Successful law school essays

Law school applications differ. Some applications include specific questions which provide an opportunity to deal with some of the areas mentioned here, while others will want you to include all areas in your personal statement. In preparing to write the personal statement, you should consider a number of questions. You may find some of the following suggestions helpful.


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These may include an inspirational role model such as a parent or teacher, an experience with the law or a significant high school or college course. One suggestion is to begin with a pivotal experience in your life which sparked your interest in law. It might be a job experience, a course taken as an undergraduate, or a childhood experience which developed your interest.

However, simply rambling on about how you have had an interest in law since the age of ten and not explaining why does not help your case.

Personal Statement about a Career Journey

Whatever the pivotal experience may be, find a clear way of describing this experience. Think of inner strengths and qualities. Consider areas in your background which may be of interest to the law school such as a rigorous undergraduate course of study, a particularly interesting employment history, life experiences and the like. Rather than listing your achievements, explain how you have excelled in areas such as scholarship or civic responsibility.

Some law schools suggest that you include a resume, if appropriate, to list achievements, extracurricular activities, employment history and the like. Other law schools include specific questions regarding these areas. The personal statement, in contrast, may focus on only one or a limited number of experiences which reveal who you are as a unique individual. The importance of including outside interests such as extracurricular activities, student groups, the pre-law society, a fraternity, a sorority, employment and military service should be carefully weighed.

Involvement in such activities should be included if it demonstrates leadership ability, professional growth or unique contributions.

Sample Law School Personal Statement Essays

In contrast, simply stating that you were a member of an organization without explaining its significance to your application will not be useful. It may even lead to the conclusion that you diluted your academic efforts. Similarly, with regard to employment history, you should only mention job experiences which have had a direct effect on your professional growth. An internship with a government agency or one within the legal field which sparked an interest in the legal profession are good examples for inclusion.

The Admissions Essay: What NOT to Say

One caveat — you may not want to mention affiliation with a particular political party or ideology because it may needlessly cause a subjective reaction on the part of the reader. In such a case, you may want to describe your experience in generic terms and explain how your exposure to the legal field will help you to be a successful law student.

Be careful not to come off as being all-knowing. Military service may also be a factor which enhances your potential as a prospective law student.

Law School Application Timeline

The military is often seen as a catalyst for developing and instilling discipline, leadership principles and tenacity. Focusing on themes such as these within the personal statement lets the committee know that time devoted to military service has been spent wisely. If you attended college part-time while in the military and your grades were not as good as after discharge, you may want to explain the difficulty in completing college-level courses while assigned to a military unit.

In certain cases, a supporting letter from a unit commander can explain the difficulty in undertaking college studies while on active duty. If it is applicable, indicate how law school and admission to the bar are the tools that you will need for your future endeavors. Once you have thought through the content of your personal statement, the writing process begins. In the view of one law school admissions officer, the key is to stress strengths without being boastful or obnoxious and deal with weaknesses without being defensive.

The law school application is, in a sense, your first legal case and the personal statement demonstrates how persuasive you can be in discussing your own candidacy. For some law schools, the personal statement provides you with this opportunity, while for other schools, an addendum or separate explanatory statement is more appropriate.

Significant adverse factors which may have affected the GPA, such as a change of major or a weak beginning, must be addressed whether in the personal statement or a separate statement. Be sure to mention such weaknesses.

Including Tips to Avoid Rejection and to Make Your Law School Personal Statement Stand Out!

However, when presenting detrimental factors, do not dwell on them. Discuss meaningful personal factors but do not be melodramatic. It is particularly important to show triumph over adversity where it truthfully exists, such as a strong finish after a weak beginning. If you are a consistently poor standardized test taker with a high grade point average, the personal statement may provide an opportunity to point this out. This does not mean that you should whine and plead.

Some students utilize the entire personal statement to try to explain away a low LSAT score, rather than dedicating a single concise paragraph. The admissions staff want to see a picture of you as a whole person, not just a person who has difficulty in taking tests. You can frame the discussion by concisely confronting problem areas and then offering reasonable and informative explanations.

You may check the status of your Harvard Law School application online. This feature will allow you to monitor the status of your file at your convenience. Your status will be updated as soon as changes are made to your application. You may pay the fee by credit card when you submit your application or you may enclose a check or money order payable to Harvard Law School with your certification form. Do not send cash.

If you are applying to HLS with an LSAT score and if payment of the application fee would pose a financial hardship, we recommend but do not require that you first apply for a fee waiver through the Law School Admissions Council. Please find more information on the LSAC fee waiver process here. We cannot accommodate any fee waiver requests made prior to or after those dates. No application for admission will be considered before the application fee has been paid or a fee waiver has been granted.

It is very helpful for you to provide as much information as possible on the online form itself before referring the reader to attached materials. Give as much information as possible in the space provided, and attach additional pages or electronic attachments if you need additional space. Please answer all questions and sign the form or Certification Letter. The following links are to sample resumes from successful applicants in prior years. You do not have to follow the formatting used in these resumes, but all three are examples of well-organized, easy-to-read drafts.

The personal statement provides an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, your ideas, and your qualifications to the Admissions Committee. Please limit your statement to two pages using a minimum of point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing. The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School.

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In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement. All applicants to the J. Two letters of recommendation are required, but you may submit up to three. We strongly recommend that at least one letter of recommendation come from an academic source.

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Our experience is that two thoughtfully selected recommenders are likely to be more effective than several chosen less carefully. Your application will be treated as complete with two letters of recommendation. In addition to a bar examination, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U. Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction.