How To Write A Successful Law School Application Essay

Congratulations! You’ve made it to law school.

Now you need to fill out the application and send it in. But how can you make sure it’s as strong as possible? How can you make sure your application essay the one that will get read first by admissions officers stands out above all the others?

In this blog post, we’ll walk through everything from crafting an unforgettable introduction to making sure your writing is clear and concise. And at the end, we’ll even show you some examples of great law school applications!

how to write a law school personal statement | EXPERT ADVICE
1. Understand the Prompt: Grasp the essay’s theme and requirements clearly.
2. Showcase Your Unique Story: Share personal anecdotes that reflect your journey.
3. Emphasize Your Motivations: Explain why law school aligns with your goals.
4. Highlight Relevant Experiences: Illustrate skills gained from past experiences.
5. Maintain Clarity and Conciseness: Craft a focused, well-structured essay.
6. Proofread Thoroughly: Eliminate errors and ensure a polished final piece.
7. Tailor to the School: Adapt your essay to each law school’s values and offerings.
8. Seek Feedback: Get input from mentors or peers for improvements.
9. Show, Don’t Just Tell: Use vivid details to make your essay compelling.
10. Be Authentic: Present your genuine self and let your passion shine through.

Take The Time To Draft And Reread Your Essay

Take the time to draft and reread your essay.

You may have heard that you should not edit while you write, but that is not true. Writing is a process, and drafting and rereading are an important part of that process. 

In this case, editing while you write means taking the time to go back over what you’ve written before moving forward with whatever comes next. 

This is where most people get stuck in their writing they don’t take the time they need to be sure they are saying what they want to say in a way that conveys their ideas clearly and effectively. 

Just as importantly, when we’re not used to writing regularly (as many law school applicants aren’t), we often forget how much editing our work takes before it becomes something worthwhile so editing during drafting helps us catch those mistakes ahead of time rather than after we’ve finished writing our whole essay!

It’s okay if your first draft isn’t perfect! It shouldn’t be that’s why it’s called a “first” draft! And even then there’s no guarantee that your final version won’t still need some more work once you’ve gone through all these steps, but at least now you know exactly what needs fixing so there will be less guesswork involved later on down the line.”

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Use Active Voice And Simple, Direct Language

Active voice is more direct and concise. In active voice, the subject of a sentence acts on its object. For example, “Bob hit Fred” is in the active voice; “Fred was hit by Bob” is not.

Active voice uses fewer words than passive voice does, making it easier to understand what you’re trying to say and make your meaning clear.

The use of active voice makes your writing more engaging for the reader: When you write with passive sentences that start with “there was/were..” or “it was found out’s difficult for the reader to picture what happened because they have no idea who did what or how they were affected by it. 

Writing in first person present tense helps keep your readers engaged because we naturally like being told stories about ourselves right now and when someone else is talking about us, this makes them feel even closer!

Address Any Weaknesses In Your Application

You can also address weaknesses in your application by talking about how you have overcome them. This is especially helpful if the weakness is something that has happened recently, as it will provide evidence of your ability to grow from experiences and develop into a stronger person.

Another way to address weaknesses in your application is by showing how you have learned from them. 

Your tone should be positive: rather than saying “I am not good at X” or “I did X wrong,” simply talk about how you could have done things better or differently now that you know more about the subject matter. If there was one thing that stood out as an improvement opportunity when reviewing this weakness, include it as well!

Finally, if what may seem like a flaw turns out to be an advantage (or vice versa), consider explaining why this is true for someone who might view it otherwise, and then make sure they see it too!

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Be Specific And Show, Don’t Tell

Your essay should be both specific and show, don’t tell. You should use concrete language to describe your experiences and make them come alive for the reader.

Specific examples are the best way to do this. Concrete language is more effective than abstract or ambiguous phrases because it helps you engage with readers on a deeper level. 

For example, instead of saying that your experience at another school was “positive” or that you learned “a lot about myself,” consider how you can bring this experience to life with specific details:

  • What did you learn?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Was there anyone else involved in this learning process? If so, who were they and what did their presence add to the situation (by being there)?

Make Sure You Have A Structure For Your Essay

Your essay is the first impression you’ll make on the admissions committee, so it needs to be as polished and professional as possible. To do this, you need to write using a structure that allows your ideas to flow cohesively and logically. The best way to do this is by using a template or outline.

There are many different templates out there for law school application essays: some are very specific about word counts or layout; others just give general guidelines for what should go into each part of an essay (i.e., introduction, body paragraphs). The most important thing is that you use one that works for you!

Some examples include:

  • College Board’s Template
  • Princeton Review’s Template

Be Honest

Be honest. When you write about yourself, honesty is key. Mistakes and weaknesses can be transformed into strengths by showing how you’ve learned from the experience, or what you have done to improve upon it. 

For example, if your grades were poor in high school but now they are excellent, explain why this happened and how it has helped shape your approach toward education as an adult.

Keep it personal. Your essay should not sound like a job application for someone else’s life it should sound like yours! Do not use cliches such as “I have always wanted to become a lawyer since I was young” or “I want to use my legal knowledge to help others” unless those statements apply to YOU specifically (and even then…). 

Instead, focus on what makes YOU unique; discuss experiences that relate directly back to YOUR goals and aspirations, and talk about WHY these things matter so much TODAY rather than HOW they might help in YOUR future career as a lawyer (which they may not at all).

Don’t overdo it on personal details. It’s great if people know all sorts of things about themselves: where they grew up (or currently live), their favorite books/movies/TV shows/music artists, etc. but don’t feel obligated to share EVERYTHING unless specifically asked! 

If necessary leave some information out…but do make sure that anything included is relevant when answering questions like “why law school?”

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Write About Something Important To You

When you’re writing your law school application essay, it’s important to write about something important to you. In this section of the guide, we’ll talk about why this is an important step in writing a successful law school application essay and give some examples of how to do so.

Be specific: The best way to make your topic interesting is by being specific. For example, if you are considering writing about how growing up in poverty affects people’s ability to achieve success later in life (a very common topic), don’t just say “growing up poor. 

You should narrow down your focus by saying something like: “Growing up poor had a large impact on my life because…”

Give an example of a topic you could write about: Here are some good topics for your LSAT essay:

I’m interested in environmental law because I want to protect the environment from destruction and pollution (this shows passion).

I’m interested in criminal justice because I think it’s important for our society as a whole for there to be laws against murder and theft (this shows passion).

I’m interested in international business because I want everyone around me who has ever been told that they can’t succeed due solely to their race or gender will now have equal opportunity with everyone else (this shows passion).

Know What Schools Are Looking For When Reviewing Applications

The most important thing you can do is know what schools are looking for when reviewing applications. Law school admissions officers are looking for well-rounded students, engaged in the community, are interested in the field of law, and have a plan for the future.

Law school application essays should include information about yourself that sets you apart from other applicants. It should also explain why you want to attend law school and what your goals are once you graduate from law school.

Have A Friend Or Mentor Review Your Essay Before Applying To A School

After you have written your essay and revised it, ask someone else to review it. This can be a friend or family member, a professor or mentor in the field of law, a professional editor, and/or a writing coach. 

Have them read it out loud to you so that they can detect any awkward phrasing or word choice that may not sound natural when spoken aloud (e.g., “I did not like my teacher’s class”). 

Ask them if they would recommend this essay as an application essay for law school admission. If your reader thinks there are areas for improvement, ask them what would be changed about the draft before submitting it as part of an application packet. 

The goal is for others to provide feedback on content so that when admissions officers do read your work later on in life at law school, they will remember what makes YOU unique!

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Consider Using An Anecdote In Your Introduction

You should use an anecdote to introduce your essay. An anecdote is a short story that illustrates something about yourself or the topic at hand. You can also use an anecdote to make a point in your conclusion, or even as evidence for another argument you make in your essay. Here’s an example:

When I was nine years old, my father took me fishing at Lake Tahoe for the first time. It was early spring and there were still patches of snow on the ground when we arrived at our spot on Lake Tahoe’s south shore a secluded cove where no one else fished because they didn’t know it existed (or so they said). 

The lake was still frozen over with ice chunks bobbing around as if they were doing their best to escape from eternal winter by summer’s warming rays; yet despite these obstacles, my dad was determined to teach me how to catch trout using his secret method.

Wait under this fallen tree branch until you see a fish rise out of the water,” he instructed me patiently while forming a circle with his thumb and forefinger directly above his eye socket.

Discuss Why You Want To Attend Law School In General

But before you can begin writing your essay, you’ll have to be able to articulate why you want to attend law school in general. Why are you interested in practicing law? What is your motivation? What would a career as an attorney mean for your future? 

Don’t underestimate the importance of this question: if it’s not clear from the outset, then everything else will be suspect and potentially lumped together with “I just want something new.”

When answering these questions about yourself and why you’d like to attend a particular school, don’t forget about how important personal fit is. 

While I’m sure that all applicants would love to get into Harvard Law School (and most won’t), they shouldn’t put all their eggs into one basket by applying only where they think they have no chance of getting accepted. 

Instead, they should focus on applying where they feel truly comfortable and if that means applying only to lower-ranked schools because those are the ones that hold more appeal for them academically then so be it!

Focus On You

A common mistake students make when writing their law school application essays is that they focus on their weaknesses. This can be disastrous for two reasons:

  • It’s boring, and nobody wants to read about your weaknesses.
  • It makes you seem like you don’t know yourself well enough to understand what you are good at and where you need improvement, which doesn’t give any indication of how successful you will be in the future (i.e., practicing law).

Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings, it is important to highlight what makes you a valuable applicant. 

Successful applicants do this by focusing on their accomplishments and strengths rather than talking about their struggles or weaknesses this is especially true if there aren’t too many strengths to choose from! 

A great way to do this is by using examples from past experiences that illustrate how well-rounded an individual applicant has been throughout his/her life thus far; preferably ones that involve work ethic, leadership skills, intellectual curiosity/aptitude/capability etcetera…

Read The Instructions Thoroughly

Read the instructions carefully. The first step to writing an essay is to read over the instructions and make sure that you completely understand what they are requesting. Pay attention to the word limit, and if necessary, write a short draft before you begin your final draft so that you are aware of how much space is available for each question.

Read the essay prompts. It’s important to take time to think about what questions your application asks about yourself and law school, in general, these questions might come up during or after interviews with admissions officers. 

You should also think about how you will answer these questions throughout your application process by making notes of common themes or ideas when writing both personal statements and letters of recommendation. Read each prompt carefully so that there is no confusion about what information it is asking for!

Read the application instructions carefully as well! 

If need be, ask someone who has done this before (like an admissions officer at their college) if anything else needs clarification before sending off your completed applications as they may have some insight into things like required documents or how many times per year we accept applications from prospective students here at HLS!

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Know What To Include In Your Law School Personal Statement

  • Make sure you are following the instructions.
  • Take your time and write as much as you can.
  • Make sure you have a structure to your essay: introduction, body, and conclusion (I will talk about this in the next section).

Make sure you have a clear Introduction paragraph where you introduce yourself and the topic of law school. The first sentence should be your hook that draws the reader in, so try writing something like “As a child, I always dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

You can also add some background information about yourself here if it’s relevant (for example, if your parents are lawyers and taught you how to play chess). 

Or maybe mention how being an athlete made it easier for me to deal with pressure situations or work under pressure or whatever else makes sense for your essay topic! 

Just make sure that everything flows nicely together so when people read through it they’ll see all these things coming together into one cohesive point/argument/story arc thingysomethinglikethat style=”font-size: 13px;”

  • .6…7…8! Hope my advice helps!

Start Early And Take Your Time

Starting early is the first step to writing a successful law school application essay. You should have several weeks before your deadline to write, revise and edit your essay. Take this time to think about what you want to say and how best you can interestingly convey that information.

You should also take advantage of any resources available at your school or local library that may help with editing and proofreading essays such as grammar checkers and style manuals. Before applying, make sure it is well edited by having someone else read it over for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax (the order words are arranged).

Ask Others To Review Your Drafts

You should ask someone who will give you an honest opinion about your paper. It should not be someone who will tell everyone how great it is, but rather, a draft reader that will give you constructive criticism.

A proofreader is someone who looks at a piece of writing, whether it be a book manuscript or a law school application essay, and checks for spelling errors and grammatical problems. 

A good proofreader can make sure that everything makes sense before sending the finished product out into the world; however, this doesn’t mean that the person doing the proofreading will necessarily have any advice on content or structure.

It’s important to consider asking friends or family members if they’re willing (and qualified) to read through your essays before sending them in so they can provide input based on their experience with reading other applications. 

But be aware that many people are reluctant when asked by loved ones if they would mind reviewing something like this because they don’t want hurt feelings or awkward situations later down the road!

Edit Aggressively

To help you get your essay in tip-top shape, we’ve assembled a list of editing tools that will help you make the most of your time.

Thesaurus: Use this tool to find alternative words. It’s especially helpful when you’re stuck on how to write a sentence and can’t think of any other way to say it.

Grammar Checker: You don’t want any grammar mistakes in your essay! This tool will help fix that problem by flagging common errors as they occur so that they can be fixed before submission.

Spell Checker: Just like its name implies, this tool checks for spelling errors in both regular text and footnotes/endnotes.

Style Guide: A style guide provides a framework for what is considered acceptable writing style in academic essays and publications, such as MLA or APA formatting standards for citations and references (if applicable).


The most important thing to remember is that you are writing this essay for the law school admissions committee. This means that you should always try to write in a way that engages the reader and shows off your personality. You want them to keep reading because they can’t wait to find out what happened next!

Further Reading

Forbes – Crafting an Impressive Law School Personal Statement: Forbes provides insights into creating an impressive personal statement for law school applications, focusing on standing out among applicants.

Bemo Academic Consulting – Sample Law School Personal Statement and Tips: Bemo Academic Consulting offers a sample personal statement along with valuable tips for crafting a compelling narrative for your law school application.

Kaplan Test Prep – How to Write a Law School Personal Statement: Kaplan Test Prep provides a comprehensive guide on writing an effective law school personal statement, including strategies to showcase your unique qualities.

And here’s the “FAQs” section with semantic-based questions and answers:


How important is the law school personal statement in the admissions process?

The law school personal statement is a significant component of the admissions process. It allows you to showcase your personality, experiences, and motivations beyond your academic achievements.

Can I include anecdotes or personal stories in my personal statement?

Absolutely. Incorporating anecdotes or personal stories can help make your personal statement more engaging and memorable, giving the admissions committee a deeper insight into your character and journey.

Should I tailor my personal statement for each law school I apply to?

Yes, it’s recommended to tailor your personal statement for each law school. Highlighting aspects of the specific law school that resonate with you shows your genuine interest and research.

How long should my law school personal statement be?

Most law schools have specific length requirements for personal statements. Generally, aim for a statement that’s around two pages, single-spaced. Adhering to the guidelines demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively within constraints.

What’s the balance between discussing my achievements and my reasons for pursuing law school?

Strive for a balance between discussing achievements and motivations. While highlighting achievements is important, providing insights into why you’re passionate about law and how your experiences have led you to this path is equally crucial.