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The Personal Statement

What is the Personal Statement?

  • The personal statement is an essay required by most law schools as part of the application.
  • The essay should be about two double-spaced pages (unless the application provides different instructions).
  • The personal statement provides you with the opportunity to present yourself without being boastful. Let your reader know how you are unique and why you would be an interesting addition to the law school class.
  • The personal statement is a writing sample.

Make It Interesting

  • If you have a great story to tell about your life, tell it. For example, recounting your experiences overcoming a certain hardship or as an immigrant can make an interesting personal statement.
  • Think about two or three formative experiences, beliefs or events and how these have affected the way you think about the world. These might be a memory from travel, your growth as an athlete, your passion for an activity, your reflections on an experience significant to you.
  • You do not have to write about why you want to go to law school. If you decide to write about your motivation to attend law school, make sure that your background and experience support your assertions. A well-focused reason for applying can be helpful (more so at some schools than others – talk to the Pre-Law advisor).
  • Be yourself.  There is no winning formula for writing a personal statement but successful essays tend to be honest and specific. Ask:  Would an admissions officer know you better after reading the statement?

Use Resources

  • The Pre-Law Advising office runs personal statement workshops both in the late spring and early fall, and provides handouts on writing strategies.
  • Hunter’s Writing Center, 416 Thomas Hunter Hall, (212) 650-9537, is another valuable resource.
  • Get feedback from people who can give you constructive criticism. The Pre-Law Advisor is available to review your statement and discuss it with you.

Edit

  • The essay should be carefully structured.  Make sure that you have strong transitions between paragraphs, and that you address the points you mention in your introduction and in topic sentences.
  • Your grammar and punctuation should be flawless.
  • Check spelling.
  • Put your essay away for a few days, then edit again. See where you can eliminate repetitive sections and better explain or develop ideas that aren’t clear.
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