18 Law School Personal Statement Examples That Got Accepted!


This blog contains law school personal statement examples written by applicants who were successfully accepted to multiple law schools after working with our admissions experts as part of our  application review programs . Your  law school personal statement  is one of the most important parts of your application and is your best opportunity to show admissions officers who you are behind your numbers and third-party assessments. Because of its importance, many students find the personal statement to be daunting and demanding of the full scope of their skills as writers. Today we're going to review these excellent law school personal statement examples from past successful applicants and provide some proven strategies from a former admissions officer that can help you prepare your own stellar essay. 

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Article Contents 44 min read

Law school personal statement example #1.

When I was a child, my neighbors, who had arrived in America from Nepal, often seemed stressed. They argued a lot, struggled for money, and seemed to work all hours of the day. One day, I woke early in the morning to a commotion outside my apartment. Police officers were accompanying my neighbors out of the building. They were being deported. In my teens, I was shocked to see that our kind, friendly neighbors had exhausted their last chance to stay in America as they lost a court appeal. 

Since that time, I have worked closely with the many immigrant families in my neighborhood, and now university town. I began by volunteering at a local community center. Together with social workers, I served food and gave out clothes to new arrivals. My diligent work ethic led to more responsibility, and I received training in basic counseling techniques, first aid skills and community services. Soon, I was tasked with welcoming new community members and assessing their health and social needs. I heard the many difficult stories of those who had traveled thousands of miles, often through several countries, risking everything to reach a safe, welcoming country. I was proud to contribute in some small way to making America welcoming for these individuals.

The community center is where I had my first formal contact with legal aid lawyers, who were a constant source of knowledge and support for those who needed assistance. I was struck by the lawyers’ ability to explain complex legal processes to nervous and exhausted incomers: law, I realized, was about more than procedure. I decided that I, too, would strive to balance a wealth of technical knowledge with my caring, compassionate personality.

As soon as I enrolled in university, I knew I had the chance to do so. In my very first week, I signed up to volunteer at the university’s legal aid center, where I worked closely with law professors and students on a range of cases. Academically, I have focused on courses, such as a fourth-year Ethics seminar, that would help me develop rigorous critical reasoning skills. More importantly, I knew that, given my experience, I could be a leader on campus. I decided to found a refugee campaign group, Students4Refugees. Together with a group of volunteers, we campaigned to make our campus a refugee-friendly space. I organized a series of events: international student mixers, an art installation in our student commons, and concerts that raised over $5,000 for the charity Refugee Aid. I am proud to say that my contributions were recognized with a university medal for campus leadership.

I have seen time and again how immigrants to the United States struggle with bureaucracy, with complex legal procedures, and with the demands of living in a foreign and sometimes hostile climate. As I plan to enter law school, I look back to my neighbors’ experiences: they needed someone who knew the law, who could negotiate with the authorities on their behalf, who could inform them of their rights—but they also needed someone who would provide a caring and compassionate outlet for their stresses. I know that Townsville University’s combination of academic rigor, legal aid services, and history of graduates entering labor and non-profit sectors will allow me to develop these skills and continue making contributions to my community by advocating for those in need.

  • Thematic consistency: It focuses on just one theme: justice for immigrants. Each paragraph is designed to show off how enthusiastic the student is about this area of law. Personal statements—including those for law school—often begin with a personal anecdote. This one is short, memorable, and relevant. It establishes the overall theme quickly. By constraining their essay’s focus to a single general theme, the writer can go into great depth and weave in emotional and psychological weight through careful and vivid description. The personal statement isn’t a standard 3-paragraph college essay with a spotlight thesis statement, but it conveys similar impact through presenting a central focus organically, without resorting to simply blurting out “the point” of the piece.   
  • Shows, rather than tells: Connected to this, this statement focuses on showing rather than telling. Rather than simply telling the reader about their commitment to law, the applicant describes specific situations they were involved in that demonstrate their commitment to law. “Show don’t tell” means you want to paint a vivid picture of actions or experiences that demonstrate a given quality or skill, and not simply say "I can do X." Make it an experience for your reader, don't just give them a fact. 
  • Confident, but not arrogant: Additionally, this personal statement is confident without being boastful—leadership qualities, grades, and an award are all mentioned in context, rather than appearing as a simple list of successes. 
  • Specific to the school: It ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. Thoroughly researching the law school to which you’re applying is incredibly important so that you can tailor your remarks to the specific qualities and values they’re looking for. A law essay writing service is really something that can help you integrate this aspect effectively. 

What Should a Law School Personal Statement Do?

1.      be unique to the school you’re applying to.

Students are always asking how to write a personal statement for law school, particularly one that stands out from all the rest. After all, advice from most universities can often be quite vague. Take this zinger from the  University of Chicago : “Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you… Just be yourself.” Every school will have different requirements or content they want to see in a personal statement. This is why it’s a good idea to review specific guidelines for the school to which you’re applying. For example, you can read Yale Law School personal statement examples , Stanford Law personal statement examples , and an NYU personal statement to get an idea of what these schools look for.

2.      Demonstrate your skills and capabilities

For motivated students with the world at their fingertips, it’s a tough ask to narrow your character down into a few hundred words! But this is exactly the point of such generic guidelines—to challenge aspiring law students to produce something unique and convincing with minimal direction by the university. Law is, after all, a profession that demands your language to be persuasive, and the personal statement is merely one of many exercises where you can demonstrate your language skills. 

3.      Meet basic requirements

While the law school personal statement is about far more than just following essay directions, you still need to keep basic formatting and length restrictions in mind. Most law schools ask for a 2-page personal statement, but lengths can range from 2-4 pages. Georgetown Law School , for instance, recommends a 2-page personal statement but explicitly states that there is no official minimum or maximum. In general, length does not make a personal statement better. Rambling, meandering sentences and tiresome descriptions will only hurt the impact of your ideas, especially considering how many thousands of pages admissions committees have to churn through each year.  

In short, keep to 2 double-spaced pages, and only go below or above this is if you absolutely have to, and if the school to which you're applying allows it. You want to keep things as widely applicable as possible while drafting your personal statement, meaning that you don't want to draft a 4 page letter for the one school that allows it, and then have to significantly rewrite this for your other schools. Stick to 2 pages. 

4.      Embody what the school is looking for

Lastly, many law schools won’t offer hyper-specific prompts, but will give you general law school admissions essay topics to follow. For instance, the University of Washington’s law school provides a number of topics to follow, including “Describe a personal challenge you faced” or “Describe your passions and involvement in a project or pursuit and the ways in which it has contributed to your personal growth and goals.” These topics may feel specific at first, but as you begin drafting, you’ll likely realize you have dozens of memories to choose from, and numerous ways of describing their impact. While drafting, try to explore as many of these options as possible, and select the best or most impactful to use in your final draft.  

Want to write the perfect law school personal statement? Watch this video:

Law School Personal Statement Example #2

In my home community, the belief is that the law is against us. The law oppresses and victimizes. I must admit that as a child and young person I had this opinion based on my environment and the conversations around me. I did not understand that the law could be a vehicle for social change, and I certainly did not imagine I had the ability and talents to be a voice for this change. I regularly attended my high school classes because I enjoyed the discussions and reading for English and history, and writing came easily to me, but I wasn’t committed to getting good grades because I felt I had no purpose. My mindset changed as I spent time with Mark Russell, a law student who agreed to mentor and tutor me as part of a “high school to law school” mentorship program. Every week, for three years, Mark and I would meet. At first, Mark tutored me, but I quickly became an “A” student, not only because of the tutoring, but because my ambitions were uncorked by what Mark shared with me about university, the law, and his life. I learned grades were the currency I needed to succeed. I attended mock trials, court hearings, and law lectures with Mark and developed a fresh understanding of the law that piqued an interest in law school. My outlook has changed because my mentor, my teachers, and my self-advocacy facilitated my growth. Still, injustices do occur. The difference is that I now believe the law can be an instrument for social change, but voices like mine must give direction to policy and resources in order to fight those injustices.

Early in my mentorship, I realized it was necessary to be “in the world” differently if I were to truly consider a law career. With Mark’s help and the support of my high school teachers, I learned to advocate for myself and explore opportunities that would expand my worldview as well as my academic skills. I joined a Model UN club at a neighboring high school, because my own school did not have enough student interest to have a club. By discussing global issues and writing decisions, I began to feel powerful and confident with my ability to gather evidence and make meaningful decisions about real global issues. As I built my leadership, writing, and public speaking skills, I noticed a rift developing with some of my friends. I wanted them to begin to think about larger systemic issues outside of our immediate experience, as I was learning to, and to build confidence in new ways. I petitioned my school to start a Model UN and recruited enough students to populate the club. My friends did not join the club as I’d hoped, but before I graduated, we had 2 successful years with the students who did join. I began to understand that I cannot force change based on my own mandate, but I must listen attentively to the needs and desires of others in order to support them as they require.

While I learned to advocate for myself throughout high school, I also learned to advocate for others. My neighbors, knowing my desire to be a lawyer, would often ask me to advocate on their behalf with small grievances. I would make phone calls, stand in line with them at government offices, and deal with difficult landlords. A woman, Elsa, asked me to review her rental agreement to help her understand why her landlord had rented it to someone else, rather than renewing her lease. I scoured the rental agreement, highlighted questionable sections, read the Residential Tenancies Act, and developed a strategy for approaching the landlord. Elsa and I sat down with the landlord and, upon seeing my binder complete with indices, he quickly conceded before I could even speak. That day, I understood evidence is the way to justice. My interest in justice grew, and while in university, I sought experiences to solidify my decision to pursue law.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to work as a summer intern in the Crown Attorney’s Office responsible for criminal trial prosecutions. As the only pre-law intern, I was given tasks such as reviewing court tapes, verifying documents, and creating a binder with indices. I often went to court with the prosecutors where I learned a great deal about legal proceedings, and was at times horrified by human behavior. This made the atmosphere in the Crown Attorney’s office even more surprising. I worked with happy and passionate lawyers whose motivations were pubic service, the safety and well-being of communities, and justice. The moment I realized justice was their true objective, not the number of convictions, was the moment I decided to become a lawyer.

I broke from the belief systems I was born into. I did this through education, mentorship, and self-advocacy. There is sadness because in this transition I left people behind, especially as I entered university. However, I am devoted to my home community. I understand the barriers that stand between youth and their success. As a law student, I will mentor as I was mentored, and as a lawyer, I will be a voice for change.

What’s Great about this Second Law School Personal Statement?

  • It tells a complete and compelling story: Although the applicant expressed initial reservations about the law generally, the statement tells a compelling story of how the applicant's opinions began to shift and their interest in law began. They use real examples and show how that initial interest, once seeded, grew into dedication and passion. This introduction implies an answer to the " why do you want to study law? ” interview question.
  • It shows adaptability: Receptiveness to new information and the ability to change both thought and behavior based on this new information. The writer describes realizing that they needed to be "in the world" differently! It's hard to convey such a grandiose idea without sounding cliché, but through their captivating and chronological narrative, the writer successfully convinces the reader that this is the case with copious examples, including law school extracurriculars . It’s a fantastic case of showing rather than telling, describing specific causes they were involved with which demonstrate that the applicant is genuinely committed to a career in the law. 
  • Includes challenges the subject faced and overcame: This law school personal statement also discusses weighty, relatable challenges that they faced, such as the applicant's original feeling toward law, and the fact that they lost some friends along the way. However, the applicant shows determination to move past these hurdles without self-pity or other forms of navel-gazing.  Additionally, this personal statement ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. The writer manages to craft an extremely immersive and believable story about their path to the present, while also managing to curate the details of this narrative to fit the specific values and mission of the school to which they’re applying.

What’s Great About This Third Law School Personal Statement? 

  • Description is concise and effective: This writer opens with rich, vivid description and seamlessly guides the reader into a compelling first-person narrative. Using punchy, attention-grabbing descriptions like these make events immersive, placing readers in the writer's shoes and creating a sense of immediacy. 
  • Achievements are the focus: They also do a fantastic job of talking about their achievements, such as interview team lead, program design, etc., without simply bragging. Instead, they deliver this information within a cohesive narrative that includes details, anecdotes, and information that shows their perspective in a natural way. Lastly, they invoke their passion for law with humility, discussing their momentary setbacks and frustrations as ultimately positive experiences leading to further growth. 

Want more law school personal statement examples from top law schools?

  • Harvard law school personal statement examples
  • Columbia law school personal statement examples
  • Cornell law school personal statement examples
  • Yale law school personal statement examples
  • UPenn law school personal statement examples
  • Cambridge law school personal statement examples

Law School Personal Statement #4

What’s great about this fourth law school personal statement.

  • Engaging description: Like the third example above, this fourth law school personal statement opens with engaging description and first-person narrative. However, the writer of this personal statement chooses to engage a traumatic aspect of their childhood and discuss how this adversity led them to develop their desire to pursue a career in law.  
  • Strong theme of overcoming adversity: Overcoming adversity is a frequent theme in personal statements for all specialties, but with law school personal statements students are often able to utilize uniquely dramatic, difficult, and pivotal experiences that involved interacting with the law. It may be hard to discuss such emotionally weighty experiences in a short letter but, as this personal statement shows, with care and focus it's possible to sincerely demonstrate how your early struggles paved the way for you to become the person you are now. It's important to avoid sensationalism, but you shouldn't shy away from opening up to your readers about adverse experiences that have ultimately pointed you in a positive direction. 

Why "show, don't tell" is the #1 rule for personal statements:

Law School Personal Statement Example #5

What’s great about this fifth law school personal statement  .

  • Highlights achievements effectively: This writer does a fantastic job of incorporating their accomplishments and impact they had on their community without any sense of bragging or conceit. Rather, these accomplishments are related in terms of deep personal investment and a general drive to have a positive impact on those around them—without resorting to the cliches of simply stating "I want to help people." They show themselves helping others, and how these early experiences of doing so are a fundamental part of their drive to succeed with a career in law.   
  • Shows originality: Additionally, they do a great job of explaining the uniqueness of their identity. The writer doesn't simply list their personal/cultural characteristics, but contextualizes them to show how they've shaped their path to law school. Being the child of a Buddhist mother and a Hindu father doesn’t imply anything about a person’s ability to study/practice law on its own, but explaining how this unique aspect of their childhood encouraged a passion for “discussion, active debate, and compromise” is profoundly meaningful to an admissions panel. Being able to express how fundamental aspects of law practice are an integral part of yourself is a hugely helpful tactic in a law school personal statement. 

If you\u2019re heading North of the border, check out list of  law schools in Canada  that includes requirements and stats on acceptance. ","label":"Tip","title":"Tip"}]" code="tab2" template="BlogArticle">

Law School Personal Statement Example #6

What’s great about this sixth law school personal statement .

  • Weaves in cultural background: Similar to the writer of personal statement #5, this student utilizes the cultural uniqueness of their childhood to show how their path to law school was both deeply personal and rooted in ideas pervasive in their early years. Unlike the writer of statement #5, this student doesn't shy away from explaining how this distinctiveness was often a source of alienation and difficulty. Yet this adversity is, as they note, ultimately what helped them be an adaptable and driven student, with a clear desire to make a positive impact on the kinds of situations that they witnessed affect their parents.  
  • Describes setbacks while remaining positive: This writer also doesn't shy away from describing their temporary setbacks as both learning experiences and, crucially, springboards for positively informing their plans for the future. 

What’s Great About This Seventh Law School Personal Statement? 

  • The writer takes accountability: One of the hardest things to accomplish in a personal statement is describing not just early setbacks that are out of your control but early mistakes for which you must take responsibility. The writer of this personal statement opens with descriptions of characteristics that most law schools would find problematic at best. But at the end of this introduction, they successfully utilize an epiphany, a game-changing moment in which they saw something beyond their early pathological aimlessness, to clearly mark the point at which they became focused on law.  
  • The narrative structure is clear: They clearly describe the path forward from this moment on, showing how they remained focused on earning a law degree, and how they were able to work through successive experiences of confusion to persist in finishing their undergraduate education at a prestigious university. Of course, you shouldn't brag about such things for their own sake, but this writer makes the point of opening up about the unique feelings of inadequacy that come along with being the first person in their family to attend such a school, and how these feelings were—like their initial aimlessness—mobilized in service of their goal and the well-being of others. Their statement balances discussion of achievement with humility, which is a difficult but impactful tactic when done well. 

Law School Personal Statement Example #8

What’s great about this eighth law school personal statement .

  • Shows commitment to the community: Commitment to one’s community is a prized value in both law students and law professionals. This writer successfully describes not only how they navigated the challenges in their group environments, such as their internship, the debate team, etc., but how these challenges strengthened their commitment to being a positive part of their communities. They don’t simply describe the skills and lessons they learned from these challenging environments, but also how these challenges ultimately made them even more committed to and appreciative of these kinds of dynamic, evolutionary settings.  
  • Avoids negative description: They also avoid placing blame or negatively describing the people in these situations, instead choosing to characterize inherent difficulties in terms neutral to the people around them. In this way, you can describe extremely challenging environments without coming off as resentful, and identify difficulties without being accusatory or, worse yet, accidentally or indirectly seeming like part of the problem. This writer manages to convey the difficulty and complexity of these experiences while continually returning to their positive long-term impact, and though you shouldn’t seek to “bright-side” the troubles in your life you should absolutely point out how these experiences have made you a more capable and mature student. 

Watch this for more law school personal statement examples!

Law School Personal Statement Example #9

What’s great about this ninth law school personal statement  .

  • The writer effectively describes how their background shaped their decision to pursue law: Expressing privilege as adversity is something that very few students should even attempt, and fewer still can actually pull it off. But the writer of this personal statement does just that in their second paragraph, describing how the ease and comfort of their upbringing could have been a source of laziness or detachment, and often is for particularly well-off students, but instead served as a basis for their ongoing commitment to addressing the inequalities and difficulties of those less comfortable. Describing how you’ve developed into an empathic and engaged person, worked selflessly in any volunteer experiences, and generally aimed your academic life at a career in law for the aid of others—all this is incredibly moving for an admissions board, and can help you discuss your determination and understanding of exactly why you desire a career in law.  
  • The student shows adaptability, flexibility, and commitment: Additionally, this writer is able to show adaptability while describing their more prestigious appointments in a way that’s neither self-aggrandizing nor unappreciative. One of the big takeaways from this statement is the student’s commitment and flexibility, and these are both vitally important qualities to convey in your law school personal statement.  

Law School Personal Statement Example #10

What’s great about this tenth law school personal statement .

Shows passion: If you’re one of the rare students for whom service to others has always been a core belief, by all means find a novel and engaging way of making this the guiding principle of your personal statement. Don’t overdo it—don’t veer into poetry or lofty philosophizing—but by all means let your passion guide your pen (well…keyboard). Every step of the way, this student relates their highs and lows, their challenges and successes, to an extremely earnest and sincere set of altruistic values invoked at the very beginning of their statement. Law school admissions boards don’t exactly prize monomania, but they do value intense and sustained commitment.  

Shows maturity: This student also successfully elaborates this passion in relation to mature understanding. That is, they make repeated points about their developing understanding of law that sustains their hopefulness and emotional intensity while also incorporating knowledge of the sometimes troubling day-to-day challenges of the profession. Law schools aren’t looking for starry-eyed naivete, but they do value optimism and the ability to stay positive in a profession often defined by its difficulties and unpredictability. 

Every pre-law student blames their lack of success on the large number of applicants, the heartless admissions committee members, or the high GPA and LSAT score cut offs. Check out our blog on  law school acceptance rates  to find out more about the law school admission statistics for law schools in the US . Having taught more than a thousand students every year, I can tell you the REAL truth about why most students get rejected: 

Need tips on your law school resume?

8 Additional Law School Personal Statement Examples

Now that you have a better idea of what your law school personal statement should include, and how you can make it stand out, here are five additional law school personal statements for you to review and get some inspiration:

Law school personal statement example #11

According to the business wire, 51 percent of students are not confident in their career path when they enroll in college. I was one of those students for a long time. My parents had always stressed the importance of education and going to college, so I knew that I wanted to get a tertiary education, I just didn’t know in what field. So, like many other students, I matriculated undecided and started taking introductory courses in the subjects that interest me. I took classes from the department of literature, philosophy, science, statistics, business, and so many others but nothing really called out to me.

I figured that maybe if I got some practical experience, I might get more excited about different fields. I remembered that my high school counselor had told me that medicine would be a good fit for me, and I liked the idea of a career that involved constant learning. So, I applied for an observership at my local hospital. I had to cross “doctor” off my list of post-graduate career options when I fainted in the middle of a consultation in the ER.

I had to go back to the drawing board and reflect on my choices. I decided to stop trying to make an emotional decision and focus on the data. So, I looked at my transcript thus far, and it quickly became clear to me that I had both an interest and an aptitude for business and technology. I had taken more courses in those two fields than in any others, and I was doing very well in them. My decision was reaffirmed when I spent the summer interning at a digital marketing firm during my senior year in college and absolutely loved my experience. 

Since graduating, I have been working at that same firm and I am glad that I decided to major in business. I first started as a digital advertising assistant, and I quickly learned that the world of digital marketing is an incredibly fast-paced sink-or-swim environment. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted to swim with the best of them and succeed. So far, my career in advertising has been challenging and rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. 

I remember the first potential client that I handled on my own. Everything had been going great until they changed their mind about an important detail a day before we were supposed to present our pitch. . I had a day to research and re-do a presentation that I’d been preparing for weeks. I was sure that I’d be next on the chopping block, but once again all I had to was take a step back and look at the information that I had. Focusing on the big picture helped me come up with a new pitch, and after a long night, lots of coffee, and laser-like focus, I delivered a presentation that I was not only proud of, but that landed us the client. 

Three years and numerous client emergencies later, I have learned how to work under pressure, how to push myself, and how to think critically. I also have a much better understanding of who I am and what skills I possess. One of the many things that I have learned about myself over the course of my career is that I am a fan of the law. Over the past three years, I have worked with many lawyers to navigate the muddy waters of user privacy and digital media. I often find myself looking forward to working with our legal team, whereas my coworkers actively avoid them. I have even become friends with my colleagues on the legal team who also enjoy comparing things like data protection laws in the US and the EU and speculating about the future of digital technology regulation. 

These experiences and conversations have led me to a point where I am interested in various aspects of the law. I now know that I have the skills required to pursue a legal education and that this time around, I am very sure about what I wish to study. Digital technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, and it is just now starting to become regulated. I believe that this shift is going to open up a more prominent role for those who understand both digital technology and its laws, especially in the corporate world. My goal is to build a career at the intersection of these worlds.

Law school personal statement example #12

The first weekend I spent on my undergrad college campus was simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life. I was so excited to be away from home, on my own, making new friends and trying new things. One of those things was a party at a sorority house with my friend and roommate, where I thought we both had a great time. Both of us came from small towns, and we had decided to look out for one another. So, when it was time to go home, and I couldn't find her, I started to worry. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I got her message saying she was already back in our dorm. 

It took her three months to tell me that she had been raped that night. Her rapist didn't hold a knife to her throat, jump out of a dark alleyway, or slip her a roofie. Her rapist was her long-term boyfriend, with whom she'd been in a long-distance relationship for just over a year. He assaulted her in a stranger's bedroom while her peers, myself included, danced the night away just a few feet away. 

I remember feeling overwhelmed when she first told me. I was sad for my friend, angry on her behalf, and disgusted by her rapist's actions. I also felt incredibly guilty because I had been there when it happened. I told myself that I should have stayed with her all night and that I should have seen the abuse - verbal and physical harassment- that he was inflicting on her before it turned sexual. But eventually, I realized that thinking about what could, should, or would've happened doesn't help anyone. 

I watched my friend go through counseling, attend support groups, and still, she seemed to be hanging on by a thread. I couldn't begin to imagine what she was going through, and unfortunately, there was very little I could do to help her. So, I decided to get involved with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus, where I would actually be able to help another survivor. 

My experience with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus was eye-opening. I mostly worked on the peer-to-peer hotline, where I spoke to survivors from all walks of life. I was confronted by the fact that rape is not a surreal unfortunate thing that happens to a certain type of person. I learned that it happens daily to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. I also learned that most survivors try to manage this burden on their own, afraid of judgment and repercussions and fearful of a he-said-she-said court battle.

I am proud to say that I used my time in college to not only earn an education, but also to advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I protested the university's cover-up of a gang rape that took place in one of the fraternity houses on campus. I spearheaded a 'no means no' campaign to raise awareness about consent on campus. I also led several fundraising campaigns for the Sexual Assault Responders Group that allowed us to pay for legal and mental health counselors for the survivors who came to us for support. 

One of the things that this experience helped me realize is that sexual assault survivors often do not know where to turn when the system tries to tell them that it'd be best to just keep quiet and suffer in silence. My goal is to become one of those people that they can turn to for counsel and support. I believe that a law degree would give me the knowledge and tools that I need to advocate for survivors on a more significant scale. 

Need tips for your law school optional essays? Check out this infographic:

Law school personal statement example #13

I grew up in two different worlds. My world at home was full of people of various skin tones and accents. It was small, loud, and often chaotic in the best ways. I remember walking home and getting to experience music from across the world before I got to my apartment building. Loud reggaeton and afrobeat were always playing somewhere in the distance. Aunties and uncles usually stopped by unannounced and slipped money in your palm when they hugged you goodbye. And the smell of fried plantains was almost always present. 

My other world was in school. It was a much quieter, more organized world with white hallways, navy blazers, and plaid skirts. It was full of people who did not look or sound like me and teachers who thought my hair was "interesting." It was also full of great books and engaging debates about everything from foreign policy to the influence of Jazz on hip hop. 

I lived in these two worlds because I was born and raised in Xtown, but I went to a private school in a much richer neighborhood. I loved both of my worlds, but I hated that I had to act differently in both of them. When in school, I had to "code switch" to sound like I belonged there. When I was at home, all the people who shared the interests I was developing in school were either working or in college, so I had no one to talk to about them. 

My words never felt more divided until I started considering a career in law. I remember telling one of my uncles that I wanted to become a lawyer and his response was, "So you want to become the man, huh?" 

I wasn't surprised by his response, or at least I shouldn't have been. One of the things that I know for sure about the first world I lived in is that many of its inhabitants do not trust the law. I had believed this for so long simply because of the conversations that I would hear around me. However, in my second world, I was learning about all of these great freedoms and rights that the law was designed to give all Americans, and I wanted to bring those to my community. 

I started working on this during the summer before my final year of high school. I got an internship with the legal aid office in my neighborhood and spent three months learning from people who, like me, had grown up in Xtown and wanted to help people. During my time in the legal aid office, I understood that the people in my community did not trust the law for two main reasons: 1. They did not understand a lot of it, and 2. It had been used against people like us many times. 

I remember one particular case that Ms. Sharma - the lawyer I was learning from then and who still mentors me today - handled that summer. It was the case of a young mother who had received a notice of eviction from her landlord two days after refusing his advances. The man claimed that she violated her contract because she made homemade shea butter that she sold on Etsy. Ms. Sharma had me look through her rental agreement. After she confirmed that I was right in determining that the young mother had not violated her contract, she contacted the landlord to advise him that what he was doing was intimidation and sexual harassment. 

My experiences in the legal aid office with Ms. Sharma opened my eyes to the disgusting behavior of human beings, but it also gave me the opportunity to see that the law was my opportunity to use what I learned in my second world to help the community that I was raised in. I returned to school with a new motivation that followed me to college. In addition to completing my bachelor's degree in sociology and African American studies, I spent most of my college years participating in legal internships and community outreach programs. 

I believe that these experiences have given me the foundation I need to be a successful law student and, eventually, a lawyer who can truly be an advocate for members of his community. 

Law school personal statement example #14

One day, my parents noticed that the other children in my age group had been speaking and communicating, but I had not. At first, they thought that my lack of speech was just me being shy, but eventually, they realized that on the rare occasions that I did speak, my words were practically incomprehensible. It wasn't long before they took me to a specialist who diagnosed me with a severe phonological disorder that hindered my ability to verbalize the basic sounds that make up words.

I started going to speech therapy when I was three years old. I saw numerous speech therapists, many of whom believed that I would never be able to communicate effectively with others. Lucky for me, my parents did not give up on me. I went to speech therapy thrice a week until the 8th grade, and I gave every single session my all. I also spent a lot of time in my room practicing my speech by myself. My efforts paid off, and even though I didn't become a chatterbox overnight, I could at least communicate effectively. 

This was a short-lived victory, though. A year later, my speech impediment was back, and my ability to articulate words was once again severely limited. This complicated matters because it was my freshman year of high school, and I was in a brand-new school where I did not know anyone. Having been bullied in middle school, I knew first-hand how vicious kids can be, and I didn't want to be the butt of any more jokes, so I didn't try to speak at school. I knew that this was preventing me from making new friends or participating in class and that it was probably not helping my impediment, but I was not ready to face the fact that I needed to go back to speech therapy. 

Eventually, I stopped resisting and went back to speech therapy. At the time, I saw it as accepting defeat, and even though my speech improved significantly, my self-confidence was lower than it had ever been. If you ask any of my high school classmates about me, they will likely tell you that I am very quiet or timid – both of which are not true, but they have no way of knowing otherwise. I barely spoke or interacted with my peers for most of high school. Instead, I focused on my studies and extracurricular activities that didn't involve much collaboration, like yearbook club and photography. 

It was only when I was getting ready for college that I realized that I was only hurting myself with my behavior. I knew I needed to become more confident about my speech to make friends and be the student I wanted to be in college. So, I used the summer after my high school graduation to get some help. I started seeing a new speech therapist who was also trained as a counselor, and she helped me understand my impediment better. For example, I now know that I tend to stutter when stressed, but I also know that taking a few deep breaths helps me get back on track. 

Using the confidence that I built in therapy that summer, I went to college with a new pep in my step. I pushed myself to meet new people, try new things, and join extracurricular organizations when I entered college. I applied to and was accepted into a competitive freshman leadership program called XYZ. Most of XYZ's other members were outgoing and highly involved in their high school communities. In other words, they were the complete opposite of me. I didn't let that intimidate me. Instead, I made a concerted effort to learn from them. If you ask any of my teammates or other classmates in college, they will tell you that I was an active participant in discussions during meetings and that I utilized my unique background to share a different perspective.

My experience with XYZ made it clear to me that my speech disorder wouldn't hold me back as long as I did not stand in my own way. Once I understood this, I kept pushing past the boundaries I had set for myself. I began taking on leadership roles in the program and looking for ways to contribute to my campus community outside of XYZ. For example, I started a community outreach initiative that connected school alumni willing to provide pro bono services to different members of the community who were in need. 

Now, when I look back at my decision to go back to speech therapy, I see it as a victory. I understand that my speech impediment has shaped me in many ways, many of which are positive. My struggles have made me more compassionate. My inability to speak has made me a better listener. Not being able to ask questions or ask for help has made me a more independent critical thinker. I believe these skills will help me succeed in law school, and they are part of what motivates me to apply in the first place. Having struggled for so long to speak up for myself, I am ready and eager for the day when I can speak up for others who are temporarily unable to. 

“ You talk too much; you should be a lawyer.” 

I heard that sentence often while growing up because Congolese people always tell children who talk a lot that they should be lawyers. Sometimes I wonder if those comments did not subconsciously trigger my interest in politics and then the law. If they did, I am grateful for it. I am thankful for all the experiences that have brought me to this point where I am seeking an education that will allow me to speak for those who don’t always know how to, and, more importantly, those who are unable to. 

For context, I am the child of Congolese immigrants, and my parents have a fascinating story that I will summarize for you: 

A 14-year-old girl watches in confusion as a swarm of parents rush through the classroom, grabbing their children, and other students start running from the class. Soon she realizes that she and one other student are the only ones left, but when they both hear the first round of gunshots, no one has to tell them that it is time to run home. On the way home, she hears more gunshots and bombs. She fears for her survival and that of her family, and she starts to wonder what this war means for her and her family. Within a few months, her mother and father are selling everything they own so that they can board a plane to the US.

On the other side of the town, a 17-year-old boy is being forced to board a plane to the US because his mother, a member of parliament and the person who taught him about the importance of integrity, has been executed by the same group of soldiers who are taking over the region. 

They met a year later, outside the principal’s office at a high school in XXY. They bonded over the many things they have in common and laughed at the fact that their paths probably never would have crossed in Bukavu. Fast forward to today, they have been married for almost two decades and have raised three children, including me. 

Growing up in a Congolese household in the US presented was very interesting. On the one hand, I am very proud of the fact that I get to share my heritage with others. I speak French, Lingala, and Swahili – the main languages of Congo – fluently. I often dress in traditional clothing; I performed a traditional Congolese dance at my high school’s heritage night and even joined the Congolese Student Union at Almamatter University. 

On the other hand, being Congolese presented its challenges growing up. At a young age, I looked, dressed, and sounded different from my classmates. Even though I was born in the US, I had picked up a lot of my parents’ accents, and kids loved to tease me about it. Ignorant comments and questions were not uncommon. “Do you speak African?” “You’re not American! How did you get here?” “You don’t look African” “My mom says I can’t play with you because your parents came here to steal our jobs”. These are some of the polite comments that I heard often, and they made me incredibly sad, especially when classmates I considered my friends made them. 

My parents did not make assimilating any easier. My mother especially always feared I would lose my Congolese identity if they did not make it a point to remind me of it. She often said, “Just because you were born in America doesn’t mean that you are not Congolese anymore.” On one occasion, I argued that she always let me experience my Congolese side, but not my American side. That was the first time she told me I should be a lawyer. 

Having few friends and getting teased in school helped me learn to be comfortable on my own. I Often found refuge and excitement in books. I even started blogging about the books I read and interacting with other readers online. As my following grew, I started to use my platform to raise awareness about issues that I am passionate about, like climate change, the war in Congo, and the homeless crisis here in XXY. I was able to start a fundraising campaign through my blog that raised just under $5000 for the United Way – a local charity that helps the homeless in my city. 

This experience helped me understand that I could use my skills and the few tools at my disposal to help people, both here in America and one day, maybe even in Congo. I realized that I am lucky enough to have the option of expanding that skillset through education in order to do more for the community that welcomed my grandparents, uncles, aunties, and parents when they had nowhere else to go. 

The journey was not easy because while I received immense support and love from my family for continuing my education, I had to teach myself how to prepare and apply to college. Once there I had to learn on my own what my professors expected of me, how to study, how to network, and so much more. I am grateful for those experiences too, because they taught me how to be resourceful, research thoroughly, listen carefully, and seek help when I need it. 

All of these experiences have crafted me into who I am today, and I believe that with the right training, they will help me become a great attorney.

Law School Personal Statement Example #16

During my undergraduate studies, in the first two years, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my career. I enjoyed doing research, but I found that I became more interested in presenting the research than the process of contributing to it. I spoke to most of my science professors to ask if I could participate in their research. I worked in biology labs, chemistry labs, and in psychology classrooms working on a variety of projects that seemed meaningful and interesting. I gained new perspectives on study habits and mental health; the influence of music on the human mind; and applications of surface tension. I noticed that I was always taking the lead when we were presenting our findings to peers and research groups. I enjoyed yielding questions and addressing the captivating the audience with engaging gestures and speech. This was what led me to consider a career in law.

I always thought that I would become a scientist, so when I discovered that there were aspects of law that could be considered “scientific”, I was all ears. Still during my second year of undergraduate studies, I wanted to join an environmental awareness group, but noticed there weren’t any active. So, I took it upon myself to create my own. I wanted to do cleanup projects across the city, so I mapped out parks and areas that we could walk or drive to. I advertised my project to other students and eventually gained approximately fifteen students eager to help out. I was struck by the pollution in the water, the negligence of park maintenance. I drafted a letter to the municipal government and petitioned for a stricter environmental compliance approach. I wanted to advertise fines to hold polluters accountable, as there were hardly any to enforce the rules. A letter was returned to me stating that the government would consider my request. I felt a sense of gratification, of purpose; I discovered that I had the ability to enact change through policy. This drew me closer to the prospect of building a future in law, so I looked at other avenues to learn more.

I still wanted to find a way to bring together my love of science and discourse/communication. As a science student, I had the privilege of learning from professors who emphasized critical thinking; and they gave me a chance to learn that on my own. I took an internship as an environmental planner. There, I helped present project ideas to various groups, updating demographic/development information, and managing planning processes. I engaged in analytical thinking by looking at maps and demographic information to develop potential plans for land use. It was also the experience I was looking for in terms of a balance between science and oral communication. Using data analysis, I spoke to other planners and review boards to bring ideas together and execute a plan.

Through science, I learned how to channel my curiosity and logical thinking; as an advocate, I learned how to be creative and resourceful. Presenting research findings and being questioned in front of a group of qualified researchers, having to be sharp and ready for anything, taught me how to be more concise in speech. Developing an advocacy group dedicated to improving my community showed me what it lacked; it opened my eyes to the impact of initiative and focused collaboration. I was eager to begin another science project, this time with the environment in mind. It was titled “determining and defining the role of sociodemographic factors in air pollution health disparities”. I compiled and summarized relevant research and sent it over to a representative of the municipal government. In a couple of weeks, my request to increase advertising of fines in public areas was agreed to.

This Juris Doctor/Master in Environmental Studies program will allow me to continue deepening my knowledge of environmental law. With my goal of developing a career in environmental affairs, overseeing policies that influence land protection/use, I know that this program will give me the tools I need to succeed. With my experience working with large groups, I also believe I will fit into the larger class sizes at your institution. I understand the value of working together and how to engage in healthy discourse. With your Global Sustainability Certification, I will equip myself the expertise I need to produce meaningful change in environmental policy.

Here's how a law school advisor can help you with your application:

Law School Personal Statement #17

Growing up in a poor neighborhood, what my friends used to call “the ghetto”, I was always looking for my way out. I tried running away, but I always ended up back home in that tiny complex, barely enough room to fit all my brothers and sisters with my parents. My dad was disabled and couldn’t work, and my mother was doing her best working full-time as a personal-support worker. There was nothing we could do to get out of our situation, or so it seemed. It wasn’t until years later when I started my undergraduate degree that ironically, after I found my way out, that I began looking for a way to come back. I wanted to be a voice for people living in those bleak conditions; hungry, without work. Helpless.

Getting my degree in social work was one of the best decisions of my life. It gave me the tools to lobby for solutions to problems in poor communities. I knew my neighborhood better than anyone because I grew up there. I had the lived experience. I started working with the local government to develop programs for my clients; the people living in those same neighborhoods. We worked to provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, and medical treatment—all things sorely lacking. My proudest moment was securing the funds and arranging surgery for my father’s bad hip and knees. I’m currently working on a large project with one of the community legislators to lobby for a harm reduction model addressing addiction in our communities.

With five years of experience as a social worker, I knew it was time for a career change when I learned that I could have more influence on public opinion and legislative decisions as a social-security disability lawyer. I knew firsthand that people victimized from racism, poverty, and injury needed more help than they were currently allotted. I knew that, from becoming and advocate and communicating with influential members of the local government, that I could do more with a law degree helping people attain basic needs like disability benefits, which are often denied outright.

This desire to help people get the help they need from local programs and government resources brought me to Scarborough, a small town outside of Toronto. I was aware of some of the issues afflicting this community, since I’d handled a few clients from there as a children’s disability social worker. Addiction and homelessness were the two main ones. I worked with children with ADHD or other physical/mental disabilities impairing their ability to attend school and function normally. I helped many of them get an IEP with the details of the special services they require, long overdue. I made sure each child got the care they needed, including special attention in school. Also noticing that so many of these families lacked proper nutrition, I organized a report detailing this finding. In it, I argued that the community needed more funds targeting lowest income families. I spoke directly with a legislator, which eventually got the city on board with developing a program more specifically for the lowest income families with residents under 18.

My goal has always been to be a voice for the inaudible, the ignored, who’ve been victimized by inadequate oversight from the ground up. Many of these groups, as I’ve witnessed firsthand, don’t have the luxury of being their own advocates. They are too busy trying to support their families, to put food on the table for their children. I’ve realized that it isn’t quite enough to work directly with these families to connect them with resources and ensure they get the support they need. Sometimes the support simply doesn’t exist, or it isn’t good enough. This is why I’m motivated to add a law degree to my credentials so I can better serve these people and communities. As a future social-security disability lawyer, I want to work with local governments to assist clients in navigating an assistance system and improving it as much as possible. This program will give me the access to a learning environment in which I can thrive and develop as an advocate.

Law School Personal Statement #18

“You’re worthy and loved”, I said to a twelve-year-old boy, Connor, whom I was supervising and spending time with during the Big Brother program at which we met. A few tears touched my shoulder as I pulled him into me, comforting him. He was a foster child. He didn’t know his parents and never stayed in one place longer than a few months; a year if he was lucky. I joined the program not expecting much. I was doing it for extra credit, because I wanted to give back to the community somehow and I thought it would be interesting to meet people. He confided in me; he told me that his foster parents often yelled at each other, and him. He told me he needed to escape. I called Child Protective Services and after a thorough investigation, they determined that Connor’s foster parents weren’t fit for fostering. He was moved, yet again, to a different home.

I wrote an op-ed detailing my experience as a Big Brother. I kept names anonymous. I wanted people to know how hard it was for children in the welfare system. Many of them, like Connor, were trapped in a perpetual cycle of re-homing, neglect, and even abuse. He and other children deserve stability and unconditional love. That should go without saying. I sent the op-ed to a local magazine and had it published. In it, I described not only the experience of one unfortunate kid, but many others as well who saw their own stories being told through Connor. I joined a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to quality education for young people. I started learning about disparities in access; students excluded by racial or financial barriers. I was learning, one step at a time, how powerful words can be.

With the non-profit organization, I reached out to a few public schools in the area to represent some of our main concerns with quality of education disparities. Our goal was to bring resources together and promote the rights of children in education. We emphasized that collaboration between welfare agencies and schools was critical for education stability. Together, we created a report of recommendations to facilitate this collaboration. We outlined a variety of provisions, including more mechanisms for child participation, better recruitment of social service workers in schools, risk management and identification strategies, and better support for students with child protection concerns.

The highlight of that experience was talking to an assembly of parents and school faculty to present our findings and recommendations. The title of the presentation was “The Power of Words”. I opened with the story I wrote about in the op-ed. I wanted to emphasize that children are individuals; those trapped in the welfare system are not a monolith. They each have unique experiences, needs, and desires they want to fulfill in life. But our tools to help them can be improved, more individualized. I spoke about improving the quality of residential care for children and the need to promote their long-term development into further education and employment. Finally, I presented a list of tools we created to help support a more financially sustainable and effective child welfare system. The talk was received with applause and a tenuous commitment from a few influential members of the crowd. It was a start.

Although I lost contact with Connor, I think about him almost every day. I can only hope that the programs we worked on to improve were helping him, wherever he was. I want to continue to work on the ground level of child welfare amelioration, but I realize I will need an education in law to become a more effective advocate for this cause. There are still many problems in the child welfare system that will need to be addressed: limited privacy/anonymity for children, service frameworks that don’t address racism adequately, limited transportation in remote communities, and many more. I’ve gained valuable experience working with the community and learning about what the welfare system lacks and does well. I’m ready to take the next step for myself, my community, and those beyond it.

Assuredly, but this length varies from school to school. As with all important details of your law school application, thoroughly research your specific schools’ requirements and guidelines before both writing and editing your personal statement to ensure it fits their specifics. The average length is about 2 pages, but don’t bother drafting your statement until you have specific numbers from your schools of choice. It’s also a good idea to avoid hitting the maximum length unless absolutely necessary. Be concise, keep economy of language in mind, and remain direct, without rambling or exhaustive over-explanation of your ideas or experiences.

You should keep any words that aren’t your own to a minimum. Admissions committees don’t want to read a citation-heavy academic paper, nor do they respond well to overused famous quotes as themes in personal statements. If you absolutely must include a quote from elsewhere, be sure to clearly indicate your quote’s source. But in general, it’s best to keep the personal statement restricted to your own words and thoughts. They’re evaluating you, not Plato! It’s a personal statement. Give them an engaging narrative in your own voice. 

Admissions committees will already have a strong sense of your academic performance through your transcripts and test scores, so discussing these in your personal statement is generally best avoided. You can contextualize these things, though—if you have an illuminating or meaningful story about how you came to receive an award, or how you enjoyed or learned from the work that won you the award, then consider discussing it. Overall though, it’s best to let admissions committees evaluate your academic qualifications and accomplishments from your transcripts and official documents, and give them something new in the personal statement. 

When you first sit down to begin, cast a wide net. Consider all the many influences and experiences that have led you to where you are. You’ll eventually (through editing and rewriting) explain how these shape your relationship to a career in law, but one of the best things you can give yourself during the initial drafting phase is a vast collection of observations and potential points for development. As the New England School of Law points out in their, “just write!” Let the initial draft be as messy as it needs to be, and refine it from there. It’s a lot easier to condense and sharpen a big draft than it is to try to tensely craft a perfect personal statement from nothing.  

Incredibly important, as should be clear by now! Unlike other specialties, law schools don’t usually conduct interviews with applicants, so your personal statement is in effect your one opportunity to speak with the admissions committee directly. Don’t let that gravity overwhelm you when you write, but keep it in mind as you edit and dedicate time to improving your initial drafts. Be mindful of your audience as you speak with them, and treat writing your personal statement as a kind of initial address in what, hopefully, will eventually turn into an ongoing dialogue.  

There are a variety of factors that can make or break a law school personal statement. You should aim to achieve at least a few of the following: a strong opening hook; a compelling personal narrative; your skills and competencies related to law; meaningful experiences; why you’re the right fit for the school and program.

Often, they do. It’s best for you to go to the schools you’re interesting in applying to so you can find out if they have any specific formatting or content requirements. For example, if you wanted to look at NYU law or Osgoode Hall Law School , you would find their admissions requirements pages and look for information on the personal statement.

There are lots of reasons why a personal statement might not work. Usually, applicants who don’t get accepted didn’t come up with a good strategy for this essay. Remember, you need to target the specific school and program. Other reasons are that the applicant doesn’t plan or proofread their essay. Both are essential for submitting materials that convince the admissions committee that you’re a strong candidate. You can always use law school admissions consulting application review to help you develop your strategy and make your essay stand out.

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How long should a Personal Statement be? Is there any rule on that?

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello V! Thanks for your question. Some schools will gave very specific word limits, while some will not. If you do not have a limit indicated, try to stick to no more than a page, 600-800 words. 

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8 Successful Law School Personal Statement Examples

Many people have asked me to share law school personal statement examples. Here are a few I am especially proud of.

1) This is one of my all-time favorite personal statements. It contributed to the applicant’s admission at 8 of the T15 law schools.

The smell effervescing off the water hits me like a blast of morning breath to the face. I zip up a rain jacket to cover my nose, choosing to overheat in the muggy sunshine rather than gag with each inhalation. Too much of this air can cause nausea, headaches, eventually even liver damage. My colleague rips the recoil starter on the skiff’s engine, but it putters out immediately. The propeller struggles to churn the mossy water, so thick with toxic algae that we bring an extra gas can to ensure our later return to shore. The lake didn’t used to be like this. Something has poisoned it. We are here to find that something.

Despite the noxious vapors and smoke from a nearby wildfire blurring the scenery, Upper Klamath Lake is gorgeous in the summer. Snowy peaks pierce the sky, and the weird, algal green of the water completes an otherworldly view. I’m no stranger to working against this sort of backdrop. My years studying geology have brought me to the painted deserts of Utah and the technicolor pools of Yellowstone. I’ve mapped the Flat Irons of Colorado, probed sand dunes on Adriatic beaches, and, in the mountains of Upstate New York, hammered out garnets the size of baseballs.

But this trip is about mud. My partner and I arrive at stop one, site KL-04. She cuts the motor while I reach over the water to grab a buoy. I pull, and up comes the first of six mud traps scattered around the lake. The contraption, built from PVC pipes, syringes, and industrial-strength rubber bands, emerges from the swampy depths, vegetated and covered in silt. I haul it over the side of the boat. On the deck, wriggling with leeches, is the answer to Upper Klamath Lake’s crisis. The trap’s syringes hold the essential nutrients of blue-green algae: phosphorus, nitrogen, and heavy metals. The lake is overdosing on them. We know these specific nutrients are leached from the volcanic bedrock underlying the region. However, there is another culprit.

Restarting the engine, we hook back toward the southern coast, where water meets farmland. Here is the second source of the nutrients. On this boundary, fertilizer runoff mixes with the lake, frothing as the algae multiply. If we tested only the surface water, we’d be unable to parse the volcanic pollutants from their agricultural analogs. Our novel method bypasses this problem by focusing on the lakebed, in time allowing us to determine whether this ecological illness is mainly the fault of nature or humans. Once armed with a clear breakdown of culpability, litigation can be pursued against the responsible parties, and legislation may be written to limit local fertilizer use. In short, the water system’s future relies on the sludge we’re dredging up.

It’s difficult work though. By this point in the morning, the plastic raincoat is stuck to my body with sweat. But unlike splashes of lake water, sweat won’t sting my skin. I decide to use the back brace for this next stop as the traps feel heavier than they did on my last visit. Because we’re conducting a long-term study, this expedition to the lake is just one of the eight I will make this summer. Each is an 18-hour round trip from the U.S. Geological Survey lab in Menlo Park. The time between voyages is saturated with analyzing samples and sanitizing and reassembling the equipment, sometimes keeping me lab-locked into the summer nights.

Many parties closely follow our research, as Klamath is ground zero in an environmental brawl. Conservationist groups, farmers, local tribes, and salmon fisheries will all one day pivot their litigation on the intricacies of our unbiased findings. Geology is often like this. Most of what I’ve learned in my four years studying nature is joined at the hip with human problems. It’s not only geology’s vistas that enthrall me; it’s also its utility in a world beset by complex and far-reaching challenges. That’s why I’ve decided to shift focus from the study of Earth to the relationship between it and its inhabitants. By going to law school, I plan to protect places like Klamath, using my technical background in geology to inform the policies with which we approach both mountain ranges on the horizon and the algae under the boat.

It’s around noon when I hoist the last trap. We accelerate once more, blowing away mosquitoes that had gathered on my wrists and face. The skiff’s bow points back toward the dock, where I see the fifteen-passenger van I parked three hours ago. I’ll spend the upcoming nine-hour drive with just an audiobook, the open California grassland, and an icebox full of controversial mud. Regardless of what the mud eventually tells us, this project is only among the first in a career working for the environment. The boat drifts to a stop by the dock, and I step onto it, trap in each hand. Setting these two traps by the van’s backdoor, I start back across the sun-bleached parking lot for another pair. My mind is on the long journey ahead.

2) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission at a T6 law school with a 25th percentile LSAT.

A desk. A chair. A stack of letters. I arrive at the office at 9:50 a.m., grab a cup of coffee, and begin reading letters from incarcerated individuals. The first few contain simple requests: housing and employment options for individuals with a criminal record, information about medications, legal definitions. Easy enough. I research the relevant issues and respond with my findings. The next couple contain complaints about living conditions. Straightforward. I document them and reply that we will send a volunteer to investigate. Reviewing at a steady pace, I get through almost half the letters before lunch.

When I return, the stack has doubled. This is quite common. At [redacted], we field more letters than we can efficiently handle. I try to get through the letters as quickly as possible, but I want to ensure each gets my full attention. For many, we are their only link beyond the prison walls. While drafting each reply, I omit any details about the individual’s case; it is not uncommon for mail to be opened by someone else without consent. When I finish, I send a copy to the central processing facility and then forward the letter to the appropriate staff mentor at the [redacted] to ensure we do not lose the person’s case.

I go through the same process each day, reading and replying, balancing efficiency with focus. Over the next week, I notice a trend. Many individuals have been sent to solitary confinement for minor infractions with no clear timeframe for release. They endure claustrophobic conditions and mental and physical abuse. As I read, I feel chills. One writer, who has been in solitary confinement for two years, shares his journal: paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts. He’s not asking for anything—he just wants to be heard. Another writes about being repeatedly sexually assaulted by a corrections officer while being held without a reason. I reply that we’re working on their cases. We’ll update them eventually . But what do they do until then?

I read many similar stories as I work through the never-ending stack. One individual in solitary confinement had to drop his college classes because they weren’t offered in isolation. Another lost his job as a cook. One was on the verge of completing vocational training before being sent to the “hole” for mouthing off to a corrections officer. A theme is developing. Solitary confinement, though intended to house the most dangerous offenders to increase safety and reduce violence, is overused, creating a barrier to rehabilitation.

I want to learn more. During my free time, I research. Studies show that solitary confinement doesn’t work. It does not increase safety. It does not reduce violence. Humans are not meant to spend twenty-three out of twenty-four hours in a space the size of a parking spot with no human interaction, receiving food through a slot. No one benefits from such inhumane treatment.

I research further . If solitary confinement is not reducing violence, why is it used at all? Why are so many people relegated to solitary confinement for minor offenses if it’s only meant for the most dangerous offenders? Why are individuals ever sent there for years at a time? Somewhere along the way, prisons began to abuse and misuse solitary confinement. Data on solitary confinement is virtually absent and often underestimated, but in 2018, U.S. jails and prisons held an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 individuals in solitary confinement on any given day. It was never meant to be used as a precautionary measure, but during the pandemic, numbers ballooned to 300,000 as prisons attempted to curb infection rates. But at what cost? Solitary confinement has become a part of prison culture when it was only ever meant to be a last resort. The harm goes beyond the walls of the tiny cell. Individuals who spend time in solitary confinement are 15% more likely to reoffend within three years of release, five times more likely to commit suicide, and 127% more likely to die of an opioid overdose within two weeks of release. The overuse of solitary confinement creates a vicious cycle of punishment.

I want to go to law school to end this cycle, but I can’t do that through isolated victories. I must work from the ground up to shift the focus of our prison system. In advocating for reform, I intend to play an active role in transforming prisons into institutions that prioritize rehabilitative over punitive treatment. Re-entry programs must be emphasized. Re-entry barriers must be broken. Mistreatment by those in power must cease. I know this will not be a quick or easy change, but I have the drive and grit to embrace the challenge.

3) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission at 2 of the T15 law schools with a sub-170 LSAT and sub-3.7 GPA.

Only five days remained in the legislative session, and I had just learned that the Senate Judiciary Committee had a major concern with our lead poisoning prevention bill: its million-dollar price tag. Almost all failed state legislation dies in Committee, and it looked like our bill was next. Worried that months of effort spent negotiating deals with our bill’s stakeholders would go to waste, I picked up the phone and got to work. I must have pleaded our case to a half-dozen state officials before, finally, the state’s Secretary of the Environment agreed to fund the bill and personally asked the Committee Chair to pass it. The bill crossed the finish line hours before the end of session, and it now helps thousands of children each year.

I started my political career at a well-regarded campaign fundraising firm. It was an arduous job, best suited for driven, resourceful people willing to sacrifice work-life balance for a chance to influence the political landscape. Prepared to do whatever it took to succeed, I was a perfect fit. I relished the feeling of hitting a campaign’s fundraising goal, seeing my clients’ numbers rise in the polls, and winning races. As I watched my clients transition from the campaign trail to public office, I realized that my passion for politics was evolving into a deep interest in policy and regulatory matters. After spending several nights weighing pros and cons, I decided to make a change. I gave notice and set up a meeting with a client of mine who had just been reelected as a State Delegate. She was surprised I was leaving the firm but also eager to bring me on as her new Legislative Director.

The first few weeks were a shocking adjustment. While my experiences in fundraising prepared me to run the office’s daily operations, I had so much to learn about policy. Constituents would contact us daily about a variety of issues, ranging from general questions about government programs to urgent crises that required immediate attention. As I worked to address each problem, I began noticing patterns, which enabled me to increase the speed of our resolutions.

On one occasion, a community group came in and expressed frustration that a local bus was skipping their stop nearly 25% of the time, negatively impacting hundreds of riders. They had reached out to several agencies before us, but each one just pushed the problem elsewhere. After listening to the group speak, I immediately reached out to the city transit authority and requested transit data for the area. Upon review of the data, I discovered that the route’s failures were symptomatic of a broader issue: severe traffic congestion. This bus, along with several others, often skipped stops due to road conditions. With clarity on the underlying issue, I was able to devise a practical solution. I reached out to city and state agencies and together we developed a bill that would enforce local bus lanes.

This bus lane bill, as well as our lead poisoning prevention bill, were two of the ten policy bills the Delegate and I put up for scrutiny during the 2019 90-day session. The ninety days represent our busiest time of year and is also when I get to fully embody my role as Legislative Director. On the strategy side, I utilize relationships with former clients to garner the necessary political support to pass bills. On the development side, I spend dozens of hours researching legal statutes and policy papers related to our legislation.

During the session, I worked closely with the General Assembly’s legislative analysts on perfecting the language of our bills to ensure they would be in the best position possible to get passed. I was eager to learn as much as I could, and they graciously spoke with me for hours, offering up insight into a range of policy issues and other regulatory matters.  I learned more about policy and state law over the course of a few meetings with them than through all my past independent research and study. By the end of the ninety days, the Delegate and I had passed four bills and secured almost $10 million in funding for 13 community-based projects. I am thrilled that our policy ideas are being put into action, and we are already underway with our upcoming legislative portfolio. I am most excited to introduce a bill to recoup hospital costs for indigent patients, before I take my next big career step.

Unlike leaving fundraising, deciding to pursue a legal career is a no-brainer. Through my work as Legislative Director, I learned to tackle real-world issues, such as those surrounding healthcare, housing, and public infrastructure, by developing and enacting public policy legislation. I learned how to collaborate with analysts to draft such legislation and with lawmakers to pass it. But I also learned that passing legislation is just the first step. In law school, I intend to study the legal factors that impact new laws, such as when they are interpreted or challenged in the court system. I seek to enhance my understanding of the entire legislative process and, in doing so, become a more effective change maker. I can’t wait to take this next step in my path, and I feel eminently prepared to tackle whatever challenges await me.

4) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission at a T6 school and a T10 school with a 167 LSAT score.

I stared across the mat at Steve, an ex-military brown-belt in his late 30s, as I waited anxiously for the timer to start. I was fixated on his gi’s tattered collar, his wrestler’s ear, and the scars on his nose that had been broken far too many times. When the sparring began, it didn’t take long for Steve to sweep my leg and throw me to the mat. At first, I tried to escape from under him, but it was no use. I was pinned down by his 160 pounds of lean muscle and my sweat-soaked cotton gi. As I laid on my back, I defended patiently until I had an opening to set up the technique I’d been practicing for months. I grabbed Steve’s collar, wrapped my leg around his head, and then my knee around my own ankle, successfully executing the triangle choke submission.

Jiu Jitsu was an addiction for me. I had started martial arts at the end of elementary school, beginning with Tae Kwon Do before transitioning to Jiu Jitsu and other forms of grappling at the end of middle school. As a teenager, I routinely sparred with friends on mats set up in their garages. By the time I was a college sophomore, I was sparring almost daily, with a rotation of gi’s drying on the fire escape of my apartment.

The consistent sparring, running, stretching, and weightlifting ensured that my body was kept in peak physical condition. But Jiu Jitsu wasn’t only about endurance and athleticism; it was just as much focused on discovery and mastery of technique. At practice, I closely observed my coaches, thinking of creative ways to incorporate their moves into my own style. When I wasn’t at practice, I dedicated countless hours to film study, constantly exploring new sweeps, submissions, and takedowns. I would then take the moves I learned and focus on them during all of my sparring sessions for that week. Only after performing them hundreds of times did they become second nature.

My favorite move was the kimura. I saw my coach effortlessly sneak in the joint-lock submission one practice after his opponent escaped an attempted choke, and knew I had to learn it. I went home that night and immediately started my research, only to find that there were two other submissions, the triangle choke and arm bar, that I would have to learn in order to use the kimura effectively. Without proficiency in each move, my attacks would have little success, since it’s the combination of the three that make them so potent—defending against one usually creates openings for the other. For the next two months, I dedicated all my free time to memorizing and practicing different sequences. The off-mat studying soon paid off, as I found success in competitions by baiting my opponents into exposing their necks while protecting their arms, or vice versa.

My passion for Jiu Jitsu continued to grow until my sophomore year of college, when I dislocated my shoulder during a sparring session. As I rolled toward my opponent to escape an arm bar, I heard a click and felt my arm go limp. At first, the injury wasn’t a big deal. I was fully expected to recover, and I did. I was back on the mats three weeks later. But the same injury would occur twice more in the months to follow, landing me in the hospital a total of three times that year to place the joint back in its socket. After the third dislocation, I was told that, without surgery, I would risk severe injury that could affect even my daily functioning. I decided to undergo surgery in July 2017 to repair my labrum and rotator cuff, which required the doctor to reattach my shoulder ligaments with bioabsorbable anchors.

After the operation, I spent six weeks sleeping upright on my couch to allow my shoulder to heal before starting a half-year stint of physical therapy. I pulled resistance bands, rolled on yoga balls, and struggled with lifting even the smallest dumbbells as most of the muscle in my right arm had atrophied. After completing therapy, I returned to the mats, only to reinjure that same shoulder two months later. With the fourth and final dislocation, it became clear that I’d likely never compete in Jiu Jitsu again. For a moment I contemplated a second, more invasive procedure but decided in the interest of my health to focus my energies elsewhere.

That’s how I came to be an editor for the Hogwarts Undergraduate Law Review. A friend of mine had been a part of the journal for about a year and recommended I join. As an editor, I quickly took interest in the journal’s diverse articles, which covered anything from labor abuse to digital privacy. I worked with writers on their submissions, helping them storyboard ideas, conduct research, and form outlines, while pushing them to more meaningful analysis. I soon realized that my curiosity and eagerness for improvement were as important in the legal research process as they were in martial arts. And even though I was analyzing landmark cases and court opinions instead of arm bars and guard passes, the process was familiar: distilling information and applying it through constant revision.

My time on the Undergraduate Law Review gave me the chance to explore a diverse array of legal topics. It solidified my interest in becoming an attorney, as I was exposed to the law’s numerous social, political, and economic applications. While I no longer compete on the mats, I am confident that my curiosity and discipline will help me excel in law school.

5) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission at Fordham Law and Emory Law as a splitter (above median LSAT, below median GPA).

Three hours after college graduation, I was on a flight from Atlanta to New York City to start a job as a litigation paralegal at a plaintiff’s firm. The position offered me a chance to observe the adversarial system beside an experienced trial lawyer and take part in every aspect of the litigation process. By my second week, we had started jury selection for an asbestos-related negligence trial, and by my sixth, I had witnessed my first multi-million dollar verdict. Having come from an isolated suburb of Pennsylvania surrounded by cow pastures and soybean farms, I had never even heard the word “asbestos.” I had never seen the agonizingly repetitive commercials jurors always seem to complain about, nor was I aware of the massive scope of asbestos litigation and the absolute devastation families face after a terminal mesothelioma diagnosis.

I still remember how nervous I felt for that first case. Despite having no experience, preparation, or training, it was my job to keep everything organized and the trial running smoothly. I sat beside my boss, yellow exhibit stickers in one hand and a pen in the other, keeping track of every exhibit. My boss was known firm-wide for his meticulous approach to preparation. Each night, I compiled thousands of pages of documents—just in case an expert witness needed to be reminded of their previous testimony or a Person Most Knowledgeable shown their company’s Interrogatory Responses. Then, at trial, I watched my boss craft a compelling narrative for the jury, demonstrating that had it not been for the negligence of a valve manufacturer, a man’s death could have been prevented.

After a month packed with four experts, eight boxes of exhibits, and fifteen days of trial testimony, it came time for the jury charge. Following two days of deliberation, the jurors found for the plaintiff on all issues. It was the first time in my life I felt integral in helping not just one person, but a whole family, receive closure.

About a year and a half later, in October 2018, my boss decided to branch into new areas of personal injury law, beginning with medical malpractice. Our first case was particularly tragic. Before what was supposed to be routine surgery for a 43-year-old patient, the anesthesiologist inadvertently inserted a catheter into the patient’s carotid artery instead of his jugular vein. We alleged that this critical mistake substantially contributed to the patient’s stroke, leaving him hemiplegic, wheelchair bound, and unable to live independently.

For months leading up to jury selection, I read through each fact and expert witness’s deposition. I attempted to relearn the science I grappled with in college, including the intricacies of heart and brain anatomy, to figure out how to best explain it to our jury. I then scoured various online databases for any scientific article I could find on facts relevant to our case, so we could try to challenge the opinions of the defense expert. Finding dozens of articles, I even happened upon minutes to a 1994 New Zealand conference—where the defendant’s expert witness had spoken—that addressed the standard of care at issue in our case.

I quickly learned, however, that despite how much we had prepared, it didn’t matter; the facts of the case appeared to change as the trial progressed. For example, defense witnesses offered a new theory of causation for the first time at trial, and an angiogram, which had been available for the duration of the patient’s hospital stay, had seemingly gone missing on the eve of expert testimony. We had to constantly reevaluate our trial strategy. By the end of it all, I wanted nothing more than to hear the jury’s finding of liability for the story I had been obsessing over for months.

But it never came. A few minutes into our wait for a verdict, defense counsel approached the plaintiff with a settlement offer, which he accepted. Handshakes were given and pleasantries were exchanged, but something felt off. How could some money, without a finding of liability, be justice? I couldn’t help but wonder if our work meant anything or if I had somehow failed our client. But after seeing his smile, I knew I was wrong. He was overjoyed. This was a man at his weakest, who needed someone to advocate for him when he and his family realized their lives would never be the same. Whether or not the jury foreman read out a verdict, our client still had his life to live, and this settlement, while maybe not justice in the usual sense, made that possible.

My experiences these past few years have motivated me to apply to law school. I want to become an attorney for the man who worked tirelessly day after day, fixing leaky pipes and valves to provide for his family, just to find out more than four decades later that he would die within the year due to that same work. I want to become an attorney for the man who went to a hospital, seeking the help of medical professionals, only to wake up hemiplegic due to a preventable mistake. Through each of these cases, I have learned not only about the law and legal procedure, but also about what helping a client really means. While the adversarial process seemingly allows for winners and losers, these trials are really about how the outcome—whether verdict or settlement—forever impacts the lives of the plaintiffs and their families. And if I can aid in bringing a sense of resolution to them, then I will be successful.

6) Each time I read this personal statement, I get a major yearning to go hiking. It contributed to the applicant’s admission at 5 of the T15 schools with a 168 LSAT score.

Granite pebbles crunch under the soles of my hiking boots, the only sound besides my heavy breathing. At this altitude, I am tired, my water is low, and the trailhead disappeared from view a little over two hours ago. But even in the grit and sweat and strain, I am most alive in the mountains—blood pumping in my ears, muscles driving against the incline, heart aching to push into the wilderness. In a moment of elation, I see the top. A pleasant breeze whispers across the ridge, and I catch a second wind. With renewed determination, I break into a jog and race to the peak.

Since I could walk, I’ve been hiking. I wish I could say that I’m exaggerating, but my mom lives and breathes physical activity, so I am completely serious. When I was eight years old, I hiked my first “14er”—backpacker lingo for a mountain 14,000+ feet in elevation—with my family, carrying a 50-pound pack and about as much resentment that I had to walk for two days straight on summer vacation. Back then, hiking was just a family activity for me, something I was “encouraged” to participate in and occasionally enjoyed. However, that didn’t keep me from doing the whole “Mom, are we there yet?” bit from time to time. Until high school, this was my relationship with hiking, a sort of grudging tolerance. It wasn’t until I was able to go off on my own that I fell in love with the sport.

The first time I prepped my pack for a solo hike, I felt the pull. Visiting my grandparents in Colorado Springs, I heard of a beautiful alpine lake accessible by trail a little out of town, and I decided to go find it. When my granddad went down for his mid-morning nap, I loaded my backpack and gear into the car and drove out to a trailhead in Pikes National Forest. From there, I walked for hours through the woods and up into the mountains, wondering if I should turn around, but quickly realized I was too stubborn to give up even if my lungs and legs hated me for it. Three hours and ten miles later, I reached the most beautiful lake I had ever seen, and I was so grateful that I hadn’t turned back. After standing at the edge of the water for almost an hour, I walked back down in silence, thinking about everything from friendships to life goals, loving the peaceful quiet of my wooded trail and the time to mull things over in my mind. I am naturally an extroverted person, but that day I learned that I need and love time out in nature with no one but myself to entertain.

Since then, I only became more and more obsessed. Living in Fort Worth, Texas, I lacked any meaningful mountain range, but as time went on, I found myself driving out to other states with friends (or alone) any chance I got. With every new mountain I climbed, I fell more in love with the weather, the adrenaline, and the challenge that drives me up above tree line. By junior year of college, I was hooked.

When the spring semester ended, I drove across state lines to spend the summer in Colorado. I hiked all over, spending every moment I had off from work on a different trail. I completely expected to wear myself out, walk to the point that I wouldn’t want to take another step, and be back home within a few weeks. But the opposite happened. The more I explored, the more I wanted to continue. I came to love the routine of waking up early, packing up my car, and driving to the next trailhead. Every day, I saw something new and unique, a little pocket of nature out of sight from the rest of the world, and walked away exhausted, having left all my energy out on the trail. Surfing from one couch to the next, I stayed with family and friends, extending my stay bit by bit until the summer was almost over. Eventually, I had to go home for school, but even as I drove back to Texas, I knew I could have stayed even longer and been completely content.

This past summer, my love of hiking came full circle. For years, my mom and I had planned a “someday” dream trip: hiking the Swiss Alps. After graduation, our dream materialized. Meeting a group in Chamonix, France, we started the famous Haute Route through the mountains, hiking from hut to hut for eleven days. The first two days, it snowed. On the fifth day, I sprained my ankle and had to use electrical tape as wrap until the next town days later. The rest of the way, my mom and I pushed each other as always and she was both impressed and annoyed that I finally outpaced her. By the evening of the eleventh day, we reached the end of the route, having hiked a total of 126 miles, and I could finally say I was ready to take a break.

In the last six years, hiking has become a non-negotiable part of my life. As much as coffee in the morning, it is a rhythm of being that I need and enjoy, a time to air out my soul. Not to my surprise, it was on one particularly grueling trek that I found clarity on my career path. As granite pebbles crunched beneath my boots, I considered my passion for people, love of problem-solving, and intellectual hunger. When my water ran low, I reflected on my inability to quit when I know I am chasing a worthy goal. As I spied the top, it was finally clear—law school was my next step. With this knowledge, I took off running. I reached the peak, bent over with my hands on my knees, and smiled as I breathed a sigh of relief. Law school was my next step, and if I have learned anything, it is that well-placed steps can have some pretty fantastic ends.

7) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission to a T6 law school with a sub-25th percentile GPA.

“BEEEEEEP.” The dozens of TV screens lining the wall opposite me in the USC Annenberg Media Center all flash red at once: “Extreme Red Flag Warning – PREPARE TO EVACUATE.” As I fidget in one of the swivel chairs inside the editors’ circle, I peer out the floor-to-ceiling window facing campus—instead of the usual jumble of students I see racing to class, there’s a cloud of smog and an aura of emptiness. Somehow, the scent of wildfires raging about 55 miles away has crept into the newsroom I consider a second home.

“Scratch what you’ve been working on. Go get interviews with people evacuating ASAP,” I announce to my writers over the sound of phones ringing off the hook. At this point, USC’s campus is safe, but other schools closer to the wildfire have shut down. Many of my peers wait on edge, helpless as their childhood homes risk burning to the ground. Their families flee, with time to only grab a few prized possessions. 

It wasn’t uncommon for a news story to start out slow, then, all at once, explode like this one. When I started working on the wildfire story a few days earlier, I followed my usual process. First, I scheduled interviews with experts on the subject. Next, I researched. When writing the perfect piece, researching is an art. Much like how artists immerse themselves in their subject’s world to paint the perfect portrait, I must absorb every detail to create the perfect story. Why does California seem to have so many unmanageable wildfires? What exact protocols are in place to minimize damage? Who is responsible for implementing them? Then, I followed the most important step: remain unbiased and observational. I am not there to get involved, whatever the story might concern. Then, I write. And rewrite. And rewrite again.

Though breaking news like the Red Flag Warning no doubt shifts the narrative, my prior investigation into the problem remains relevant. It led me to one conclusion: mismanagement directly contributed to not just this wildfire but almost every prior one. I lead the story with the emergency notice, but my bottom line is unchanged—the government’s neglect of forests is quite literally adding fuel to the fire. That year, more than a hundred lives and a million acres of land were lost to wildfires. As gut-wrenching as the damage is, as a senior editor, I must keep cool, calm, and collected. I urge my staff to be empathetic but professional in conducting interviews. But staying levelheaded is difficult. A freshman whose family just fled her childhood home at 4 a.m. can barely speak. “How did this get so out of control?” she asks through short breaths. A junior who is having trouble contacting his twin sister evacuating a college near the chaos is bawling. It hits me that I can no longer bear staying on the outside, reporting as an observer. But I push the emotion away—I must remain objective.

For the remainder of my tenure with the paper, this feeling festered. When writing about the rising homelessness rate, though I researched the ways in which LA County’s policies weren’t working, I still felt I needed to do more. When writing about depression on campus, though I researched ways USC’s mental health initiatives could be reworked, still, not enough. I grew restless. In August 2019, I decided to stop feeling the need to do more and to actually do more. I was facetiming my father who wanted to show me a fire blazing a few kilometers from his home in Beirut. Moments later, the screen went black. I heard a blast. The explosion, which put my father in the hospital and killed more than 200 people, was a result of the Lebanese government’s negligence. I was shook, especially knowing the people there have no avenues to fight such negligence.

A year later, I went to Beirut to work for Siren Associates, a human rights organization that addresses a range of humanitarian issues in Lebanon, including public sector accountability and access to justice. The country is still in mourning and the government has yet to take responsibility for their negligence. We try to communicate with the government and advocate for transparency, but it’s no use. They won’t budge. Citizens take the streets and protest in an attempt to hold those in power accountable, but they’re met with excessive force from the military. I tried meeting with military personnel directly, presenting guidelines for handling protests without aggression, but they weren’t interested. And while the court system eventually launched an investigation to prosecute those responsible for the blast, they have hit a standstill as the government has delayed the judicial process indefinitely.

In countries like Lebanon, where governments disregard human rights and accountability mechanisms are ineffective, international courts are the only potential source of justice. However, the current court system is insufficient. It is reactive, first stepping in after disaster hits. I want to go to law school to learn how to prevent human rights tragedies before they occur. I aim to create hybrid court systems, ones that combine state-run courts and international ones to strengthen developing countries’ ability to self-regulate. Only when prevention is prioritized will ensuring human rights stop being a system of reaction. I want to be at the forefront of this movement, and am eager to leverage the observational and analytical skills I mastered during my career, as well as the knowledge I have gained through human rights work, toward achieving human rights for all.

8) This personal statement contributed to the applicant’s admission to a T10 law school with a large scholarship, despite a 3.1 GPA.

A soft chime prompts me to check my email. It’s from Flo, a senior case manager at the law firm. “See attached motion for summary judgment. Please work on the opposition. Send your draft to David and Nick no later than July 13.” I flip through the attached exhibits and find what I’m looking for: the defendant’s brief. It’s the typical corporate defendant arguments, ones I had seen and responded to on dozens of occasions. A due date of July 13 would give me two weeks to draft the opposition—more than enough time.

I joined [redacted] Law Group as a law clerk five months prior. The first few weeks were a whirlwind of education in consumer protection law. Our cases usually fall into one of two buckets: the client has identified an inaccuracy in their credit report or they have been subjected to abusive debt collection practices. This case falls into the first. A thief had stolen our client’s credit card and run up a fraudulent balance, after which the client filed a dispute with his bank. The bank rejected it. When our client couldn’t afford to pay, the bank started to tack on interest and reported the debt as delinquent to a credit agency, tanking his credit score. After two years of being ignored while asking the bank to remove it, he disputed the reporting inaccuracy with the credit agency, who submitted it to the bank. The bank rejected this dispute, too. We sued the bank and the credit agency, claiming neither completed a reasonable investigation of the dispute under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. While the agency quickly settled, the bank resisted through discovery and moved for summary judgment.

Proving wrongdoing requires us to show the bank failed to conduct a reasonable investigation of our client’s dispute to the credit agency. Opening the case file, I go directly to the discovery folder, where I look for evidence of an investigation. There are copies of internal records, deposition transcripts, and responses to written discovery requests. The responses are mostly useless, consisting of pages of evasive objections and little more. The transcripts are more promising. They show a pattern of questionable actions by the bank. When it received the dispute, the bank passed it back and forth between two departments like a hot potato. Neither was responsible for investigating this type of dispute, ensuring it wouldn’t be reasonably investigated. This evidence is enough on its own to prove the bank failed to fulfill its obligation to our client and prevail against the bank’s motion, but I review further. I realize the bank’s actions implicate far more than just this one lawsuit.

The bank’s witness identified a third department at the bank that investigates fraudulent transactions, but it was never called upon to look at our client’s dispute. When an attorney from our firm asked why, the witness blamed our client for not filing a dispute in a “valid” or “appropriate” way. Since he filed his dispute through a credit agency, the witness asserted, it wouldn’t be turned over to the fraudulent transaction team. In other words, because the client didn’t file in the bank’s preferred way, they didn’t properly investigate. However, the client did file as required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act; there was nothing else he could have done.

I reread the testimony in disbelief. This is a national bank, worth billions of dollars and serving millions of consumers. It knows it’s required by law to conduct a reasonable investigation of credit reporting disputes—and it must have known it wasn’t by excluding the fraudulent transaction team, the most relevant team, from the investigation. Questions fill my mind. How many times has the bank been sued for this? How many times has it not been sued and gotten away with these practices? Is it just going to continue taking advantage of consumers? The remaining evidence provides no answers. Fortunately, I can draft our opposition to their motion without them.

After we file, the defendant immediately extends a favorable settlement offer, which our client accepts. At first, I feel satisfied he was made whole. But then I feel frustration. The money pales in comparison to the billions of dollars in profit the bank generates annually, and their procedures won’t change. They will continue harming consumers and exacerbating social inequity. According to a 2021 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report, consumers residing in majority black areas were more than twice as likely to have a dispute on record than those residing in majority white areas. The common theme to the report was that low-credit-score and minority borrowers were drastically more affected by credit reporting inaccuracies. It’s an exacerbating cycle seen beyond banking. Low-income tenants struggle to obtain legal aid and are unable to defend themselves from eviction. Plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases who can’t afford an attorney rarely, if ever, see success in court. Those already in underprivileged circumstances face impeding inequity and the cycle continues.

These examples underscore the need for reform. Marginalized individuals take a back seat to profit as companies exploit them. In many cases, they don’t have the means or familiarity with the law to seek recourse. Protecting their rights is about more than winning individual cases. It’s about eliminating inequity by increasing legal accessibility for those in need. As an attorney, I will fight for reform and creation of laws to empower and inform marginalized individuals. By ending the cycle and improving social equity, perhaps consumer protection firms like [redacted] Law Group won’t be around in the future—hopefully they won’t be needed.

Interested in learning more? To set up a consultation, contact me at [email protected] or use my contact form: sharperstatements.com/contact .

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How to write a law school personal statement + examples.

mental illness law school personal statement

Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/16/23

Law school personal statements help show admissions committees why you’re an excellent candidate. Read on to learn how to write a personal statement for law school!

Writing a law school personal statement requires time, effort, and a lot of revision. Law school statement prompts and purposes can vary slightly depending on the school. 

Their purpose could be to show your personality, describe your motivation for attending law school, explain why you want to go to a particular law school, or a mix of all three and more. This guide will help you perfect your writing with tips and law school personal statement examples.

The Best Law School Personal Statement Format

Unfortunately, there’s no universal format for a law school personal statement. Every law school has a preference (or lack thereof) on how your personal statement should be structured. We recommend always checking for personal statement directions for every school you want to apply to. 

However, many law schools ask for similar elements when it comes to personal statement formats. These are some standard formatting elements to keep in mind if your school doesn’t provide specific instructions: 

  • Typically two pages or less in length 
  • Double-spaced 
  • Use a basic, readable font style and size (11-point is the smallest you should do, although some schools may request 12-point) 
  • Margins shouldn’t be less than 1 inch unless otherwise specified 
  • Left-aligned 
  • Indent new paragraphs 
  • Don’t return twice to begin a new paragraph 
  • Law schools typically ask for a header, typically including your full name, page number, LSAC number, and the words “Personal Statement” (although there can be variations to this) 

How you format your header may be up to you; sometimes, law schools won't specify whether the header should be one line across the top or three lines. 

Personal statement format A

 This is how your header may look if you decide to keep it as one line. If you want a three-line header, it should look like this on the top-right of the page: 

Personal statement format B

 Remember, the best law school personal statement format is the one in application instructions. Ensure you follow all formatting requirements!

How to Title a Personal Statement (Law) 

You may be tempted to give your law school statement a punchy title, just like you would for an academic essay. However, the general rule is that you shouldn’t give your law school personal statement a title. 

The University of Washington states , “DON’T use quotes or give a title to your

statement.” Many other schools echo this advice. The bottom line is that although you're writing your story, your law school statement doesn't require a title. Don't add one unless the school requests it.

How to Start a Personal Statement for Law School 

Acing the beginning of your law school personal statement is essential for your narrative’s success. The introduction is your chance to captivate the admissions committee and immerse them in your story. As such, you want your writing to be interesting enough to grab their attention without purposefully going for shock value.

So how do you write a law school personal statement introduction that will garner the attention it deserves? The simplest way to get the reader involved in your story is to start with a relevant anecdote that ties in with your narrative. 

Consider the opening paragraph from Harvard Law graduate Cameron Clark’s law school personal statement : 

“At the intersection of 21st and Speedway, I lay on the open road. My leg grazed the shoulder of a young woman lying on the ground next to me. Next to her, a man on his stomach slowed his breathing to appear as still as possible. A wide circle of onlookers formed around the dozens of us on the street. We were silent and motionless, but the black-and-white signs affirmed our existence through their decree: BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

The beginning lines of this personal statement immediately draw the reader in. Why was the writer lying on the road? Why were other people there with him, and why was a man trying to slow his breathing? We're automatically inspired to keep reading to find out more information. 

That desire to keep reading is the hallmark of a masterful law school personal statement introduction. However, you don’t want to leave your reader hanging for too long. By the end of this introduction, we’re left with a partial understanding of what’s happening. 

There are other ways to start a law school personal statement that doesn't drop the reader in the middle of the action. Some writers may begin their law personal statement in other ways: 

  • Referencing a distant memory, thought, feeling, or perspective
  • Setting the scene for the opening anecdote before jumping in 
  • Providing more context on the time, place, or background 

Many openings can blend some of these with detailed, vivid imagery. Here's a law school personal statement opening that worked at the UChicago Law : 

“I fell in love for the first time when I was four. That was the year my mother signed me up for piano lessons. I can still remember touching those bright, ivory keys with reverence, feeling happy and excited that soon I would be playing those tinkling, familiar melodies (which my mother played every day on our boombox) myself.”

This opening blends referencing a distant memory and feeling mixed with vivid imagery that paints a picture in the reader's head. Keep in mind that different openers can work better than others, depending on the law school prompt. 

To recap, consider these elements as you write your law school personal statement’s introduction: 

  • Aim for an attention-grabbing hook 
  • Don’t purposefully aim for shock value: it can sometimes seem unauthentic 
  • Use adjectives and imagery to paint a scene for your reader 
  • Identify which opening method works best for the law school prompt and your story
  • Don’t leave the reader hanging for too long to find out what your narrative is about
  • Be concise 

Writing a law school personal statement introduction can be difficult, but these examples and tips can get your writing the attention it deserves.

How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Now that you’re equipped with great advice and tips to start your law school statement, it’s time to tackle the body of your essay. These tips will show you how to write a personal statement for law school to captivate the admissions committee. 

Tips for writing a law school personal statement

Understand the Prompt

While many law schools have similar personal statement prompts, you should carefully examine what's being asked of you before diving in. Consider these top law school personal statement prompts to see what we mean: 

  • Yale Law School : “The personal statement should help us learn about the personal, professional, and/or academic qualities an applicant would bring to the Law School community. Applicants often submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law school applications.”
  • University of Chicago Law : “Our application does not provide a specific topic or question for the personal statement because you are the best judge of what you should write. Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you.”
  • NYU Law : “Because people and their interests vary, we leave the content and length of your statement to your discretion. You may wish to complete or clarify your responses to items on the application form, bring to our attention additional information you feel should be considered, describe important or unusual aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application, or tell us what led you to apply to NYU School of Law.”

Like all law personal statements, these three prompts are pretty open-ended. However, your Yale personal statement should focus on how you’d contribute to a law school community through professional and academic experience and qualities. 

For UChicago Law, you don’t even need to write about a law-related topic if you don’t want to. However, when it comes to a school like NYU Law , you probably want to mix your qualities, experiences, and what led you to apply. 

Differing prompts are the reason you’ll need to create multiple copies of your personal statement! 

Follow Formatting Directions 

Pay extra attention to each school's formatting directions. While we've discussed basic guidelines for law school personal statement formats, it's essential to check if there is anything different you need to do. 

While working on your rough drafts, copy and paste the prompt and directions at the top of the page, so you don't forget. 

Brainstorm Narratives/Anecdotes Based on the Prompt

You may have more wiggle room with some prompts than others regarding content. However, asking yourself these questions can generally help you direct your personal statement for any law school: 

  • What major personal challenges or recent hardships have you faced? 
  • What was one transformative event that impacted your life’s course or perspective? 
  • What are your hobbies or special interests? 
  • What achievements are you most proud of that aren’t stated in your application? 
  • What experience or event changed your values or way of thinking? 
  • What’s something you’re passionate about that you got involved in? What was the result of your passion? 
  • How did your distinct upbringing, background, or culture put you on the path to law school? 
  • What personal or professional experiences show who you are? 

Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. Consider your personal and professional experiences that have brought you to this point, and determine which answers would make the most compelling story. 

Pettit College of Law recommends you "go through your transcripts, application, and resume. Are there any gaps or missing details that your personal statement could cover?” If you've listed something on your resume that isn't further discussed, it could make a potential personal statement topic. 

Do More Than Recount: Reflect

Recounting an event in a summarized way is only one piece of your law school personal statement. Even if you’re telling an outlandish or objectively interesting story, stopping there doesn’t show admissions committees what they need to know to judge your candidacy. 

The University of Washington suggests that “describing the event should only be about 1/3 of your essay. The rest should be a reflection on how it changed you and how it shaped the person you are today. ” Don’t get stuck in the tangible details of your anecdote; show what the experience meant to you. 

Beth O'Neil , Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UC Berkeley School of Law , said, " Applicants also tend to state and not evaluate. They give a recitation of their experience but no evaluation of what effect that particular experience had on them, no assessment of what certain experiences or honors meant." 

Consider What Qualities You Want to Show

No matter what direction you want to take your law school personal statement, you should consider which qualities your narrative puts on display. Weaving your good character into your essay can be difficult. Outwardly claiming, "I'm a great leader!" doesn't add much value. 

However, telling a story about a time you rose to the occasion to lead a group successfully toward a common goal shows strong leadership. "Show, don't tell" may be an overused statement, but it's a popular sentiment for a reason. 

Of course, leadership ability isn't the only quality admissions committees seek. Consider the qualities you possess and those you'd expect to find in a great lawyer, and check to see the overlap. Some qualities you could show include: 

  • Intelligence 
  • Persuasiveness 
  • Compassion 
  • Professionalism 

Evaluate the anecdotes you chose after your brainstorming session and see if any of these qualities or others align with your narrative. 

Keep Your Writing Concise

Learning how to write a personal statement for law school means understanding how to write for concision. Most prompts won't have a word limit but ask you to cap your story at two pages, double-spaced. Unfortunately, that's not a lot of space to work with. 

Although your writing should be compelling and vibrant, do your best to avoid flowery language and long, complicated sentences where they’re not needed. Writing for concision means eliminating unnecessary words, cutting down sentences, and getting the point quickly.  

Georgetown University’s take on law school personal statements is to “Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos.” A straightforward narrative means your reader is much less likely to be confused or get lost in your story (in the wrong way). 

Decide the Depth and Scope of Your Statement 

Since you only have two (or even three) pages to get your point across, you must consider the depth and scope of your narrative. While you don’t want to provide too little information, remember that you don’t have the room to summarize your entire life story (and you don’t have to do that anyway). 

UChicago Law’s advice is to “Use your discretion - we know you have to make a choice and have limited space. Attempting to cover too much material can result in an unfocused and scattered personal statement.” Keep the depth and scope of your narrative manageable. 

Ensure It’s Personal Enough 

UChicago Law states, "If someone else could write your personal statement, it probably is not personal enough." This doesn't mean that you must pick the most grandiose, shocking narrative to make an impact or that you can't write about something many others have probably experienced. 

Getting personal means only you can write that statement; other people may be able to relate to an experience, but your reflection, thoughts, feelings, and reactions are your own. UChicago Law sees applicants fall into this pitfall by writing about a social issue or area of law, so tread these topics carefully.

Mix the Past and Present, Present and Future, Or All Three 

Harvard Law School’s Associate Director Nefyn Meissner said your personal statement should “tell us something about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go.” 

Echoing this, Jon Perdue , Yale Law School's Director of Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives, states that the three most common approaches to the Yale Law School personal statement are focusing on: 

  • The past : discussing your identity and background 
  • The present : focusing on your current work, activities, and interests 
  • The future : the type of law you want to pursue and your ideal career path 

Perdue said that truly stellar personal statements have a sense of “movement” and touch on all or two of these topics. 

What does this mean for you? While writing your law school personal statement, don’t be afraid to touch on your past, present, and future. However, remember not to take on too much content! 

Keep the Focus On You 

This is a common pitfall that students fall into while writing a law school personal statement. UChicago Law cites that this is a common mistake applicants make when they write at length about: 

  • A family member who inspired them or their family history 
  • Stories about others 
  • Social or legal issues 

Even if someone like your grandmother had a profound impact on your decision to pursue law, remember that you’re the star of the show. Meissner said , “Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother.”

Don’t let historical figures, your family, or anyone else steal your spotlight. 

Decide If You Need to Answer: Why Law? 

Writing about why you want to attend law school in general or a school in particular depends on the prompt. Some schools welcome the insight, while others (like Harvard Law) don't. Meissner said, “Should you mention you want to come to HLS? We already assume that if you’re applying.”

However, Perdue said your law school personal statement for Yale should answer three questions: 

  • Why law school?

Some schools may invite you to discuss your motivation to apply to law school or what particular elements of the school inspired you to apply. 

Don’t List Qualifications or Rehash Your Resume 

Your personal statement should flow like a story, with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Simply firing off your honors and awards, or summarizing the experiences on your resume, doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything new about you. 

Your personal statement is your opportunity to show how your unique experiences shaped you, your qualities, and the person you are behind your LSAT scores and GPA. Think about how you can show who you are at your core. 

Avoid Legalese, Jargon, And Sophisticated Terms 

The best law school personal statements are written in straightforward English and don't use overly academic, technical, or literary words. UChicago Law recommends avoiding legalese or Latin terms since the "risk you are incorrectly using them is just too high." 

Weaving together intricate sentence structures with words you pulled out of a thesaurus won’t make your personal statement a one-way ticket to acceptance. Be clear, straightforward, and to the point. 

Don’t Put Famous Quotes In Your Writing 

Beginning your law school personal statement with a quote is not only cliche but takes the focus off of you. It also eats up precious space you could fill with your voice. 

Revise, Revise, Revise 

Even the most talented writers never submit a perfect first draft. You'll need to do a lot of revisions before your personal statement is ready for submission. This is especially true because you'll write different versions for different law schools; these iterations must be edited to perfection. 

Ensure you have enough time to make all the edits and improvements you need before you plan to submit your application. Although most law schools have rolling admissions, submitting a perfected application as soon as possible is always in your best interest. 

Have an Admission Consultant Review Your Hard Work 

Reviewing so many personal statements by yourself is a lot of work, and most writing can always benefit from a fresh perspective. Consider seeking a law school admissions consultant’s help to edit your personal statements to perfection and maximize your chances of acceptance at your dream school!

How to End Your Personal Statement for Law School 

Law school personal statement conclusions are just as open-ended as your introductions. There are a few options for ending a personal statement depending on the prompt you’re writing for:

Law school conclusion strategies

Some of these methods can overlap with each other. However, there are two more things you should always consider when you're ready to wrap up your story: the tone you're leaving on and how you can make your writing fit with your narrative's common thread. 

You should never want to leave your reader on a low note, even if you wrote about something that isn’t necessarily happy. You should strive to end your personal statement with a tone that’s hopeful, happy, confident, or some other positive feeling. 

Your last sentences should also give the impression of finality; your reader should understand that you’re wrapping up and not be left wondering where the rest of your statement is. 

So, what's the common thread? This just means that your narrative sticks to the overarching theme or event you portrayed at the beginning of your writing. Bringing your writing full circle makes a more satisfying conclusion.

Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion Examples

Evaluating law school personal statement conclusions can help you see what direction authors decided to take with their writing. Let’s circle back to the sample personal statement openings for law school and examine their respective conclusions. The first example explains the applicant’s motivation to attend Harvard Law. 

Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #1

“…Attorneys and legal scholars have paved the way for some of the greatest civil rights victories for women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and (people living with disabilities). At Harvard Law School, I will prepare to join their ranks by studying with the nation's leading legal scholars. For the past months, I have followed Harvard Law School student responses to the events in Ferguson and New York City. I am eager to join a law school community that shares my passion for using the law to achieve real progress for victims of discrimination. With an extensive history of advocacy for society's most marginalized groups, I believe Harvard Law School will thoroughly train me to support and empower communities in need. 
Our act of civil disobedience that December day ended when the Tower’s bells rang out in two bars, hearkening half-past noon. As we stood up and gathered our belongings, we broke our silence to remind everyone of a most basic truth: Black lives matter.”  

What Makes This Conclusion Effective 

Although Harvard Law School states there's no need to explain why you want to apply, this law school statement is from an HLS graduate, and we can assume this was written before the advice changed. 

In his conclusion, he relates and aligns his values with Harvard Law School and how joining the community will help him fulfill his mission to empower communities in need. The last paragraph circles back to the anecdote described in his introduction, neatly wrapping up the event and signaling a natural end to his story. 

This author used these strategies: the motivation to attend a specific law school, stating his mission, and subtly reiterating what his acceptance would bring to the school. The next example conclusion worked at UChicago Law: 

Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #2

“Songs can be rewritten and reinterpreted as situation permits, but missteps are obvious because the fundamental laws of music and harmony do not change.
Although my formal music education ended when I entered college, the lessons I have learned over the years have remained close and relevant to my life. I have acquired a lifestyle of discipline and internalized the drive for self-improvement. I have gained an appreciation for the complexities and the subtleties of interpretation. I understand the importance of having both a sound foundation and a dedication to constant study. I understand that to possess a passion and personal interest in something, to think for myself is just as important.”

What Made This Conclusion Effective

This law school personal statement was successful at UChicago Law. Although the writing has seemingly nothing to do with law or the author's capability to become a great lawyer, the author has effectively used the "show, don't tell" advice. 

The last paragraph implements the focus on qualities or skills strategy. Although related to music, the qualities they describe that a formal music education taught her mesh with the qualities of a successful lawyer: 

  • A drive for self-improvement 
  • The ability to interpret information 
  • The ability to learn consistently 
  • The ability to think for herself 

Overall, this essay does an excellent job of uncovering her personality and relating to the opening paragraph, where she describes how she fell in love with music.

2 Law School Personal Statement Examples From Admitted Students

These are two law school personal statement examples that worked. We'll review the excerpts below and describe what made them effective and if there's room for improvement. 

Law School Personal Statement Example #1

This is an excerpt of a law personal statement that worked at UChicago Law : 

“The turning point of my college football career came early in my third year. At the end of the second practice of the season, in ninety-five-degree heat, our head coach decided to condition the entire team. Sharp, excruciating pain shot down my legs as he summoned us repeatedly to the line to run wind sprints. I collapsed as I turned the corner on the final sprint. Muscle spasms spread throughout my body, and I briefly passed out. Severely dehydrated, I was rushed to the hospital and quickly given more than three liters of fluids intravenously. As I rested in a hospital recovery room, I realized my collapse on the field symbolized broader frustrations I felt playing college football.
I was mentally and physically defeated. In South Dakota, I was a dominant football player in high school, but at the Division I level, my talent was less conspicuous. In my first three years, I was convinced that obsessively training my body to run faster and be stronger would earn me a starting position. The conditioning drill that afternoon revealed the futility of my approach. I had thrust my energies into becoming a player I could never be. As a result, I lost confidence in my identity.
I considered other aspects of my life where my intellect, work ethic, and determination had produced positive results. I chose to study economics and English because processing abstract concepts and ideas in diverse disciplines were intuitively rewarding…Gathering data, reviewing previous literature, and ultimately offering my own contribution to economic knowledge was exhilarating. Indeed, undergraduate research affirmed my desire to attend law school, where I could more thoroughly satisfy my intellectual curiosity…My efforts generated high marks and praise from professors, but this success made my disappointment with football more pronounced.
The challenge of collegiate athletics felt insurmountable. However, I reminded myself that at the Division I level, I was able to compete with and against some of the best players in the country…After the hospital visit, my football position coach—sensing my mounting frustrations—offered some advice. Instead of devoting my energies almost exclusively to physical preparation, he said, I should approach college football with the same mental focus I brought to my academic studies. I began to devour scouting reports and to analyze the complex reasoning behind defensive philosophies and schemes. I studied film and discovered ways to anticipate plays from the offense and become a more effective player. Armed with renewed confidence, I finally earned a starting position in the beginning of my fourth year…
‍ I had received the highest grade on the team. After three years of A’s in the classroom, I finally earned my first ‘A’ in football. I used mental preparation to maintain my competitive edge for the rest of the season. Through a combination of film study and will power, I led my team and conference in tackles…The most rewarding part of the season, though, was what I learned about myself in the process. When I finally stopped struggling to become the player I thought I needed to be, I developed self-awareness and confidence in the person I was.
The image of me writhing in pain on the practice field sometimes slips back into my thoughts as I decide where to apply to law school. College football taught me to recognize my weaknesses and look for ways to overcome them. I will enter law school a much stronger person and student because of my experiences on the football field and in the classroom. My decision where to attend law school mirrors my decision where to play college football. I want to study law at the University of Chicago Law School because it provides the best combination of professors, students, and resources in the country. In Division I college football, I succeeded when I took advantage of my opportunities. I hope the University of Chicago will give me an opportunity to succeed again.”

Why This Personal Statement Example Worked

The beginning of this personal statement includes vivid imagery and sets up a relevant anecdote for the reader; the writer’s injury while playing football. At the end of the introduction, he sets up a fantastic transition about his broader frustrations, compelling us to keep reading. 

The essay's body shows the writer's vulnerability, making it even more personal; it can be challenging to talk about feelings, like losing your confidence, but it can help us relate to him. 

The author sets up a transition to writing more about his academic ability, his eventual leadership role on the team, and developing the necessary qualities of a well-rounded lawyer: self-awareness and confidence. 

Finally, the author rounds out his statement by circling back to his opening anecdote and showing the progress he’s made from there. He also describes why UChicago Law is the right school for him. To summarize, the author expertly handled: 

  • Opening with a descriptive anecdote that doesn’t leave the reader hanging for too long 
  • Being vulnerable in such a way that no one else could have written this statement 
  • Doing more than recounting an event but reflecting on it 
  • Although he introduced his coach's advice, he kept himself the focal point of the story 
  • He picked a focused event; the writer didn’t try to tackle too much content 
  • His conclusion references his introduction, signalling the natural end of the story 
  • The ending also reaffirms his passion for pursuing law, particularly at UChicago Law 

Law School Personal Statement Example #2 

This law school personal statement excerpt led to acceptance at Boston University Law. 

“She sat opposite me at my desk to fill out a few forms. Fumbling her hands and laughing uncomfortably, it was obvious that she was nervous. Sandra was eighteen, and her knowledge of English was limited to “yes” and “hello.” While translating the initial meeting between Sandra and her attorney, I learned of her reasons for leaving El Salvador. She had been in an abusive relationship, and though she wasn’t ready to go into detail just yet, it was clear from the conversation that her boyfriend had terrorized her and that the El Salvadoran police were of no help…Eventually, Sandra was given a credible fear interview. The interviewer believed that she had a real fear of returning to El Salvador, and Sandra was released from detention with an Immigration Court hearing notice in her hand. She had just retained our office to present her asylum case to the Immigration Judge.
I tried to imagine myself in Sandra’s shoes. She hadn’t finished high school, was in a completely new environment, and had almost no understanding of how things worked in the US. Even the harsh New England winter must have seemed unnatural to her. Having lived abroad for a couple of years, I could relate on some level; however, the circumstances of my stay overseas were completely different. I went to Spain after graduating from college to work in an elementary school, improve my Spanish skills, and see a bit of the world…I had to ask hundreds of questions and usually make a few attempts before actually accomplishing my goal. Frustrating though it was, I didn’t have so much riding on each of these endeavors. If I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork to open a bank account one day, I could just try again the next day. Sandra won’t be afforded the same flexibility in her immigration process, where so much depends on the ability to abide by inflexible deadlines and procedures. Without someone to guide her through the process, ensuring that all requirements are met, and presenting her case as persuasively as possible, Sandra will have little chance of achieving legal status in the United States…
Before starting at my current position at Joyce & Associates, an immigration law firm in Boston, I had long considered a career in law. Growing up, I was engaged by family and school debates about public policy and government. In college, I found my constitutional law courses challenging and exciting. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I began working with clients like Sandra that I became convinced that a career in law is the right choice for me. Playing my part as a legal assistant in various immigration cases, I have been able to witness how a career in immigration advocacy is both intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. I have seen the importance of well-articulated arguments and even creativity in arguing a client’s eligibility for an immigration benefit. I have learned that I excel in critical thinking and in examining detail, as I continually consider the consistency and possible implications of any documents that clients provide in support of their application. But most importantly, I have realized how deserving many of these immigrants are. Many of the clients I work with are among the most hardworking and patriotic people I have encountered…
‍ I am equally confident that I would thrive as a student at Boston University, where I would be sure to take full advantage of the many opportunities available. The school’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Detention Clinic would offer me invaluable experiences in various immigration settings…Given my experiences in an immigration firm, I know that I would have much to offer while participating in these programs, but even more to learn. And while I find BU’s immigration programs to be especially appealing, I am equally drawn to the Boston University experience as a whole…I hope to have the opportunity to face those challenges and to contribute my own experiences and drive to the Boston University community.”

This statement makes excellent use of opening with an experience that sets the writer's motivation to attend law school in motion. We're introduced to another person in the story in the introduction, before the author swivels and transitions to how she'd imagine herself in Sandra's shoes. 

This transition shows empathy, and although the author could relate to her client's struggles on a more superficial level, she understood the gravity of her situation and the hardships that awaited her. 

The author backpedals to show how she's cultivated an interest in law in college and explored this interest to know it's the right choice for her. The conclusion does an excellent job of referencing exactly how BU Law will help her achieve her mission. To recap, this personal statement was effective because: 

  • She started her personal statement with a story 
  • Although the writer focuses on an event with another person, she moves the focus back to her 
  • The author’s statement shows qualities like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking without explicitly stating it 
  • She connects her experiences to her motivation to attend law school 
  • This statement has movement: it references the author’s past, present, and future 
  • She ends her statement by explaining in detail why BU Law is the right school for her 

Although this personal statement worked, circling back to the opening anecdote in the conclusion, even with a brief sentence, would have made the conclusion more impactful and fortified the common thread of her narrative.

How to Write Personal Statement For Law School: FAQs

Do you still have questions about how to write a personal statement for law school? Read on to learn more. 

1. What Makes a Good Personal Statement for Law School? 

Generally, an excellent personal statement tells a relevant story, showcases your best qualities, is personal, and creatively answers the prompt. Depending on the prompt, a good personal statement may describe your motivation to attend law school or why a school, in particular, is perfect for you. 

2. Should I Write a Separate Personal Statement for Each School? 

Depending on the prompts, you may be able to submit the same or similar law school personal statements to different schools. However, you’ll likely need more than one version of your statement to apply to different schools. Generally, students will write a few versions of their statements to meet personal statement instructions. 

3. How Long Should My Law School Personal Statement Be? 

Law school personal statement length requirements vary by school, but you can generally expect to write approximately two pages, double-spaced. 

4. What Should You Not Put In a Law School Personal Statement? 

Your law school personal statement shouldn’t include famous quotes, overly sophisticated language, statements that may offend others, and unhelpful or inappropriate information about yourself. 

5. What Do I Write My Law School Personal Statement About? 

The answer depends on the prompt you need to answer. Consider your experiences and decide which are impactful, uncover your personality, show your motivation to attend law school, or show your impressive character traits. 

6. Does the Personal Statement Really Matter for Law School? 

Top LSAT scores and high GPAs may not be enough, especially at the T-14 law schools. Due to the high level of competition, you should take advantage of your personal statement to show why you’re an excellent candidate. So yes, they do matter.

Writing A Law School Personal Statement is Easy With Juris

Writing a personal statement can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Juris Education is committed to helping you learn how to write a law school personal statement with ease. We help future law school students develop their narratives, evaluate writing to ensure it’s in line with what law schools expect, and edit statements to perfection. 

A stellar law school personal statement helps you stand out and can help you take that last step to attending the law school of your dreams.

mental illness law school personal statement

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Law School Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts

The personal statement, one of the most important parts of your law school application, is an opportunity to highlight your writing ability, your personality, and your experience. Think of it as a written interview during which you get to choose the question. What one thing do you wish the admissions evaluators knew about you?

To help you write a law school personal statement that best reflects your abilities as a potential law student, we have some recommendations below.

  • Discuss possible personal statement topics with your pre-law advisor (or someone else) before you invest a lot of time writing.
  • Choose a narrow topic. Offer details about a small topic rather than generalities about a broad topic. Focus on a concrete experience and the impact it has had upon you.
  • Be yourself. Do not tell law schools what you think they want to hear — tell them the truth.
  • Pay special attention to your first paragraph. It should immediately grab a reader’s attention. Reviewers are pressed for time and may not read beyond an uninteresting opener.
  • Keep it interesting. Write with energy and use the active voice. You do not have to explain how your experience relates to your desire to attend law school. Tell a story. Paint a vivid picture. The most interesting personal statements create visuals for the reader, which make your personal statement more memorable.
  • Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos. Choose your words with economy and clarity in mind, and remember that your reader has a huge stack of applications to read. A personal statement generally should be two to three double-spaced pages.
  • Proofread. Ask several people to proofread your essay. Grammatical or mechanical errors are inexcusable.
  • Include information from your background that sets you apart. If your ethnicity, family, religion, socioeconomic background, or similar factors are motivating you to succeed in law school, be sure to highlight them. You can do this in the personal statement itself or in a separate diversity statement. If you are writing a personal statement and a diversity statement, make sure the two essays address different topics.
  • Consider your audience. Most admissions evaluators are professors, third-year law students, or admissions professionals not long out of law school. Therefore, you want to come across as an attentive student, interesting classmate, and accomplished person. Again, consider what you most want them to know, beyond the information provided in the rest of your application.
  • Read the application carefully. Most law schools allow you to choose a topic, but some will require you to address a specific question. Follow whatever instructions are provided.
  • Do not play a role, especially that of a lawyer or judge. And stay away from legal concepts and jargon. You run the risk of misusing them, and even if you use them properly, legal language may make you appear pompous.
  • Do not tell your life story in chronological order or merely re-state your resume. Furthermore, resist the urge to tie together all of your life experiences. The essays that try to say too much end up saying nothing at all.
  • Do not become a cliché. You may genuinely want to save the world. Maybe your study abroad experience transformed the way you look at the world. But these topics are overused. Before writing your essay, consider how your story is unique and highlight your individuality.
  • Do not use a personal statement to explain discrepancies in your application. If your academic record is weak in comparison to your LSAT scores, or vice versa, address that issue in an addendum. Emphasize the positive in the personal statement.
  • Do not offend your reader. Lawyers rarely shy away from controversial topics, but you should think twice before advocating a controversial view. You do not want to appear to be close-minded.
  • If you are in the bottom of an applicant pool, do not play it safe. You have nothing to lose by making a novel statement.


The Ultimate Guide to Writing an Outstanding Law School Personal Statement

Dazzle admissions with your legally awesome personal story, introduction.

Let's face it: you've spent countless hours studying and acing the LSAT, and now it's time for the pièce de résistance – the law school personal statement. This is your golden opportunity to showcase your personality, and put your best legal foot forward. But don't worry, this guide has got you covered. In no time, you'll be writing a personal statement that could put John Grisham's early drafts to shame.

If you're ready to convince law school admissions committees that you're the next Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Thurgood Marshall, then buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through the world of crafting the ultimate law school personal statement.

1. Know Your Audience: The Admissions Committee

First and foremost, remember that you're writing for the admissions committee. These are the gatekeepers of your future legal career, and they've read more personal statements than there are citations in a Supreme Court decision. To avoid becoming a legal footnote in their memory, keep the following in mind:

  • Be professional, but also relatable. You don't want to sound like a robot that's been programmed to spout legalese.
  • Avoid clichés like "I want to make a difference" or "I've always wanted to be a lawyer." Unless, of course, you've been dreaming of billable hours since you were in diapers.
  • Consider what makes you unique. Remember, this is your chance to stand out among a sea of applicants with equally impressive academic records and LSAT scores.

2. Choosing Your Topic: Make It Personal and Memorable

When it comes to choosing a topic for your personal statement, think of it as an episode of Law & Order: Your Life Edition. It's your moment to shine, so pick a story that showcases your passion, resilience, or commitment to justice. Consider these tips:

  • Use an anecdote. Admissions committees love a good story, especially one that shows your problem-solving skills or ability to navigate tricky situations. Just be sure not to end up on the wrong side of the law!
  • Reflect on a transformative experience. If you've had a life-changing event that led you to pursue law, share it! Just remember to keep it PG-rated.
  • Discuss a personal challenge you've overcome. Nothing says "I'm ready for law school" like demonstrating your resilience in the face of adversity.

3. Structure and Organization: Your Legal Blueprint

Now that you've chosen your topic, it's time to draft your personal statement. Like a well-organized legal brief, your statement should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Consider the following tips for structuring your masterpiece:

  • Begin with a strong opening. Start with a hook that will capture the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Think of it as your own personal Miranda warning: "You have the right to remain captivated."
  • Develop your story in the body. This is where you'll expand on your anecdote or experience, and explain how it has shaped your desire to pursue a legal career. Remember to be concise and avoid meandering – this isn't a filibuster.
  • End with a powerful conclusion. Tie everything together and reiterate why you're the ideal candidate for law school. Just like a closing argument, leave the admissions committee convinced that you're the right choice.

4. Style and Tone: Finding Your Inner Legal Wordsmith

When it comes to your personal statement, you want to strike the perfect balance between professional and engaging. After all, no one wants to read a 500-word legal treatise on why you should be admitted to law school. To achieve this delicate balance, follow these style and tone guidelines:

  • Write in the first person. This is your personal statement, so own it! Using "I" allows you to convey your unique perspective and voice.
  • Keep it conversational, yet polished. Write as if you were speaking to a respected mentor or professor. Avoid slang, but don't be afraid to inject a bit of your personality into your writing.
  • Employ dry humor sparingly. A little wit can make your statement more enjoyable to read, but remember that humor is subjective. It's best to err on the side of caution, lest you inadvertently offend the admissions committee.
  • Be precise and concise. Legal writing is known for its clarity and brevity, so practice these skills in your personal statement. Aim to keep it between 500 and 700 words, as brevity is the soul of wit (and law school applications).

5. Revision: The Art of Legal Editing

It's been said that writing is rewriting, and this is particularly true for your personal statement. Once you've drafted your masterpiece, it's time to don your editor's hat and polish it to perfection. Follow these tips for a meticulous revision:

  • Take a break before revising. Give yourself some distance from your statement before diving into revisions. This will help you approach it with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
  • Read your statement out loud. This technique can help you catch awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, and other errors that might not be apparent when reading silently.
  • Seek feedback from others. Share your statement with trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can provide constructive criticism. Just remember, opinions are like law school casebooks – everyone's got one, but you don't have to take them all to heart.
  • Edit ruthlessly. Don't be afraid to cut, rewrite, or reorganize your statement. Your goal is to make your writing as strong and effective as possible, even if it means sacrificing a clever turn of phrase or an endearing anecdote.

6. Proofread: The Final Verdict

Before submitting your personal statement, it's crucial to proofread it thoroughly. Even the most compelling story can be marred by typos, grammatical errors, or other mistakes. Follow these proofreading tips to ensure your statement is error-free:

  • Use spell check, but don't rely on it entirely. Some errors, like homophones or subject-verb agreement issues, may slip past your computer's watchful eye.
  • Print your statement and read it on paper. This can help you spot errors that you might have missed on-screen.
  • Enlist a second pair of eyes. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can catch mistakes that you've become blind to after multiple revisions.

Crafting an outstanding law school personal statement may seem daunting, but with the right approach and a healthy dose of perseverance, you can create a compelling and memorable statement that will impress even the most discerning admissions committee. So go forth and conquer, future legal eagles! And remember, as you embark on your law school journey, may the precedent be ever in your favor.

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The Law School Personal Statement: Tips and Templates

photo of a a person writing in a notebook sitting outside.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Published February 28, 2024

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The stress of cramming for the LSAT (or GRE) is behind you, and you survived the intolerably long wait for your score. You have researched schools, requested transcripts, secured recommendation letters, and updated your resume. Now only the dreadful personal statement is preventing you from hitting the submit button.

So, you might ask:  Does anyone even read the personal statement?  Yes .  Could it be a make or break deciding factor?   Definitely . 

While your standardized test score(s) and GPA are good law school success predictors, non-numerical factors such as your resume, recommendation letters and the personal statement give the Admissions Committee an idea of your individuality and how you might uniquely contribute to the law school. Most importantly, your personal statement is a sample of your writing, and strong writing skills are critically important to success throughout law school and in legal practice. 

If the thought of writing about yourself makes you cringe, adhere to these 5 tips to avoid disaster. 

BONUS :  Scroll down to review 5 law school personal statement samples. 

1. Make it personal

The Admissions Committee will have access to your transcripts and recommendation letters, and your resume will provide insight into your outside-the-classroom experiences, past and current job responsibilities, and other various accomplishments. So, the personal statement is your best opportunity to share something personal they don’t already know. Be sure to provide insight into who you are, your background and how it’s shaped the person you are today, and finally, who you hope to be in the future.

2. Be genuine

If you haven’t faced adversity or overcome major life obstacles, it’s okay. Write honestly about your experiences and interests. And whatever you do, don’t fabricate, or exaggerate—the reader can often see through this. Find your unique angle and remember that a truthful and authentic essay is always your best approach.

Tip: Don’t use big words you don’t understand. This will certainly do more harm than good.

3. Tackle the “Why?”

Get creative but remember to home in on the why . Unless the personal statement prompt has specific requirements, it is recommended you include what influenced you to pursue a legal education. Consider including what impact you hope to make in the world post-graduation.

4. Keep it interesting & professional

The last thing you want to do is bore the reader, so keep it interesting, personable, and engaging. A touch of humor is okay, but keep in mind that wit and sarcasm can be easily misinterpreted. Demonstrate maturity, good judgment and tact and you won’t end up offending the reader.

5. Edit & proofread

The importance of enrolling and graduating strong writers cannot be stressed enough, so don’t forget the basics! Include an introduction, supporting paragraphs and a closing. Write clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Take time to edit, proofread--walk away from it--then edit and proofread again before submitting. 

Tip :   Consider consulting a Pre-Law Advisor or mentor to help you proofread and edit. Sound easy enough? It is if you take it seriously. Don’t think you have to craft the “best” or most competitive personal statement, just the most “genuine” personal statement. Remember, there is nobody with your exact set of life experiences, background, or point of view. Just do you.

Photo of Lindsay Gladney, Vice Dean for Admissions.

Guest blogger  Lindsay Gladney  is the Vice Dean for Admissions at UB School of Law. 

Office of Admissions University at Buffalo School of Law 408 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260 716-645-2907 [email protected]

Learn more about the law school admissions process and School of Law community through an individual meeting with one of our staff members.

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Additional Resources:   

  • Law School Application Checklist: Everything You Need To Know
  • Law School Application Advice to Ignore
  • When Should I Submit My Law School Application: Timeline & Tips
  • 5 Benefits of Attending a State Law School

Bonus: 5 Law School Personal Statement Samples

1. this applicant writes about their experience hiking a mountain peak, what it taught them, and how it reaffirmed their affinity for the natural environment..

As I trudged my way up the path, only about a mile from the peak, I could not escape the creeping sense of self-doubt entering my mind. That day I had willingly accompanied my best friend on a hike up a “fourteener” (a mountain peak in Colorado with at least 14,000 feet of elevation). With a false sense of bravado, I jumped at the idea because I considered myself to be an avid hiker and in decent physical condition despite my inexperience at that altitude. Nearingthe top, with my head pounding and my knees weakening, my confidence had been shaken by the altitude sickness that started to take hold of me. I began asking myself questions like, “Will I finish?”, “Why did I even agree to this?”, and “Is this even worth it?”. However, as I took a sip of my water to rest and collect myself, it registered that the opportunity to encounter such natural wonder might not strike again. I knew that if I turned back, I would regret it and possibly never have the chance again. Accordingly, I decided to do my best to finish the trek.

Even though I was still in considerable discomfort, that sensation seemed to fade away when I finally reached the peak. I became enamored with the magnificence of the surrounding mountain range and the epic view it had to offer. The peaks extended out forever, some stretching high enough to look as though one could reach up and touch the clouds themselves. Crisp green alpine forests totally engulfed the surrounding valleys and eventually led down into the crystal blue water of the lakes and rivers below. Cliché though it may be words truly cannot do justice to such a surreal experience.

As I reflect on the experience, I am proud to have accomplished such a physically challenging adventure, but perhaps more grateful for what the hike taught me about myself. First, I gained a sense of confidence in my ability to persevere despite difficult circumstances and especially when faced with self-doubt. Indeed, I have drawn from the experience on numerous occasions to remind myself that I am capable of enduring whatever challenges life may throw at me. Secondly, I believe this hike to have been a defining moment that reaffirmed and strengthened my affinity for the natural environment. I developed this fondness from an early age where much of my childhood was spent outdoors, whether it was fishing and camping with my father or hiking and playing sports with my friends. However, the wonder I felt on that peak in the Rockies was something I seldom experienced growing up in Buffalo, New York. It is a feeling that I hope all can feel at some point in their lives and partly why I believe it to be so important that we do all we can to protect and preserve the environment. The importance of conservation is greater now than ever amid the challenges posed by issues such as pollution and global climate change.

During my undergraduate coursework, I was able to take a class in Environmental Law, where I learned about state and federal statutes that regulate water, soil, air pollution, resource conservation and recovery, and actions of the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, we studied the Clean Air Act and how it is applied during legal disputes to enforce national air quality standards. Participating in this course showed me that there is an opportunity to apply my enthusiasm for the environment into the legal profession as it is my eventual goal to represent those damaged by pollution. I believe studying at the University of Buffalo School of Law will allow me to pursue my goals and make a positive contribution towards environmental problems by serving those who have been affected in the local and global community. Although the experience will be challenging, I am excited for the opportunity, motivated by a passion for the environment and knowing that I possess the ability to persevere in the face of doubt.

2. How one applicant’s experience interviewing incarcerated individuals shaped their understanding of our justice system and influenced them to pursue policy work.

Above me, in a giant watchtower, stood a large man holding a semi-automatic rifle while staring down at me. I heard the echoing clink of a prison lock, allowing me to pass through a massive barbed-wire fence. Although I begged and pleaded for the opportunity to interview an inmate at a maximum-security prison, I have never felt more intimidated than I did in this moment. I was only seventeen years old, sitting in a visitation room filled with orange-suited men. An overwhelming sense of fear crowded my thoughts. In fact, I was nearly paralyzed by the environment I had found myself in. I could hardly conduct an interview, but thankfully, my interviewee, Mr. Thomas Gant, had about twenty years of stories to tell. He ambitiously shared

first-hand accounts of prison fights, housing raids, gang activity, and injustices that he has endured during his sentence of twenty-five years to life. His stories were captivating and filled with raw emotion. It was evident that he too, felt a similar sense of fear each and every day.

Fast forward to my last semester of undergrad, where I spent four months at the Ingham County Jail working with incarcerated men and women to prepare them to transition into our communities. I interviewed dozens of orange-suited men each week and loved every second of it.

I was eager to contribute to a program that helped break the vicious cycle of incarceration and confront the plethora of barriers to reentry. I often think about Mr. Gant and how his stories ignited a passion within me that still drives my ambition to this day. If I had the chance, I would thank him for inspiring me to pursue every opportunity to help incarcerated men and women, such as those at the Ingham County Jail. I would share with him the knowledge from my academic and professional experiences, in hopes of keeping his life on track upon release, and most of all, in hopes of protecting him from the fear we shared on the day I met him.

My variety of field experiences and my success with academic rigor has surely prepared me for law school. I have completed several other justice-related internships which have provided me with a comprehensive understanding of how our justice system operates in practice, which often deviates from how our justice system operates in textbooks. These field experiences led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, where my classes focused on the history of corrections and how other countries are utilizing confinement to successfully rehabilitate offenders. Academia quickly taught me that the majority of people simply accept our prison system for what it is, and very few question its punitive and unjust nature. Fortunately, my bachelor’s degree in social relations and policy allowed me to challenge conventional wisdom and confront policy issues as they relate to factors of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion – all of which exist in our prison system. My professors constantly pushed me to find ways that the American corrections system could change the course of its future. I spent countless hours researching the topic of injustice behind bars, writing numerous analytical essays and policy proposals, and presenting interdisciplinary conclusions to rooms filled with aspiring politicians. I look forward to perfecting these skills, sharing my experiences to enhance classroom discussions, and engaging in additional field experiences and clinics while in law school.

Ultimately, I am confident that my career fulfilment will lie in policy making and advocacy for those who have faced injustice within our prison system and in the free world. My interest in studying law and my decision to apply to University at Buffalo School of Law are a result of my longstanding enthusiasm to advocate for and to improve the lives of people impacted by incarceration. The University at Buffalo will provide me with both the necessary education as well as the hands-on experience to ensure that I will confidently enter the legal world prepared to contest the many issues of justice reform.  

3. How one applicant found their voice, and why a stale piece of toast is displayed alongside their college diploma.

Growing up, I was nonplussed by the idea of awards. While other friends entered cut-throat competitions over grades and the attention of our coaches, I cared more about preserving my friendships with people than beating them on any field or test. Whenever I found myself winning, I tended to remain quiet about my victories. Most of the time.

In the waning weeks of my junior year of high school, my tireless U.S. History teacher – Mr. Welgoss– kept us showing up to class each day by breaking us into debate teams and having individuals from each side square off against each other around designated topics. The winner would take away a most delicious reward: A single slice of white bread toast. Pun intended. This was when I learned that I was to define the best Supreme Court Cases in U.S. History and then defend my stance in front of the entire class. Alone. I was completely terrified.

This is the perfect place to share just a bit about high school me. You likely knew me well. I was that kid curled into a corner at the back of the classroom in an effort to make myself smaller. During the first week of each school year, I sized up my teachers, figured out which of them was into cold calling on students, and positioned myself within the room accordingly. While I was a dedicated student and history geek who loved to read, I was not a particularly extroverted one. There was no part of this assignment that I was excited about.

To make matters worse, I was assigned Marbury v. Madison, perhaps one of the most boring cases in the eyes of a bunch of fresh faced politically active 16-year-olds who had just spent an entire year learning about the societal gravity of cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Still, I did careful research. I composed a meticulous claim. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, so I did the work that I needed to.

Along the way, I fell in love with the assignment. This was the first time I experienced that rare moment as a researcher when everything seems to click. I’d never had that moment as a research and argument writer before, and I have been chasing that feeling since. I love leaning into knotty problems, following research, and learning processes that help me untie them, and then, showing others how to unscramble crossed lines themselves, when they need to.

So, you likely know how this story ends. I won the debate. That piece of toast, miraculously mold free after six years, sits on my bookshelf alongside my college diploma, reminding me of the moment I not only found my passion, but my voice.

Since the moment I won that single slice of super processed food that still looks as fresh as the day I brought it home, there have been other moments that solidified my decision to study law. As a freshman at Nazareth University, my newfound interest in the law inspired my decision-making as I chose my major and began coursework that I inevitably fell in love with. When I started my internship at a local non-profit during undergraduate, I saw how my research and application of the law could help me to advocate for marginalized communities. My desire to

practice law was again upheld when I began paralegal work for Berardi Immigration Law the day after I earned my degree. My dedication to this work has taught me that there are often a variety of solutions for complicated problems. Many assume that creativity is something you’re born with. Experience has taught me it's not quite this simple, though. Constraint often inspires creativity, and to me, this is what makes the law the most wonderful muse.

I’m the daughter of a writer and the sister of a designer. My great grandfather owned a hobby shop. I never enjoyed most of these things, and try as I might, any attempt to practice arts and crafts always ended badly and left me feeling like the least creative bird on my family tree. Imagine my surprise then, as the last few years of learning, work, and a piece of toast began revealing the creative nature of the law to me. Imagine my delight when I realized that I have certain strengths here, too.   

4. This applicant writes about their never-ending pursuit of knowledge and how pursuing law provides a practical outlet for their curiosity.

There are very few things in life that are more important to me than learning. I have been driven by curiosity, and the never-ending pursuit of knowledge has always been a great source of joy for me, both inside and outside of the classroom. I finished my undergraduate studies in December of 2019, with plans to work in France as a teacher that coming fall. I was beyond excited that I had been afforded an opportunity to pursue such a dear intellectual passion. The intervening pandemic meant that I had to make difficult decisions about the direction my future would take, and ultimately this meant setting aside some of my own ambitions in order to take care of my loved ones.

While my immediate post-graduation plans did not work out, I have never set aside my curiosity. If anything, the challenges of post-collegiate life have reaffirmed to me the vital importance of learning as a constant and on-going part of living. As a student of history and languages, many of my college peers nurtured plans of attending law school, and the idea of studying law has long interested me.

In June of 2022 I began working as a legal assistant at a small law firm in Queens. I hoped that job would give me a chance to learn about the legal field, while pushing me to grow as a professional. Being confronted with the vast complexity of the law has been a humbling experience, but also an endlessly intriguing one. At work, I relish any opportunity to learn more about the law, and I have found that the field is perfectly suited to the academic skills that I have spent my entire life building.

What is perhaps most exciting to me about the prospect of studying law is the idea of having a practical, real-world outlet for all the curiosity and scholarly instincts that I have nurtured throughout my life. Studying case law, building arguments based on evidence and legal research, using language itself as a tool; all these skills that I have seen to be so vital to the successful practice of law feel like natural extensions of the skills that I’ve developed across my life. Performing research was of course integral to my studying history, and combing through Westlaw as a legal assistant has often reminded me of the time I would spend searching through university archives as a student, looking for information to help me build my arguments. Having studied both History and French, I am very comfortable with interpreting language that feels unfamiliar or archaic, which is certainly a necessary skill to have when studying and practicing law.

The challenges of post-graduation life have led me to do a great deal of reflecting. I’ve been forced to ask myself what makes me feel fulfilled, and at the same time have had to evaluate my own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve found that there are no simple answers, but I can affirmatively say that I have the self-confidence, motivation, and ability to be an excellent law student.

5. How a Unified Basketball program inspired this applicant to pursue education law.

I never realized how great of an impact one policy could have on so many people until I was in high school. I knew how far-reaching the law was, but it became so much more apparent and personal when it began to impact the lives of my friends and classmates in the Unified program.

When I began high school, I was still a little shy, but I was sure that I wanted to get involved in things that made a difference in other people’s lives. It was through my involvement in Student Council that I was asked by the athletic director to help start up a program called Unified Basketball. I remember being called down to the Athletic Office one day out of the blue. I felt extremely confused. I had not previously played any school sports and I never would have expected to be asked to speak with the athletic director. I also wouldn’t have expected a meeting that lasted maybe fifteen minutes to serve as a great turning point in my life.

The Unified Basketball program is a cooperative team combining students with and without intellectual disabilities, run by the Special Olympics and New York state high school sports. From that first season, the Unified program quickly grew to become one of the best experiences of my life and it continues to shape me every day. In the second year of the program, we added a Unified Bowling team, and I helped create a Unified Club so that those who might also have physical limitations that would keep them from playing sports, could still benefit from the family created in the program.

Through this program I created connections with the members of the team and our coaches, and we effectively created a family and a community greater than ourselves. Because of these friendships which I had grown to value so much, it only hurt that much more when I learned from my coach that New York’s eligibility rules for high school sports would cause some of my teammates to be ineligible to play. Although they could remain in school until the age of twenty-one, they would not be able to play after they reached a certain age or had played for a certain amount of time. One of my friends was the first on our team to age out due to these guidelines and as a team we were devastated. These policies did not line up and although the original guidelines were intended to prevent unfair advantages in competition, this really wasn’t an issue with the Unified program. Thankfully, this policy was eventually changed by the state Board of Regents to allow my teammates to play once again.

There have been two indelible legacies created through the Unified program. First, I have been able to see the impact that the program has had on students in our district’s special education program. I saw this happen for one of my teammates, who was first introduced to me by his aide as being nonverbal. He was initially very shy but as he grew more comfortable with the game and his teammates, he came out of his shell. From that first season on his confidence grew and even when I see him now, over five years later, he will rush over to give me a high-five or a fist-bump and say “Hi!” Second, is the impact the program has on my district and the community at large. During my junior year of high school, our team performed the dance “The Wobble” at our pep rally, marking the first time that our special education students were included in the homecoming event. Even years later, this tradition has continued and the response from the school and community has been extraordinary.  

This experience shaped me as a person and shifted my interests in terms of career goals. I have had an interest in education and the social sciences since I was little, but being involved in the Unified program allowed me to better understand how these interests could connect and how I can make an impact. I want to pursue a law school education and become an attorney so that I can practice education law. I want to support students, faculty, and staff to create the best possible educational environments for our future generations.

I Got a Full-Ride to Law School Using This Personal Statement

Jack Duffley

Law school admissions certainly are intimidating, especially when it comes to the rather daunting task of writing a personal statement with no real prompt. Generally, law schools will ask for no more than two pages of basically whatever you would like to talk about.

However, there are a few well-established principles for writing a successful personal statement. Here are 4 principles, along with my own personal statement, to help you hit a home run:

The personal statement should only drive your application forward. If it is holding it back in any way, it is not ready.

Your personal statement should explain your interest or purpose for studying the law.

This does not have to be the backbone of the entire piece, but it should be at least mentioned somewhere. It should also avoid legal jargon and should not be some sort of showcase for legal knowledge. It also should not be a regurgitation of your resume. The committee will already have your resume, so the personal statement serves as a supplement to it.

Spend the time making your personal statement better.

To get a competitive offer from whichever law school you may be applying to, it all starts with a good application package. The admissions committee is going to want to see a good LSAT score , a strong GPA, some recommendations, and a well-written personal statement. That much is clear. Your personal statement may never feel like it is just right, but it can only become better with consistent time and effort spent drafting it again and again.

Research examples of well-written personal statements.

To get some ideas about what a good personal statement could look like, I did a preliminary search to read a few successful ones. The University of Chicago had a few essays posted on  their site  from admitted students that gave me a good point of reference. Although there is tremendous flexibility in writing the personal statement, it should not be so wacky as to discourage the admissions committee in your abilities as a writer or in your seriousness about attending law school.

Take advantage of the resources around you to make your statement the best.

For my statement, I went through a couple of potential concepts and decided to do one on my life’s motto. And, no, it was not some cliché that I pretended was my motto; I picked words that I truly lived by and continue to live by to this day. I spent many hours writing and rewriting my personal statement. Thankfully, I had the invaluable help of my roommate, who is a strong writer himself, and he gave me useful feedback on many of my drafts (I promised him a nice dinner if I ended up getting admitted with a full-ride to somewhere). When I got close to a final draft, I took it to my school’s writer’s workshop to have someone I had never met before read it aloud. It allowed me to hear where someone might misunderstand something so that I could make changes accordingly for the final product.

mental illness law school personal statement

Beginning in the spring, picking up in September, accelerating further in October, and finishing in November when I sent my applications out, the whole process produced something that I thought gave me a very strong shot at success. So here it is. Enjoy:

“Ball: outside!” declared the umpire.

“Come on now! Get ahead, stay ahead, kid!” demanded my coach.

I checked the sign: fastball. That pitch was just not there; I shook my head no. My catcher gave me the next sign: curveball. Yes, the get-me-over-curve, my signature pitch. I stepped back to begin my windup.

“Steeeeeriiike! One and one,” the umpire grunted.

“That’s the way, Duff! Just like that!” my coach exclaimed.

My catcher fired that ball back to me. I toed the rubber and focused on his signs: he flashed two fingers and motioned to the right—curveball, outside. I nodded affirmatively. He and I were on the same page. I began my windup again, picked up the leg, and spun my big overhand curve to the plate.

“Two! One and two.” The batter stood motionless as he watched my back door hook clip the outer edge of the strike zone.

“One more now, Duff! Come on, kid!”

The pitch count, or the current amount of balls and strikes in a given at bat, is perhaps the most impactful construct of baseball. After every pitch, the umpire declares it to be a ball or strike, subsequently adding it to the count. If the batter reaches four balls, he earns a walk, or a free pass to first base; if he gets three strikes, the batter is out. The batter’s goal is to reach a base before three strikes. The pitcher does everything that he can to stop that.

As I got the ball back, I knew I was in the driver’s seat. The batter was at a tremendous disadvantage and would have to react to my pitches on two strikes rather than just being able to lock in on one. I leaned in for the sign: one finger, right, up—fastball, high and outside. I liked it. Even though it was not my best pitch that day, I understood that I could still use it effectively to keep batters off balance since I was ahead. I stepped back into the windup and let the pitch fly.

The batter flailed at the pitch. “Three!” shouted the umpire, raising his fist in the air to call him out. He was sitting on the big, slow curveball and not the fastball, but he could not be selective because he was down in the count. On to the next one.

“Atta kid! That’s what happens when you get ahead!”

Get ahead, stay ahead.

While my organized baseball playing days may be over, that fundamental is still strong. A picture of all-star pitcher Max Scherzer hurling a baseball towards the plate sits above my desk with that same motto in bolded letters:  Get Ahead, Stay Ahead .

What does getting ahead provide? For one, it gives the peace of mind that comes with flexibility; there’s room to react in case something goes off course. In baseball, it gives the pitcher more room to work within the count because he has more options when the batter must play defensively. In short, he can do what he wants. One of the key differences between baseball and life, however, is that baseball has a simple, predetermined goal: score more runs than the other team! Life, on the other hand, allows for enormous flexibility in choosing a goal. Rather than be content with the usual four-year bachelor’s track, I pushed forward as hard as I could to graduate in three years. Many people are surprised when I tell them about my efforts to graduate early; they often wonder why I chose to accelerate my education. I usually explain that it saved me a significant amount of money while expanding my room for error. Most importantly, I tell them, by efficiently reorganizing my schedule, getting ahead actually  gave  me time to think.

The most successful people throughout history have all had an overarching goal, no matter how grand; with the time from getting ahead, I chose mine. Andrew Carnegie sought to provide affordable steel, Henry Ford wanted to create a universal automobile, and Elon Musk aims to put a city on Mars. After seeing their success, I think about how I can do the same. Simply put, I want to be a leader in sustainable real estate. More specifically, I want to make green living universal. Whenever I get the same surprised looks from this claim as when I tell someone that I am graduating early, I clarify that there are already some pioneers designing revolutionary apartments with trees planted on all of their floors, working to clean the air in polluted cities. Stefano Boeri, for example, has designed a thirty-six-floor building covered with trees on terraces jutting out from its sides, dubbed the “Tower of Cedars.” I want to take this premise further: my mission is to expand clean living to all, not just the elite who can afford it. The law is one of the most important tools that I will need to achieve this. The complexities of environmental and real estate law will be major challenges. Regardless, to lead the industry, I must get ahead. When I start my business, I will reflect on my experience in running the Trial Team as its president, the perspective on efficient business systems that I gained with American Hotel Register, and the tips that the CEO of Regency Multifamily shared with me for optimally running a large real estate firm, among many other things. But I will always be looking forward. While history shows that there are answers in the past, only the future knows them. Thankfully, controlling the present by getting ahead can make the future that much more certain.

I stepped back into the windup, again. As I drove off the rubber towards the plate, I extended out as far as I could to get as much control and power as possible. The big hook landed firmly over the outer third of the plate, right into my catcher’s mitt with a solid  phwump .

“Steeeeeriiike! Oh-and-one.”

“Atta kid!” My coach was elated to see my pitch command this inning.

Are you inspired to get ahead? Don’t you just feel a sudden urge to admit me into your program? Well thankfully, it made an impression on someone. I did my best to show my ambitions while showing a bit of my personality. The greatest risk that I took was that some of the baseball jargon may have been hard to understand for someone unfamiliar with the sport, but I made sure that it would not detract from the overall meaning of the piece. It served as a useful supplement to the rest of my application.

As of 2018, I am enrolled at Chicago-Kent College of Law with a full tuition scholarship. While it is no Ivy program, it is a respectable school with a strong regional reputation. The great thing about having the financial burden of law school off my shoulders is that I can now focus on getting the most out of my studies, rather than stress to figure out how I am going to pay off the debt that would have financed my education. And if it turns out that the program is not the best option for me, I can walk away with no financial strings attached.

The personal statement should only drive your application forward. If it is holding it back in any way, it is not ready. Keep it professional but do be creative and show the reader more of your personality than a resume alone would give. You are selling them your brand as a student, so do not let them gloss over your application without much of a thought.

Jack graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2018 with a degree in Economics and History, and he currently works in property management while attending Chicago-Kent College of Law on a part-time basis. He hopes to use his law degree to enhance his career in commercial real estate and eventually lead sustainable large-scale real estate developments nationwide.

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Find helpful tools and gadgets

Because neurodivergent people often need visual prompts or sensory tools, it is helpful to figure out what works best for you. Maybe you need a quiet fidget to use under your desk in class to help you focus. Maybe you need to incorporate the use of timers throughout your day. If you struggle with time blindness, you can use hourglasses to help you visualize time. Perhaps you struggle with extraneous sounds and need to use noise-cancelling headphones. More and more tools and gadgets are being made for neurodiverse individuals that can help you throughout law school.

Find the best time to be productive

Society can dictate when you are supposed to be most productive. See the traditional 9-5 work schedule. However, that model does not always work best for neurodiverse individuals. Some people are not morning people, and that is fine. Figure out when you have the most energy during your day to be your most productive self.

Identify your organizational system

Find one system to use for organization and don’t change it. Trying too many organizational systems can become overwhelming. If your phone calendar works best, use that. If you are a list person, write all the lists. If you are a planner person, find the coolest one to use throughout the school year.

Write everything down

It would be nice to think that you can remember every task or deadline, but let’s be honest, that’s probably not true. Write down every deadline, every task, meeting, assignment, important date, etc. in the organizational system that you use.

Figure out your maximum focus time

Just like you can only put so much gasoline in a car, most neurodiverse individuals only have so much room in their focus tank. Figure out how long you can truly focus and apply yourself to a task before you need a break. That amount of time is typically shorter for neurodiverse individuals. If you can only truly focus for 20 minutes, study for 20 minutes, take a break, and then come back for another 20 minutes.

Find your friends

You may have started law school with your mind full of horror stories. Throw them out the window. Most of the people you attend law school with are genuinely kind and helpful people. Try to find a group or a couple of people that you can trust and lean on when necessary. Your law school friends can help you stay on task, body double, and even provide notes on the days you may be struggling. These friends can be one of your greatest assets throughout your law school journey.

Be honest with your professors

Only discuss your neurodivergence with your professors to the extent that you are comfortable. If there are things you are concerned about related to your neurodivergence, it can be beneficial to make your professors aware at the beginning of the semester. Whether you are worried about cold calling or need a topic broken down, most professors love opportunities to discuss their area of law! They can’t know that you may need help if you don’t let them know. This is especially important if you aren’t successful in getting accommodations from your school’s Disability Services.

Trust your methods

As a neurodivergent student, you may not fit the traditional mold of all the things a law student is “supposed to do” in order to be successful. You have been in school for years, and now is the time to trust yourself and not be afraid to be an “outside of the box” law student. There is no harm in trying new study methods, but never fear going back to your personal basics. If you need help figuring those out, see if your law school has a learning center or faculty member that can assist you.

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mental illness law school personal statement

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Restatement of Contracts 2d


(1) A counter-offer is an offer made by an offeree to his offeror relating to the same matter as the original offer and proposing a substituted bargain differing from that proposed by the original offer.

(2) An offeree’s power of acceptance is terminated by his making of a counter-offer, unless the offeror has manifested a contrary intention or unless the counter-offer manifests a contrary intention of the offeree.

Negligence Defined

Restatement (second) of torts 282.

In the Restatement of this Subject, negligence is conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. It does not include conduct recklessly disregardful of an interest of others.

Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed.2014)

Demurrer: A means of objecting to the sufficiency in law of a pleading by admitting the actual allegations made by disputing that they frame an adequate claim. Demurrer is commonly known as a motion to dismiss.

(2) An offeree’s power of acceptance is terminated by his making a counter-off, unless the offeror has manifested a contrary intention or unless the counter-offer manifests a contrary intention of the offeree.

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Negligence defined

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  • Personal Statement about Mental Health vs. Addendum/Character & Fitness essay? Do I need both? Hi everyone! <br /> I took a year off in undergrad as a medical leave of absence, during that time I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar 2 d…
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Personal statement about mental illness.

Christina Walton

The 7Sage law school admissions site says you probably shouldn't write about mental illness and I am wondering why. If the purpose of a personal statement is to share something that happened and how you learned from it, why would mental illness be off the table? Surely schools can't reject you on the basis of you identifying as mentally ill right?

Personal Statement about Mental Health vs. Addendum/Character & Fitness essay? Do I need both? Hi everyone! I took a year off in undergrad as a medical leave of absence, during that time I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorde…


Applications, Personal Statement, Addendum, diversity statement I am taking the December LSAT & because a couple of the schools I am applying to have a December deadline for the majority of their better scholarshi…


Question about Personal Statement and LOR Overlap I'm working through drafts of my personal statement and realized that it may overlap with one of my LORs. Basically, I took Public Speaking and St…

Ron Swanson

The reason you shouldn't is most states prohibit bar applicants from becoming attorneys if they have a documented illness. As an example it was only earlier this year (2020) that New York removed its mental illness question from its bar application. Thus, as far as essay topics go just to be cautious it might be worth avoiding as the profession is only coming around to this sort of topic. I can see why too, traditionally attorneys are individuals with sound mind and judgment and represent others so volunteering you have documented depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, doesn't really bode well with the professional requirements of the job. Hope this helps: https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/new-york-removes-mental-health-questions-from-state-bar-application

@MichaelJM1989 said: The reason you shouldn't is most states prohibit bar applicants from becoming attorneys if they have a documented illness. As an example it was only earlier this year (2020) that New York removed its mental illness question from its bar application. Thus, as far as essay topics go just to be cautious it might be worth avoiding as the profession is only coming around to this sort of topic. I can see why too, traditionally attorneys are individuals with sound mind and judgment and represent others so volunteering you have documented depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, doesn't really bode well with the professional requirements of the job. Hope this helps: https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/new-york-removes-mental-health-questions-from-state-bar-application

That sounds pretty ableist. What about the diversity statement? Would it be okay for Massachusetts law schools since the mass bar doesn’t ask mental health questions?


It would probably technically be "okay" but idk if most states prohibit it id be pretty careful. Yea it sucks.

Ive also heard the same thing about diversity statement. Ive heard it can be a pretty taboo topic, and it raises a lot of questions about your ability to perform in a high stress environment. This was from my prelaw advisor at my undergrad

Personal statements: What not to do

Sometimes I will unexpectedly stumble across an item I wrote at some point in the distant past, and upon rereading, I’ll be thrilled to discover I still like it. That’s a wonderful feeling—very self-affirming.

That is not the feeling I get when rereading my law school personal statement. More accurate adjectives include “shame,” “revulsion,” and “horror.”

After a couple of seasons in this position, way back in 2003 or so, I got up the nerve to go dig out my application file from the huge storage room hidden deep in the recesses of Hutchins Hall . Given the weight I put on personal statements when I read them, going back to check out my own seemed like a clever idea. Without actually remembering, I’m going to guess that I expected a nice self-affirming experience, but alas, no. I loathed my personal statement to such a degree that I had the Looper -style existential crisis of realizing that if I had been my own dean of admissions, I would not have admitted myself. I returned my personal statement to the vault, resolving never to speak or think of it again.

But as Freud got famous for observing, repressed thoughts have a tricky way of coming back on you. My stupid personal statement would worm its way into my brain every once in a while, and finally, about a year and a half ago, I got the idea of tearing it apart for this blog: part philanthropic, educational gesture; part exorcism. It took me another year or so to get the nerve to go dig out my application file folder again, and yet another six months to beat back the waves of nausea that washed over me every time I peeked at the essay inside. But here we are. I think I’m ready. Let’s just tackle this horrifying task bird by bird . 1

Often I am asked, “What’s a good subject for a personal statement? Do I have to explain why I want to attend law school?” No!, I unambiguously respond. (I say it just like that, with an exclamation mark.) While your life path to law school might very well be in the background of whatever you write, it is certainly not necessary—and usually not desirable—to make it an explicit rendering. Often, even well-considered reasons behind wanting to attend law school are fairly mundane and simply expressed, not to mention shared by many candidates, with the result that any essay focusing principally on them is not particularly compelling. Occasionally, candidates will have very targeted, well-established career interests (e.g., the emergency room doctor who wants a career in health law; the school superintendent who wants a career in education law), and those make for compelling essays. But “I would like to have intellectual challenge in my career; I like unraveling problems; I like research and writing,” are such bland—though completely valid—explanations that they inevitably fail to engage the “personal” part of the personal statement mission. So, while those motivations might be the undercurrent of a personal statement, constructing the essay as an explicit “because A, then B” endeavor is not likely to be riveting.

Another bit of advice I frequently give along those lines is that people who have had experiences very early in life that set them on the path toward law should focus instead on something of more recent vintage. Don’t tell me about how you got an idea as a child about wanting to be a lawyer—I would prefer to know why, now that you’re an adult, your application is in front of me.

Given my standard advice, how much, on a scale of 1 to 10, do you think I loved reading this opening line? “My interest in law school began when I was eight.” Really, just terrible.

From there, my long-ago self went on to explain that that was the year my mother went to law school. Now, my mother’s move was a pretty bold one in 1972 for a 38-year-old mother of three in Main Line Philadelphia, and 40 years later, I still find it admirable and inspiring. I may have just finished generally criticizing this sort of theme (and this shows the danger of general advice), but it seems not impossible that this could have been an interesting topic. Yet, for reasons mysterious to me now, I seem to have made a deliberate choice back in 1989 to explore my topic in the most ham-handed imaginable way. (And let’s just politely avert our gazes from my having identified my mom’s degree, in the second sentence, as a juris doctorate .)

Mostly, my personal statement is hard to read because of the hyper-formal tone I took. I can dimly remember writing with my unknown audience in mind, and picturing them as super, super, super stiff and humorless and scary—also, for some reason, I pictured at least 10 of them simultaneously reading my application. Unsurprisingly, writing to please an audience like that turns out to make for clunky prose—not to mention really awkward, unnatural phrasing.

The whole thing is peppered with words that seem a little—off. I don’t remember doing this, but it reads as if wrote it out normally and then went back to up the syllable count, substituting five-dollar words for my daily quotidian vocabulary, like some horrible Google translate feature gone awry. Here’s a little writing advice from Stephen King on that score: “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” 2 (I would have been better served to use a dictionary, given that on at least one occasion I misused a word completely: “disinterest,” which means “lack of bias,” when in fact I meant “lack of interest.”)

Doubtless, it was this same classing-it-up impulse that led me to quote Judge Learned Hand, whose work I had never actually read. Again, I don’t remember doing this, but I presumably combed through a book of quotations to find something inspiring. (Remember, this debacle occurred pre-Internet; I actually had to go to a lot of effort to produce such an unreadable mess.) I’m going to take as an article of faith that, however much you may love the one sentence you have stumbled upon, quoting people whose work you do not actually know is always a bad idea.

My personal statement is also tedious; it is totally expositive, completely devoid of detail or anecdote. I could have told the funny story about the time I got dragged along to a meeting my mom had with her scariest professor, and announced upon exiting (while still in the doorway, mind you) in my loudest eight-year-old voice, “ I think he’s NICE!,” and segued from that to something about how I should be admitted because I had already gotten over Paper Chase -style neuroses. Or I could have told the story about how I once got dragged along to class and sat in the back row next to one of her classmates, another non-traditional student (Episcopal priest turned Vietnam War protester turned would-be lawyer), who gave me whispered explanations of everything that was going on in the discussion, and credited him with some inspirational force. Or I could have told the story about her very young study group partner, who pulled me aside one day (in our living room, mind you) and whispered, “Go away, kid; you bother me,” and explained that I was devoted to the cause of a jackass-free law school. And so on. But I chose instead to explicate in ponderous prose that I was Called To The Law. Shudder.

The flaws are not merely stylistic and thematic. The specific content stinks, too. I veered wildly between being braggy in a quite direct, unnuanced way, and talking excessively about other people, without clearly explaining the significance of those other people to me. And, as if I had never, ever been taught anything about constructing an essay, every paragraph is essentially a stand-alone endeavor. I did not seem to have any particular point I wanted to build to—I was, instead, largely throwing out separate thoughts that seemed potentially persuasive. Focusing on one particular thought or event, and developing that thoroughly, would have been likely to be more productive.

Have I mentioned it was awful?

In retrospect, I have a pretty good idea of how I came to write something so misguided. What I intended to write was something like this: My mom went to law school when I was young. It was an unusual move, and I admired her. In fact, though, she ended up absolutely hating being a lawyer, and then she died when I was in college, still hating it. That combination of circumstances made me really second-guess my previous certainty that The Law Was For Me. I therefore took some time to work in a law office and experiment with some other activities, and consider what I wanted from a career. Mission accomplished, and here I am, Michigan Law School. So, why didn’t I just write that? Because at the time, I was really uncomfortable with the idea of writing about my mom to strangers; even four years after she died, it was still very much an open wound for me, and I was leery of in any way exploiting it. So, instead, I wrote in a completely elliptical way, and never connected the dots—to the extent, weirdly, that I never even said that she had died, just that she had gotten sick. There were two possible solutions for my fundamental writing problem: either pick some less-fraught subject or force myself to be direct.

The good news is, the hot waves of mortification that wash over me when I read it carry with them some helpful perspective. The personal statement is very important, but it is just one piece of the puzzle, balanced by the considerable amount of information elsewhere in the application. (At a completely practical level, this is one of the great virtues of the optional essay prompts we provide; for people tormented by the task of writing a free-form personal statement, the direct, focused questions often lead to a much better result.) Even though I retain a hard little nugget of disdain in my heart for my 24-year-old self, I have learned to be more generous to others. Knowing how badly I flubbed it makes me very admiring of those who don’t, but also more forgiving of those who do. (And very thankful to Allan Stillwagon for having been forgiving of me.) Approach your personal statement as a five-minute conversation with a normal human being, at the end of which you hope the normal human being is thinking, “This person would be well-suited to be at XYZ law school when fall (or, perhaps, summer) comes.”

And for heaven’s sake, go easy with the thesaurus and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations .

-Dean Z. Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Planning

1 Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott is my all-time favorite book on writing. Shout-out to Lisa Rudgers , who recommended it.

2 Stephen King’s On Writing is my second-favorite book about writing. I have to dissent a bit from his anti-thesaurus edict, though. As one blogger noted , “Actually, I can think of one exception to this rule. I generally don’t pluck words I don’t know out of a thesaurus unless I’m trying to be funny, but if a word is on the tip of my tongue and I can’t for the life of me think what it is, the thesaurus is a good way to find it.”

Katharine Brooks Ed.D.

The Top Five Mistakes in Law School Personal Statements

These 5 mistakes can keep you out of law school..

Posted November 10, 2009

mental illness law school personal statement

It's law school application time and my office is located next to the office of our pre-law advisor for Liberal Arts Career Serivces, Tatem Oldham. I see a steady stream of students meeting with Tatem trying to decide everything from whether they should go to law school in the first place to determining which law school is the best choice. As she is every year at this time, Tatem is immersed in personal statements: good, bad, and ugly.

Law schools base their admission decisions on several factors: your grade point average, your LSAT scores, your background and experiences, and your personal statement or essay.

The personal statement is valuable to an admissions officer for several reasons-- it provides a sample of your writing style (and skill), it takes the place of an interview, and it provides a more personal introduction to a candidate. Since you only have about 500 words to work with, it's imperative that you create a statement that has impact, interest, and intelligence . Here's a link to a great resource for writing law school essays from Boston College.

Given that the personal statement can be a key factor in your admission to law school what should you avoid? I asked Tatem to give me the top five mistakes she sees in essays-and it only took her about two minutes to name them.

Top five mistakes on law school personal statements:

1. Failure to follow the directions . Each law school has its own requirements for the personal essay. Some will leave the topic open to you, but others will ask you to write about a specific subject. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU START WRITING YOUR ESSAY.

2. Grammatical and spelling errors . Remember, law schools are judging your writing skills. If you can't write a grammatically correct essay, you probably won't write a grammatically correct brief. Proofread. Proofread again. Ask someone else to proofread it. Do not rely on spell-check.

3. Leading with a famous quote and/or using trite phrases . Do not start your essay with "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Lead with your own words--not someone else's. Avoid using trite phrases like "I want to change the world", "I love the law", or "I want to be an international lawyer because I love to travel." They are meaningless and don't project a professional demeanor. (This is the law school equivalent of telling an employer you "want to work with people.") Dig deeper for your reasons for pursuing a legal career.

4. Emphatically stating your plan to specialize in an area of the law when nothing in your background backs that up . If you say you are destined to become a criminal lawyer, what have you done so far? Can you demonstrate concrete knowledge of the subject? Have you completed an internship with the local police force? Have you taken courses in criminology or criminal justice? If not, well then, criminal law is just a nice idea. You don't have the gravitas to back it up yet, so don't bring it up.

5. Focusing on a mentor or significant person in your life without bringing the topic back to you . If someone has influenced you to pursue a law career, that can be a great topic for an essay, but be sure you spend as much time discussing how you will use what you've learned from them, rather than spending the whole essay extolling their virtues.

You can find more helpful tips on the pre-law process through the Pre-law Advising Guide written by Tatem and the staff of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin. Please note: this is for personal use only; the guide is copyrighted by The University of Texas; all rights are reserved.

You can also find assistance through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) .

One final comment: Write your statement yourself . Get help if you need it (it's always a good idea to get feedback), but write your own essay. Don't pay someone to write it for you- not only will the essay not be yours, you run the risk that a law school may discover you didn't write it and ruin any chance of acceptance. Writing a personal essay can help you clarify your intentions for going to law school and bolster your commitment to the field. Ideally, you will inspire yourself as you're writing. That, in and of itself, is a reason to write the essay.

Katharine Brooks Ed.D.

Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., is an award-winning board-certified coach and counselor and the author of several career books and workbooks, including What Color is Your Parachute? for College.

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Sample Counseling Psychology Personal Statement (NYU Steinhardt)

mental illness law school personal statement

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In personal statement samples by field.

The following personal statement is written by an applicant who got accepted to Masters’s program at NYU Steinhardt School in Counseling Psychology. Read this essay to understand what a top personal statement in Counseling Psychology should look like.

Sample Personal Statement in Counseling Psychology

Growing up in Poland, I had internalized the stigma attached to Psychology and Psychotherapy. I was famous in my circle of friends as “the understanding one,” but I had developed a bitter taste for formally studying Psychology. Therefore, I opted for a more socially acceptable high school major – Computer Science.

But I wanted to learn about human behavior. Turning my back on the subject of my intellectual curiosity alienated me from myself. As expected, I scored miserably in high school. However, I did not give up just yet and went on to enroll in an IT program at the University of Warsaw.

Despite trying to ignite a passion for the discipline, I was inevitably headed toward disaster. A day before my first-year exams, I stared dispassionately at my book. I felt helpless and broke down into tears. At that moment, I realized I needed help from a mental health professional.

But I didn’t seek help because of two reasons. Firstly, hearing that only the crazy go for psychotherapy all my life, I could not muster the courage to deal with that label. Secondly, I only knew of Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists, and I did not want to be diagnosed or medicated.

Then I mustered the courage to cross the inner hurdles that kept me from studying Psychology. I wanted to gain insights into my emotional imbalances and tried to help myself by learning to help others. After that, I convinced my parents and changed my undergraduate central to Psychology.

This opened new doors that led me to a journey of growth and self-discovery. I met some wonderful people and began excelling in my studies. I was unanimously voted as the class representative in my second semester. Improved psychosocial support and self-efficacy began to work magic on my sense of self-worth.

Experiencing a shift from clutter to clarity, I felt a newfound affiliation with those in need. I heard about  Chayn  Poland through social media and started volunteering for it. While working at  Chayn , I was a part of an online community that created a resource portal to inform and help victims of domestic violence in Poland. It was an excellent opportunity to transmit the knowledge of the psychological aftermath of abuse to those who could benefit from it. I’m channeling the same spirit at my current job at  Social Welfare, Academics, and Training for Poland . Lending my hand in research about the psychological impact of militancy and war on the youth of Ukraine allows me to play my role in helping those in need.

Through my introduction to counseling and the humanistic model in my  Perspectives in Psychology  class, I saw the framework I could use to pursue the field of Psychology. Moreover, I realized that the humanistic school stood for the same values I had innately developed – holism; the importance of an individual’s experience, and the belief that all humans have an actualizing tendency.

Coincidentally, one of my close friends had joined a certificate course in  Humanistic Counseling  at Therapy Mission, Warsaw. I enrolled in the next session to test my interest in the subject. As part of the course, I completed 85 hours of group therapy and an equal number of lectures. I learned basic counseling skills, person-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and transactional analysis. Being in the group was truly transformational. As group therapy generally does, the group started to represent my unconscious perception of the world for me. Some of my group members represented specific figures from the past who I had unresolved issues with. I had the privilege of working on those issues through hot-seat exercises and psychodrama enactments. Being heard changed my relationship with myself. I learned to nurture myself and develop an inner resource, which would help me cope with future distresses more intelligently. I’m currently enrolled in a diploma in  Integrated Counseling .

Stepping out of my comfort zone gave me the strength to explore further. Hence, last summer, I decided to go to Kenya for an internship through AIESEC at  Living Positive Kenya . Among other experiences, the training allowed me to practice the skills I had acquired at Therapy Mission. I facilitated a psychosocial support group of women who had HIV/AIDS. My primary strategy was to create a safe space for women to express themselves. In that space, a woman could express her thoughts, and the group would provide her unconditional presence. Though the feedback was encouraging, I realized I needed more advanced training to deal with similar issues back home. I based my conclusion on the general resistance with which the idea of therapy is met in Poland.

My strength is that I come from a place where people are skeptical about counseling. However, I understand Poland’s dire need for counseling and have experienced its value first-hand. Therefore, I want to reach out and counsel as many people as possible. Having crawled from a pit of emotional darkness towards light puts me in the position to hold someone’s hand while they do the same. Now, all I need is extra muscle.


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Effective Guide: Personal Statement for Mental Health Counseling

Table of Contents

A personal statement is a reflection of a person’s life and experiences. A personal statement for mental health counseling should be no different. It showcases your skills, values, and motivations while providing insight into your thinking process.

This document highlights why you are interested in becoming a mental health counselor. This document can also give potential employers an idea of the type of individual they could be working with. As a result, it may increase their interest in interviewing you.

This article provides an effective example of a personal statement for mental health counseling. It also offers tips to help you draft one that draws the reader’s attention.

What Is a Personal Statement for Mental Health Counseling?

A personal statement for mental health counseling is a document to set out your reasons and qualifications for wanting to become a counselor. This document can provide admission committees with insights into an applicant’s motivations, experience, and professional goals . A well-crafted statement can be instrumental in helping an individual secure admission into a graduate program in counseling.

How Do You Write a Mental Health Personal Statement?

A personal statement focuses on the purposes of your mental health counseling skills, academic and experience background, and how they relate. It also highlights your career goals that are related to mental health counseling. When writing your personal statement for mental health counseling, keep the following tips in mind:

Be As Specific As Possible

Think about what has led you to want to become a counselor. Highlight why you are interested in working with people who experience mental health challenges. Be specific!

Highlight Your Experiences

Focus on your experiences (both academic and professional) that have prepared you to work with this population. What did you learn from these experiences? How did they help shape your understanding of mental health?

Provide Real-Life Examples

Use concrete examples from your own life to illustrate how you have been affected by or interacted with people who experience mental illness. This will help convey that you understand firsthand the struggles faced by those living with a mental illness.

Keep Your Tone Polite and Non-Judgmental

Make sure your tone is respectful and compassionate throughout the entire statement. Mental health can be sensitive, so it’s essential to come across as supportive and non-judgmental.

A white paper with the text

Personal Statement Example for Mental Health Counseling

Below are two examples of a mental health counseling personal statement that you can use to write your own:

I have always been passionate and eager to learn more about mental health counseling. Having experienced depression and anxiety first-hand, I understand the importance of seeking professional help. I believe in utilizing evidence-based practices to help individuals cope with mental health challenges.

My interest in mental health counseling began while I was an undergraduate at UCLA. I took a course on abnormal psychology there, which sparked my curiosity about how people experience mental illness. In addition to pursuing my education in psychology, I have also gained extensive experience working with diverse populations within clinical settings. I worked in outpatient clinics and schools in the inner city of Los Angeles area communities where resources are scarce. This hands-on clinical training and my academic background uniquely prepare me for a career in mental health counseling.

Beyond possessing the necessary skill set, what drives me to pursue this field is the privilege it affords me to connect with others. It helps me build trusting relationships that can foster change down the road. It’s incredibly fulfilling for me to see clients make progress and reach their goals. It might be overcoming major life transitions or managing chronic conditions like depression or anxiety disorders.

After years of exploring options, it became evident that becoming certified as a counselor would allow me to provide personalized care using my skills. As I study at [university name], I hope to use the knowledge I have accumulated over the years to better understand mental health counseling. I picked this path to realize a lifelong dream of mine: being one of the top mental health counselors.

I would like to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling at [University Name] with an emphasis on Mental Health. I firmly believe that counseling is one of the most effective ways to help people struggling with mental health issues.

My interest in this field began during my undergraduate studies. I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for a professor who studied schizophrenia. This experience gave me valuable insight into the different aspects of mental illness and how they impact patients and their families. It was also during this time that I realized how passionate I am about helping people with these kinds of challenges.

In addition to my academic background, I have extensive experience working directly with clients suffering from various mental illnesses. For years, I worked as a case manager for an organization that provides support services to mentally ill adults living independently in the community. In this role, I was responsible for assessing each client’s needs and developing individualized care plans accordingly. In many cases, this involved providing counseling services myself.

I feel confident that my skills and experiences make me well-suited for a career in mental health counseling. But even more importantly, I am passionate about providing significant assistance to those suffering from mental illness. And I eagerly wish to pursue a Master’s degree in Mental health counseling at [University Name] to be more competent in the field.

To get your spot in a coveted counseling program or job, you need to write an effective personal statement in the application process. This article provides valuable tips and examples to help you craft a personal statement that impresses the admission committee.

Effective Guide: Personal Statement for Mental Health Counseling

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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  12. Excellent Law School Personal Statement Examples

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  15. Personal statement about mental illness

    The 7Sage law school admissions site says you probably shouldn't write about mental illness and I am wondering why. If the purpose of a personal statement is to share something that happened and how you learned from it, why would mental illness be off the table? Surely schools can't reject you on the basis of you identifying as mentally ill right?

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    The Reddit Law School Admissions Forum. ... Personal Statements that Worked Hi everyone, We've collected some great personal statements by applicants who were accepted to T-14 schools. ... but I feel like every "good" PS deals with some form of direct loss, discrimination, depression/mental illness, or a distinguished accomplishment. Most ...

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  18. The Top Five Mistakes in Law School Personal Statements

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