College of Arts and Sciences
Pre-Law Program

The Personal Statement

  • The personal statement is an important part of your law school application. Since law schools do not interview applicants, the personal statement is the only way (along with your letters of recommendation or evaluations) for an admissions committee to look beyond the statistics and get a real feel for an applicant as a person.

    You should begin collecting your thoughts and drafting an outline for your personal statement during the summer after your junior year (or the summer before you start your law school applications). 

    Tips to Remember when Writing a Personal Statement

    This list was written by Michele DeMary, Susquehanna University, and distributed at the 2011 NAPLA conference in Boston, MA.

    BE… 

    DO… 

     DON’T… 

    …yourself

    …tell a story in your own words; both language and story should reflect who you are

    …overdramatize your story or use flowery language

    …reflective

    …think about your qualities and characteristics; before writing, take time to reflect on why you want to go to law school

    …rely on clichés and routine plot lines to dash off a personal statement

    …focused

    …use one or two key points around which to focus your statement; your statement should tell a story

    …tell you entire life story or present your resume in narrative format

    …in the moment

    …talk about what you have accomplished and how your life has been shaped by these accomplishments

    …talk about what you will do in law school or as a lawyer; this says little about what you can do

    …positive

    …talk about accomplishments, challenges you have overcome, or other items that will reflect positively on your application

    …use your personal statement to explain away negative elements of your application (i.e. GPA or LSAT score); that should be done in separate addenda if necessary

    …a good writer

    …write clearly and concisely; 
    …write several drafts of your statement and edit each carefully 
    …get general feedback from others 
    …proofread your statement several times

    …treat this as if it were a last minute assignment; 
    …allow typos or grammatical errors to detract from your essay

    …a good student

    …follow directions; 
    …answer the question that is asked and stay to the requested page limit

    …write more than is requested; 
    …be creative in your type of submission; they have asked for a written statement, not a DVD or work of art