The Law School Personal Statement; make it organized, and demonstrate PAAC.

Most law schools will require that you draft a law school personal statement and submit this with your Law School Application. Think of this as the equivalent of the essay you drafted to obtain admission to your undergraduate university.

The subject matter of most law school personal statements will vary. Some law schools will allow you to write about any topic of your choosing, however many schools will want you to write about why you want to go to law school and/or why you think a legal career is right for you.

A few pointers regarding what should NOT be included in your law school admission essay:

1) Grammatical mistakes - After you draft your law school admission essay read it over multiple times. Then put it away for a day or so and read it again several times with fresh eyes. Then give it to someone else to read and review for you. You will need several outside perspectives… Then make your revisions and keep reading it over and over again! This process should take you several months, so do not procrastinate in beginning your first draft!

2) Outright lies or fabrications – We urge you not to tell outright lies and fabrications, but not for the reason you may think. The reason we recommend you don’t lie is not based on “ethical” grounds, the concern is that when you blatantly lie in your law school admission essay it will not seem congruent with YOU. Consequently, the reader will read it and get a sense that something is not right with it (consciously or subconsciously) and you will be eliminated from the law school candidate pool. So be sure to stay congruent with who you are.

Do not be scared to exaggerate if you deem it necessary, just remember it must be congruent with who you are. For example let’s say you worked for a lawyer for one month during the summer. There is no need to specifically inform your reader that you only worked for one month, so it may be acceptable to make it appear you worked during the entire summer. However, if you didn’t work for a lawyer (and claim you did) your description of the experience would not be based on reality and will likely come off as very odd to the reader. Remember that your reader is familiar with the legal industry and will be able to tell when you are outright lying.

DO INCLUDE Transferable Skills – Do not forget to include transferable skills that you acquired either in school (running an organization and dealing with organizational paperwork etc.) or transferable skills acquired from work experiences. These experiences greatly improve law school personal statements. Any job that had a paperwork contingent, where you had to make reports and submit them to supervisors, satisfy regulations, read/understand complex rules etc. Remember the practice of law is a war of paper (in a litigation practice) or paperwork generated to satisfy governmental regulations (in a more transactional practice), so anything you have done that can be argued as similar to the work of a lawyer will improve your law school personal statement so long as you follow the above rules and calibrate same (don’t overdo it).

Remember, don't get solely caught up in the application process, you need to develop an overall lawyer career plan by learning as much as possible about what a lawyer does, and what types of lawyer careers are right for your personality!


Want a more specific discussion of the overall elements you should demonstrate in your law school personal statement? Read our page on PAAC: What you want to convey in your Law School Personal Statement.

Want some tips on the mechanical structure of writing for law school essays? Read our page on IRAC: The Structure of your Law School Personal Statement.

How about some specific statements and phrases that you can include in your law school admission essay to improve the quality of your writing? Read our page on Transitional Statements.

Return to Become a Lawyer Home Page.