Disclaimer: I have yet to write my personal statement--mainly because I'm too lazy--so in hopes of both inspiring myself to write it and to save Mike from a subject which he has spoken MUCH about, here are my notes and guidelines based on my research of what a personal statement should consist of. Special thanks to TLS for the plethora of information about law school and to Mike for tirelessly answering our (redundant) questions. To give back to the TLS community that has helped me, here are my notes:
What should a personal statement consist of?
I feel a personal statement is of the utmost importance because it completes a picture. Here's a metaphor that (hopefully) captures the magnitude of what a great personal statement will do for your application:
You're bidding over the phone for an expensive painting you have never seen in person. The painting is magnificent--it will complete your home and you must have it. You see pictures of the painting, you read reviews, and finally decide to buy it. You sell a car and some stock. After much anticipation and anxiety, you are the highest bidder and win the painting. You wire the money to the auction house, send the auctioneer the phone number of your long time art framer, and hire a designer/art aficionado to choose the best location for the painting in your home. Two weeks later the painting arrives in a large wooden crate. It's difficult to open. You didn't think you would need tools to open it. Frantically, you call your designer to figure out how to open the crate without damaging the valuable art. An hour later, the bell rings. You rush to the door, open it and let man and woman who's expertise lies in fine art in. They carefully disassemble the crate, remove the five layers of protective plastic and foam and eventually hang the painting. You're transcended and amazed by how good the painting looks in your home. Amazed by the painting's beauty, you forget the art experts are still in your home. Ten minutes passes and you hear the door of your home open and then close. Realizing you've forgotten to thank and tip them, you run downstairs and catch them before their car pulls away. Relieved to have compensated your "heros", you run up your stairs to continue to admire the painting's beauty.You KNOW it's marvelous. It completes you. It's your second wife. It's you.
The painting is like you're personal statement; do your research, surround yourself by the people who can help you, exchange ideas, and perfect it. It separates you from the other and makes you unique. Devote yourself to it and nail it because it completes and defines who you are.
What are schools looking for in someone?
Leadership- Cite specific examples of jobs at which you coordinated/oversaw others
-evidence that demonstrates strong leadership and potential to succeed
-people who have a strong acedemic potential ("you've got to like school", Berkeley Law Dean)
-people who not only create an agenda but do everything they can to make it happen (give examples how ambitions/passion has expressed itself in practical ways--show kind of person u are and will be)
-Our admits [Berkeley] are appreciative that a traditional legal education paired with an emphasis on communication, presentation, problem, solving skills, and cross management will lay the groundwork for their career regardless of sector
-real world experience-can you look at issue with multiple perspectives?--"an open mind is a powerful mind"
-even if you are all around exceptional candidate, you should explain to school what attracts and excites you about its program--committee wants to admit student who expresses excitement to attend its institution
-eliminate reasons your might have to doubt your potential-inspire readers to act on your behalf and persuade them to admit you
Styles/types of personal statements (PS)
-ethical appeal-make your good character the reason for admit-Story-quest narrative(overcome odds)--begin with a quote work quote throughout PS (hard to do unless you can work rhetorical magic upon it)
-Sketch a character in familiar/unfamiliar environment-pose questions and answers in PS
-present a problem and solution and give evidence how you solved problem in your life and life of others
-major family crisis-use recent rather than old
-describe how you endured adversity/personal tragedy and how it shaped you as a person today. Be sure to explain how explain how tragedy influenced your intellectual life/leadership skills.
-how this situation makes you a good law school candidate
-avoid talk of life pre college-describe what you learned from a mentor
-do not seem over influenced by certain person/ idea
-show you can synthesize various ideas and choose your own opinion (law schools want deep thinkers, not shallow pundits)
-show your devotion to and experience with your issue by describing your experience volunteering for/serving a cause
-tales of real world action can move reader
-Write about course work/legal research related to your legal interest
-academic/professional experiences that have contributed to who you are today
-it's especially helpful to relate academic interests to reasons why you want to attend law school("LS")
-Write about passions,ideas,hobbies which should relate to your desire to become a lawyer and backup with evidence-steer clear of controversial issues; don't alienate reader-brainstorm for a list of personal qualities and consider how they d make you an asset to law school/legal community
-join powerful ideas with powerful expression-clear sentences
-words are a scarce resource. So every word counts-
Length: 2-3 double typed, 12pt., Times new Roman font,
-hook readers with strong introduction
-anecdote, vivid description, question which will be answered in rest of PS, or life changing experience-use active, not passive voice
-use professional and formal tone
-avoid cliches, elementary writing mistakes, legalese-Conclude powerfully
-rephrase main ideas, keywords, point , point towards future and finish with a rhetorical flourish.
-refer to intro paragraph
-restate main thesis in a slightly different way that adds resonance to all that came before
-thread central theme throughout PS
-write about aspects of yourself that readers cannot get from the other parts of your application
-let committee hear a distinct voice--there are hundreds of applicants and one you, let them hear your voice
-write about things which genuinely make you excited/enthusiastic
-abstraction without content will not persuade anyone to admit you--concrete examples of how you influenced others will build your credibility
-Tailor PS to LS you are applying to--this demonstrates knowledge of and commitment to that LSUltimately:-Intellectual experience-tangible impact on individual or group-good leadership skills-pro active starter skills-real world Experience-ability to see multiple perspectives of situation-attributes that make you unique
Last edited by ZVBXRPL
on Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.