As you write your personal statement, keep in mind some of the qualities that impress law school admissions committees so you can ensure that your essays convey these qualities. Use evidence to illustrate them, and emphasize them in your personal statement by describing specific actions and offering examples. The following are five key traits of a good law student – and a good lawyer!
1. Interest in the law
Believe it or not, law schools want applicants who are interested in the law! Your personal statement should answer the questions “Why law school?” and “Why now?” While it doesn’t matter what your undergraduate major was, an important part of law school and legal practice is scholarship – writing and interpreting the law – so make it clear why these are things you want to pursue. You don’t need to have had an “aha” moment or have a definite plan in place for after law school, but your interest in a legal education and a legal career should be explicit.
Law schools and the legal profession value integrity and honesty. Any type of service that highlights academic integrity or ethical standards is great to emphasize. It is important that everything you describe in your personal statement display your strong sense of ethics – including your “work ethic.” [Click here to read “5 Tips for Disclosing a Criminal Record to Law Schools.”]
3. Intellectual curiosity
Law schools pride themselves on providing students with a variety of learning opportunities. Therefore, schools value intellectual curiosity and academic ability. You should be able to discuss in your personal statement times when you went above and beyond to learn something new and when you took advantage of opportunities and thrived. Law programs have at least one writing-intensive class as well as a course that focuses on trial advocacy. In addition, clinics and externships – practical learning – provide out-of-classroom educational opportunities. Use your personal statement to show that you are eager for these kinds of opportunities.
4. People skills
Lawyers work with many different people, including clients, other lawyers, and judges, and the legal profession is collaborative. While lawyers are stereotyped as being argumentative, the truth is that law schools want people who can talk to various types of people without confrontation. You should therefore avoid that old adage “My parents said I should be a lawyer because I like to argue” in your personal statement. This kind of perception shows law schools that you haven’t spent enough time learning what the practice of law is truly about. Instead, show your ability to collaborate and get things done with others.
Try, and try again. That’s a lawyer’s motto. Sometimes your side wins, and sometimes it loses. Sometimes you might not even agree with your side. But in all cases, a lawyer has to be willing to pick up, try again, and work hard for every client, despite any differences. In your personal statement, highlight moments when you have overcome obstacles, and share what you learned from those experiences.
Law schools aren’t looking for cookie-cutter applicants, but they do want students who show these qualities because they are essential for one’s success in law school and a legal career. Remember to show, not tell, in your personal statement that you possess at least some of these qualities, and you will set yourself up to be a winning applicant.
Do you need help conveying these qualities in your law school personal statement? Explore our Law School Admissions Services, and we’ll pair you with an expert advisor who will ensure that your application has what it takes to help you GET ACCEPTED.
Sadie Polen has more than ten years of experience in higher education. She reviewed statements of purpose, personal statements, and resumes for political and public service opportunities and made candidate selections for elite programs at Harvard University. She also has experience advising individuals on their career and post-graduation plans. Sadie holds a BS from UC Davis, an EdM from Harvard, and a DEI certificate from Cornell. Want Sadie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!