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Law School Admissions Tip: Positive Positioning in the Personal Statement

Posted in Test Prep on February 2, 2011 by

Every other Wednesday, our friends at Clear Admit will share one of their excellent tips for navigating the law school admissions process. For more advice, be sure to check out their blog.

The personal statement is the prime opportunity for law school candidates to express themselves in the application process. Therefore it’s important that candidates present themselves positively in this section of the application to effectively show the admissions committees why they would be good additions to the law school community. We offer some tips below to help law school applicants put their best food forward in doing this and writing their personal statements.

1. Put yourself at the center. In talking about your future goals or in elaborating on your academic, volunteer or work experience to-date, you will want to put yourself in the picture, indicating what you would like to do in the short and long term or what role you specifically played in the various projects or activities that you discuss. Your personal statement is meant to be an opportunity to provide the adcom with greater insight into your candidacy and what sort of person you are and lawyer you will be in the future. Thus, elaborating on what others have done or talking generally about the state of your field of interest will not appear a meaningful discussion unless you can demonstrate how the material relates to you and pertains to your goals and interests.

2. Focus on fully realized successes. In writing about an accomplishment or involvement, it’s important that applicants’ stories and projects are ones in which a positive outcome has been accomplished or is ensured, as potential successes are not actual ones. Talking about a project that is on-going or that is just starting to come together will not be as meaningful as one in which an applicant has already displayed leadership, initiative and creativity in accomplishing a goal. Though ultimate impact may have not yet been observed (an example being an unknown verdict in a trial), one’s goals in the project should already have been attained (meaning, for example, that an applicant already assembled documents, prepped for the trial, etc).

3. Keep it positive. Many law schools ask for applicants to reflect on their unique interests, background, life experiences, and perspectives, and how these components would add to the diversity of a class. Although this is a good opportunity to discuss what you feel makes you unique, it’s important to focus on how you have grown from these experiences and the positive outcomes—law schools want to see how people are able to make the best out of bad situations and use obstacles to find further success. Therefore in describing any disadvantages or challenges you have encountered in your life, it’s important to focus on how you are a stronger person because of your experiences and why this would make you a good addition to the law school community.

We hope these essay-writing tips are helpful for those working on their personal statements and other law school essays. Happy writing!