The personal statement is a very important and very odd beast. It is important because it is your one chance to show a law school who you are. It is odd because it is hard to show who you are in a couple of pages.
Resources are available in Career Services to help with drafting personal statements. After reading the materials, seek help from your advisor or a member of the pre-law comittee to support you and make suggestions. Following are a few hints as you plan your statement. Keep in mind, however, that some schools ask for some very specific things in personal statements so be sure you read the instructions carefully.
- Tell a story: The ideal personal statement relates some story of a personal tragedy that reveals who you are by showing how you acted in the midst of a crisis. It should be an interesting story that shows one or maybe two of your characteristics that strike you as very important and telling of who you are. If you are lucky or unlucky enough not to have had a personal tragedy, try to tell a story that reveals something unique about you. The more detail the better.
- Diversity is a good thing. Diversity can be about ethnic background, gender, religious affiliation, social class, sexual orientation, or many other things. Keep in mind that coming from Nebraska counts as diverse if you are applying to a school on the East or West Coasts. There are many ways to show how you can contribute something special to a law school.
- Do not emphasize why you want to go to law school: It is not a bad idea to mention why you think law school is a good choice. But admissions committees are generally not looking for an argument as to why law school is right for you, why this particular law school is right, or why you should be accepted. The committee believes you decided to apply to their school for good reasons. What they want to know is who you are and what makes you unique.
- Get as many people to read drafts as possible: The more perspectives you get on your essay, the more finely polished it will be. Do not be shy about approaching any member of the pre-law committee for input and advice. One or several of us will make time to give you feedback.