I originally wrote this as a response to a PM asking me how I got in to Boalt with my numbers (also in the dead nostalgia thread). It might be helpful to others so I'll post it here.
If you have great softs I would absolutely emphasize those in your personal statement. With a lower GPA (and if you're a bit older, not right out of undergrad) you need to write an addendum about your GPA (I did). Actually, even if ug is only a few years in the past, you still need an addendum. Mine was short (1/2 page) but reminded them that my mediocre/bad grades were all several/many years ago and were in no way indicative of my intellectual capacity. In fact, if they looked at my Master's degree... you get the idea.
Next, I wrote an absolutely off the charts fantastic personal statement (if I do say so myself - but the admit seems to back that up). I worked on it for months; I had someone look at it from the University writing center, I had about 5 other people read it for edits/readability; then I had a writing Professor look at my final draft. I took a risk and wrote a very personal and creative essay which said nothing about law school but said a lot about my growth as a human being. I was incredibly honest. I didn't "tell" anything about myself, I "showed"... so none of the "I consider myself a hard-worker and I'm always dedicated to the task at hand" kind of crap. Instead, I wrote little vignettes of my life that highlighted characteristics I thought they'd want to know re:a law student and that were authentic big experiences in my life. It was almost the 4 pages they requested (3 1/2). Other schools received an edited version of this (2 pages)
In addition, I wrote a kick-butt essay about "Why School X" - for every school I applied to... it helped me realize which schools I really wanted to attend. To solve the problem of applying to too many schools/schools you don't care about: If I couldn't bring myself to write a "why school x" essay, then it was clear I didn't have enough interest. I researched and researched and researched their law school and told them exactly why I wanted to go there. I knew classes, clinics, professors, and groups in which I wanted to participate. I went through the same process with that essay as I did with my personal statement. It was tight, densely written, and 1 1/2 pages.
And I applied early. Do not underestimate how important this is. I think it's worth a point or two on the LSAT. I'll say it again even though everyone already knows it: Apply Early!!!
Study for the LSAT and rock it out... do not overestimate yourself before the test. Get your score consistent. Use conservative timing at the end - 32-33 minutes. Go over every single wrong answer, dissect it, find out why you were wrong. Take 20+ timed LSATs before the real thing.
Good luck in your cycle next year!
Last edited by gymboree
on Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.