsewhere in your application or in the LSDAS Report. Law schools want evidence of academic and professional ability and commitment to law school. Your goal is to become a “real person” who stands out on the page.

2. Do not repeat information included elsewhere in your application. You shouldn’t repeat things that are obvious from your transcript and the LSDAS Report, such as GPA, the school from which you graduated or your major unless it is in context. For example, “I majored in writing for new media to take advantage of my strong writing skills and my interest in how law and social media connect.”

3. Emphasize the positive. Avoid trying to explain away every weakness in your grades. Point out the strengths in your academic record. However, if there was something notable that caused a gap in your record, you should briefly state that—such as death of a parent, theft/burglary from your apartment or significant illness.

4. Include evidence of unique experiences, honors and awards. You’ll want to include information on unusual experiences, qualities, awards, scholarships or fellowships. Significant events in your life that changed its course or particular hardships that you have overcome might be the basis for the statement’s theme.

5. Point out extracurricular activities that link to the law or law school. Be specific about how activities and/or memberships have developed and used skills that law schools want.

6. Avoid philosophizing too much about the law, the state of the world or why the legal system needs change. However, a brief common sense statement of your personal philosophy may be good to include.

7. Show, don’t tell. Do not say, “I believe in peace and want to end human trafficking.” Tell about what you have done that illustrates these values.

8. Write with respect. Avoid being too cute or clever. You want to be taken seriously, but also come across as someone with a balanced sense of human or natural personality.

9. Remember that your essay is a reflection your writing skills. Writing is one of the skills law schools most desire. If your essay is repetitive, difficult to follow, poorly organized or fails to make its point, it will hurt your application. Spelling, punctuation, word usage and grammar should be perfect. Don’t count on computer spell check (it doesn’t always catch a correctly spelled word that is used incorrectly.)

10. Revise your essay several times. This means that you should not wait until the last minute to write it! Also, remember your professors at Mount Mary are here to help—so ask for their suggestions for ways you can improve your personal statement after you’ve revised it and have a solid draft ready.

11. Read your statement aloud. Have a friend read it aloud to you. This can help you find areas that need clarification or revision.