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5 Personal Statement Tips: Law School Edition

Published February 12, 2018

The stress of cramming for the LSAT is behind you, and you survived the intolerably long wait for your score. You‘ve researched schools, requested transcripts, secured recommendations, and updated your resume. Now only the dreadful personal statement is preventing you from hitting the submit button.

So you might ask:  Does anyone even read the personal statement?  Yes
Could it be a make or break deciding factor?  Definitely

While your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA are good law school success predictors, non-numerical factors like your resume, recommendation letters and the personal statement give the Admissions Committee an idea of your individuality and how you might uniquely contribute to the law school. Most importantly, your personal statement is a sample of your writing, and strong writing skills are as important to lawyers as Mjolnir is to Thor.

If the thought of writing a personal statement triggers a 2007 Britney style meltdown, adhere to our Personal Statement Tips to avoid disaster.

1. Make it personal

The Admissions Committee will have access to your transcripts and recommendation letters, and your resume will provide insight into your outside-the-classroom experiences, past and current job responsibilities and other various accomplishments. So, the personal statement is your best opportunity to share something personal they don’t already know. Be sure to provide insight into who you are, your background and how it’s shaped the person you are today, and finally, who you hope to be in the future.

2. Be genuine

If you haven’t faced adversity or overcome major life obstacles, it’s okay. Write honestly about your experiences and interests. And, whatever you do, don’t fabricate or exaggerate—the reader can often see through this. Find your unique angle and remember that a truthful and authentic essay is always your best approach.

Tip: Don’t use big words you don’t understand. This will certainly do more harm than good.

3. Tackle the “Why?”

Get creative, but remember to hone in on the why. Unless the application has specific requirements, it is recommended you include what influenced you to pursue a legal education. Consider including what impact you hope to make in the world post-graduation.

4. Keep it interesting & professional

The last thing you want to do is bore the reader, so keep it interesting, personable and engaging. A touch of humor is okay, but keep in mind that wit and sarcasm can be easily misinterpreted. Demonstrate maturity, good judgment and tact and you won’t end up offending the reader.

5. Edit & proofread

The importance of enrolling and graduating strong writers cannot be stressed enough, so don’t forget the basics! Include an introduction, supporting paragraphs and a closing. Write clearly, concisely and persuasively. Take time to edit, proofread--walk away from it--then edit and proofread again before submitting. 

Pro Tip: Consulting a Pre-Law Advisor or a mentor to help you proofread and edit is an extra step you can take to make sure your personal statement is the best it can be!

Sound easy enough? It is, if you take it seriously. Don’t think you have to craft the “best” or most competitive personal statement, just the most “genuine” personal statement. Remember, there is nobody with your exact set of life experiences, background or point of view. Just do you.

Guest blogger Lindsay Gladney is the Vice Dean for Admissions at UB School of Law. 



Office of Admissions
University at Buffalo School of Law
309 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260