While every personal statement for law school can be as different as the candidates writing them, there are also mistakes candidates commonly make when writing a law school personal statement. And when they make them, it is nearly impossible for the result to be an outstanding personal statement for their law school applications.
The advice I offer in this article comes from my 10+ years’ experience in consulting on, critiquing, editing and proofreading personal statements . In that time I have gotten to know the mistakes candidates commonly make in their personal statements for law school and the effect those mistakes have on the admissions committee members who read them.
Once you know what these mistakes are, they will be easy to avoid, and get you that much closer to a good working draft of your law school personal statement—and a good first impression with your law school application.
After you’ve followed the law school personal statement advice discussed in this article, sign up for our Personal Statement Revision & Critique service, which comes with multiple rounds of review of your personal statement, so we can provide you our expert advice tailored specifically to your story and candidacy, and help you achieve your best personal statement for your law school application.
Going on Too Long, and Why That Can Only Hurt Your Personal Statement
While some candidates believe in the myth that a personal statement cannot, or at least should not, be longer than one page, many others fall into the trap of letting their law school personal statements go on for far too long. Their personal statements for law school are 850, 900, even 950 words long.
There is little chance of a law school personal statement of that length being engaging, let alone successful. If your personal statement for law school is that long, there is surely something to take out. The target word count for your law school personal statement to be successful is 725 words.
Be and Stay Focused
Make sure your personal statement for law school is focused on where you are currently—why you have chosen law as your career path, why specifically you have chosen the programs you are applying to, and what specific areas of the law you are interested in.
The more focused your personal statement is, the better it will serve your application for law school. The key, of course, is to be specific when writing your personal statement. Any place your personal statement loses focus—any place it goes off on a tangent, or becomes vague or ambiguous—your reader, too, will lose focus and, with it, interest in you as a candidate.
Focus on Only One, Maybe Two, Areas of the Law
While you may not be certain of the area of the law you want to pursue, you need at least to choose one, or maybe two, for your law school personal statement. You can always change your mind later. If you are going to choose two, then you need to find the common thread between the two. However, you need to make sure that that common thread is legitimate.
Let’s say you wish to pursue both criminal law and family law, and the common thread you describe is a love to litigate. While certainly litigating can be part of practicing family law, for example, not all family law practitioners have the opportunity to litigate, or to litigate to a significant degree. This can be due to the kinds of cases they receive or what role they play in the firm where they work.
Stay Grounded: Understand How Your Law School Plans Will Lead to a Career
Whatever area(s) of the law you want to pursue, you need to provide clear reasoning for that pursuit, and in that reasoning should be a clear understanding of how you can make a living out of it. For example, do not state you wish to pursue a career in law to help the poor and marginalized if the only way to do so is to work pro bono 40 hours per week. While a desire to help others, if it is genuine, is certainly an admirable motivation for pursuing a career in law, it cannot come at the expense of putting food on your table.