Pen and Chisel Q&A: A Quick Intro to the Law School Personal Statement

Eileen ConnerAre you looking for help with your law school personal statement? Please welcome back law school admissions essay expert Eileen Conner, founder of Pen and Chisel, who has a quick intro to the law school personal statement.

If you missed any of her other admissions Q&As, check them out here.

If you write no other essay for your law school applications, you will definitely write a personal statement. So what is the personal statement? It’s an essay, certainly — but what are its criteria? What are its key characteristics? How can you use it to make a convincing argument for admission to law school?

Here’s a short and sweet introduction to the crown jewel of law school admissions essays. We’ll explore this piece through the traditional journalistic questions: who, what, when, where, and why. Let’s start with what.

What is the law school personal statement?

In short, this is the main application essay required by nearly every ABA-accredited law school in the country. It’s usually capped at two to three pages in length, and requires standard 1-inch margins and 10-to-12-point font.

In this essay, you’ll create a strong, well-supported argument for admission to the law schools of your choice. Generally, you’ll do this by sharing a story of your personal experience and using it to demonstrate that you have the skills and ambition to succeed in law. The choice of particular topic, details to include, and overall tone can make a huge impact on the overall effectiveness of this essay.

Who is the personal statement for?

While the personal statement is at least partially for you — after all, you are the one who wants to be admitted to law school — the real question here is “who’s your audience?”

In this case, your audience consists of the various admissions committees at your chosen law schools. You’ll need to consider what they want to see and hear to construct the most effective argument for admission. Be sure to read your application instructions and supplemental information carefully, so you’ll have a good understanding of what is most important to each law school.

When should you write your personal statement?

While it’s possible to write a convincing personal statement at any point up to your final application deadlines, it’s a very good idea to get started on them much, much earlier. After all, this is a strikingly different type of essay than the typical research paper students are asked to write in college — and that means it may take some time to adjust to its requirements.

By starting your personal statement in summer or early fall, you’ll give yourself time to write, rewrite, edit, and proofread a truly exceptional essay — and to give yourself the best possible chance at admission to your top-choice schools.

Where do you want to go?

You can write your personal statement anywhere, just like any other essay. But one important “where” concept to keep in mind is where you plan to go to school. What characteristics or resources of your chosen programs are most important to you? What advantages will each school give you? Why do you think these schools will be the best places for you to get your legal education?

Another concept to consider is where you want to end up in your career. What kind of work do you envision yourself doing as a lawyer? Which legal career path sounds most interesting and fulfilling to you? What population or group do you want to help?

You’ll want to keep all of these criteria in mind as you write your personal statement, so you can include them if you feel they will strengthen your argument for admission.

Why is the personal statement important?

This admissions essay is especially important because it lets you show the law schools of your choice direct evidence that you should be admitted to their program. It gives you the opportunity to add information to your application that the admissions committee would not see otherwise. For instance, you can include personal inspiration and tell stories of key experiences that give a convincing picture of your aptitude for success in law. Finally, it’s the main way you get to communicate with each law school’s admissions committee in your own words. All of this makes writing a stellar personal statement critical.

Now that you have a good idea of the scope and purpose of the personal statement, it’s time to get started! Pick up your pen, start brainstorming, and write up a rough draft or two. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to make a start on crafting a great law school personal statement.

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Thanks, Eileen! And good luck to everyone applying!

Got an admissions question for Eileen? Leave it in the comments!

More about Eileen:
Eileen Conner is the founder of Pen and Chisel LLC, where she specializes in helping law school candidates perfect their application essays. 

A graduate of the University of Michigan’s prestigious creative writing MFA program, Eileen is the former Senior Editor for Law at Revision Editing. 

Read On:

As you embark on your law school application journey, you might want to bookmark Applying to Law School 101: What You Need to Know to Succeed.

Then check out some of the rest of the Pen and Chisel Q&A:

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