Your Best Personal Statement
Charles Roboski, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid
Over the course of my career in law school admissions, I’ve reviewed more than 45,000 personal statements. I especially enjoy this part of my work, and consider it a privilege to help select future members of the profession.
Your personal statement should represent who you are in your best, most-polished writing. Not all applicants appreciate the important role that the personal statement plays in admission decisions. Investing time and effort in crafting a powerful personal statement will make your application more competitive.
ACE THE INTERVIEW
Think of your personal statement as an interview with the admissions committee. Here are some of the things that I might ask you during a face-to-face meeting:
- What has influenced your decision to earn a law degree?
- Aside from your grades and LSAT score, what personal qualities will make you an outstanding law student or attorney?
- What are your goals? How have your life experiences or hardships shaped your goals?
- Why is this law school appealing?
- How do you approach your professional responsibilities?
Consider these questions, then create an outline to prioritize the points you plan to cover. Of course, if the schools to which you are applying require particular topics, tailor your statement accordingly.
I recommend writing your first draft in the middle of the summer, so you have plenty of time to revise. Once you have an edited first draft, ask strong writers and analytical thinkers to critique your personal statement. Give your reviewers plenty of time to return thoughtful comments, and be willing to make substantive edits and change your direction in order to create your best possible work.
STRONG PERSONAL STATEMENTS ARE:
- Sincere and succinct. Share your values, goals, past experiences, and motivation so the admission committee can understand who you are. Stay on topic, and within page limits!
- Original. Borrowing ideas can make your reads as unauthentic, so base your statement on your own ideas and experiences. Including famous quotations can be a distraction, so be cautious.
- Positive in tone. Remember, the personal statement is an interview. You want to come across as approachable, rather than arrogant or overly competitive.
- Full of specific examples. If you make a claim about yourself, support it with evidence.
- Sensitive to the audience. Your personal statement should represents you, but also consider how reviewers will read your statement—chose topics and words carefully. Warning: it’s difficult to be appropriately humorous in a personal statement.
Charles Roboski has served as assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at Michigan State Law since 2008. He previously served as dean or director of law admissions at Notre Dame Law School, Ohio State University, University of Dayton, Regent University, and Ave Maria University.