Are You Going to Law School Because You’re a Good Writer?

Are You Going to Law School Because You're a Good Writer?This week we welcome back Law School Toolbox Tutor Whitney Weatherly to discuss how writing in law school can be very different from writing you’ve done before (and how to best learn how to write for legal practice).

I can’t even pick out one specific memory of this conversation, because I had it so many times with so many people. Here’s the rough transcript:

Me: So, why did you decide to go to law school?

Law Student: Well, all of my professors at [university] said that I was such a good writer that I should go to law school. So here I am!

Me: Right. OK…so how’s that working out for you?

Okay, so maybe that last reply was (usually) internal. When I first started law school, I certainly didn’t realize what was expected of me from a writing perspective. Like most of my fellow classmates, I usually did well on writing assignments in undergrad, but I’d had the benefit of working for an attorney before law school. Just the fact of working for her helped me shift my mode of writing from “creative” to “professional”, but she also gave me some tips along the way that made me more open to input once I got to my legal writing class. If you’re going into law school with the confidence of a good writer, consider this your wake-up call.

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4 Ways to Beat Law School Application Essay Stress

Eileen ConnerPlease welcome back law school admissions essay expert Eileen Conner, founder of Pen & Chisel, who has some timely advice on how to handle law school application stress!

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

Q: I have so many law school application essays to write! How can I keep all my different writing and editing tasks under control without panicking?

A: Application season brings with it a slew of new commitments — and plenty of stress.

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious and overbooked when you’re trying to balance writing your law school application essays with all the other tasks on your plate. The real key is not to let those tasks overwhelm you.

Try these four ways to beat application essay stress, and you’ll be better able to keep calm and manage all the problems the season throws at you.
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Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: The Second Question You Must Answer

The Big Three: Why Here?

SnowflakeThe second critical question your application needs to answer is why this specific law school makes sense for you.

You Do Have a Reason For Applying, Don’t You?

Let’s be realistic – most people are simply applying to the most highly ranked schools they think they can get into, with little regard for the attributes of individual programs.

This is generally a non-ideal strategy for picking a school, so I’m sure you have a very clear idea why you’re applying to each school. Right? Naturally. You’d be well advised to discuss your rationale in detail.

Every School Wants to Feel Special

Even if you don’t really know why you’re applying to a particular school, however, you’re going to have to fake it. Every school wants to think that they’re unique, and uniquely desirable. You can use this vanity to your advantage by discussing why specific aspects of the school appeal to you as an applicant.

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Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: The First Question You Must Answer

The Big Three: Why This?

Garden PathTo be convincing, your personal statement must explain why it makes sense for you to go to law school. Duh, right? I mean, of course. But you might find it’s not that easy to really articulate why you want to go to law school. Read on for various approaches.

Why does it make sense for you to go to law school?

This is the most critical question you need to answer – why does it make sense for you to go to law school? Is it the next logical step in a clear progression? Is it a shift onto an entirely new career path?

To figure out the most convincing story, you’ve got to look at your background objectively, and come up with some logical pathway to explain how you arrived where you are, and why law school is a reasonable next step. In some cases, this is pretty easy. If you’ve always been interested in criminal justice, you majored in sociology, you wrote an honors thesis on rehabilitation in the prison system, and you interned with the DA’s office, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that you’d want to be a lawyer. Your essay is pretty much written.

In other cases, however, the path is a bit more meandering.

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Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: The Final Question You Must Answer

The Big Three: Why Now?

HourglassLast but not least, your application needs to explain why it makes sense for you to go to law school right now. Is there something else you’d be better off doing instead?

This question may require less overt discussion than the first two, but it’s still worth thinking about.

Applying Straight from College

If you’re applying straight from college, there’s an argument that you’d be a better applicant if you had some work, or life, experience. Maybe this is true for you, maybe not.

Either way, it’s going to be in the back of the admission committee member’s mind when she reads your application. Are you mature enough to go to law school? Do you have the intellectual chops required to succeed? Are you going to be happy starting a professional career at such a young age?

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Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: Perfect Your Personal Statement

The Big Picture

HandprintYour law school application must answer three questions:

The personal statement is your best chance to convince the admissions committee that you’re a solid applicant with a clear plan for your legal career. If it fails to do this, you’ve missed an opportunity, in a big way.

The Mechanics

For now, let’s assume you’ve answered the big three satisfactorily. What else is there to think about?

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