The Editor's cCorner

Cutting the Fluff: Tips for Writing a Law School Personal Statement


You can say a lot and still say nothing, and if your personal statement for law school can’t say it, chances are law school admissions committees will think you can’t either. How efficiently you can get to the point and deliver it in your personal statement will shape how law school admissions committees view your application—and you as a candidate—no matter how passionate for a career in law you may be.


What’s the Ideal Word Count for a Law School Personal Statement?


725 words. Can your personal statement for law school be longer or shorter than that? Sure … but not really. The average word count of the law school personal statements submitted for our law school personal statement services is 850 words. That is way too long. If your word count is that high, it means you haven’t made enough decisions in writing your personal statement (more on that below), that you don’t know how to communicate efficiently (we can help you with that), or both.


If your law school personal statement is less than 725 words, you likely have more work to do. If it is less than 550, it is missing key elements of the personal statement (more on that below). If it is less than 650, it is most likely missing key details that, when added, will flesh out the personal statement to make it more engaging and more successful for you.


Whether your personal statement’s word count is over or under 725 words, in most cases there will be adjustments that can be made to improve its likelihood of success in your law school application.


What Are the Key Elements Needed for a Successful Law School Personal Statement?


First is to know precisely what you are going to say, say it and stop. You should have a clear understanding of how you have developed personally and professionally, how that development has brought you to be applying for law school, and where you see that development taking you in your career in law.


Further, you should have a clear understanding of why you have selected the law schools you are applying to. Are you passionate about trial advocacy and therefore applying to law schools with strong mock trial programs? Are you clerking somewhere and therefore have certain geographic restrictions? Are you working full time and planning to pay your way through classes you take at night? Whatever are the key specific characteristics, you should have a clear idea of what they are and communicate them clearly in your personal statement.


Finally, you should state one or, at the most, two specific areas of the law you are interested in. This does not have to be something you’re locked into, but it should at least represent how you are developing personally and professionally, and make sense. This is not to say you can’t change your mind about what area of the law you want to pursue as you go through law school, and even afterward, but you need to make a choice to give your personal statement focus and direction. If you want to state two areas of the law, then make sure they both are grounded in who you are and your experience, and make sure they have that in common.


Why Simply Helping Others Is Not Good Enough


When it comes to why you wish to pursue a career in law and what specific area or areas of the law you are passionate about pursuing, stating that your reason is a desire to help others is simply not good enough. It is a mistake found commonly in personal statements for law school, and is a mistake for several reasons.


First, there are many ways to help others (e.g., social work, nursing, flight attendant), so why law specifically? Even within the law, there are many ways to help others (e.g., personal injury, child custody, contract negotiation), and there are many types of people (or parties) to help (e.g., immigrants, nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs). What specific way do you want to help others, and why? And who specifically do you want to help, and why, and can you make a career out of it? For example, you can’t make a career out of working pro bono all the time.


Make Your Points All the Way Through Your Personal Statement


From the introduction of your law school personal statement all the way through to the conclusion, make sure to stay focused on your key points and themes. Make sure each is developed completely, without anything extra and, of course, without any missing key details. The more diligent and professional you are in writing your personal statement for law school, the more it, and your application, will get the attention they deserve.

Posted in Personal Statements

green horizontal rule