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⭐️How to Format Your Law School Personal Statement

Check the application of every school to which you’re applying, but in general, you should follow these guidelines.

I prefer a one-line header. Put your name on the left, your LSAC number in the middle, and the words “Personal Statement,” followed by a page number, on the right. It looks like this:

Essay with One-Line Header

In case you’re not comfortable with Word headers, I’ve made a correctly formatted .docx file with a one-line header.  Click here to download the sample text, then substitute your information for the placeholders.

You can also put all the information on the right-hand side, in three lines, like this:

Essay with Three-Line Header

If you use a three-line header on the first page, you may want to use a shorter header—name, page number—on subsequent pages.

The Essay Body

  • Don’t give your essay a title.
  • Use twelve-point, Times New Roman font (an eleven-point font is fine too if the application doesn't specify)
  • Use one-inch margins all around.
  • Double-space your essay.
  • Left-align or justify your essay.
  • Add half-inch indentations to each paragraph.
  • Don’t add an extra return between paragraphs.
  • Use one space after periods.

I’ve implemented this formatting in the personal statement format sample .

Learn about our admissions consulting and editing services .

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How long should your Personal Statement be? Top 50 Law Schools PS Length and Optional Essay Instructions

The following are the instructions for the Personal Statement length and Optional Essay instructions that are contained within each application.

PS: No stated page limit

Other essays: Required 250 word statement on any topic

PS: Maximum 2 pages with 11pt font, 1” margins, double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement

PS: About two pages

Other essays: Optional diversity statement (“brief”)

PS: 2-4 pages suggested

Other essays: N/A; include diversity information in PS

PS: 2 pages double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional “Penn Core Values,” optional essay about experience on a team — all 1 page maximum double spaced

Other essays: Optional addenda (open-ended, multiple addenda accepted)

UC Berkeley

PS: Maximum 4 pages double spaced

PS: No page limit

Other essays: Optional “Why Duke,” optional diversity statement

Other essays: Supplemental essays — 8 options, choose 1 or 2 (or none). Should be about one page, 11pt font, double spaced, but no more than 2 pages. Topics: (1) Say more about your interest in the University of Michigan Law School. What do you believe Michigan has to offer to you and you to Michigan? (2) Describe your current hopes for your career after completing law school. How will your education, experience, and development so far support those plans? (3) If you do not think that your academic record or standardized test scores accurately reflect your ability to succeed in law school, please tell us why. (4) Describe a failure or setback in your life. How did you overcome it? What, if anything, would you do differently if confronted with this situation again? (5) Describe an experience that speaks to the problems and possibilities of diversity in an educational or work setting. (6) What do you think are the skills and values of a good lawyer? Which do you already possess? Which do you hope to develop? (7) How might your perspectives and experiences enrich the quality and breadth of the intellectual life of our community or enhance the legal profession? (8) Describe your educational experiences so far. What kinds of learning environments, teaching methods, student cultures, and/or evaluation processes lead you to thrive, or contrariwise, thwart your success?


PS: Recommended 1-3 pages double spaced

Other essays: Optional “Why Northwestern,” optional diversity statement — choose neither, one, or both. Length should be one or two paragraphs.

PS: Maximum 2 pages 11pt font double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement. Short answer (2-3 sentences) “Why Cornell” in app

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional 250 word response from four prompts: (1) One of the core values of Georgetown Law is that students and faculty learn from each other. As you imagine yourself as a member of the Georgetown Law community, what is one lesson that you have learned in your life that you will want to share with others? (2) What do you regret not doing? (3) What is the biggest ethical challenge you have ever faced and how did you handle it? (4) Fill a 5 1/2″ long by 2 1/2″ wide box in any way you’d like. (See online paper form for an example.) (5) Prepare a one-minute video that says something about you. Upload it to an easily accessible website and provide us the URL. (If you are using YouTube, we strongly suggest that you make your video unlisted so it will not appear in any of YouTube’s public spaces.) What you do or say is entirely up to you. Please note that we are unable to watch videos that come in any form other than a URL link.

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, maximum 3 pages 11pt font double spaced

PS: Maximum 2 pages 12pt font

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional “programmatic contribution” essay about specializations/joint degrees, optional public interest essay

PS: Maximum 2 pages

PS: Approximately 1-3 pages

Other essays: N/A

PS: Maximum 2 pages double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum 300 words)

PS: 2-5 pages double spaced

PS: 2-4 pages 12pt font double spaced

PS: Approximately 2 pages

William & Mary

PS: No stated page limit (“brief”)

Other essays: Optional essays for applicants that have a special interest in the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, Center for Legal and Court Technology, Election Law Program, Law Library, Public Service Admission Ambassador, Special Education Advocacy, Veterans Benefits, and Virginia Coastal Policy Fellowships

U Washington

PS: 700 word maximum

Other essays: 500 words maximum on one of three prompts: (1) If you were asked to create a non-profit organization, what would be the organization, its mission, and its purpose; (2) How would you define “global common good”? Provide an example of how you have contributed to the “global common good”; or (3) What life events or experiences have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why?

Other essays: Optional “Why Notre Dame” essay, optional diversity essay

PS: Approximately 2 pages double spaced

PS: 2-3 pages

Indiana U Bloomington

PS: Suggested length of 500 words

Arizona State

PS: Generally 2-3 pages

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional essay on leadership, optional essay on public interest dedication

PS: Maximum 4 pages 10pt font double spaced. MUST include why you want to enter the legal profession and why you want to attend UNC specifically

U Wisconsin Madison

PS: 2-3 pages 12pt font double spaced 1” margins

Wake Forest

Boston College

PS: 2-3 pages double spaced

PS: Maximum 2 pages 12pt font double spaced

PS: 2-4 pages double spaced

PS: Approximately 2-3 pages double spaced

Other essays: Required “Why SMU” (1 page double spaced), diversity statement (2-3 pages double spaced) optional but required for scholarship consideration

U Colorado Boulder

PS: Maximum 1,000 words

Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum 500 words)

Washington & Lee

PS: Maximum 3 pages 12pt font double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, optional ethical dilemma essay (500 words maximum)

PS: Maximum 500 words

Other essays: Optional diversity statement (maximum two pages 12pt font double spaced)

George Mason

Other essays: Required “Why George Mason” (maximum 250 words), optional diversity statement

PS: Suggested 2-3 pages double spaced

Other essays: Required “Why Tulane,” optional diversity statement

PS: Maximum 750 words

Other essays: Optional diversity statement – approximately 250 words

PS: NO personal statement — “Academic Admissions Statement” that focuses on academic interests and experiences. Maximum 4 pages 12pt font double spaced

Other essays: Optional diversity statement, maximum 2 pages 12pt font double spaced

Georgetown University.

Law School Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts

The personal statement, one of the most important parts of your law school application, is an opportunity to highlight your writing ability, your personality, and your experience. Think of it as a written interview during which you get to choose the question. What one thing do you wish the admissions evaluators knew about you?

To help you write a law school personal statement that best reflects your abilities as a potential law student, we have some recommendations below.

  • Discuss possible personal statement topics with your pre-law advisor (or someone else) before you invest a lot of time writing.
  • Choose a narrow topic. Offer details about a small topic rather than generalities about a broad topic. Focus on a concrete experience and the impact it has had upon you.
  • Be yourself. Do not tell law schools what you think they want to hear — tell them the truth.
  • Pay special attention to your first paragraph. It should immediately grab a reader’s attention. Reviewers are pressed for time and may not read beyond an uninteresting opener.
  • Keep it interesting. Write with energy and use the active voice. You do not have to explain how your experience relates to your desire to attend law school. Tell a story. Paint a vivid picture. The most interesting personal statements create visuals for the reader, which make your personal statement more memorable.
  • Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos. Choose your words with economy and clarity in mind, and remember that your reader has a huge stack of applications to read. A personal statement generally should be two to three double-spaced pages.
  • Proofread. Ask several people to proofread your essay. Grammatical or mechanical errors are inexcusable.
  • Include information from your background that sets you apart. If your ethnicity, family, religion, socioeconomic background, or similar factors are motivating you to succeed in law school, be sure to highlight them. You can do this in the personal statement itself or in a separate diversity statement. If you are writing a personal statement and a diversity statement, make sure the two essays address different topics.
  • Consider your audience. Most admissions evaluators are professors, third-year law students, or admissions professionals not long out of law school. Therefore, you want to come across as an attentive student, interesting classmate, and accomplished person. Again, consider what you most want them to know, beyond the information provided in the rest of your application.
  • Read the application carefully. Most law schools allow you to choose a topic, but some will require you to address a specific question. Follow whatever instructions are provided.
  • Do not play a role, especially that of a lawyer or judge. And stay away from legal concepts and jargon. You run the risk of misusing them, and even if you use them properly, legal language may make you appear pompous.
  • Do not tell your life story in chronological order or merely re-state your resume. Furthermore, resist the urge to tie together all of your life experiences. The essays that try to say too much end up saying nothing at all.
  • Do not become a cliché. You may genuinely want to save the world. Maybe your study abroad experience transformed the way you look at the world. But these topics are overused. Before writing your essay, consider how your story is unique and highlight your individuality.
  • Do not use a personal statement to explain discrepancies in your application. If your academic record is weak in comparison to your LSAT scores, or vice versa, address that issue in an addendum. Emphasize the positive in the personal statement.
  • Do not offend your reader. Lawyers rarely shy away from controversial topics, but you should think twice before advocating a controversial view. You do not want to appear to be close-minded.
  • If you are in the bottom of an applicant pool, do not play it safe. You have nothing to lose by making a novel statement.


The Ultimate Guide to Writing an Outstanding Law School Personal Statement

Dazzle admissions with your legally awesome personal story, introduction.

Let's face it: you've spent countless hours studying and acing the LSAT, and now it's time for the pièce de résistance – the law school personal statement. This is your golden opportunity to showcase your personality, and put your best legal foot forward. But don't worry, this guide has got you covered. In no time, you'll be writing a personal statement that could put John Grisham's early drafts to shame.

If you're ready to convince law school admissions committees that you're the next Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Thurgood Marshall, then buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through the world of crafting the ultimate law school personal statement.

1. Know Your Audience: The Admissions Committee

First and foremost, remember that you're writing for the admissions committee. These are the gatekeepers of your future legal career, and they've read more personal statements than there are citations in a Supreme Court decision. To avoid becoming a legal footnote in their memory, keep the following in mind:

  • Be professional, but also relatable. You don't want to sound like a robot that's been programmed to spout legalese.
  • Avoid clichés like "I want to make a difference" or "I've always wanted to be a lawyer." Unless, of course, you've been dreaming of billable hours since you were in diapers.
  • Consider what makes you unique. Remember, this is your chance to stand out among a sea of applicants with equally impressive academic records and LSAT scores.

2. Choosing Your Topic: Make It Personal and Memorable

When it comes to choosing a topic for your personal statement, think of it as an episode of Law & Order: Your Life Edition. It's your moment to shine, so pick a story that showcases your passion, resilience, or commitment to justice. Consider these tips:

  • Use an anecdote. Admissions committees love a good story, especially one that shows your problem-solving skills or ability to navigate tricky situations. Just be sure not to end up on the wrong side of the law!
  • Reflect on a transformative experience. If you've had a life-changing event that led you to pursue law, share it! Just remember to keep it PG-rated.
  • Discuss a personal challenge you've overcome. Nothing says "I'm ready for law school" like demonstrating your resilience in the face of adversity.

3. Structure and Organization: Your Legal Blueprint

Now that you've chosen your topic, it's time to draft your personal statement. Like a well-organized legal brief, your statement should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Consider the following tips for structuring your masterpiece:

  • Begin with a strong opening. Start with a hook that will capture the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Think of it as your own personal Miranda warning: "You have the right to remain captivated."
  • Develop your story in the body. This is where you'll expand on your anecdote or experience, and explain how it has shaped your desire to pursue a legal career. Remember to be concise and avoid meandering – this isn't a filibuster.
  • End with a powerful conclusion. Tie everything together and reiterate why you're the ideal candidate for law school. Just like a closing argument, leave the admissions committee convinced that you're the right choice.

4. Style and Tone: Finding Your Inner Legal Wordsmith

When it comes to your personal statement, you want to strike the perfect balance between professional and engaging. After all, no one wants to read a 500-word legal treatise on why you should be admitted to law school. To achieve this delicate balance, follow these style and tone guidelines:

  • Write in the first person. This is your personal statement, so own it! Using "I" allows you to convey your unique perspective and voice.
  • Keep it conversational, yet polished. Write as if you were speaking to a respected mentor or professor. Avoid slang, but don't be afraid to inject a bit of your personality into your writing.
  • Employ dry humor sparingly. A little wit can make your statement more enjoyable to read, but remember that humor is subjective. It's best to err on the side of caution, lest you inadvertently offend the admissions committee.
  • Be precise and concise. Legal writing is known for its clarity and brevity, so practice these skills in your personal statement. Aim to keep it between 500 and 700 words, as brevity is the soul of wit (and law school applications).

5. Revision: The Art of Legal Editing

It's been said that writing is rewriting, and this is particularly true for your personal statement. Once you've drafted your masterpiece, it's time to don your editor's hat and polish it to perfection. Follow these tips for a meticulous revision:

  • Take a break before revising. Give yourself some distance from your statement before diving into revisions. This will help you approach it with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
  • Read your statement out loud. This technique can help you catch awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, and other errors that might not be apparent when reading silently.
  • Seek feedback from others. Share your statement with trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can provide constructive criticism. Just remember, opinions are like law school casebooks – everyone's got one, but you don't have to take them all to heart.
  • Edit ruthlessly. Don't be afraid to cut, rewrite, or reorganize your statement. Your goal is to make your writing as strong and effective as possible, even if it means sacrificing a clever turn of phrase or an endearing anecdote.

6. Proofread: The Final Verdict

Before submitting your personal statement, it's crucial to proofread it thoroughly. Even the most compelling story can be marred by typos, grammatical errors, or other mistakes. Follow these proofreading tips to ensure your statement is error-free:

  • Use spell check, but don't rely on it entirely. Some errors, like homophones or subject-verb agreement issues, may slip past your computer's watchful eye.
  • Print your statement and read it on paper. This can help you spot errors that you might have missed on-screen.
  • Enlist a second pair of eyes. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can catch mistakes that you've become blind to after multiple revisions.

Crafting an outstanding law school personal statement may seem daunting, but with the right approach and a healthy dose of perseverance, you can create a compelling and memorable statement that will impress even the most discerning admissions committee. So go forth and conquer, future legal eagles! And remember, as you embark on your law school journey, may the precedent be ever in your favor.

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Law School Personal Statement Tips

In your personal statement for law school you want to present yourself as intelligent, professional, mature and persuasive. These are the qualities that make a good lawyer, so they're the qualities that law schools seek in applicants. Your grades and LSAT score are the most important part of your application to law school. But you shouldn't neglect the law school personal statement. Your application essay is a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants, especially those with similar LSAT scores and GPA.

law school personal statement

How To Write a Personal Statement for Law School

1. be specific to each law school ..

You'll probably need to write only one basic personal statement, but you should tweak it for each law school to which you apply. There are usually some subtle differences in what each school asks for in a personal statement.

2. Good writing is writing that is easily understood.

Good law students—and good lawyers—use clear, direct prose. Remove extraneous words and make sure that your points are clear. Don't make admissions officers struggle to figure out what you are trying to say.

Read More: Find Your Law School

3. Get plenty of feedback on your law school personal statement.

The more time you've spent writing your personal statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. You should ask for feedback from professors, friends, parents, and anyone else whose judgment and writing skills you trust. This will help ensure that your statement is clear, concise, candid, structurally sound and grammatically accurate.

4. Find your unique angle.

Who are you? What makes you unique? Sometimes, law school applicants answer this question in a superficial way. It's not enough to tell the admissions committee that you're a straight-A student from Missouri. You need to give them a deeper sense of yourself. And there's usually no need to mention awards or honors you've won. That's what the law school application  or your resume is for.

Use your essay to explain how your upbringing, your education, and your personal and professional experiences have influenced you and led you to apply to law school. Give the admissions officers genuine insight into who you are. Don't use cliches or platitudes. The more personal and specific your personal statement is, the better received it will be.

Applying to law school? Use our  law school search to find the right program for you or browse our  law school ranking lists .

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Law School Personal Statement

An effective personal statement.

Personal statements should provide a reader with a sense of who you are beyond your test scores and transcript, and demonstrate that you have a distinct voice to contribute to the incoming class. In the same way that each individual is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing an effective personal statement. Your content will be driven by your life experiences, your perspective, and the reasons you chose to apply to law school. Remember, however, that you typically will not interview with an admissions committee before receiving a decision on your candidacy. You should, therefore, aim to provide the reader with a window into who you are as a person through your personal statement.

The information provided on this page is meant to help you think about, and then write, an effective personal statement. Having an interesting story to tell is not enough; the presentation of your information is just as important.

Do You have any tips before I write?

You should be the subject of your personal statement. To ensure that your writing has an appropriate focus:

  • First, consider your defining qualities and strengths. Specifically, what would your family, colleagues, or friends say about you? Think in terms of adjectives.
  • Second, consider the experiences through which your qualities have been developed and/or demonstrated. For example, do you love to tutor, work with kids, solve computer problems for your friends, or run marathons?
  • Finally, tell a story through a cohesive narrative. Your most difficult task, and the most important task, in writing your personal statement is tying your abstract qualities with instances that demonstrate them.

Remember, you should connect your experiences logically to your interest in applying to law school, but do not dedicate your entire personal statement to this information. There are thousands of applicants with a similar interest in law school, but there is only one of you.

What should I write about?

While there is a broad range of topics that can be discussed in an effective personal statement, below are some common examples that are appropriate and relevant:

How do I know my topic is on track?

Don’t write your resume in paragraph form. As you select your topic, take special care to avoid speaking about information that is already described on your resume. Your personal statement is not meant to merely reiterate your resume in narrative form.

Focus on the present and the recent past. Admissions Committees are inerested in the adult version of you, as opposed to the child you once were, even if you had formative childhood experiences. With that in mind, prioritize relatively recent activities or experiences.

Find the appropriate depth and breadth. Although it is tempting, try to avoid writing a mini-autobiography or a chronological narrative of your life. Describing the event, activity or experience that you ultimately choose should take no more than one-half (usually about one-third) of your personal statement. The remaining portion should demonstrate how your anecdote(s) impacted you and shaped the person you are today.

Things to Do for an Effective Personal Statement:

Revise and reflect: Do not rush to finish your personal statement without taking the time to understand yourself. Personal statements are about critical self-examination, and Admissions Committees know when essays only begin to scratch the surface. Reflecting on your first draft is just as important as the self-reflection you did in considering your topic.

Focus on yourself: Use the first-person “I” when discussing yourself throughout the essay.

Ensure that your narrative is cohesive: The ideas you present in your personal statement are connected by a common thread (or threads). For example, your conclusion should refer back to your introductory paragraph and restate your main thesis in a slightly different way.

Proofread carefully: Edit and spell-check your personal statement multiple times, with the caveat that the spell-check tool is not perfect. You typically have only two double-spaced pages to make the strongest case possible for your candidacy. Do not let the small details distract from your big picture.  Sometimes it helps to have someone you trust proof-read your finished product.

Check each law school’s requirements and instructions: While most law schools ask for an open-ended essay, the prompt may differ by school. You should also check each law school’s page length or word/character specifications. Generally, a two-page, double-spaced essay is the standard.

Things to Avoid for an Effective Personal Statement:

Try to sound like a lawyer: You should not include legalese or complex language in your statement because you are applying to law school! Avoid rhetorical flourishes and language that you think sounds sophisticated. Clarity and concision of presentation are valued in both your personal statement and in the practice of law.

Forget that you’re applying to a professional school: Try to avoid cliches or overly colloquial phrasing. Law school admissions committees will be put off by informal language in your application materials. You should consider this as one of your first professional exercises in your law school career.

Include direct quotations: Avoid using other people’s quotations (and direct quotes in general).  As stated, the purpose of your personal statement is to demonstrate your own voice. Instead of quoting, try to paraphrase using explanatory details. Even when quoting yourself, you probably will not remember the exact words or phrasing you used.

Title your personal statement: The theme of your narrative should be apparent to the reader through the content of your statement. Including a title is distracting and a waste of valuable space.

Use your personal statement to justify your other application materials: The personal statement is not an appropriate place to provide context for a poor GPA or standardized test score. If you are concerned about your “numbers,” and if you believe that additional information would help the reader to understand your performance, include a separate “supplemental statement” or addendum. This information is important to the Admissions Committees, but it should not be the focus of your personal statement.

Remember: be yourself, tell your story, and let the best version of you be reflected on the pages!

Please visit the Scheduling page to review the guidelines for requesting a document review.

How to Write a Great Law School Personal Statement

outside study

Are you ready to tackle your law school personal statement? Clear and concise writing is a vital skill for law students, but writing about yourself can be daunting. It's hard to winnow your life experiences down to a couple of pages or find one topic to focus on. 

Yet, your personal statement is a critical part of the application process . When combined with your resume, application, and LSAT score, it forms a complete picture of who you are and why you're a perfect fit. 

With these steps, you'll overcome obstacles while developing prose that supports a favorable application decision. 

Does a personal statement matter for law school?

Yes, your personal statement for law school is vital. It provides insights that aren't apparent on your transcripts. Engaging prose helps you stand out in a competitive space resulting in acceptance at your most-desired schools. 

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the number of applicants to law schools rose by 1.6%, with 63,206 applicants submitting 381,698 applications, according to the Law School Admission Council . You're competing with students who may have similar LSAT scores , grade point averages, and professional experience. When facing identical transcripts from hardworking students, often the only differentiator is the personal statement. 

After all, admissions officers want to know the person behind the hard data. That's where your law school personal statement comes into play. With a standout essay, you capture admissions officers' attention and an amazing narrative sticks in their heads. Your story should emphasize valuable traits, such as: 

  • Intelligence
  • Professionalism
  • Persuasiveness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Seriousness

How do you write a good law school personal statement?

Writing a great law school personal statement doesn't come without hard work. Although you've written plenty of essays during your college experience, a strong narrative requires genuine reflection. You need to dig deep to uncover an aspect of your life that led to a significant change or put you on your current path.

Of course, intelligent prose doesn't always come out in the first draft. So prepare to spend a good chunk of time building your narrative and adjusting your statement for flow. Starting is often the hardest part of writing. Fortunately, you can follow these steps to nail your law school personal statement. 

Review law school personal statement requirements

Begin by scouring the application packet materials and college websites. Look for key information about the length and page format of your personal statement. The guidelines should answer important questions like:

  • How long should your personal statement be for law school? 
  • What is the maximum word count for a personal statement?
  • How do you format a personal statement?

Next, write down any required prompts to answer in your essay. For instance, some schools may ask why you're applying or why you want a JD degree. Organize program details using a spreadsheet or project management software like Trello. Create a card or row for each program, then list important facts about its mission, goals, and community. 

Also, check to see if any programs offer law school personal statement examples. Read through samples to get an idea of what admissions officers expect. Lastly, some colleges accept other types of statements as well, such as a diversity statement or an addendum. For best results, complete all options.

Diversity statement for law school 

A diversity statement defines what makes you different. It sounds or looks similar to your law school personal statement. But, it differs because you don't need to tie up your narrative into a neat package that ends with an epiphany. Instead, it may cover an experience that explains your values or desire to work towards inclusivity.

Law school application addendum

An addendum is a way to overcome lower scores, a gap in education, or other concerns where you fall short in your official papers and transcripts. Addendums are short, concise, and honest. Explain your reason and demonstrate that you've met and overcome your challenge. 

Brainstorm potential personal statement topics 

Some people prefer to jump right into writing. However, your life story is pretty lengthy, so it's essential to narrow down your subject matter. Focus your attention by reflecting on your life and coming up with some topics to write about. Consider ideas like: 

  • Personal challenges, hardships, or completed goals
  • A turning point in your life
  • Unique hobbies or personal interests
  • Special achievements or awards, not listed in-depth on your initial application
  • A situation or environment that changed you or your values
  • A project that got results and you're passionate about
  • Your upbringing, culture, education, or a personal or professional experience

While brainstorming, go through your transcripts, application, and resume. Are there any gaps or missing details that your personal statement could cover? Perhaps you listed volunteer work with a local animal shelter on your application. Could you delve into this topic further? Aim to share a unique story where your personal growth is the main focus. 

Explore your subject for clarity and insights

Sure, your chosen topic may be fresh on your mind. However, your personal statement for law school is more than describing an event. You need to show admission officers how this experience shaped you. It's vital to dig into how it impacted your values, traits, and feelings. 

Many students report spending hours or days considering their topic, digging through memories, and compiling their subject matter. If you have access to photos, documents, or other things that'll jog your mind, then now is the time to pull them out. Sometimes even listening to your favorite songs can help you remember the moment. 

Uncover a unique angle

Mark Twain once said that no story ideas are original. That holds true for personal statements as well. Plenty of law school applicants face difficult decisions, adversity, or enlightening experiences. Your essay isn't a retelling of an event. It focuses on your feelings and growth. And the story of you is unique, as no one shares your exact emotions or reactions. 

Your goal is to explore an angle that sets your story apart from others. Overcome obstacles by taking a break during brainstorming. Come back to your topic with fresh eyes and hammer out your main idea. 

Sum up your idea and start writing

Now you're looking at your topic, an angle, and you've pulled up those old memories. Do your best to sum it up and conclude it with a few sentences. This is your main point, and what every paragraph should lead the reader back to. Use these sentences as a reference point while writing. 

Some students prefer to create a general outline before writing. Others produce a few key sentences and start typing. All personal statements for law school use a narrative arc with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Include:

  • A captivating introduction that draws the reader into your life
  • Body paragraphs that naturally flow towards a conclusion
  • A decisive conclusion that delivers a lasting impression

During the rough draft, forget about length, grammar, or other specifics. Instead, just write. Get everything out on the pages. You'll have plenty of time later to refine, clarify, and structure your personal law school statement. Once you're done, read it over, make a few edits, and walk away. 

Turn a draft into your personal law school statement 

With a rough draft in hand, assess every word to ensure your story meets your objectives. Your goal is to recreate the moment and invite the reader into your account. Mold your rough draft into a final piece by focusing on a coherent structure. 

Flow. A logical progression of ideas, with a clear arc, is essential. Your reader should glide through your personal statement naturally. 

Length. Eliminate wordy phrases, overly difficult words, and descriptions that don't support your conclusion. 

Personalization. Pay attention to subtle differences in law schools, from their communities to purpose. If you can genuinely work this into your personal statement, then do so.

Character decisions. It's okay to include other characters in your personal statement, but ultimately you want to return the focus to yourself. 

Revise and edit several times

Few applicants write a stellar personal statement the first time. Get the best results by putting your draft through a comprehensive editing and revision process. This goes beyond using your word processing spell checker. Invest in human and technical tools to ensure the best results. Take steps such as: 

  • Double-check that your essay meets formatting and length requirements. 
  • Make sure you've answered any writing prompts.
  • Personalize your statement to the specific school and program. 
  • Use a tool like Grammarly or ProWritingAid to correct grammar and style issues. 
  • Run your document through the Hemingway App to catch hard-to-read sentences and more.

Lastly, it’s essential to get help editing your personal statement. Fresh eyes and unbiased opinions allow you to refine your narrative. Obtain assistance from law school forums, writing centers, and social media communities. Or, ask fellow students or mentors to review your essay.

Create an impressive law school personal statement

Make your application packet stand out with a genuine and captivating personal statement for law school. Although writing your essay may seem like a challenging task, once you break it down into steps, it'll be easier to develop a cohesive statement that's sure to win admission officers’ attention.

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Online Master of Legal Studies » Related Law and Legal Degrees » Juris Doctor (J.D.) » Personal Statement

How to Write a Personal Statement for Law School 

Personal statements for law school are one of the most important parts of making your application stand out because they tell a story about a person’s character that can’t otherwise be known from a resume. Applicants seeking a law degree, such as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or an  online J.D. program , would do best to lean on communication and research skills from their undergraduate studies in order to write a good personal statement for law school. Use the guide below to explore resources for law school personal statement tips for formatting, dos and don’ts, and some topics for inspiration.

What is a Personal Statement for Law School?

A personal statement is a brief essay written by the law school applicant detailing their personal background and how it makes them a unique fit for the law degree program. The personal statement may also cover the applicant’s intentions for studies while enrolled in the program—such as a passion for litigation, immigration or environmental law—and what they hope to gain from being a student at that particular law school. While a personal statement won’t compensate for low LSAT scores,  it can include nuanced life experiences that cannot be gleaned from other aspects of the application, such as your transcripts, resume or letters of recommendation. 

What is the Admissions Committee Looking for in the Personal Statement?

Admissions committees typically look for some of the following topics:

  • Who is the applicant?  What stands out about a student’s academic and personal background, work experience and extracurricular activities (such as volunteer work or community service)? Do you have unique traits or qualities? Beyond that, admissions committees want to know how a student can add value to the school and student body, and if you can build trust with peers and professors.
  • Does the applicant have strong communication and writing abilities?  Does the applicant’s personal statement for law school demonstrate clear written communication skills and excellent attention to detail? A well-written and coherent law school personal statement can signal to the admissions committee that you are a strong communicator, capable of articulating complex thoughts and experiences, much like lawyers do in their day-to-day work. If you want to  become a lawyer  or practice law after earning a law degree and passing the bar, these are important skills to cultivate over time. 

Law School Personal Statement Format

Each university will have different requirements, but typically, a law school  personal statement format  may include:

  • Length : Two pages, though some universities will specify if they only want one
  • Word Count : 250-500 words at minimum 
  • Spacing : Double or single spaced
  • Font : Times New Roman in 11-or 12-point font
  • Margins : No less than 1 inch 

Students should always carefully read the requirements for each law school they apply to before writing their personal statement. Be sure to check the requirements a second time after the personal statement is complete, especially when submitting personal statements to multiple universities. 

10 Law School Personal Statement Tips

Writing a personal statement can be a daunting task for some, but most law schools have guidelines or advice that can help reduce the pressure of what to write about. You may use the advice below to begin writing your personal statement, but be sure to check with your adviser or another academic professional who can help guide you through the process.

  • Read all the instructions.  Carefully read and follow the guidelines provided by law schools before you begin writing to avoid wasting time or energy on formatting that could disqualify your application. Many schools offer thorough and specific instructions, including factors the admissions committee uses to evaluate candidacy.
  • Brainstorm and make a framework.  Work with your adviser to brainstorm possible personal statement topics and discuss how to make each of those topics unique and complete. Creating an outline can be done together or on your own, but it can be helpful to have a framework once you begin writing.
  • Research the school values and understand your audience.  Find out what values are important to the university and identify where those values intersect with your own. Read up on specific professors and their current research topics to understand what opportunities you might have to learn from them and consider mentioning those areas in your essay.
  • Choose one or two small topics . Small, specific topics can ensure the applicant sufficiently covers the topic as opposed to starting a lengthy narrative they don’t have room to finish. Additionally, smaller topics will also help the writer stick to the page limit.
  • Identify what sets you apart.  Focus on the activities or experiences that make you unique, especially if they are not already on your resume. Focus on these attributes to make your statement feel more personal, authentic and meaningful as you craft your story. 
  • Give yourself plenty of time to write.  Writing under pressure can lead to critical mistakes such as unfinished thoughts and grammatical errors. Spending multiple sessions on your personal statement ensures that you have clarity, a chance to refine your writing and time to proofread.
  • Hook the reader.  Pay special attention to your first paragraph so that your voice and ideas stand out. Many admissions officers are reviewing hundreds of essays, so gripping their attention from the beginning may increase the likelihood of them engaging more positively with your entire application. A vivid story or good narrative may help your application be more memorable.
  • Stay on topic and be concise.  If possible, stick to the plan you made instead of going off script. Reference your outline repeatedly as you write, especially if you feel yourself running out of room on the page. 
  • Be yourself.  Personal statements stand out when the writer’s voice is able to shine through. Avoid spending too much time reviewing other people’s work as examples and be confident in your own experience. Focus on your vision, personality, motivation and other relevant aspects specific to you. Otherwise, the essay may end up sounding generic. 
  • Proofread and polish it up.  In addition to manually proofreading your draft, use spell-checking software to check for grammatical errors. Also, look for any legal terms that may be misused. It may help to have your adviser or a trusted peer review for grammatical errors and overall flow before submitting your personal statement.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Law School Personal Statement

The individual requirements for a personal statement may vary depending on the university, but these general tips and advice for mistakes to avoid can be applied to writing your personal statement. 

  • Restate your resume.  Focus on crafting a story that wouldn’t otherwise be obvious from your resume. Listing your qualifications can be repetitive, and you’ll miss an opportunity to make yourself stand out. 
  • Discuss legal issues at length.  Avoid extensively discussing the law or a controversial issue. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to debate once you begin law school courses. Make your passions clear without turning your essay into a personal political agenda. Remember a personal statement should focus on  you .
  • Dramatize or exaggerate stories.  Fabricating life experiences or plagiarizing others’ work can lead to disqualification of your application or even legal action. Your personal statement should be authentic and establish credibility. Stay true to yourself, your experiences and your writing abilities. 
  • Submit without proofreading.  Make sure you spend time on your personal statement and  thoroughly check for grammatical and spelling errors, including the name of your desired school. You’ll also want to pay attention to specific formatting requirements and word count. You may have a trusted adviser review your work to ensure all the university requirements have been met. 
  • Cover too much ground.  Staying focused on your specific topics will help with clarity, consistency and concision. Covering too many topics, or even too large of a topic, can make your statement seem unwieldy, rambling or unfocused. 

Law School Personal Statement Topics for Brainstorming

Take a look at your resume and identify a few points about your life experience that aren’t already mentioned in your application. What makes you stand out as a law school applicant? If you’re feeling stuck, you may use the prompts below to brainstorm a topic to craft a unique law school personal statement:

  • Personal challenges or hardships you’ve overcome
  • A meaningful turning point in your life and how it affected you
  • Unique hobbies or personal interests that demonstrate character
  • Special achievements or awards not already mentioned in your resume
  • A life event or situation that shaped your values or worldview
  • An innovative project or research topic you’re passionate about
  • Your upbringing or cultural background that shaped your identity
  • Opportunities you’ve used to make a difference in your community

If you’re still at a loss for where to begin, ask a friend or family member who knows you well to help identify a few personal attributes.

FAQs About Personal Statements for Law School

Law school applicants may have questions about specific details for their personal statements, which they should explore before beginning the writing process. Use the information below to navigate common questions, and be sure to go over each question with an admissions counselor at your desired law school.

Each law school may have its own requirements, but generally, personal statements are one to two pages in length. If no word count or page length is provided, make sure the essay is long enough to cover your main thoughts but short enough to keep the reader engaged. Have an adviser or editor read over your personal statement before submitting. 

A personal statement is different from a statement of interest, so it’s not always necessary to explain your interest in practicing law, which is assumed by the fact that you’re applying to law school in the first place. Applicants may mention a life event or passion that shaped their desire to make a difference by pursuing a law degree. Be sure to check the instructions given by the university before deciding what to include. 

Personal statements are a crucial part of expressing what makes you a good fit for a particular law school program. Applicants should treat the personal statement very seriously, especially given that other students are likely to appear equally qualified on their applications. A great personal statement may be the deciding factor in your acceptance into law school.

Yes, writing style matters in your personal statement—and throughout the entire application—because writing is a fundamental skill that lawyers use on a daily basis. Admissions committees are often made up of attorneys and graduates of the law school, so demonstrating excellent writing skills works to the advantage of applicants. Law school applications require significant effort, attention to detail and demonstration of critical thinking skills. They provide just a taste of the demand for writing that students will encounter during law school. If you want to learn more about the requirements of law school and the benefits provided by a law degree, read our guide, “ Is Law School Worth It? ”

Last updated September 2021.

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The Law School Personal Statement: Tips and Templates

photo of a a person writing in a notebook sitting outside.

Photo by  Alejandro Escamilla  on Unsplash

Published July 16, 2019

The stress of cramming for the LSAT (or GRE) is behind you, and you survived the intolerably long wait for your score. You‘ve researched schools, requested transcripts, secured recommendation letters, and updated your resume. Now only the dreadful personal statement is preventing you from hitting the submit button.

So you might ask:  Does anyone even read the personal statement?  Yes .  Could it be a make or break deciding factor?   Definitely . 

While your standardized test score(s) and undergraduate GPA are good law school success predictors, non-numerical factors such as your resume, recommendation letters and the personal statement give the Admissions Committee an idea of your individuality and how you might uniquely contribute to the law school. Most importantly, your personal statement is a sample of your writing, and strong writing skills are as important to law students (and lawyers) as Mjolnir is to Thor.

If the thought of writing a personal statement stresses you out, adhere to these 5 tips to avoid disaster. 

BONUS :  Scroll down to review 5 law school personal statement samples.

1. Make it personal

The Admissions Committee will have access to your transcripts and recommendation letters, and your resume will provide insight into your outside-the-classroom experiences, past and current job responsibilities and other various accomplishments. So, the personal statement is your best opportunity to share something personal they don’t already know. Be sure to provide insight into who you are, your background and how it’s shaped the person you are today, and finally, who you hope to be in the future.

2. Be genuine

If you haven’t faced adversity or overcome major life obstacles, it’s okay. Write honestly about your experiences and interests. And, whatever you do, don’t fabricate or exaggerate—the reader can often see through this. Find your unique angle and remember that a truthful and authentic essay is always your best approach.

Tip: Don’t use big words you don’t understand. This will certainly do more harm than good.

3. Tackle the “Why?”

Get creative, but remember to hone in on the why . Unless the application has specific requirements, it is recommended you include what influenced you to pursue a legal education. Consider including what impact you hope to make in the world post-graduation.

4. Keep it interesting & professional

The last thing you want to do is bore the reader, so keep it interesting, personable and engaging. A touch of humor is okay, but keep in mind that wit and sarcasm can be easily misinterpreted. Demonstrate maturity, good judgment and tact and you won’t end up offending the reader.

5. Edit & proofread

The importance of enrolling and graduating strong writers cannot be stressed enough, so don’t forget the basics! Include an introduction, supporting paragraphs and a closing. Write clearly, concisely and persuasively. Take time to edit, proofread--walk away from it--then edit and proofread again before submitting. 

Tip : Consulting a Pre-Law Advisor or a mentor to help you proofread and edit is an extra step you can take to make sure your personal statement is the best it can be!

Sound easy enough? It is, if you take it seriously. Don’t think you have to craft the “best” or most competitive personal statement, just the most “genuine” personal statement. Remember, there is nobody with your exact set of life experiences, background or point of view. Just do you.

Bonus: 5 Law School Personal Statement Samples

1.  How a suitemate's small gesture resulted in declaring a second major and, eventually, working as an interpreter at a law firm.

Near the end of the spring semester of my sophomore year, my bilingual suitemate slipped me a small chart of Spanish subject pronouns. Earlier that day, I had told him that I signed up for a study abroad program in Costa Rica, and he knew my Spanish vocabulary was limited to little more than “good morning,” “thank you,” and “goodbye.” Apart from English, languages had always seemed incredibly foreign to me, and not in terms of their origins or where they were predominantly spoken. I missed their logic. Grammatical rules seemed far removed from anything resembling expression or communication. Foreign words never added up to more than the sum of their letters. I had studied both German and French in high school with modest success. At twenty years old on that spring afternoon, I was just a motivated learner with a college language requirement to fulfill. I had the determination to soak up as much Spanish as I could, but I had what I felt at the time were realistic expectations. Spanish did not need to change my life.

From that scrap piece of paper and kind gesture of a friend, I ultimately declared a second major in Spanish. Notebooks full of vocabulary quickly replaced the list of pronouns. I poured over conjugation charts in Spanish’s fourteen verb tenses, three grammatical moods, and regional variations. Spanish was a joy. It presented both a personal challenge and an endless puzzle to be solved. While it was not my best subject, I took to the language’s study with patience, discipline, and a constant desire for measureable self-improvement.

This challenging and rewarding aspect of language acquisition never subsided. Even as it continues to become easier to read, write, speak, and listen in Spanish, I am increasingly aware of nuances I miss and vocabulary I lack. New words and phrases still give me a feeling of quiet exhilaration. Spanish presents me with a chance to relearn the world and reevaluate my understanding of it. Are the Americas one continent or two? Which form of “you” do you use? What strategies are developing in Spanish-speaking communities to promote inclusive and fair communication in a language that is so highly gender-inflected?

New words and concepts are only the beginning of the way Spanish opened up the world. I was introduced to the works of writers and artists from around the world. I watched movies that left me in stiches, moved me to tears, and gave me the chills. It opened my ears to a steady stream of protest music, singer songwriter confessionals, flamenco, tango, jotas, salsa, blues and indie rock. Over the course of my studies, Spanish led me to travel and took me to large cities, small towns, plains, mountains, jungles, waterfalls, deserts, and beaches. I have been extraordinarily privileged to have had these experiences. More importantly, however, is the way Spanish has enriched my life by connecting me with teachers, colleagues, students, artists, activists, welcoming families, and friends who I would never have met otherwise. My life is forever changed by these relationships.

After graduation, I moved to Spain to work as a language assistant and cultural ambassador for the Spanish Ministry of Education, at vocational, secondary, and primary schools in La Rioja and Madrid, where I helped students and colleagues in journeys mirroring my own, toward English proficiency and mastery. My life and work in Spain was fulfilling. However, I began to feel the distance from my family and friends in the United States. In 2014, I returned home with fresh eyes. The move was as impactful as any of my past travel. I saw a vibrant multilingual and multicultural community on the rise and was determined to put my hard-won Spanish skills to good use.

I started working at a law firm as a paralegal and interpreter. It is a small, high-volume practice limited to immigration law. There, I honed my organizational, scheduling, and managerial skills. A large part of my job is coordinating directly with clients, attorneys, and other support staff. I help to prepare motions, translations, court submissions, family-based petitions, asylum claims and many other applications. Over the course of any given day, I have the opportunity to help people from many different countries and walks of life. A significant proportion of our clientele speaks Spanish as their first language. I acknowledge that the circumstances in which many of our clients arrive in the United States are different than those that shaped my life as a traveler and an immigrant, but I am proud to be able to extend some of the much-needed help and hospitality that was always afforded to me.

Arguably, I know less about law than I knew about Spanish when my sophomore roommate gave me my first language lesson, but I feel ready for the new challenge, fascinated by its potential as a window to the world, and excited by its many applications in service of our local and global community. After my travels and time living abroad, I feel strongly connected to many distant places, but Buffalo remains my home. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to study law at the University at Buffalo School of Law and thank you for your consideration of my application.

2.  This applicant found a balance between doing what they love and earning a living.  

As adolescents become young adults, they struggle with the transitional challenges that accompany their new responsibilities. As a child, I learned how to follow rules, play for participation trophies and not ask too many questions. I was told to stay in line, but I knew that as an adult, I should be a line-leader. The problem I faced, as I learned how to wield my own independence, was a common one. I desperately struggled to reconcile my strong compulsion towards self-indulgence with my ambitions for a successful life. I often asked myself whether it was possible to make a living off of playing with kittens all day. Parents love to tell adolescents that “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but as a young adult, it never seemed that simple. There is a looming dichotomy between “doing what you love” and “earning a wage,” which seems to plague each generation that enters adulthood. I feel genuinely fortunate to be able to say that I found harmony between the two. By pursuing a career in law, I believe I will be able to apply my personal values to a career which will give me not only a sense of personal fulfillment and gratification, but also a “real job” that contributes to society.

I had always been an enthusiastic learner, and was always throwing myself into new hobbies and interests. On a whim, I took a creative writing class in my sophomore year to kindle an interest in poetry. The poems we read that year opened my eyes to the potential and inherent beauty in language. The manipulation and purposeful reconstruction of syntax and diction resembled art. Careful articulation had always been an interest of mine, but poetry really gave me an access to language which I had never had before. Poetry became an incredibly important part of my college career and of my personal life. I read poetry, I wrote poetry, I published original poems, and I was twice awarded by the university for my work. I became active in the poetry community, and my relationship with language and articulation deepened.

At the same time, I enrolled in an elementary chemistry course as a basic science requirement. I had always been interested in science courses, and I knew the subject would fascinate me, but I was not prepared for the emotional response I felt to the chemistry material. Chemistry explained things; it explained behavior, and it dealt with calculable predictions on a microscopic level. As I delved further into my chemistry coursework, I felt like I had found a subject that answered something inside myself. My natural draw to ask “why” and “how” was finally pacified. Higher-level chemistry courses gave me the tools to approach any of those questions with the logical, rational thought required of chemical calculation.

As I maneuvered through my undergraduate coursework, and committed myself to both my English and Chemistry majors, I also tried to find a way to manifest my concern for community investment. I volunteered for an organization called Break! The Influence, which performed for schoolchildren to warn them of the dangers of substance abuse through dance and entertainment. Even after the program ended, I felt an instinctive gravitation towards community volunteer work and local investment, which led me to Literacy NY Buffalo Niagara. LNYBN is an organization which provides free English tutoring to functionally illiterate adults in the local area. This organization’s mission is very dear to me for several reasons: not only am I interested in bettering the community, but I also have immense respect for the adults who seek out this tutoring assistance. They are often learning English despite working full-time jobs and satisfying family responsibilities. These students have committed themselves in a way that inspires me and which I hope to emulate with a law degree. They are improving themselves in order to reach their potentials, and are able to reinvest those skills back into the community they learned from. I have been given the opportunity, through my work with LNYBN, to help these people equip themselves for even fuller contributions to society. I am excited to share with them my passion for language, and I am awed by the non-native speakers who are learning English as a second or third language. In the same vein, I hope to use my law degree to better prepare me to contribute to the community. I know that my language and articulation skills have made me a more effective communicator, and calculated rationality has made me a more measured and logical thinker. These are skills which I think will be enhanced by the study of law, and which can be used to improve society, as well as my local community, as my career develops.

3.  How one applicant's experience teaching English in Thailand prepared them for the challenges of law school.

As I handed my passport to the customs officer upon entry into Bangkok, Thailand, I anxiously glanced at my surroundings. What had I gotten myself into? My mind raced as I worried about whether I would be able to adapt to a foreign culture or whether I could handle teaching English in a foreign country for a year. Despite several months of analysis and reflection, I could not help but wonder if I had made the right decision. However, as the customs officer handed my passport back to me, I reminded myself why I decided to pursue this opportunity in the first place: personal and professional growth, intellectual stimulation, and the opportunity to experience a new culture. With that in mind, I confronted my fears, took a deep breath, and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

The first few months teaching English to primary level Thai students were challenging, to say the least. Not only was I adapting to a new way of life in a bustling Asian city, but I also confronted the reality that the majority of the students in my classroom had limited exposure to the English language. Although the task seemed overwhelming, I was determined to help my students improve their English communication skills. I worked diligently to create lesson plans centered on classroom participation. I also fostered relationships with my students, which allowed them to become more comfortable practicing their English. As a result, my students made significant improvements throughout the course of the academic year and were excited to practice their communication skills. The most rewarding moment came towards the end of the year when some of my students asked for my home address. They wanted to send me letters and continue practicing their English. Teaching in such a unique environment enabled me to enhance my organization, leadership, and adaptability skills, all while providing me with the opportunity to fully engage in a different culture.

In addition to developing strong relationships with my students, I developed relationships with people from an array of cultural backgrounds. I nurtured friendships with fellow teachers and other travelers, each with unique national, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. These relationships opened my mind to alternate ways of thinking, gave me the ability to hone my interpersonal skills, and broadened my ability to think critically about the similarities and differences in our world.

As I look back at my year of teaching in Thailand, I am proud of my accomplishments and am confident that I, in fact, did make the right decision. Although challenging at times, teaching English abroad was a defining learning experience. The lessons I learned throughout my experience in Thailand remain relevant in all aspects of my life. As a result of my intellectual curiosity and willingness to step outside of my comfort zone, I have the ability to succeed in any situation. My time in Thailand proves that I can readily face the responsibilities of law school and confidently confront the challenges of adapting to the legal environment. I believe these skills and my past experiences will make me successful at the University at Buffalo School of Law. Combining an education from the University at Buffalo with my unique international experience and strong work ethic will allow me to harness my full potential within the legal field.

4.  How a grandmother's hard work and dedication influenced this applicant to pursue a law degree.

As I stood up to speak, my mind flooded with memories. My family had traveled from New York to the island of Kauai to see my grandmother get married to a wonderful woman. Each of her grandchildren had been assigned to some part of the ceremony, and I was chosen to give a speech at the reception. I am not much of a public speaker, it is something I am always working on, but finding the right words to talk about my grandmother was easy.

After the death of her second husband, my grandmother had to support her family on her own. It would not be easy, but she knew she needed to start a career if she was going to support her four daughters. Her dream was to become an attorney. She worked as a waitress during the day and took classes at night. After excelling in law school, she began the career that she had worked so hard to get. Raising four daughters and maintaining a career is no easy task, but she flourished. Despite her obligations at home, my grandmother constantly excelled. She has received many awards and honors for her hard work throughout her career. More important to me than the awards and honors, however, is the pro bono work that she has done for women and children trapped in abusive relationships. She has always stressed the importance of giving back to the community in any way that one can. My grandmother is a kind and caring woman who puts forth an amazing amount of effort into everything she does.

Due to the absence of my father, my grandmother essentially became my second parent. I did not know the extent of her challenges and achievements while I was growing up. Much of what I learned from my grandmother I learned through her actions. My mother worked nights, so it was usually my grandmother's responsibility to pick me up from any sports practices or after school events. She was late every time, without failure. She was always putting in long hours at the office, and time would escape her. I was always silent on the ride home, not because I was upset, but because she would always be on the phone with a client or a coworker. It was as if she never stopped working. Whenever she would discuss past cases at the dinner table I would lean in close and try to understand as much as I could. Listening to my grandmother during these car rides and dinner conversations is what initially sparked my interest in the law. I always found it fascinating how eloquently she was able to articulate herself when speaking about her cases. Her work always sounded interesting, and it always felt important. I could tell she loved what she did, even if it was difficult and tiring.

I am not sure how many grandsons are lucky enough to see the smile on their grandmother’s face as she walks down the aisle toward the person she loves, but it was an experience that I would not trade for anything. As I finished my speech and sat back down, I reflected on what I have learned from my grandmother. She has always been a major role model in my life. I have seen the type of time commitment required in her field. I know that the work is both mentally and emotionally taxing. I also know that if she did not absolutely love her work, then she would not still be doing it today. From my grandmother I have learned that hard work and dedication are necessary for success, especially in the field of law. She has taught me to be caring and to give back to my community when I can. I have followed her example as best I could up to this point. I am confident that if I continue to persevere and find joy in what I do, then I will find success and happiness as my grandmother has.

5.  This applicant writes about their experience interning with a small town law firm tackling a big case.

I have lived in a small town for seventeen years. I knew advancing my education was the key to getting out of my hometown and into a more exciting environment that I yearned for. College brought me just over two hours away from home at a small liberal arts school with less than one-thousand enrolled students. Now in my senior year, a walk across campus means you know everyone who passes by; this is very similar to what happens when out and about at home. Frustrated with myself for not escaping from what I was used to, I decided to try for a summer internship at a corporate law firm in the city. My frustrations mounted after learning that one firm’s budget had been cut and I no longer had a summer position. Reluctantly, I sent cover letters and résumés to the handful of small law firms in my hometown. I received a response within two days, interviewed, and landed a summer internship at a law firm comprised of one lawyer who practiced all areas of law.

I quickly realized that being a small town lawyer did not mean small cases. The first chance I had to watch lawyers in action was during mediation for a federal lawsuit. I hesitantly stepped into the room. Across the table were five attorneys on behalf of New York State and the federal government. Only a few days earlier I had been sitting in class finishing my freshman year of college. Now, I was in a room full of attorneys negotiating their positions in a lawsuit brought on by the federal government. This is certainly not what I expected to experience as an intern at a solo practice law firm. I was catapulted into the unfamiliar environment that I had been searching for.

Feeling out of place was something I was not used to. Still timid and unsure, “You need to have faith, kid” was a phrase my boss told me, and I would hear it hundreds of times as I adjusted to the unfamiliar. My internship led me to shadow an attorney in a multitude of settings unfamiliar to me, and opened my eyes to the world of being a lawyer. Despite the small size of the law office, a wide range of cases came in. No matter how different one is from another, there was a common theme to them all: clients come to lawyers when they need help.

I was allowed to take a very hands on approach in the office, and see the demands of simultaneously being an effective lawyer and business owner. Before my internship, I did not know what a lawyer actually did aside from what I had seen as a glamorized television portrayal from various shows. I was oblivious to all the scenarios of life in which a lawyer is needed, as well as the human services side of the profession. As an attorney, you advocate the best you can for someone who cannot do that for themselves. Clients put an incredible amount of trust into their lawyers, and a client’s life can be impacted immensely as a result of the proceedings. Clients have faith that you will secure the best possible outcome for them.

As summer progressed, I was given more and more responsibilities. What began as an internship turned into a full-time job that I still return to during breaks from school. Throughout my time with the firm, I have learned more than just lawyering. I have learned the ins and outs of the legal profession, but I have also learned about myself. When I was put in the unfamiliar environment that I had yearned for, I did not know what to do. Fortunately, my boss has become a great mentor and has given me the opportunities to grow professionally, and personally. Every new experience is a chance to learn.

Capitalizing on the unfamiliarity that I so desired has led me to want more opportunities to advance into unfamiliar territories. I believe attending law school at the University at Buffalo will challenge me, and further my growth professionally and personally. The University’s unique trial advocacy program and clinics will allow me the hands-on experiences to apply what is learned in the classroom to real situations. I want to continue my ascent into the legal profession, and the University at Buffalo will provide me with the necessary tools.

Photo of Lindsay Gladney, Vice Dean for Admissions.

Guest blogger  Lindsay Gladney  is the Vice Dean for Admissions at UB School of Law. 

Office of Admissions University at Buffalo School of Law 408 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260 716-645-2907 [email protected]

Learn more about the law school admissions process and School of Law community through an individual meeting with one of our staff members.

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18 Law School Personal Statement Examples That Got Accepted!


This blog contains law school personal statement examples written by applicants who were successfully accepted to multiple law schools after working with our admissions experts as part of our  application review programs . Your  law school personal statement  is one of the most important parts of your application and is your best opportunity to show admissions officers who you are behind your numbers and third-party assessments. Because of its importance, many students find the personal statement to be daunting and demanding of the full scope of their skills as writers. Today we're going to review these excellent law school personal statement examples from past successful applicants and provide some proven strategies from a former admissions officer that can help you prepare your own stellar essay. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 44 min read

Law school personal statement example #1.

When I was a child, my neighbors, who had arrived in America from Nepal, often seemed stressed. They argued a lot, struggled for money, and seemed to work all hours of the day. One day, I woke early in the morning to a commotion outside my apartment. Police officers were accompanying my neighbors out of the building. They were being deported. In my teens, I was shocked to see that our kind, friendly neighbors had exhausted their last chance to stay in America as they lost a court appeal. 

Since that time, I have worked closely with the many immigrant families in my neighborhood, and now university town. I began by volunteering at a local community center. Together with social workers, I served food and gave out clothes to new arrivals. My diligent work ethic led to more responsibility, and I received training in basic counseling techniques, first aid skills and community services. Soon, I was tasked with welcoming new community members and assessing their health and social needs. I heard the many difficult stories of those who had traveled thousands of miles, often through several countries, risking everything to reach a safe, welcoming country. I was proud to contribute in some small way to making America welcoming for these individuals.

The community center is where I had my first formal contact with legal aid lawyers, who were a constant source of knowledge and support for those who needed assistance. I was struck by the lawyers’ ability to explain complex legal processes to nervous and exhausted incomers: law, I realized, was about more than procedure. I decided that I, too, would strive to balance a wealth of technical knowledge with my caring, compassionate personality.

As soon as I enrolled in university, I knew I had the chance to do so. In my very first week, I signed up to volunteer at the university’s legal aid center, where I worked closely with law professors and students on a range of cases. Academically, I have focused on courses, such as a fourth-year Ethics seminar, that would help me develop rigorous critical reasoning skills. More importantly, I knew that, given my experience, I could be a leader on campus. I decided to found a refugee campaign group, Students4Refugees. Together with a group of volunteers, we campaigned to make our campus a refugee-friendly space. I organized a series of events: international student mixers, an art installation in our student commons, and concerts that raised over $5,000 for the charity Refugee Aid. I am proud to say that my contributions were recognized with a university medal for campus leadership.

I have seen time and again how immigrants to the United States struggle with bureaucracy, with complex legal procedures, and with the demands of living in a foreign and sometimes hostile climate. As I plan to enter law school, I look back to my neighbors’ experiences: they needed someone who knew the law, who could negotiate with the authorities on their behalf, who could inform them of their rights—but they also needed someone who would provide a caring and compassionate outlet for their stresses. I know that Townsville University’s combination of academic rigor, legal aid services, and history of graduates entering labor and non-profit sectors will allow me to develop these skills and continue making contributions to my community by advocating for those in need.

  • Thematic consistency: It focuses on just one theme: justice for immigrants. Each paragraph is designed to show off how enthusiastic the student is about this area of law. Personal statements—including those for law school—often begin with a personal anecdote. This one is short, memorable, and relevant. It establishes the overall theme quickly. By constraining their essay’s focus to a single general theme, the writer can go into great depth and weave in emotional and psychological weight through careful and vivid description. The personal statement isn’t a standard 3-paragraph college essay with a spotlight thesis statement, but it conveys similar impact through presenting a central focus organically, without resorting to simply blurting out “the point” of the piece.   
  • Shows, rather than tells: Connected to this, this statement focuses on showing rather than telling. Rather than simply telling the reader about their commitment to law, the applicant describes specific situations they were involved in that demonstrate their commitment to law. “Show don’t tell” means you want to paint a vivid picture of actions or experiences that demonstrate a given quality or skill, and not simply say "I can do X." Make it an experience for your reader, don't just give them a fact. 
  • Confident, but not arrogant: Additionally, this personal statement is confident without being boastful—leadership qualities, grades, and an award are all mentioned in context, rather than appearing as a simple list of successes. 
  • Specific to the school: It ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. Thoroughly researching the law school to which you’re applying is incredibly important so that you can tailor your remarks to the specific qualities and values they’re looking for. A law essay writing service is really something that can help you integrate this aspect effectively. 

What Should a Law School Personal Statement Do?

1.      be unique to the school you’re applying to.

Students are always asking how to write a personal statement for law school, particularly one that stands out from all the rest. After all, advice from most universities can often be quite vague. Take this zinger from the  University of Chicago : “Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you… Just be yourself.” Every school will have different requirements or content they want to see in a personal statement. This is why it’s a good idea to review specific guidelines for the school to which you’re applying. For example, you can read Yale Law School personal statement examples , Stanford Law personal statement examples , and an NYU personal statement to get an idea of what these schools look for.

2.      Demonstrate your skills and capabilities

For motivated students with the world at their fingertips, it’s a tough ask to narrow your character down into a few hundred words! But this is exactly the point of such generic guidelines—to challenge aspiring law students to produce something unique and convincing with minimal direction by the university. Law is, after all, a profession that demands your language to be persuasive, and the personal statement is merely one of many exercises where you can demonstrate your language skills. 

3.      Meet basic requirements

While the law school personal statement is about far more than just following essay directions, you still need to keep basic formatting and length restrictions in mind. Most law schools ask for a 2-page personal statement, but lengths can range from 2-4 pages. Georgetown Law School , for instance, recommends a 2-page personal statement but explicitly states that there is no official minimum or maximum. In general, length does not make a personal statement better. Rambling, meandering sentences and tiresome descriptions will only hurt the impact of your ideas, especially considering how many thousands of pages admissions committees have to churn through each year.  

In short, keep to 2 double-spaced pages, and only go below or above this is if you absolutely have to, and if the school to which you're applying allows it. You want to keep things as widely applicable as possible while drafting your personal statement, meaning that you don't want to draft a 4 page letter for the one school that allows it, and then have to significantly rewrite this for your other schools. Stick to 2 pages. 

4.      Embody what the school is looking for

Lastly, many law schools won’t offer hyper-specific prompts, but will give you general law school admissions essay topics to follow. For instance, the University of Washington’s law school provides a number of topics to follow, including “Describe a personal challenge you faced” or “Describe your passions and involvement in a project or pursuit and the ways in which it has contributed to your personal growth and goals.” These topics may feel specific at first, but as you begin drafting, you’ll likely realize you have dozens of memories to choose from, and numerous ways of describing their impact. While drafting, try to explore as many of these options as possible, and select the best or most impactful to use in your final draft.  

Want to write the perfect law school personal statement? Watch this video:

Law School Personal Statement Example #2

In my home community, the belief is that the law is against us. The law oppresses and victimizes. I must admit that as a child and young person I had this opinion based on my environment and the conversations around me. I did not understand that the law could be a vehicle for social change, and I certainly did not imagine I had the ability and talents to be a voice for this change. I regularly attended my high school classes because I enjoyed the discussions and reading for English and history, and writing came easily to me, but I wasn’t committed to getting good grades because I felt I had no purpose. My mindset changed as I spent time with Mark Russell, a law student who agreed to mentor and tutor me as part of a “high school to law school” mentorship program. Every week, for three years, Mark and I would meet. At first, Mark tutored me, but I quickly became an “A” student, not only because of the tutoring, but because my ambitions were uncorked by what Mark shared with me about university, the law, and his life. I learned grades were the currency I needed to succeed. I attended mock trials, court hearings, and law lectures with Mark and developed a fresh understanding of the law that piqued an interest in law school. My outlook has changed because my mentor, my teachers, and my self-advocacy facilitated my growth. Still, injustices do occur. The difference is that I now believe the law can be an instrument for social change, but voices like mine must give direction to policy and resources in order to fight those injustices.

Early in my mentorship, I realized it was necessary to be “in the world” differently if I were to truly consider a law career. With Mark’s help and the support of my high school teachers, I learned to advocate for myself and explore opportunities that would expand my worldview as well as my academic skills. I joined a Model UN club at a neighboring high school, because my own school did not have enough student interest to have a club. By discussing global issues and writing decisions, I began to feel powerful and confident with my ability to gather evidence and make meaningful decisions about real global issues. As I built my leadership, writing, and public speaking skills, I noticed a rift developing with some of my friends. I wanted them to begin to think about larger systemic issues outside of our immediate experience, as I was learning to, and to build confidence in new ways. I petitioned my school to start a Model UN and recruited enough students to populate the club. My friends did not join the club as I’d hoped, but before I graduated, we had 2 successful years with the students who did join. I began to understand that I cannot force change based on my own mandate, but I must listen attentively to the needs and desires of others in order to support them as they require.

While I learned to advocate for myself throughout high school, I also learned to advocate for others. My neighbors, knowing my desire to be a lawyer, would often ask me to advocate on their behalf with small grievances. I would make phone calls, stand in line with them at government offices, and deal with difficult landlords. A woman, Elsa, asked me to review her rental agreement to help her understand why her landlord had rented it to someone else, rather than renewing her lease. I scoured the rental agreement, highlighted questionable sections, read the Residential Tenancies Act, and developed a strategy for approaching the landlord. Elsa and I sat down with the landlord and, upon seeing my binder complete with indices, he quickly conceded before I could even speak. That day, I understood evidence is the way to justice. My interest in justice grew, and while in university, I sought experiences to solidify my decision to pursue law.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to work as a summer intern in the Crown Attorney’s Office responsible for criminal trial prosecutions. As the only pre-law intern, I was given tasks such as reviewing court tapes, verifying documents, and creating a binder with indices. I often went to court with the prosecutors where I learned a great deal about legal proceedings, and was at times horrified by human behavior. This made the atmosphere in the Crown Attorney’s office even more surprising. I worked with happy and passionate lawyers whose motivations were pubic service, the safety and well-being of communities, and justice. The moment I realized justice was their true objective, not the number of convictions, was the moment I decided to become a lawyer.

I broke from the belief systems I was born into. I did this through education, mentorship, and self-advocacy. There is sadness because in this transition I left people behind, especially as I entered university. However, I am devoted to my home community. I understand the barriers that stand between youth and their success. As a law student, I will mentor as I was mentored, and as a lawyer, I will be a voice for change.

What’s Great about this Second Law School Personal Statement?

  • It tells a complete and compelling story: Although the applicant expressed initial reservations about the law generally, the statement tells a compelling story of how the applicant's opinions began to shift and their interest in law began. They use real examples and show how that initial interest, once seeded, grew into dedication and passion. This introduction implies an answer to the " why do you want to study law? ” interview question.
  • It shows adaptability: Receptiveness to new information and the ability to change both thought and behavior based on this new information. The writer describes realizing that they needed to be "in the world" differently! It's hard to convey such a grandiose idea without sounding cliché, but through their captivating and chronological narrative, the writer successfully convinces the reader that this is the case with copious examples, including law school extracurriculars . It’s a fantastic case of showing rather than telling, describing specific causes they were involved with which demonstrate that the applicant is genuinely committed to a career in the law. 
  • Includes challenges the subject faced and overcame: This law school personal statement also discusses weighty, relatable challenges that they faced, such as the applicant's original feeling toward law, and the fact that they lost some friends along the way. However, the applicant shows determination to move past these hurdles without self-pity or other forms of navel-gazing.  Additionally, this personal statement ends with a conclusion that alludes to why the applicant is suitable for the specific school to which they’re applying and points to their future career plans. The writer manages to craft an extremely immersive and believable story about their path to the present, while also managing to curate the details of this narrative to fit the specific values and mission of the school to which they’re applying.

What’s Great About This Third Law School Personal Statement? 

  • Description is concise and effective: This writer opens with rich, vivid description and seamlessly guides the reader into a compelling first-person narrative. Using punchy, attention-grabbing descriptions like these make events immersive, placing readers in the writer's shoes and creating a sense of immediacy. 
  • Achievements are the focus: They also do a fantastic job of talking about their achievements, such as interview team lead, program design, etc., without simply bragging. Instead, they deliver this information within a cohesive narrative that includes details, anecdotes, and information that shows their perspective in a natural way. Lastly, they invoke their passion for law with humility, discussing their momentary setbacks and frustrations as ultimately positive experiences leading to further growth. 

Want more law school personal statement examples from top law schools?

  • Harvard law school personal statement examples
  • Columbia law school personal statement examples
  • Cornell law school personal statement examples
  • Yale law school personal statement examples
  • UPenn law school personal statement examples
  • Cambridge law school personal statement examples

Law School Personal Statement #4

What’s great about this fourth law school personal statement.

  • Engaging description: Like the third example above, this fourth law school personal statement opens with engaging description and first-person narrative. However, the writer of this personal statement chooses to engage a traumatic aspect of their childhood and discuss how this adversity led them to develop their desire to pursue a career in law.  
  • Strong theme of overcoming adversity: Overcoming adversity is a frequent theme in personal statements for all specialties, but with law school personal statements students are often able to utilize uniquely dramatic, difficult, and pivotal experiences that involved interacting with the law. It may be hard to discuss such emotionally weighty experiences in a short letter but, as this personal statement shows, with care and focus it's possible to sincerely demonstrate how your early struggles paved the way for you to become the person you are now. It's important to avoid sensationalism, but you shouldn't shy away from opening up to your readers about adverse experiences that have ultimately pointed you in a positive direction. 

Why "show, don't tell" is the #1 rule for personal statements:

Law School Personal Statement Example #5

What’s great about this fifth law school personal statement  .

  • Highlights achievements effectively: This writer does a fantastic job of incorporating their accomplishments and impact they had on their community without any sense of bragging or conceit. Rather, these accomplishments are related in terms of deep personal investment and a general drive to have a positive impact on those around them—without resorting to the cliches of simply stating "I want to help people." They show themselves helping others, and how these early experiences of doing so are a fundamental part of their drive to succeed with a career in law.   
  • Shows originality: Additionally, they do a great job of explaining the uniqueness of their identity. The writer doesn't simply list their personal/cultural characteristics, but contextualizes them to show how they've shaped their path to law school. Being the child of a Buddhist mother and a Hindu father doesn’t imply anything about a person’s ability to study/practice law on its own, but explaining how this unique aspect of their childhood encouraged a passion for “discussion, active debate, and compromise” is profoundly meaningful to an admissions panel. Being able to express how fundamental aspects of law practice are an integral part of yourself is a hugely helpful tactic in a law school personal statement. 

If you\u2019re heading North of the border, check out list of  law schools in Canada  that includes requirements and stats on acceptance. ","label":"Tip","title":"Tip"}]" code="tab2" template="BlogArticle">

Law School Personal Statement Example #6

What’s great about this sixth law school personal statement .

  • Weaves in cultural background: Similar to the writer of personal statement #5, this student utilizes the cultural uniqueness of their childhood to show how their path to law school was both deeply personal and rooted in ideas pervasive in their early years. Unlike the writer of statement #5, this student doesn't shy away from explaining how this distinctiveness was often a source of alienation and difficulty. Yet this adversity is, as they note, ultimately what helped them be an adaptable and driven student, with a clear desire to make a positive impact on the kinds of situations that they witnessed affect their parents.  
  • Describes setbacks while remaining positive: This writer also doesn't shy away from describing their temporary setbacks as both learning experiences and, crucially, springboards for positively informing their plans for the future. 

What’s Great About This Seventh Law School Personal Statement? 

  • The writer takes accountability: One of the hardest things to accomplish in a personal statement is describing not just early setbacks that are out of your control but early mistakes for which you must take responsibility. The writer of this personal statement opens with descriptions of characteristics that most law schools would find problematic at best. But at the end of this introduction, they successfully utilize an epiphany, a game-changing moment in which they saw something beyond their early pathological aimlessness, to clearly mark the point at which they became focused on law.  
  • The narrative structure is clear: They clearly describe the path forward from this moment on, showing how they remained focused on earning a law degree, and how they were able to work through successive experiences of confusion to persist in finishing their undergraduate education at a prestigious university. Of course, you shouldn't brag about such things for their own sake, but this writer makes the point of opening up about the unique feelings of inadequacy that come along with being the first person in their family to attend such a school, and how these feelings were—like their initial aimlessness—mobilized in service of their goal and the well-being of others. Their statement balances discussion of achievement with humility, which is a difficult but impactful tactic when done well. 

Law School Personal Statement Example #8

What’s great about this eighth law school personal statement .

  • Shows commitment to the community: Commitment to one’s community is a prized value in both law students and law professionals. This writer successfully describes not only how they navigated the challenges in their group environments, such as their internship, the debate team, etc., but how these challenges strengthened their commitment to being a positive part of their communities. They don’t simply describe the skills and lessons they learned from these challenging environments, but also how these challenges ultimately made them even more committed to and appreciative of these kinds of dynamic, evolutionary settings.  
  • Avoids negative description: They also avoid placing blame or negatively describing the people in these situations, instead choosing to characterize inherent difficulties in terms neutral to the people around them. In this way, you can describe extremely challenging environments without coming off as resentful, and identify difficulties without being accusatory or, worse yet, accidentally or indirectly seeming like part of the problem. This writer manages to convey the difficulty and complexity of these experiences while continually returning to their positive long-term impact, and though you shouldn’t seek to “bright-side” the troubles in your life you should absolutely point out how these experiences have made you a more capable and mature student. 

Watch this for more law school personal statement examples!

Law School Personal Statement Example #9

What’s great about this ninth law school personal statement  .

  • The writer effectively describes how their background shaped their decision to pursue law: Expressing privilege as adversity is something that very few students should even attempt, and fewer still can actually pull it off. But the writer of this personal statement does just that in their second paragraph, describing how the ease and comfort of their upbringing could have been a source of laziness or detachment, and often is for particularly well-off students, but instead served as a basis for their ongoing commitment to addressing the inequalities and difficulties of those less comfortable. Describing how you’ve developed into an empathic and engaged person, worked selflessly in any volunteer experiences, and generally aimed your academic life at a career in law for the aid of others—all this is incredibly moving for an admissions board, and can help you discuss your determination and understanding of exactly why you desire a career in law.  
  • The student shows adaptability, flexibility, and commitment: Additionally, this writer is able to show adaptability while describing their more prestigious appointments in a way that’s neither self-aggrandizing nor unappreciative. One of the big takeaways from this statement is the student’s commitment and flexibility, and these are both vitally important qualities to convey in your law school personal statement.  

Law School Personal Statement Example #10

What’s great about this tenth law school personal statement .

Shows passion: If you’re one of the rare students for whom service to others has always been a core belief, by all means find a novel and engaging way of making this the guiding principle of your personal statement. Don’t overdo it—don’t veer into poetry or lofty philosophizing—but by all means let your passion guide your pen (well…keyboard). Every step of the way, this student relates their highs and lows, their challenges and successes, to an extremely earnest and sincere set of altruistic values invoked at the very beginning of their statement. Law school admissions boards don’t exactly prize monomania, but they do value intense and sustained commitment.  

Shows maturity: This student also successfully elaborates this passion in relation to mature understanding. That is, they make repeated points about their developing understanding of law that sustains their hopefulness and emotional intensity while also incorporating knowledge of the sometimes troubling day-to-day challenges of the profession. Law schools aren’t looking for starry-eyed naivete, but they do value optimism and the ability to stay positive in a profession often defined by its difficulties and unpredictability. 

Every pre-law student blames their lack of success on the large number of applicants, the heartless admissions committee members, or the high GPA and LSAT score cut offs. Check out our blog on  law school acceptance rates  to find out more about the law school admission statistics for law schools in the US . Having taught more than a thousand students every year, I can tell you the REAL truth about why most students get rejected: 

Need tips on your law school resume?

8 Additional Law School Personal Statement Examples

Now that you have a better idea of what your law school personal statement should include, and how you can make it stand out, here are five additional law school personal statements for you to review and get some inspiration:

Law school personal statement example #11

According to the business wire, 51 percent of students are not confident in their career path when they enroll in college. I was one of those students for a long time. My parents had always stressed the importance of education and going to college, so I knew that I wanted to get a tertiary education, I just didn’t know in what field. So, like many other students, I matriculated undecided and started taking introductory courses in the subjects that interest me. I took classes from the department of literature, philosophy, science, statistics, business, and so many others but nothing really called out to me.

I figured that maybe if I got some practical experience, I might get more excited about different fields. I remembered that my high school counselor had told me that medicine would be a good fit for me, and I liked the idea of a career that involved constant learning. So, I applied for an observership at my local hospital. I had to cross “doctor” off my list of post-graduate career options when I fainted in the middle of a consultation in the ER.

I had to go back to the drawing board and reflect on my choices. I decided to stop trying to make an emotional decision and focus on the data. So, I looked at my transcript thus far, and it quickly became clear to me that I had both an interest and an aptitude for business and technology. I had taken more courses in those two fields than in any others, and I was doing very well in them. My decision was reaffirmed when I spent the summer interning at a digital marketing firm during my senior year in college and absolutely loved my experience. 

Since graduating, I have been working at that same firm and I am glad that I decided to major in business. I first started as a digital advertising assistant, and I quickly learned that the world of digital marketing is an incredibly fast-paced sink-or-swim environment. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted to swim with the best of them and succeed. So far, my career in advertising has been challenging and rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. 

I remember the first potential client that I handled on my own. Everything had been going great until they changed their mind about an important detail a day before we were supposed to present our pitch. . I had a day to research and re-do a presentation that I’d been preparing for weeks. I was sure that I’d be next on the chopping block, but once again all I had to was take a step back and look at the information that I had. Focusing on the big picture helped me come up with a new pitch, and after a long night, lots of coffee, and laser-like focus, I delivered a presentation that I was not only proud of, but that landed us the client. 

Three years and numerous client emergencies later, I have learned how to work under pressure, how to push myself, and how to think critically. I also have a much better understanding of who I am and what skills I possess. One of the many things that I have learned about myself over the course of my career is that I am a fan of the law. Over the past three years, I have worked with many lawyers to navigate the muddy waters of user privacy and digital media. I often find myself looking forward to working with our legal team, whereas my coworkers actively avoid them. I have even become friends with my colleagues on the legal team who also enjoy comparing things like data protection laws in the US and the EU and speculating about the future of digital technology regulation. 

These experiences and conversations have led me to a point where I am interested in various aspects of the law. I now know that I have the skills required to pursue a legal education and that this time around, I am very sure about what I wish to study. Digital technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, and it is just now starting to become regulated. I believe that this shift is going to open up a more prominent role for those who understand both digital technology and its laws, especially in the corporate world. My goal is to build a career at the intersection of these worlds.

Law school personal statement example #12

The first weekend I spent on my undergrad college campus was simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life. I was so excited to be away from home, on my own, making new friends and trying new things. One of those things was a party at a sorority house with my friend and roommate, where I thought we both had a great time. Both of us came from small towns, and we had decided to look out for one another. So, when it was time to go home, and I couldn't find her, I started to worry. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I got her message saying she was already back in our dorm. 

It took her three months to tell me that she had been raped that night. Her rapist didn't hold a knife to her throat, jump out of a dark alleyway, or slip her a roofie. Her rapist was her long-term boyfriend, with whom she'd been in a long-distance relationship for just over a year. He assaulted her in a stranger's bedroom while her peers, myself included, danced the night away just a few feet away. 

I remember feeling overwhelmed when she first told me. I was sad for my friend, angry on her behalf, and disgusted by her rapist's actions. I also felt incredibly guilty because I had been there when it happened. I told myself that I should have stayed with her all night and that I should have seen the abuse - verbal and physical harassment- that he was inflicting on her before it turned sexual. But eventually, I realized that thinking about what could, should, or would've happened doesn't help anyone. 

I watched my friend go through counseling, attend support groups, and still, she seemed to be hanging on by a thread. I couldn't begin to imagine what she was going through, and unfortunately, there was very little I could do to help her. So, I decided to get involved with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus, where I would actually be able to help another survivor. 

My experience with the Sexual Assault Responders Group on campus was eye-opening. I mostly worked on the peer-to-peer hotline, where I spoke to survivors from all walks of life. I was confronted by the fact that rape is not a surreal unfortunate thing that happens to a certain type of person. I learned that it happens daily to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. I also learned that most survivors try to manage this burden on their own, afraid of judgment and repercussions and fearful of a he-said-she-said court battle.

I am proud to say that I used my time in college to not only earn an education, but also to advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I protested the university's cover-up of a gang rape that took place in one of the fraternity houses on campus. I spearheaded a 'no means no' campaign to raise awareness about consent on campus. I also led several fundraising campaigns for the Sexual Assault Responders Group that allowed us to pay for legal and mental health counselors for the survivors who came to us for support. 

One of the things that this experience helped me realize is that sexual assault survivors often do not know where to turn when the system tries to tell them that it'd be best to just keep quiet and suffer in silence. My goal is to become one of those people that they can turn to for counsel and support. I believe that a law degree would give me the knowledge and tools that I need to advocate for survivors on a more significant scale. 

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Law school personal statement example #13

I grew up in two different worlds. My world at home was full of people of various skin tones and accents. It was small, loud, and often chaotic in the best ways. I remember walking home and getting to experience music from across the world before I got to my apartment building. Loud reggaeton and afrobeat were always playing somewhere in the distance. Aunties and uncles usually stopped by unannounced and slipped money in your palm when they hugged you goodbye. And the smell of fried plantains was almost always present. 

My other world was in school. It was a much quieter, more organized world with white hallways, navy blazers, and plaid skirts. It was full of people who did not look or sound like me and teachers who thought my hair was "interesting." It was also full of great books and engaging debates about everything from foreign policy to the influence of Jazz on hip hop. 

I lived in these two worlds because I was born and raised in Xtown, but I went to a private school in a much richer neighborhood. I loved both of my worlds, but I hated that I had to act differently in both of them. When in school, I had to "code switch" to sound like I belonged there. When I was at home, all the people who shared the interests I was developing in school were either working or in college, so I had no one to talk to about them. 

My words never felt more divided until I started considering a career in law. I remember telling one of my uncles that I wanted to become a lawyer and his response was, "So you want to become the man, huh?" 

I wasn't surprised by his response, or at least I shouldn't have been. One of the things that I know for sure about the first world I lived in is that many of its inhabitants do not trust the law. I had believed this for so long simply because of the conversations that I would hear around me. However, in my second world, I was learning about all of these great freedoms and rights that the law was designed to give all Americans, and I wanted to bring those to my community. 

I started working on this during the summer before my final year of high school. I got an internship with the legal aid office in my neighborhood and spent three months learning from people who, like me, had grown up in Xtown and wanted to help people. During my time in the legal aid office, I understood that the people in my community did not trust the law for two main reasons: 1. They did not understand a lot of it, and 2. It had been used against people like us many times. 

I remember one particular case that Ms. Sharma - the lawyer I was learning from then and who still mentors me today - handled that summer. It was the case of a young mother who had received a notice of eviction from her landlord two days after refusing his advances. The man claimed that she violated her contract because she made homemade shea butter that she sold on Etsy. Ms. Sharma had me look through her rental agreement. After she confirmed that I was right in determining that the young mother had not violated her contract, she contacted the landlord to advise him that what he was doing was intimidation and sexual harassment. 

My experiences in the legal aid office with Ms. Sharma opened my eyes to the disgusting behavior of human beings, but it also gave me the opportunity to see that the law was my opportunity to use what I learned in my second world to help the community that I was raised in. I returned to school with a new motivation that followed me to college. In addition to completing my bachelor's degree in sociology and African American studies, I spent most of my college years participating in legal internships and community outreach programs. 

I believe that these experiences have given me the foundation I need to be a successful law student and, eventually, a lawyer who can truly be an advocate for members of his community. 

Law school personal statement example #14

One day, my parents noticed that the other children in my age group had been speaking and communicating, but I had not. At first, they thought that my lack of speech was just me being shy, but eventually, they realized that on the rare occasions that I did speak, my words were practically incomprehensible. It wasn't long before they took me to a specialist who diagnosed me with a severe phonological disorder that hindered my ability to verbalize the basic sounds that make up words.

I started going to speech therapy when I was three years old. I saw numerous speech therapists, many of whom believed that I would never be able to communicate effectively with others. Lucky for me, my parents did not give up on me. I went to speech therapy thrice a week until the 8th grade, and I gave every single session my all. I also spent a lot of time in my room practicing my speech by myself. My efforts paid off, and even though I didn't become a chatterbox overnight, I could at least communicate effectively. 

This was a short-lived victory, though. A year later, my speech impediment was back, and my ability to articulate words was once again severely limited. This complicated matters because it was my freshman year of high school, and I was in a brand-new school where I did not know anyone. Having been bullied in middle school, I knew first-hand how vicious kids can be, and I didn't want to be the butt of any more jokes, so I didn't try to speak at school. I knew that this was preventing me from making new friends or participating in class and that it was probably not helping my impediment, but I was not ready to face the fact that I needed to go back to speech therapy. 

Eventually, I stopped resisting and went back to speech therapy. At the time, I saw it as accepting defeat, and even though my speech improved significantly, my self-confidence was lower than it had ever been. If you ask any of my high school classmates about me, they will likely tell you that I am very quiet or timid – both of which are not true, but they have no way of knowing otherwise. I barely spoke or interacted with my peers for most of high school. Instead, I focused on my studies and extracurricular activities that didn't involve much collaboration, like yearbook club and photography. 

It was only when I was getting ready for college that I realized that I was only hurting myself with my behavior. I knew I needed to become more confident about my speech to make friends and be the student I wanted to be in college. So, I used the summer after my high school graduation to get some help. I started seeing a new speech therapist who was also trained as a counselor, and she helped me understand my impediment better. For example, I now know that I tend to stutter when stressed, but I also know that taking a few deep breaths helps me get back on track. 

Using the confidence that I built in therapy that summer, I went to college with a new pep in my step. I pushed myself to meet new people, try new things, and join extracurricular organizations when I entered college. I applied to and was accepted into a competitive freshman leadership program called XYZ. Most of XYZ's other members were outgoing and highly involved in their high school communities. In other words, they were the complete opposite of me. I didn't let that intimidate me. Instead, I made a concerted effort to learn from them. If you ask any of my teammates or other classmates in college, they will tell you that I was an active participant in discussions during meetings and that I utilized my unique background to share a different perspective.

My experience with XYZ made it clear to me that my speech disorder wouldn't hold me back as long as I did not stand in my own way. Once I understood this, I kept pushing past the boundaries I had set for myself. I began taking on leadership roles in the program and looking for ways to contribute to my campus community outside of XYZ. For example, I started a community outreach initiative that connected school alumni willing to provide pro bono services to different members of the community who were in need. 

Now, when I look back at my decision to go back to speech therapy, I see it as a victory. I understand that my speech impediment has shaped me in many ways, many of which are positive. My struggles have made me more compassionate. My inability to speak has made me a better listener. Not being able to ask questions or ask for help has made me a more independent critical thinker. I believe these skills will help me succeed in law school, and they are part of what motivates me to apply in the first place. Having struggled for so long to speak up for myself, I am ready and eager for the day when I can speak up for others who are temporarily unable to. 

“ You talk too much; you should be a lawyer.” 

I heard that sentence often while growing up because Congolese people always tell children who talk a lot that they should be lawyers. Sometimes I wonder if those comments did not subconsciously trigger my interest in politics and then the law. If they did, I am grateful for it. I am thankful for all the experiences that have brought me to this point where I am seeking an education that will allow me to speak for those who don’t always know how to, and, more importantly, those who are unable to. 

For context, I am the child of Congolese immigrants, and my parents have a fascinating story that I will summarize for you: 

A 14-year-old girl watches in confusion as a swarm of parents rush through the classroom, grabbing their children, and other students start running from the class. Soon she realizes that she and one other student are the only ones left, but when they both hear the first round of gunshots, no one has to tell them that it is time to run home. On the way home, she hears more gunshots and bombs. She fears for her survival and that of her family, and she starts to wonder what this war means for her and her family. Within a few months, her mother and father are selling everything they own so that they can board a plane to the US.

On the other side of the town, a 17-year-old boy is being forced to board a plane to the US because his mother, a member of parliament and the person who taught him about the importance of integrity, has been executed by the same group of soldiers who are taking over the region. 

They met a year later, outside the principal’s office at a high school in XXY. They bonded over the many things they have in common and laughed at the fact that their paths probably never would have crossed in Bukavu. Fast forward to today, they have been married for almost two decades and have raised three children, including me. 

Growing up in a Congolese household in the US presented was very interesting. On the one hand, I am very proud of the fact that I get to share my heritage with others. I speak French, Lingala, and Swahili – the main languages of Congo – fluently. I often dress in traditional clothing; I performed a traditional Congolese dance at my high school’s heritage night and even joined the Congolese Student Union at Almamatter University. 

On the other hand, being Congolese presented its challenges growing up. At a young age, I looked, dressed, and sounded different from my classmates. Even though I was born in the US, I had picked up a lot of my parents’ accents, and kids loved to tease me about it. Ignorant comments and questions were not uncommon. “Do you speak African?” “You’re not American! How did you get here?” “You don’t look African” “My mom says I can’t play with you because your parents came here to steal our jobs”. These are some of the polite comments that I heard often, and they made me incredibly sad, especially when classmates I considered my friends made them. 

My parents did not make assimilating any easier. My mother especially always feared I would lose my Congolese identity if they did not make it a point to remind me of it. She often said, “Just because you were born in America doesn’t mean that you are not Congolese anymore.” On one occasion, I argued that she always let me experience my Congolese side, but not my American side. That was the first time she told me I should be a lawyer. 

Having few friends and getting teased in school helped me learn to be comfortable on my own. I Often found refuge and excitement in books. I even started blogging about the books I read and interacting with other readers online. As my following grew, I started to use my platform to raise awareness about issues that I am passionate about, like climate change, the war in Congo, and the homeless crisis here in XXY. I was able to start a fundraising campaign through my blog that raised just under $5000 for the United Way – a local charity that helps the homeless in my city. 

This experience helped me understand that I could use my skills and the few tools at my disposal to help people, both here in America and one day, maybe even in Congo. I realized that I am lucky enough to have the option of expanding that skillset through education in order to do more for the community that welcomed my grandparents, uncles, aunties, and parents when they had nowhere else to go. 

The journey was not easy because while I received immense support and love from my family for continuing my education, I had to teach myself how to prepare and apply to college. Once there I had to learn on my own what my professors expected of me, how to study, how to network, and so much more. I am grateful for those experiences too, because they taught me how to be resourceful, research thoroughly, listen carefully, and seek help when I need it. 

All of these experiences have crafted me into who I am today, and I believe that with the right training, they will help me become a great attorney.

Law School Personal Statement Example #16

During my undergraduate studies, in the first two years, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my career. I enjoyed doing research, but I found that I became more interested in presenting the research than the process of contributing to it. I spoke to most of my science professors to ask if I could participate in their research. I worked in biology labs, chemistry labs, and in psychology classrooms working on a variety of projects that seemed meaningful and interesting. I gained new perspectives on study habits and mental health; the influence of music on the human mind; and applications of surface tension. I noticed that I was always taking the lead when we were presenting our findings to peers and research groups. I enjoyed yielding questions and addressing the captivating the audience with engaging gestures and speech. This was what led me to consider a career in law.

I always thought that I would become a scientist, so when I discovered that there were aspects of law that could be considered “scientific”, I was all ears. Still during my second year of undergraduate studies, I wanted to join an environmental awareness group, but noticed there weren’t any active. So, I took it upon myself to create my own. I wanted to do cleanup projects across the city, so I mapped out parks and areas that we could walk or drive to. I advertised my project to other students and eventually gained approximately fifteen students eager to help out. I was struck by the pollution in the water, the negligence of park maintenance. I drafted a letter to the municipal government and petitioned for a stricter environmental compliance approach. I wanted to advertise fines to hold polluters accountable, as there were hardly any to enforce the rules. A letter was returned to me stating that the government would consider my request. I felt a sense of gratification, of purpose; I discovered that I had the ability to enact change through policy. This drew me closer to the prospect of building a future in law, so I looked at other avenues to learn more.

I still wanted to find a way to bring together my love of science and discourse/communication. As a science student, I had the privilege of learning from professors who emphasized critical thinking; and they gave me a chance to learn that on my own. I took an internship as an environmental planner. There, I helped present project ideas to various groups, updating demographic/development information, and managing planning processes. I engaged in analytical thinking by looking at maps and demographic information to develop potential plans for land use. It was also the experience I was looking for in terms of a balance between science and oral communication. Using data analysis, I spoke to other planners and review boards to bring ideas together and execute a plan.

Through science, I learned how to channel my curiosity and logical thinking; as an advocate, I learned how to be creative and resourceful. Presenting research findings and being questioned in front of a group of qualified researchers, having to be sharp and ready for anything, taught me how to be more concise in speech. Developing an advocacy group dedicated to improving my community showed me what it lacked; it opened my eyes to the impact of initiative and focused collaboration. I was eager to begin another science project, this time with the environment in mind. It was titled “determining and defining the role of sociodemographic factors in air pollution health disparities”. I compiled and summarized relevant research and sent it over to a representative of the municipal government. In a couple of weeks, my request to increase advertising of fines in public areas was agreed to.

This Juris Doctor/Master in Environmental Studies program will allow me to continue deepening my knowledge of environmental law. With my goal of developing a career in environmental affairs, overseeing policies that influence land protection/use, I know that this program will give me the tools I need to succeed. With my experience working with large groups, I also believe I will fit into the larger class sizes at your institution. I understand the value of working together and how to engage in healthy discourse. With your Global Sustainability Certification, I will equip myself the expertise I need to produce meaningful change in environmental policy.

Here's how a law school advisor can help you with your application:

Law School Personal Statement #17

Growing up in a poor neighborhood, what my friends used to call “the ghetto”, I was always looking for my way out. I tried running away, but I always ended up back home in that tiny complex, barely enough room to fit all my brothers and sisters with my parents. My dad was disabled and couldn’t work, and my mother was doing her best working full-time as a personal-support worker. There was nothing we could do to get out of our situation, or so it seemed. It wasn’t until years later when I started my undergraduate degree that ironically, after I found my way out, that I began looking for a way to come back. I wanted to be a voice for people living in those bleak conditions; hungry, without work. Helpless.

Getting my degree in social work was one of the best decisions of my life. It gave me the tools to lobby for solutions to problems in poor communities. I knew my neighborhood better than anyone because I grew up there. I had the lived experience. I started working with the local government to develop programs for my clients; the people living in those same neighborhoods. We worked to provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, and medical treatment—all things sorely lacking. My proudest moment was securing the funds and arranging surgery for my father’s bad hip and knees. I’m currently working on a large project with one of the community legislators to lobby for a harm reduction model addressing addiction in our communities.

With five years of experience as a social worker, I knew it was time for a career change when I learned that I could have more influence on public opinion and legislative decisions as a social-security disability lawyer. I knew firsthand that people victimized from racism, poverty, and injury needed more help than they were currently allotted. I knew that, from becoming and advocate and communicating with influential members of the local government, that I could do more with a law degree helping people attain basic needs like disability benefits, which are often denied outright.

This desire to help people get the help they need from local programs and government resources brought me to Scarborough, a small town outside of Toronto. I was aware of some of the issues afflicting this community, since I’d handled a few clients from there as a children’s disability social worker. Addiction and homelessness were the two main ones. I worked with children with ADHD or other physical/mental disabilities impairing their ability to attend school and function normally. I helped many of them get an IEP with the details of the special services they require, long overdue. I made sure each child got the care they needed, including special attention in school. Also noticing that so many of these families lacked proper nutrition, I organized a report detailing this finding. In it, I argued that the community needed more funds targeting lowest income families. I spoke directly with a legislator, which eventually got the city on board with developing a program more specifically for the lowest income families with residents under 18.

My goal has always been to be a voice for the inaudible, the ignored, who’ve been victimized by inadequate oversight from the ground up. Many of these groups, as I’ve witnessed firsthand, don’t have the luxury of being their own advocates. They are too busy trying to support their families, to put food on the table for their children. I’ve realized that it isn’t quite enough to work directly with these families to connect them with resources and ensure they get the support they need. Sometimes the support simply doesn’t exist, or it isn’t good enough. This is why I’m motivated to add a law degree to my credentials so I can better serve these people and communities. As a future social-security disability lawyer, I want to work with local governments to assist clients in navigating an assistance system and improving it as much as possible. This program will give me the access to a learning environment in which I can thrive and develop as an advocate.

Law School Personal Statement #18

“You’re worthy and loved”, I said to a twelve-year-old boy, Connor, whom I was supervising and spending time with during the Big Brother program at which we met. A few tears touched my shoulder as I pulled him into me, comforting him. He was a foster child. He didn’t know his parents and never stayed in one place longer than a few months; a year if he was lucky. I joined the program not expecting much. I was doing it for extra credit, because I wanted to give back to the community somehow and I thought it would be interesting to meet people. He confided in me; he told me that his foster parents often yelled at each other, and him. He told me he needed to escape. I called Child Protective Services and after a thorough investigation, they determined that Connor’s foster parents weren’t fit for fostering. He was moved, yet again, to a different home.

I wrote an op-ed detailing my experience as a Big Brother. I kept names anonymous. I wanted people to know how hard it was for children in the welfare system. Many of them, like Connor, were trapped in a perpetual cycle of re-homing, neglect, and even abuse. He and other children deserve stability and unconditional love. That should go without saying. I sent the op-ed to a local magazine and had it published. In it, I described not only the experience of one unfortunate kid, but many others as well who saw their own stories being told through Connor. I joined a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to quality education for young people. I started learning about disparities in access; students excluded by racial or financial barriers. I was learning, one step at a time, how powerful words can be.

With the non-profit organization, I reached out to a few public schools in the area to represent some of our main concerns with quality of education disparities. Our goal was to bring resources together and promote the rights of children in education. We emphasized that collaboration between welfare agencies and schools was critical for education stability. Together, we created a report of recommendations to facilitate this collaboration. We outlined a variety of provisions, including more mechanisms for child participation, better recruitment of social service workers in schools, risk management and identification strategies, and better support for students with child protection concerns.

The highlight of that experience was talking to an assembly of parents and school faculty to present our findings and recommendations. The title of the presentation was “The Power of Words”. I opened with the story I wrote about in the op-ed. I wanted to emphasize that children are individuals; those trapped in the welfare system are not a monolith. They each have unique experiences, needs, and desires they want to fulfill in life. But our tools to help them can be improved, more individualized. I spoke about improving the quality of residential care for children and the need to promote their long-term development into further education and employment. Finally, I presented a list of tools we created to help support a more financially sustainable and effective child welfare system. The talk was received with applause and a tenuous commitment from a few influential members of the crowd. It was a start.

Although I lost contact with Connor, I think about him almost every day. I can only hope that the programs we worked on to improve were helping him, wherever he was. I want to continue to work on the ground level of child welfare amelioration, but I realize I will need an education in law to become a more effective advocate for this cause. There are still many problems in the child welfare system that will need to be addressed: limited privacy/anonymity for children, service frameworks that don’t address racism adequately, limited transportation in remote communities, and many more. I’ve gained valuable experience working with the community and learning about what the welfare system lacks and does well. I’m ready to take the next step for myself, my community, and those beyond it.

Assuredly, but this length varies from school to school. As with all important details of your law school application, thoroughly research your specific schools’ requirements and guidelines before both writing and editing your personal statement to ensure it fits their specifics. The average length is about 2 pages, but don’t bother drafting your statement until you have specific numbers from your schools of choice. It’s also a good idea to avoid hitting the maximum length unless absolutely necessary. Be concise, keep economy of language in mind, and remain direct, without rambling or exhaustive over-explanation of your ideas or experiences.

You should keep any words that aren’t your own to a minimum. Admissions committees don’t want to read a citation-heavy academic paper, nor do they respond well to overused famous quotes as themes in personal statements. If you absolutely must include a quote from elsewhere, be sure to clearly indicate your quote’s source. But in general, it’s best to keep the personal statement restricted to your own words and thoughts. They’re evaluating you, not Plato! It’s a personal statement. Give them an engaging narrative in your own voice. 

Admissions committees will already have a strong sense of your academic performance through your transcripts and test scores, so discussing these in your personal statement is generally best avoided. You can contextualize these things, though—if you have an illuminating or meaningful story about how you came to receive an award, or how you enjoyed or learned from the work that won you the award, then consider discussing it. Overall though, it’s best to let admissions committees evaluate your academic qualifications and accomplishments from your transcripts and official documents, and give them something new in the personal statement. 

When you first sit down to begin, cast a wide net. Consider all the many influences and experiences that have led you to where you are. You’ll eventually (through editing and rewriting) explain how these shape your relationship to a career in law, but one of the best things you can give yourself during the initial drafting phase is a vast collection of observations and potential points for development. As the New England School of Law points out in their, “just write!” Let the initial draft be as messy as it needs to be, and refine it from there. It’s a lot easier to condense and sharpen a big draft than it is to try to tensely craft a perfect personal statement from nothing.  

Incredibly important, as should be clear by now! Unlike other specialties, law schools don’t usually conduct interviews with applicants, so your personal statement is in effect your one opportunity to speak with the admissions committee directly. Don’t let that gravity overwhelm you when you write, but keep it in mind as you edit and dedicate time to improving your initial drafts. Be mindful of your audience as you speak with them, and treat writing your personal statement as a kind of initial address in what, hopefully, will eventually turn into an ongoing dialogue.  

There are a variety of factors that can make or break a law school personal statement. You should aim to achieve at least a few of the following: a strong opening hook; a compelling personal narrative; your skills and competencies related to law; meaningful experiences; why you’re the right fit for the school and program.

Often, they do. It’s best for you to go to the schools you’re interesting in applying to so you can find out if they have any specific formatting or content requirements. For example, if you wanted to look at NYU law or Osgoode Hall Law School , you would find their admissions requirements pages and look for information on the personal statement.

There are lots of reasons why a personal statement might not work. Usually, applicants who don’t get accepted didn’t come up with a good strategy for this essay. Remember, you need to target the specific school and program. Other reasons are that the applicant doesn’t plan or proofread their essay. Both are essential for submitting materials that convince the admissions committee that you’re a strong candidate. You can always use law school admissions consulting application review to help you develop your strategy and make your essay stand out.

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how many pages should a law school personal statement be

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how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Everything You Need to Know About the Law School Personal Statement

Padya Paramita

February 10, 2021

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Law school admissions committees can see your numbers and extracurricular activities on paper, but have absolutely no idea about who you are as a person and what makes you unique. This is where your personal statement comes in. Your law school personal statement is the place to reflect on your interests and background to help set you apart from the rest of the candidates in a tough law school application pool.

While you may have similar grades, extracurriculars, and LSAT score as the other applicants, your law school personal statement should stand out as your chance to show JD programs your unique story. Take this opportunity to discuss your interests, your travels, or how your cultural identity made you the person who should be admitted. A strong personal statement combines a carefully chosen topic with well-crafted prose. 

You might have guessed by now that writing your law school personal statement isn’t something you should take for granted. This essay can make a difference even if your GPA and LSAT score aren’t quite up to the mark. To help you understand the process more clearly, we will take a closer look at the law school personal statement prompts from the T-14 schools, talk more in detail about the importance of your personal statement, go over how to pick the right topic, discuss common mistakes people make when writing, as well as review tips for editing your personal statement before submitting your law school application.

Requirements from School to School 

It wouldn’t be the wisest decision to submit the same personal statement to all law schools because they’re not identical at all! When you apply to law schools via the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), each school has its own personal statement requirements and prompt. The word or page limit varies from school to school as well - it’s usually somewhere between two and three pages. So, writing one essay to send to every school won’t suffice. 

While you can write a barebones essay on one topic to serve as a skeleton, make sure to tweak and expand on it to suit each school’s specific question. Some of the prompts are more open-ended than others. All of them want to know you better, understand your personality, and see context and color within your law school application. Outlined below are the law school personal statement prompts for each of the T-14 schools.

Most of these prompts are open-ended, except the one for Duke. Duke’s personal statement has two requirements. First, that you reflect on opportunities you’ve pursued that aren’t mentioned in your resumé, and second, that you discuss your personal career ambitions. 

While the others may be broad, some prompts encourage you to choose specific routes when considering your topic. For example, UChicago emphasizes that you should not reiterate your resumé, and your essay should be about something not already covered. On the other hand, Columbia wants to know by the end of the essay why you’re interested in going to law school - specifically to Columbia. Similarly, the UPenn admissions committee also wants to know why you’ve decided to pursue a JD, and how UPenn will help you. For the UC Berkeley essay, you are encouraged to discuss any diversity factors - whether in your interests or your background. Northwestern recommends that you reflect on your personal and professional goals. 

As you can see, while one draft reflecting on a particular interest or story could respond to most of these law school personal statement prompts, you cannot - and should not - submit the same essay for all law schools. Make sure your essay is geared toward answering the question each institution asks. Mention the school specifically as well, if applicable. 

The Importance of the Personal Statement in Your Application

You’re going to have to write - all the time - while you’re in law school. Your personal statement gives law school admissions committees an idea of your writing style and how you would fare in a writing-intensive curriculum. Like we’ve mentioned, the law school  personal statement presents an opportunity for the program to get to know you better, and learn something about you that is not apparent from your transcript or resumé. It’s crucial that you highlight a story that is your own - not your parents’ or your friends’ - and one which helps admissions committees understand you beyond your LSAT score and your professional experience. 

If your GPA or your LSAT score aren’t up to par with the school’s median, a strong personal statement can combat the weaknesses in your application. Remember: your personal statement is not the place for you to explain why you have shortcomings in your application. Rather, if your topic and writing are stellar enough, admissions committees might overlook the lower numbers. 

There is no typical law student. Law schools don’t want their classes to be full of the same type of applicants. The personal statement helps law schools determine how diverse, in terms of race, gender, sexuality, class, and professional and extracurricular background an incoming class will be. So your personal statement is crucial in helping admissions committee members understand who you are, what you value personally and professionally, and where you come from. 

Picking Your Topic

It might feel like a lot of pressure to find the perfect topic. How do you know what will set you apart? Which part of your identity do you talk about? Or, should you talk about your extracurriculars instead? The perfect topic won’t come to you immediately. Look at the prompts for the schools that interest you, and then try asking yourself a few questions. This can get you a handful of ideas that might be worth expanding upon.

Some questions you could ask yourself are:

  • How has your upbringing shaped you? Has your geographical or cultural background made an integral contribution to the way you think or the career path you’ve chosen?
  • What is the most unique or unusual thing about your family?
  • Do you have any hobbies that most people don’t? What have they taught you?
  • What has been your proudest non-academic achievement?
  • Where do you excel?
  • What is your dream career?
  • What kind of law do you wish to pursue?
  • What current issues are you most passionate about?
  • If you weren’t going to law school, what would you be doing?
  • When did you first know you wanted to become a lawyer?
  • How did your extracurriculars shape your decision to apply to law school?
  • What kind of jobs have you worked? Which has been the most memorable or meaningful?
  • Did a significant event impact your decision to become a lawyer?
  • What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced?

When brainstorming topics, take a trip down memory lane. Think about your childhood, your interests, your goals, and your background. Jot down events and parts of your life that stand out - topics don’t always have to be about your culture or background. Something that might feel minute like your coin collection or your backpacking trip during a gap year can spark some inspiration. Once you’ve picked a few topics that bring out your best storytelling and writing skills, go ahead and write a first draft. Remember to show not tell!

Mistakes to Avoid

Rewriting your resumé: We cannot emphasize this enough: do not repeat the information on your transcript and resumé. They exist as separate components for a reason. 

Writing about someone else: Never fall into the trap of writing about someone else. Sure, you could dedicate a sentence or two to someone who inspired you, but your own personal story should be at the core of the essay. 

Straying away from the prompt : The schools have a set of questions for a reason. If Duke asks you to talk about your career ambitions , don’t go off on a tangent about what you’ve done in the past. You have limited space. Don’t waste it.

Using pretentious language: Don’t sound like a robot ! It’s your personal statement, and you undoubtedly want your personality to shine through in your writing. Don’t use too many long words that may not fit with the rest of your essay, or might not reflect your usual writing style. Taking a dictionary and throwing every other long word you find won’t help show who you are - you’re not a poet or an SAT tutor, you’re trying to get into law school! Flowery language can make you sound ingenuine. 

Trying to finish too fast: Don’t rush through and then skip the time to revise. The last thing you want is to turn in your first draft! There’s always room for editing. Errors can be easily avoided through some careful proofreading. Of course, make sure your spelling and grammar are all correct. 

Exaggerating adversity: The applicant pool contains people who have experienced abuse, homelessness, natural disasters, and serious losses. If your adversity is not as grave in comparison to these powerful stories, don’t write about adversity. If you suffered from chicken pox, there’s no need to write lines and lines about the pain you experienced. Or if your friend was bullied in high school and you were simply a witness, you should not be writing about all the torment you suffered and how you grew from the experience!

Discussing academic inconsistencies: Your law school personal statement is NOT the place where you talk about why your junior spring grades fell drastically due to an emergency. Law schools usually have an addendum section for cases such as this. Don’t waste your page limit focusing on bad grades when you can be writing a glowing, positive essay instead!

Living in the past: You’re an adult now. There’s no way your biggest accomplishment to date is an award you won in high school. You’ve been through at least four years of college since, seen more places, met more people, and gained much greater knowledge and experiences. Your character has grown a lot, and law school admissions officers want to see that. Don’t write about your love for your high school debate club or how you led your high school Model UN team to multiple championships. 

Mixing up schools: Don’t send the wrong letter to the wrong school. Your Harvard Law essay cannot have the word “Yale” all over, or in fact anywhere. Make sure you’ve checked and double checked that you’re sending the essays to the right school, and maintained each of their word or page limits. 

Editing Your Personal Statement

Once you’ve got that first draft out of your system, it’s time to edit and polish your work. It wouldn’t hurt to take a couple days away from your essay, and then come back and review it again. Read it out loud. That way, you can spot errors or sentences that don’t flow as well as you might have thought they did the first time around. Have a parent, friend, or coworker read it. Another set of eyes and opinions is a great way to improve and catch silly errors. 

When checking for typos, don’t rely on spell checkers. They don’t always catch similar-sounding words, such as where vs. were. Make sure your sentences aren’t too long. Transitions between paragraphs should also be smooth. Remember, the quality of your writing will be evaluated alongside the content of your personal statement. Check back with the prompt to ensure that you’ve answered what they’ve asked, and not gone off on a completely separate tangent. The editing process is just as important as the writing, and taking the time to sit down and go through multiple drafts goes a long way toward helping your personal statement stand out.

Your law school personal statement is your chance to showcase your individuality and provide more information on how your upbringing, activities, and interests can not only contribute to an esteemed law school, but also make a difference in the world after you graduate. No matter what you decide to write about, use your personal statement as a chance to go beyond your grades and work experience. Let the admissions committee get to know what makes you tick, and help them realize why you would be a wonderful asset to their institution. 

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How to write a law school personal statement + examples.

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/16/23

Law school personal statements help show admissions committees why you’re an excellent candidate. Read on to learn how to write a personal statement for law school!

Writing a law school personal statement requires time, effort, and a lot of revision. Law school statement prompts and purposes can vary slightly depending on the school. 

Their purpose could be to show your personality, describe your motivation for attending law school, explain why you want to go to a particular law school, or a mix of all three and more. This guide will help you perfect your writing with tips and law school personal statement examples.

The Best Law School Personal Statement Format

Unfortunately, there’s no universal format for a law school personal statement. Every law school has a preference (or lack thereof) on how your personal statement should be structured. We recommend always checking for personal statement directions for every school you want to apply to. 

However, many law schools ask for similar elements when it comes to personal statement formats. These are some standard formatting elements to keep in mind if your school doesn’t provide specific instructions: 

  • Typically two pages or less in length 
  • Double-spaced 
  • Use a basic, readable font style and size (11-point is the smallest you should do, although some schools may request 12-point) 
  • Margins shouldn’t be less than 1 inch unless otherwise specified 
  • Left-aligned 
  • Indent new paragraphs 
  • Don’t return twice to begin a new paragraph 
  • Law schools typically ask for a header, typically including your full name, page number, LSAC number, and the words “Personal Statement” (although there can be variations to this) 

How you format your header may be up to you; sometimes, law schools won't specify whether the header should be one line across the top or three lines. 

Personal statement format A

 This is how your header may look if you decide to keep it as one line. If you want a three-line header, it should look like this on the top-right of the page: 

Personal statement format B

 Remember, the best law school personal statement format is the one in application instructions. Ensure you follow all formatting requirements!

How to Title a Personal Statement (Law) 

You may be tempted to give your law school statement a punchy title, just like you would for an academic essay. However, the general rule is that you shouldn’t give your law school personal statement a title. 

The University of Washington states , “DON’T use quotes or give a title to your

statement.” Many other schools echo this advice. The bottom line is that although you're writing your story, your law school statement doesn't require a title. Don't add one unless the school requests it.

How to Start a Personal Statement for Law School 

Acing the beginning of your law school personal statement is essential for your narrative’s success. The introduction is your chance to captivate the admissions committee and immerse them in your story. As such, you want your writing to be interesting enough to grab their attention without purposefully going for shock value.

So how do you write a law school personal statement introduction that will garner the attention it deserves? The simplest way to get the reader involved in your story is to start with a relevant anecdote that ties in with your narrative. 

Consider the opening paragraph from Harvard Law graduate Cameron Clark’s law school personal statement : 

“At the intersection of 21st and Speedway, I lay on the open road. My leg grazed the shoulder of a young woman lying on the ground next to me. Next to her, a man on his stomach slowed his breathing to appear as still as possible. A wide circle of onlookers formed around the dozens of us on the street. We were silent and motionless, but the black-and-white signs affirmed our existence through their decree: BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

The beginning lines of this personal statement immediately draw the reader in. Why was the writer lying on the road? Why were other people there with him, and why was a man trying to slow his breathing? We're automatically inspired to keep reading to find out more information. 

That desire to keep reading is the hallmark of a masterful law school personal statement introduction. However, you don’t want to leave your reader hanging for too long. By the end of this introduction, we’re left with a partial understanding of what’s happening. 

There are other ways to start a law school personal statement that doesn't drop the reader in the middle of the action. Some writers may begin their law personal statement in other ways: 

  • Referencing a distant memory, thought, feeling, or perspective
  • Setting the scene for the opening anecdote before jumping in 
  • Providing more context on the time, place, or background 

Many openings can blend some of these with detailed, vivid imagery. Here's a law school personal statement opening that worked at the UChicago Law : 

“I fell in love for the first time when I was four. That was the year my mother signed me up for piano lessons. I can still remember touching those bright, ivory keys with reverence, feeling happy and excited that soon I would be playing those tinkling, familiar melodies (which my mother played every day on our boombox) myself.”

This opening blends referencing a distant memory and feeling mixed with vivid imagery that paints a picture in the reader's head. Keep in mind that different openers can work better than others, depending on the law school prompt. 

To recap, consider these elements as you write your law school personal statement’s introduction: 

  • Aim for an attention-grabbing hook 
  • Don’t purposefully aim for shock value: it can sometimes seem unauthentic 
  • Use adjectives and imagery to paint a scene for your reader 
  • Identify which opening method works best for the law school prompt and your story
  • Don’t leave the reader hanging for too long to find out what your narrative is about
  • Be concise 

Writing a law school personal statement introduction can be difficult, but these examples and tips can get your writing the attention it deserves.

How to Write a Law School Personal Statement

Now that you’re equipped with great advice and tips to start your law school statement, it’s time to tackle the body of your essay. These tips will show you how to write a personal statement for law school to captivate the admissions committee. 

Tips for writing a law school personal statement

Understand the Prompt

While many law schools have similar personal statement prompts, you should carefully examine what's being asked of you before diving in. Consider these top law school personal statement prompts to see what we mean: 

  • Yale Law School : “The personal statement should help us learn about the personal, professional, and/or academic qualities an applicant would bring to the Law School community. Applicants often submit the personal statement they have prepared for other law school applications.”
  • University of Chicago Law : “Our application does not provide a specific topic or question for the personal statement because you are the best judge of what you should write. Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you.”
  • NYU Law : “Because people and their interests vary, we leave the content and length of your statement to your discretion. You may wish to complete or clarify your responses to items on the application form, bring to our attention additional information you feel should be considered, describe important or unusual aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application, or tell us what led you to apply to NYU School of Law.”

Like all law personal statements, these three prompts are pretty open-ended. However, your Yale personal statement should focus on how you’d contribute to a law school community through professional and academic experience and qualities. 

For UChicago Law, you don’t even need to write about a law-related topic if you don’t want to. However, when it comes to a school like NYU Law , you probably want to mix your qualities, experiences, and what led you to apply. 

Differing prompts are the reason you’ll need to create multiple copies of your personal statement! 

Follow Formatting Directions 

Pay extra attention to each school's formatting directions. While we've discussed basic guidelines for law school personal statement formats, it's essential to check if there is anything different you need to do. 

While working on your rough drafts, copy and paste the prompt and directions at the top of the page, so you don't forget. 

Brainstorm Narratives/Anecdotes Based on the Prompt

You may have more wiggle room with some prompts than others regarding content. However, asking yourself these questions can generally help you direct your personal statement for any law school: 

  • What major personal challenges or recent hardships have you faced? 
  • What was one transformative event that impacted your life’s course or perspective? 
  • What are your hobbies or special interests? 
  • What achievements are you most proud of that aren’t stated in your application? 
  • What experience or event changed your values or way of thinking? 
  • What’s something you’re passionate about that you got involved in? What was the result of your passion? 
  • How did your distinct upbringing, background, or culture put you on the path to law school? 
  • What personal or professional experiences show who you are? 

Keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive list. Consider your personal and professional experiences that have brought you to this point, and determine which answers would make the most compelling story. 

Pettit College of Law recommends you "go through your transcripts, application, and resume. Are there any gaps or missing details that your personal statement could cover?” If you've listed something on your resume that isn't further discussed, it could make a potential personal statement topic. 

Do More Than Recount: Reflect

Recounting an event in a summarized way is only one piece of your law school personal statement. Even if you’re telling an outlandish or objectively interesting story, stopping there doesn’t show admissions committees what they need to know to judge your candidacy. 

The University of Washington suggests that “describing the event should only be about 1/3 of your essay. The rest should be a reflection on how it changed you and how it shaped the person you are today. ” Don’t get stuck in the tangible details of your anecdote; show what the experience meant to you. 

Beth O'Neil , Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UC Berkeley School of Law , said, " Applicants also tend to state and not evaluate. They give a recitation of their experience but no evaluation of what effect that particular experience had on them, no assessment of what certain experiences or honors meant." 

Consider What Qualities You Want to Show

No matter what direction you want to take your law school personal statement, you should consider which qualities your narrative puts on display. Weaving your good character into your essay can be difficult. Outwardly claiming, "I'm a great leader!" doesn't add much value. 

However, telling a story about a time you rose to the occasion to lead a group successfully toward a common goal shows strong leadership. "Show, don't tell" may be an overused statement, but it's a popular sentiment for a reason. 

Of course, leadership ability isn't the only quality admissions committees seek. Consider the qualities you possess and those you'd expect to find in a great lawyer, and check to see the overlap. Some qualities you could show include: 

  • Intelligence 
  • Persuasiveness 
  • Compassion 
  • Professionalism 

Evaluate the anecdotes you chose after your brainstorming session and see if any of these qualities or others align with your narrative. 

Keep Your Writing Concise

Learning how to write a personal statement for law school means understanding how to write for concision. Most prompts won't have a word limit but ask you to cap your story at two pages, double-spaced. Unfortunately, that's not a lot of space to work with. 

Although your writing should be compelling and vibrant, do your best to avoid flowery language and long, complicated sentences where they’re not needed. Writing for concision means eliminating unnecessary words, cutting down sentences, and getting the point quickly.  

Georgetown University’s take on law school personal statements is to “Keep it simple and brief. Big words do not denote big minds, just big egos.” A straightforward narrative means your reader is much less likely to be confused or get lost in your story (in the wrong way). 

Decide the Depth and Scope of Your Statement 

Since you only have two (or even three) pages to get your point across, you must consider the depth and scope of your narrative. While you don’t want to provide too little information, remember that you don’t have the room to summarize your entire life story (and you don’t have to do that anyway). 

UChicago Law’s advice is to “Use your discretion - we know you have to make a choice and have limited space. Attempting to cover too much material can result in an unfocused and scattered personal statement.” Keep the depth and scope of your narrative manageable. 

Ensure It’s Personal Enough 

UChicago Law states, "If someone else could write your personal statement, it probably is not personal enough." This doesn't mean that you must pick the most grandiose, shocking narrative to make an impact or that you can't write about something many others have probably experienced. 

Getting personal means only you can write that statement; other people may be able to relate to an experience, but your reflection, thoughts, feelings, and reactions are your own. UChicago Law sees applicants fall into this pitfall by writing about a social issue or area of law, so tread these topics carefully.

Mix the Past and Present, Present and Future, Or All Three 

Harvard Law School’s Associate Director Nefyn Meissner said your personal statement should “tell us something about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go.” 

Echoing this, Jon Perdue , Yale Law School's Director of Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives, states that the three most common approaches to the Yale Law School personal statement are focusing on: 

  • The past : discussing your identity and background 
  • The present : focusing on your current work, activities, and interests 
  • The future : the type of law you want to pursue and your ideal career path 

Perdue said that truly stellar personal statements have a sense of “movement” and touch on all or two of these topics. 

What does this mean for you? While writing your law school personal statement, don’t be afraid to touch on your past, present, and future. However, remember not to take on too much content! 

Keep the Focus On You 

This is a common pitfall that students fall into while writing a law school personal statement. UChicago Law cites that this is a common mistake applicants make when they write at length about: 

  • A family member who inspired them or their family history 
  • Stories about others 
  • Social or legal issues 

Even if someone like your grandmother had a profound impact on your decision to pursue law, remember that you’re the star of the show. Meissner said , “Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother.”

Don’t let historical figures, your family, or anyone else steal your spotlight. 

Decide If You Need to Answer: Why Law? 

Writing about why you want to attend law school in general or a school in particular depends on the prompt. Some schools welcome the insight, while others (like Harvard Law) don't. Meissner said, “Should you mention you want to come to HLS? We already assume that if you’re applying.”

However, Perdue said your law school personal statement for Yale should answer three questions: 

  • Why law school?

Some schools may invite you to discuss your motivation to apply to law school or what particular elements of the school inspired you to apply. 

Don’t List Qualifications or Rehash Your Resume 

Your personal statement should flow like a story, with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. Simply firing off your honors and awards, or summarizing the experiences on your resume, doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything new about you. 

Your personal statement is your opportunity to show how your unique experiences shaped you, your qualities, and the person you are behind your LSAT scores and GPA. Think about how you can show who you are at your core. 

Avoid Legalese, Jargon, And Sophisticated Terms 

The best law school personal statements are written in straightforward English and don't use overly academic, technical, or literary words. UChicago Law recommends avoiding legalese or Latin terms since the "risk you are incorrectly using them is just too high." 

Weaving together intricate sentence structures with words you pulled out of a thesaurus won’t make your personal statement a one-way ticket to acceptance. Be clear, straightforward, and to the point. 

Don’t Put Famous Quotes In Your Writing 

Beginning your law school personal statement with a quote is not only cliche but takes the focus off of you. It also eats up precious space you could fill with your voice. 

Revise, Revise, Revise 

Even the most talented writers never submit a perfect first draft. You'll need to do a lot of revisions before your personal statement is ready for submission. This is especially true because you'll write different versions for different law schools; these iterations must be edited to perfection. 

Ensure you have enough time to make all the edits and improvements you need before you plan to submit your application. Although most law schools have rolling admissions, submitting a perfected application as soon as possible is always in your best interest. 

Have an Admission Consultant Review Your Hard Work 

Reviewing so many personal statements by yourself is a lot of work, and most writing can always benefit from a fresh perspective. Consider seeking a law school admissions consultant’s help to edit your personal statements to perfection and maximize your chances of acceptance at your dream school!

How to End Your Personal Statement for Law School 

Law school personal statement conclusions are just as open-ended as your introductions. There are a few options for ending a personal statement depending on the prompt you’re writing for:

Law school conclusion strategies

Some of these methods can overlap with each other. However, there are two more things you should always consider when you're ready to wrap up your story: the tone you're leaving on and how you can make your writing fit with your narrative's common thread. 

You should never want to leave your reader on a low note, even if you wrote about something that isn’t necessarily happy. You should strive to end your personal statement with a tone that’s hopeful, happy, confident, or some other positive feeling. 

Your last sentences should also give the impression of finality; your reader should understand that you’re wrapping up and not be left wondering where the rest of your statement is. 

So, what's the common thread? This just means that your narrative sticks to the overarching theme or event you portrayed at the beginning of your writing. Bringing your writing full circle makes a more satisfying conclusion.

Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion Examples

Evaluating law school personal statement conclusions can help you see what direction authors decided to take with their writing. Let’s circle back to the sample personal statement openings for law school and examine their respective conclusions. The first example explains the applicant’s motivation to attend Harvard Law. 

Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #1

“…Attorneys and legal scholars have paved the way for some of the greatest civil rights victories for women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and (people living with disabilities). At Harvard Law School, I will prepare to join their ranks by studying with the nation's leading legal scholars. For the past months, I have followed Harvard Law School student responses to the events in Ferguson and New York City. I am eager to join a law school community that shares my passion for using the law to achieve real progress for victims of discrimination. With an extensive history of advocacy for society's most marginalized groups, I believe Harvard Law School will thoroughly train me to support and empower communities in need. 
Our act of civil disobedience that December day ended when the Tower’s bells rang out in two bars, hearkening half-past noon. As we stood up and gathered our belongings, we broke our silence to remind everyone of a most basic truth: Black lives matter.”  

What Makes This Conclusion Effective 

Although Harvard Law School states there's no need to explain why you want to apply, this law school statement is from an HLS graduate, and we can assume this was written before the advice changed. 

In his conclusion, he relates and aligns his values with Harvard Law School and how joining the community will help him fulfill his mission to empower communities in need. The last paragraph circles back to the anecdote described in his introduction, neatly wrapping up the event and signaling a natural end to his story. 

This author used these strategies: the motivation to attend a specific law school, stating his mission, and subtly reiterating what his acceptance would bring to the school. The next example conclusion worked at UChicago Law: 

Sample Personal Statement for Law School Conclusion #2

“Songs can be rewritten and reinterpreted as situation permits, but missteps are obvious because the fundamental laws of music and harmony do not change.
Although my formal music education ended when I entered college, the lessons I have learned over the years have remained close and relevant to my life. I have acquired a lifestyle of discipline and internalized the drive for self-improvement. I have gained an appreciation for the complexities and the subtleties of interpretation. I understand the importance of having both a sound foundation and a dedication to constant study. I understand that to possess a passion and personal interest in something, to think for myself is just as important.”

What Made This Conclusion Effective

This law school personal statement was successful at UChicago Law. Although the writing has seemingly nothing to do with law or the author's capability to become a great lawyer, the author has effectively used the "show, don't tell" advice. 

The last paragraph implements the focus on qualities or skills strategy. Although related to music, the qualities they describe that a formal music education taught her mesh with the qualities of a successful lawyer: 

  • A drive for self-improvement 
  • The ability to interpret information 
  • The ability to learn consistently 
  • The ability to think for herself 

Overall, this essay does an excellent job of uncovering her personality and relating to the opening paragraph, where she describes how she fell in love with music.

2 Law School Personal Statement Examples From Admitted Students

These are two law school personal statement examples that worked. We'll review the excerpts below and describe what made them effective and if there's room for improvement. 

Law School Personal Statement Example #1

This is an excerpt of a law personal statement that worked at UChicago Law : 

“The turning point of my college football career came early in my third year. At the end of the second practice of the season, in ninety-five-degree heat, our head coach decided to condition the entire team. Sharp, excruciating pain shot down my legs as he summoned us repeatedly to the line to run wind sprints. I collapsed as I turned the corner on the final sprint. Muscle spasms spread throughout my body, and I briefly passed out. Severely dehydrated, I was rushed to the hospital and quickly given more than three liters of fluids intravenously. As I rested in a hospital recovery room, I realized my collapse on the field symbolized broader frustrations I felt playing college football.
I was mentally and physically defeated. In South Dakota, I was a dominant football player in high school, but at the Division I level, my talent was less conspicuous. In my first three years, I was convinced that obsessively training my body to run faster and be stronger would earn me a starting position. The conditioning drill that afternoon revealed the futility of my approach. I had thrust my energies into becoming a player I could never be. As a result, I lost confidence in my identity.
I considered other aspects of my life where my intellect, work ethic, and determination had produced positive results. I chose to study economics and English because processing abstract concepts and ideas in diverse disciplines were intuitively rewarding…Gathering data, reviewing previous literature, and ultimately offering my own contribution to economic knowledge was exhilarating. Indeed, undergraduate research affirmed my desire to attend law school, where I could more thoroughly satisfy my intellectual curiosity…My efforts generated high marks and praise from professors, but this success made my disappointment with football more pronounced.
The challenge of collegiate athletics felt insurmountable. However, I reminded myself that at the Division I level, I was able to compete with and against some of the best players in the country…After the hospital visit, my football position coach—sensing my mounting frustrations—offered some advice. Instead of devoting my energies almost exclusively to physical preparation, he said, I should approach college football with the same mental focus I brought to my academic studies. I began to devour scouting reports and to analyze the complex reasoning behind defensive philosophies and schemes. I studied film and discovered ways to anticipate plays from the offense and become a more effective player. Armed with renewed confidence, I finally earned a starting position in the beginning of my fourth year…
‍ I had received the highest grade on the team. After three years of A’s in the classroom, I finally earned my first ‘A’ in football. I used mental preparation to maintain my competitive edge for the rest of the season. Through a combination of film study and will power, I led my team and conference in tackles…The most rewarding part of the season, though, was what I learned about myself in the process. When I finally stopped struggling to become the player I thought I needed to be, I developed self-awareness and confidence in the person I was.
The image of me writhing in pain on the practice field sometimes slips back into my thoughts as I decide where to apply to law school. College football taught me to recognize my weaknesses and look for ways to overcome them. I will enter law school a much stronger person and student because of my experiences on the football field and in the classroom. My decision where to attend law school mirrors my decision where to play college football. I want to study law at the University of Chicago Law School because it provides the best combination of professors, students, and resources in the country. In Division I college football, I succeeded when I took advantage of my opportunities. I hope the University of Chicago will give me an opportunity to succeed again.”

Why This Personal Statement Example Worked

The beginning of this personal statement includes vivid imagery and sets up a relevant anecdote for the reader; the writer’s injury while playing football. At the end of the introduction, he sets up a fantastic transition about his broader frustrations, compelling us to keep reading. 

The essay's body shows the writer's vulnerability, making it even more personal; it can be challenging to talk about feelings, like losing your confidence, but it can help us relate to him. 

The author sets up a transition to writing more about his academic ability, his eventual leadership role on the team, and developing the necessary qualities of a well-rounded lawyer: self-awareness and confidence. 

Finally, the author rounds out his statement by circling back to his opening anecdote and showing the progress he’s made from there. He also describes why UChicago Law is the right school for him. To summarize, the author expertly handled: 

  • Opening with a descriptive anecdote that doesn’t leave the reader hanging for too long 
  • Being vulnerable in such a way that no one else could have written this statement 
  • Doing more than recounting an event but reflecting on it 
  • Although he introduced his coach's advice, he kept himself the focal point of the story 
  • He picked a focused event; the writer didn’t try to tackle too much content 
  • His conclusion references his introduction, signalling the natural end of the story 
  • The ending also reaffirms his passion for pursuing law, particularly at UChicago Law 

Law School Personal Statement Example #2 

This law school personal statement excerpt led to acceptance at Boston University Law. 

“She sat opposite me at my desk to fill out a few forms. Fumbling her hands and laughing uncomfortably, it was obvious that she was nervous. Sandra was eighteen, and her knowledge of English was limited to “yes” and “hello.” While translating the initial meeting between Sandra and her attorney, I learned of her reasons for leaving El Salvador. She had been in an abusive relationship, and though she wasn’t ready to go into detail just yet, it was clear from the conversation that her boyfriend had terrorized her and that the El Salvadoran police were of no help…Eventually, Sandra was given a credible fear interview. The interviewer believed that she had a real fear of returning to El Salvador, and Sandra was released from detention with an Immigration Court hearing notice in her hand. She had just retained our office to present her asylum case to the Immigration Judge.
I tried to imagine myself in Sandra’s shoes. She hadn’t finished high school, was in a completely new environment, and had almost no understanding of how things worked in the US. Even the harsh New England winter must have seemed unnatural to her. Having lived abroad for a couple of years, I could relate on some level; however, the circumstances of my stay overseas were completely different. I went to Spain after graduating from college to work in an elementary school, improve my Spanish skills, and see a bit of the world…I had to ask hundreds of questions and usually make a few attempts before actually accomplishing my goal. Frustrating though it was, I didn’t have so much riding on each of these endeavors. If I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork to open a bank account one day, I could just try again the next day. Sandra won’t be afforded the same flexibility in her immigration process, where so much depends on the ability to abide by inflexible deadlines and procedures. Without someone to guide her through the process, ensuring that all requirements are met, and presenting her case as persuasively as possible, Sandra will have little chance of achieving legal status in the United States…
Before starting at my current position at Joyce & Associates, an immigration law firm in Boston, I had long considered a career in law. Growing up, I was engaged by family and school debates about public policy and government. In college, I found my constitutional law courses challenging and exciting. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I began working with clients like Sandra that I became convinced that a career in law is the right choice for me. Playing my part as a legal assistant in various immigration cases, I have been able to witness how a career in immigration advocacy is both intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. I have seen the importance of well-articulated arguments and even creativity in arguing a client’s eligibility for an immigration benefit. I have learned that I excel in critical thinking and in examining detail, as I continually consider the consistency and possible implications of any documents that clients provide in support of their application. But most importantly, I have realized how deserving many of these immigrants are. Many of the clients I work with are among the most hardworking and patriotic people I have encountered…
‍ I am equally confident that I would thrive as a student at Boston University, where I would be sure to take full advantage of the many opportunities available. The school’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Detention Clinic would offer me invaluable experiences in various immigration settings…Given my experiences in an immigration firm, I know that I would have much to offer while participating in these programs, but even more to learn. And while I find BU’s immigration programs to be especially appealing, I am equally drawn to the Boston University experience as a whole…I hope to have the opportunity to face those challenges and to contribute my own experiences and drive to the Boston University community.”

This statement makes excellent use of opening with an experience that sets the writer's motivation to attend law school in motion. We're introduced to another person in the story in the introduction, before the author swivels and transitions to how she'd imagine herself in Sandra's shoes. 

This transition shows empathy, and although the author could relate to her client's struggles on a more superficial level, she understood the gravity of her situation and the hardships that awaited her. 

The author backpedals to show how she's cultivated an interest in law in college and explored this interest to know it's the right choice for her. The conclusion does an excellent job of referencing exactly how BU Law will help her achieve her mission. To recap, this personal statement was effective because: 

  • She started her personal statement with a story 
  • Although the writer focuses on an event with another person, she moves the focus back to her 
  • The author’s statement shows qualities like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking without explicitly stating it 
  • She connects her experiences to her motivation to attend law school 
  • This statement has movement: it references the author’s past, present, and future 
  • She ends her statement by explaining in detail why BU Law is the right school for her 

Although this personal statement worked, circling back to the opening anecdote in the conclusion, even with a brief sentence, would have made the conclusion more impactful and fortified the common thread of her narrative.

How to Write Personal Statement For Law School: FAQs

Do you still have questions about how to write a personal statement for law school? Read on to learn more. 

1. What Makes a Good Personal Statement for Law School? 

Generally, an excellent personal statement tells a relevant story, showcases your best qualities, is personal, and creatively answers the prompt. Depending on the prompt, a good personal statement may describe your motivation to attend law school or why a school, in particular, is perfect for you. 

2. Should I Write a Separate Personal Statement for Each School? 

Depending on the prompts, you may be able to submit the same or similar law school personal statements to different schools. However, you’ll likely need more than one version of your statement to apply to different schools. Generally, students will write a few versions of their statements to meet personal statement instructions. 

3. How Long Should My Law School Personal Statement Be? 

Law school personal statement length requirements vary by school, but you can generally expect to write approximately two pages, double-spaced. 

4. What Should You Not Put In a Law School Personal Statement? 

Your law school personal statement shouldn’t include famous quotes, overly sophisticated language, statements that may offend others, and unhelpful or inappropriate information about yourself. 

5. What Do I Write My Law School Personal Statement About? 

The answer depends on the prompt you need to answer. Consider your experiences and decide which are impactful, uncover your personality, show your motivation to attend law school, or show your impressive character traits. 

6. Does the Personal Statement Really Matter for Law School? 

Top LSAT scores and high GPAs may not be enough, especially at the T-14 law schools. Due to the high level of competition, you should take advantage of your personal statement to show why you’re an excellent candidate. So yes, they do matter.

Writing A Law School Personal Statement is Easy With Juris

Writing a personal statement can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Juris Education is committed to helping you learn how to write a law school personal statement with ease. We help future law school students develop their narratives, evaluate writing to ensure it’s in line with what law schools expect, and edit statements to perfection. 

A stellar law school personal statement helps you stand out and can help you take that last step to attending the law school of your dreams.

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The University of Chicago The Law School

Program info, faqs: personal statement, what is the admissions committee looking for in the personal statement.

The Admissions Committee is primarily looking for two things in the personal statement:

  • Who are you: Will this applicant be a likeable and interesting addition to our community? Are you thoughtful and reflective? Will our professors and your classmates enjoy working with you and learning from your perspective?
  • Writing and communication ability: Can you communicate your thoughts effectively? Are you able to present information in a clear, organized, and concise manner (much like you will be required to do in law school and as an attorney)?

What should I write about in my personal statement?

Our application does not provide a specific topic or question for the personal statement because you are the best judge of what you should write. Write about something personal, relevant, and completely individual to you. This may include writing about a significant aspect of your background, a quality or trait you believe defines you, a transformative experience, or the things that interest and motivate you. Don’t worry so much about selecting a unique or novel topic. Just be yourself. Your personal statement will be unique if you are honest and authentic. See these examples of personal statements .

How does the personal statement fit into the rest of my application?

Think about the personal statement as the fun and interesting part of your application. This is where we get to learn more about who are you as a person and go beyond the transcripts, test scores, and resume. Let each part of your application speak for itself and do what it is intended to do - you don't need to worry about selling us on your credentials in the personal statement.  

Do I need to tell the Admissions Committee why I want to go to law school?

Not necessarily. We request a personal statement; it is not a statement of purpose. You are welcome to discuss your reasons for applying to law school, but please make sure we will still get to know you as an individual. Law schools have different views on this topic, so please consult each school to which you are applying. 

What are some tips for a successful personal statement?

There are few rules that apply to every applicant because of the individual nature of the personal statement, but here are some tips based on our experiences that all applicants should follow:

  • Be straightforward. Do not make it more complex than it is. We simply want a candid, well-written essay that helps us learn about you, your story, and your background.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Your personal statement should not have errors - this is a sample of your writing and it should be a strong reflection of your written communication skills. Edit extensively and make sure to remove tracked changes.
  • Be concise and organize your thoughts. Remember basic writing skills and essay structure. You want to present your ideas in a logical, clear manner.
  • Make sure your personal statement is about you . Keep the focus on you with any topic you choose. Focusing too much on a family member or family history, a social or legal issue, or stories about others is a very common mistake. Even if you tell a moving and interesting story, it will not be a successful personal statement if it does not allow us to get to know you.
  • Be yourself. We are confident every one of our applicants is unique. Be honest. Do not write about something you think you are supposed to write about or rely too heavily on sample topics or model statements. A topic will not be effective unless it is appropriate for your specific application and background. Don’t try to fit your personal statement into a defined category or box.
  • Write in your own voice. This makes your personal statement believable and authentic. Don’t use phrases and vocabulary that you wouldn’t normally use in writing and conversation. It is usually not a good idea to lead with a quote. We are looking for clarity and honesty.
  • Make it personal. If someone else could write your personal statement, it probably is not personal enough. We often see this happen when applicants discuss a social issue or area of the law. Remember you are not trying to educate the Admissions Committee about the law or any particular issue.  Your goal should be to educate the Admissions Committee about you.

What are some of the common mistakes I should avoid?

While what works for one individual will not work for another because the personal statement is so individualized, here are some common mistakes we see from applicants: 

  • Restating your resume. Resume restatements are one of the most common errors. We will read your resume in detail. We want the personal statement to tell us something new about you.
  • Listing your qualifications.  Don't try to overtly sell yourself to the Admissions Committee. This isn't the place to convince us how qualified you are. Your qualifications will shine through in other parts of your application. Remember, this is the part where we get to know you as an individual.
  • Typos and “tracked changes”. Make sure to upload the correct version of your personal statement into CAS. If you plan to reference law schools by name, please reference the correct school for each application. 
  • Legalese or Latin phrases.   Avoid using legal terms or Latin phrases if you can. The risk you are incorrectly using them is just too high.
  • Extensive discussions of the law and attorneys. It is not necessary to discuss the law, tell us what type of law you want to practice, or convey the extent of your legal experience. Legal experience is not a factor in admission.  It is not the place to demonstrate your knowledge of the law or the role of attorneys. These personal statements do not tell us much about the applicant as an individual.
  • Telling us you'll be a good lawyer because you like to argue.
  • Name-dropping. It is not necessary to cite the names of our faculty and programs from our website in your personal statement unless you are placing the reference in a meaningful context. It detracts from your authenticity. However, if one of our faculty members or something about our community has genuinely inspired you, you are more than welcome to tell us about it.
  • Covering too much information. You don't have to cover your entire life story. Use your discretion - we know you have to make a choice and have limited space. Attempting to cover too much material can result in an unfocused and scattered personal statement. 

Is there a page limit on my personal statement? 

There is no page limit, but we generally find 2-4 pages to be sufficient. If it is longer, make sure it is absolutely necessary and really interesting. We do not have any formatting rules with respect to spacing, font type, font size, or margins. 

May I submit additional essays?

You may submit additional essays to highlight particular topics you wish to bring to our attention. Please remember you want to be concise and genuine.

Examples of types of additional essays include Diversity Statements and explanations of undergraduate and/or standardized test performance. 

  • UChicago aims to train well-rounded, critical, and socially conscious thinkers and doers. Describe how your background or experiences will contribute to the UChicago Law and Chicago Booth communities. Example topics include: lessons you have learned; skillsets you have developed; obstacles you have overcome based on your background or upbringing; or topics you have become passionate about studying in law school based on your lived or educational experiences.
  • Undergraduate and/or Standardized Test Performance: If you do not think that your academic record or standardized test scores accurately reflect your ability to succeed in law school, please tell us why.

The Admissions Committee typically finds one page or less is a sufficient length for most additional essays. 

2 Law School Personal Statements That Succeeded

These examples of law school essays were critical components of successful law school applications.

High angle shot of a businessman working on his laptop at the bar in a cafe

Sincerity is an essential ingredient of a compelling law school admissions essay, one J.D. admissions expert says. (Getty Images)

Deciding what to say in the law school personal statement is the most challenging part of the admissions process for some applicants.

"Even people who are good writers often have a hard time writing about themselves," says Jessica Pishko, a former admissions consultant and writing tutor at Accepted, a Los Angeles-based admissions consulting firm. "That is perfectly normal."

Pishko, who coached law school applicants on how to overcome writer's block, says, "If you can find the thing that you really care about, that is who you are, and talking about that is a great way to write about yourself."

Why Law Schools Ask for Personal Statements

Personal statements can offer J.D. admissions committees "a narrative" about the applicant, which is important because it is rare for law schools to conduct admissions interviews, says Christine Carr, a law school admissions consultant with Accepted who previously was an associate director of admissions at Boston University School of Law .

The statement can help explain an applicant's reasons for wanting to attend law school , Carr adds.

"It can then add 'color' to a one-dimensional process," Carr wrote in an email. "The personal statement also allows the applicant to showcase writing ability. Law school and the legal profession require a clear and concise writing style that can be displayed by the applicant in the personal statement."

Personal statements often help admissions committees make difficult decisions, Carr says. "Given a relatively robust applicant pool, institutions often have more 'numerically' qualified applicants – LSAT and GPA – than they can admit," she explains.

Qualitative admissions factors, including not only personal statements but also resumes and recommendation letters , help to humanize applicants and "allow committees to build a community of law students not solely based on the quantifiable measures of test scores and transcripts," Carr says.

"Law schools are looking to fill classrooms with engaging and qualified students. The personal statement can provide insight into an applicant's personality and potential as a member of the school's community," she says.

What a Great Personal Statement Accomplishes

Excellent law school personal statements convey the essence of who an applicant is, experts say.

"The personal statement is the quickest way to get an overview, not only of the applicant's professional life and background, but in terms of what they emphasize, a clear indication of what the applicant themself, values," Jillian Ivy, CEO and founder of IvyCollegeEssay.com, a company that provides guidance on admissions essays, wrote in an email.

The statement "also gives admissions a snapshot of how well each applicant writes, if they understand how to brand or market their best traits, and thereby demonstrate that they know where their own strengths lie," Ivy adds.

A strong personal statement will articulate an applicant's vision for his or her future, including an explanation of short-term and long-term goals, and it will delineate how a J.D. degree will help an applicant get to where he or she wants to go, Ivy says.

"The more competitive the law school, the more admissions wants to see a level of understanding, drive and ambition within the personal statement," she explains, adding that applicants should clarify why they want to attend a particular law school and how that school can assist them on their career journey. "The schools want to see that the applicant has taken the time to understand what their particular program offers, and what makes it different."

How to Structure a Law School Personal Statement

The beginning of a solid law school personal statement ought to be intriguing, experts say.

"The statement should begin with a strong intro sentence, that summarizes the applicant's goal or tone," Ivy says. "For example, 'I have always been interested in international finance.' From there, the applicant would go on to describe 'why' they are interested in this area of financial law, and what in their unique background and experience has led them to pursue this path."

A personal statement provides context for the experiences that have prepared the applicant for law school and led him or her to pursue a legal career, experts say. It's also ideal to have a thoughtful ending "that ties the statement up," Ivy says.

An important point to address in a law school personal statement is what "sparked" the applicant's interest in law, Ivy says. She adds that law school admissions readers are aware that J.D. hopefuls' career goals may change between the time they apply to law school and the day they graduate.

Nevertheless, it can still be useful for an applicant to provide an explanation of what particular area of law he or she wants to learn more about and what type of lawyer he or she would like to become, if that is something the applicant is clear about, Ivy says.

An effective personal statement will also explain an applicant's background and how it has shaped him or her, Ivy adds. "It's connecting the dots back to anything at all that can be relevant ... to your new interest and what you want to pursue professionally."

Applicants should tailor their personal statement to each law school where they submit an application, Ivy adds. " Harvard Law School is very different than Columbia Law School even though both of them are excellent schools," she explains. "So each has their own approach to learning and to learning about law in particular."

Law school admissions committees appreciate when applicants make it clear that they have done thorough research on the school and its J.D. program . This reassures admissions officers that an applicant will be a good fit and make a valuable contribution to his or her law school class, Ivy explains.

Experts advise that a law school personal statement should align with the content in the rest of the law school application . Ideally, the essay will emphasize a selling point that is conveyed elsewhere in the application, but not simply repeat information.

In order for a personal statement to be effective and stand out, experts say, it needs to be both representative of who the applicant is and distinctive from personal essays that others have written.

How to Start Writing a Law School Personal Statement

Carr notes that writing a law school personal statement can be intimidating because it isn't easy to convey the essence of decades of events "into two pages double-spaced." She says law school hopefuls are often unsure about which portions of their life would be most meaningful and interesting to an admissions committee.

"Some applicants have a tendency to throw the 'kitchen sink' at committees and write about everything," Carr explains. But that's a mistake, Carr says, adding that J.D. personal statements should be "clear and concise."

Carr suggests that J.D. applicants concentrate on answering the central question of a law school personal statement, "Why law school?" Once they have brainstormed answers to that question, they should focus on a specific aspect or theme that explains their rationale for pursuing a career as an attorney, Carr says.

Ivy suggests that law school hopefuls who are struggling to decide what to write about in their law school personal statement should make a bullet-point list of the various topics they could focus on alongside brief one-sentence descriptions of each topic. The process of recording ideas on a piece of paper can clarify which ideas are most promising, she says.

"The strong ones will rise to the surface," she says, adding that once an applicant has narrowed down his or her list of essay ideas to only a few, it can be valuable to solicit feedback from trusted individuals about which of the remaining essay concepts is the very best.

Law school admissions experts suggest that applicants recall the various pivotal moments in their lives that shaped their identity, and then consider whether there is any idea or thesis that ties these events together.

Focusing on a central concept can help ensure that a law school personal statement does not simply list accomplishments in the way that a resume or cover letter might, experts say. Plus, an idea-driven essay can give law school admissions officers insight into the way a J.D. applicant's mind works.

A personal statement should illustrate the positive attributes the applicant has that would make him or her successful as a law student and lawyer. Sometimes the best way for an applicant to show his or her character strengths is to recount a moment when he or she was challenged and overcame adversity, experts say.

Experts advise law school hopefuls to write multiple drafts of their personal statement to ensure that the final product is top-notch.

They also recommend that applicants solicit feedback from people who understand the law school admissions process well, such as law school admissions consultants, and from people who know them well, such as close friends or family members. Getting input from friends and family can help ensure that an applicant's essay authentically conveys their personality, experts say.

Once the statement is finalized, Carr advises, the applicant should thoroughly proofread it more than once.

Mistakes to Avoid in Law School Personal Statements

A scatterbrained or disorganized approach in a law school personal statement is a major no-no, experts warn.

Ivy suggests that J.D. hopefuls avoid "rambling," adding that top law schools want to identify individuals who demonstrate that they are highly focused, ambitious, driven and persistent. "If you can hit those four things in your essay, then that's going to stand out, because most people don't know how to do that," she says.

Because it's important for a law school personal statement to be coherent and streamlined – like the law school resume – it's prudent to use an outline to plan the essay, Ivy says. The most common mistake she sees in J.D. personal statements is the lack of logical flow.

"Instead of a linear line, they're cycling around, and they'll touch on something, and then they'll come back to it again three paragraphs later," she says, adding that an unstructured essay is "just messy" and will not make a positive impression during the law school admissions process.

Experts warn that law school personal statements should not be vague, melodramatic and repetitive. The essay should not merely describe a person that the applicant met or recount an event – it needs to convey the applicant's personality.

Plus, language should be specific and clear. Absolutes like "never" or "always" are typically not the best words to use, experts warn, and it's important to not overshare personal information.

In addition, J.D. hopefuls should understand that they have a lot to learn about the law since they have not gone to law school. They should recognize that the individuals reading their essays probably know a great deal about the law, so they should not write essays that lecture readers about legal issues, experts warn.

Grammatical and spelling errors can tarnish an otherwise good personal statement, so it's important to avoid those, according to experts. It's also essential to follow any formatting rules that a law school outlines for personal statements.

Additionally, though many law school hopefuls are tempted to begin their personal statement with a dramatic anecdote, they should resist because doing so will most likely make a negative impression, experts warn. An aspiring attorney does not need to have suffered a tragedy in order to write a compelling law school personal statement, and describing something bad that has happened does not automatically lead to an effective essay.

Furthermore, when a J.D. applicant submits a generic law school personal statement that could go to any school, he or she is missing an opportunity to explain why a particular school is a great fit, experts suggest. Another common mistake, they say, is when applicants use a positive adjective to describe themselves rather than sharing an anecdote that demonstrates that they have this good quality.

Additionally, when a law school hopeful includes storytelling in his or her essay, it's best to focus on a single specific anecdote, because speaking in generalities is neither interesting nor convincing, experts say.

An applicant who writes a contrived essay based purely on what he or she believes a law school wants may come across as phony, experts say. It's essential, they say, for a personal statement to articulate what special perspective a prospective student could bring to a law school class.

Law School Personal Statement Examples

Below are two law school admissions essays whose authors were accepted to their top-choice law schools. The first is written by Waukeshia Jackson, an intellectual property attorney who earned her J.D. from the Paul M. Herbert Law Center at Louisiana State University—Baton Rouge . The second essay is written by Cameron Dare Clark, a Harvard Law School graduate.

Pishko says these two personal statements demonstrate the necessity of sincerity in an admissions essay. "It has to be sincere, and it has to be you and what you want to write about and why you want to go to law school.”

Both essays are annotated with comments from the authors about how the essays were written as well as comments from Pishko about passages that resonated best and how the essays could be improved.

Searching for a law school? Get our complete rankings of Best Law Schools.

Getting Into Law School

  • 2 Law School Admissions Essays That Succeeded
  • How to Write a Law School Resume
  • A Law School Resume That Made the Cut
  • Work Experience and Law School Admission
  • What Is a Good LSAT Score?

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1 killed, 5 injured by Iowa school shooter on the first day after winter break

A 17-year-old student at Perry High School in Iowa fatally shot a sixth grader and wounded four other students and a school administrator Thursday before apparently killing himself, officials said.

Police responded to an active shooter around 7:37 a.m. at the high school in Perry, a city of around 7,800 around 30 miles northwest of Des Moines, police said.

The shooter was armed with a pump-action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun, police said.

The identity of the student who was killed has not been released. Everyone else who was injured is expected to survive, officials said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds called the shooting a “senseless tragedy” that has shaken Perry and the entire state, and she said her prayers were with the community.

Authorities have not released a motive, and an investigation was ongoing.

Responding officers found victims who had been shot and the shooter dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said at a news conference.

Police also found an "improvised explosive device," which the state fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rendered safe, he said.

The shooter was identified as Dylan Butler. The evidence indicates he acted alone, Mortvedt said.

"Butler also made a number of social media posts in and around the time of the shooting," he said.

The shooting happened before school had started and not many students were on campus, but a breakfast program was taking place, he said.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Please click here for the latest updates.

Community members seek comfort in one another at vigil

The Associated Press

Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight prayer vigil tonight at a park where, hours earlier, students had been brought to reunite with their families after the shooting at Perry High School.

school shooting perry iowa mourners pray vigil candlelight

Bundled up against freezing temperatures, they listened to pastors from many faiths and heard a message of hope in both English and Spanish.

'He got tired of the bullying,' classmates say of shooter

Sisters Yesenia Roeder and Khamya Hall, both 17, said alongside their mother, Alita, that the 17-year-old classmate who police identified as the shooter had been bullied relentlessly since elementary school. That escalated recently, they said, when his younger sister started getting picked on, too. Officials at the school didn’t intervene, they said, and that was “the last straw” for the shooter.

“He was hurting. He got tired. He got tired of the bullying. He got tired of the harassment,” Yesenia Roeder Hall, 17, said. “Was it a smart idea to shoot up the school? No. God, no.”

A mother's agonizing wait after a terrifying text

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Janelle Griffith

D’Sheka Maggitt, 35, whose sons, Phillip Gray and Trent Maggitt, attend Perry High School, said the two left home at 7:22 a.m. to catch the school bus, and about 15 minutes later Trent texted her saying that there had been a shooting at the school.

Naturally, she said, she panicked, grabbed her keys and sped to the school.

“Before I could get to the school, I had already seen 10 to 15 police and sheriff’s cars flying in the direction of the school,” she said, adding that this prompted her to put her emergency lights on and drive even faster.

When she arrived, the entrance to the school was blocked off. She said that little information was being provided.

Maggitt could not reach her sons by phone for some time. When she did, she learned that Trent, who is 15, had already entered the school when the shooting started. He told her that he had heard four or five rounds fired and then “everyone started running.”

Phillip, 14, said that when he got off the bus, he heard three shots. He said he turned around and heard his bus driver yelling for the students to get back on. He did. As the driver drove off, he said he saw his friend, a 10th grader, being carried by a teacher outside the school.

“He had blood on the side of his hip and he was limping while the teacher was holding him,” Phillip said.

Iowa governor says shooting ‘has shaken our entire state to the core’

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Daniella Silva

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the shooting “strikes to the heart of everything that we hold dear.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks outside of the Perry Middle School and High School complex where six people were shot today in Perry, Iowa.

“Our hearts are heavy today and our prayers are with the Perry community,” Reynolds said at an afternoon news conference. “This senseless tragedy has shaken our entire state to the core.”

Sixth grade student was killed in shooting

A sixth grader was killed and five other people were injured during this morning's shooting at Perry High School, officials said at an afternoon briefing.

The child who was killed was a student at Perry Middle School, said Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Four other students were injured as well as a school administrator, and they are being treated at area hospitals, he said.

Mortvedt said one of the injured victims was in critical condition with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

The shooting happened before school had started and not many students were on campus, but there was a breakfast program taking place, he said, adding that there may have been students of different grades in the school at that time.

Authorities say 17-year-old shooter acted alone

Authorities identified the shooter as a 17-year-old student at the high school.

Dylan Butler appeared to have acted alone and was armed with a pump action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun, Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said at an afternoon news conference.

Police continue to look into a motive for the shooting, he said. Mortvedt said that officers at the scene found what appeared to be the shooter with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Officers also located an improvised explosive device at the scene, which Mortvedt described as “rudimentary.”

DeSantis says addressing shootings is ‘more of a local and state issue’

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Alexandra Marquez

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Dasha Burns

Abigail Brooks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered his support for Iowa after the school shooting at Perry High School on Thursday, but said that dealing with such shootings “is more of a local and state issue,” declining to suggest any changes to federal law he’d support that would make them less frequent.

The Republican presidential candidate touted efforts in Florida to keep schools safe in a joint interview with NBC News and The Des Moines Register.

“We obviously, you know, have a responsibility to create safe environments. The federal government is probably not going to be leading that effort,” DeSantis said.

“I think it is more of a local and state issue,” he added. “But we’ve shown how it’s done in Florida. The things that we’ve done have been very, very effective.”

Read the full story here.

Students should not be ‘looking for escape routes’ in school, Iowa Democratic Party chair says

The chair of the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement that students “should be able to focus on creating brighter futures for themselves while they are in their classrooms, not looking for escape routes, hiding places, or fearing for their safety.”

“I am so sad and so sorry that the Perry community is living this nightmare that has happened far too often across our country,” Chair Rita Hart said in a statement this afternoon.

“The Perry community deserves better. Iowa deserves better,” she said.

Mom says her daughter ran for her life after the gunman opened fire

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Daniel Arkin

Monica M. Gonzalez's daughter was grabbing breakfast at the Perry High School cafeteria this morning when the gunman opened fire. Gonzalez's daughter immediately fled the area. She was sprinting down a hallway when a teacher appeared, opened up a side door and yelled, "Run!"

Gonzalez's daughter kept running until she reached the nearby National Guard Armory, where Perry students had been trained to shelter in the event of a mass shooting. The girl hid behind the building "because she was worried if the shooter got out of the school that he'd be running to their safe spot, too," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said she was shaken and "shocked" over the events of the day, though she expressed gratitude to the teacher who opened the door for her daughter. "All I can say is thank u, thank u and thank u for getting her to someplace safe," Gonzalez wrote in a Facebook group for members of the community.

Parent says text from daughter was ‘absolutely horrifying’

Minyvonne Burke

Parent Jody Kurth said she received a text message from her daughter about a shooting at the high school.

"It was absolutely horrifying. One of the worst moments of my entire life," she said, getting emotional.

Both of her children are safe.

"But the best phone call I got was saying that they were OK," she said.

Kurth moved to the area seven years ago and said she never imagined something like this happening in their community.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "The pain in your heart, it's overwhelming."

Multiple patients are being treated at 2 hospitals, officials say

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Alec Hernández is reporting from Iowa.

Multiple patients from the shooting at Perry High School are being treated at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and the MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, the Polk County Medical Coordination Center said in a statement this afternoon.

All families of the victims have been reunited, the statement said.

The center said that it sent emergency personnel, ambulances and helicopters to the scene of the shooting. 

Iowa governor calls school shooting a 'senseless tragedy'

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said on the social media platform X today that “our hearts are broken by this senseless tragedy” and that “our prayers are with the students, teachers & families of the Perry Community.”

“I have been in contact with law enforcement agencies & am continuing to monitor the situation. I will be joining their press conference today,” she wrote.

The next news conference is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET.

Shooting prompts schools to cancel classes

Perry Community School District will be closed on Friday.

Counseling services will be available at the public library for people in need from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Perry High School said in a Facebook post.

Des Moines Area Community College said the Perry VanKirk Center will be closed through the weekend. Campuses will remain open.

"Our thoughts are with Perry community, staff, and students affected by today’s tragic shooting," the school said on X . "We’re providing resources to those affected."

Student says there was ‘glass everywhere’ and ‘blood on the floor’

A Perry High School student described hiding in a small room with three other students and a counselor after gunfire erupted before the start of classes this morning.

Student Ava Augustus said through tears that people were calling their parents and friends when they heard, “He’s down, you can go out.”

"I run and you can just see glass everywhere, blood on the floor," she said, her voice breaking. "I get to my car and they’re taking a girl out of the auditorium who had been shot in her leg."

Merrick Garland briefed on shooting, DOJ says

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Michael Kosnar

Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the shooting, according to a spokesperson with the Department of Justice.

"Agents from the FBI Omaha Des Moines resident agency are on the scene and are assisting, and ATF has responded to the active shooter at the high school," the spokesperson said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley says 'appalling violence' is 'heartbreaking'

Sen. Chuck Grassley said the "appalling violence" at Perry High School "is heartbreaking."

The Republican senator thanked law enforcement and school officials for their quick response "to protect students" and "restore safety."

"The Perry community is strong," he said in a post on X .

UnityPoint Health says it has two patients with gunshot wounds

UnityPoint Health system said it had two patients, both of whom sustained gunshot wounds. But the health care system did not give further details on their conditions.

UnityPoint Health said it was expecting a joint news release from all the hospitals involved as they’re all in coordination.

Republican Iowa congressman says he is 'beyond angry'

Rep. Zach Nunn said he is "beyond angry" after a gunman opened fire at Perry High School.

"My heart, and my commitment to holding those accountable, is with the community of Perry. We have a duty to protect our children, families, and educators," he said in a statement .

Nunn, a Republican who represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, added that he will continue to monitor the situation and that the "school is now secure."

"We will not rest until there is full accountability for this heinous act of violence," he said.

'There is no further danger to the public,' Dallas County sheriff says

Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante said that school had not yet started when the shooting began.

“Luckily, so there were very few students and faculty in the building, which I think contributed to a good outcome in that sense,” he said at a news briefing.

Around 7:37 a.m. local time, authorities were alerted to an active shooter situation at the high school, he said. An officer first arrived within seven minutes and found multiple gunshot victims. 

It’s not immediately clear how many people were injured and what the extent of their injuries are, he told reporters.

The shooter has been identified, but the sheriff declined to release further details.

“There is no further danger to the public. The community is safe,” he said. “We’re just now working backwards trying to figure out everything that happened.” 

Student says he thought the bangs he heard were part of prank

A Perry High School student described hearing "a couple of bangs" and seeing "a bunch of kids running" on the morning of the school shooting, but thought it was a prank. 

But then a friend said "that there was a shooter with a gun," the student, identified only as Carlos, told NBC News. "Then we got scared but again, we thought it was like a prank or something."

Shooter is dead, multiple law enforcement officials say

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Jonathan Dienst

The shooter is dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and may have been a student, according to multiple law enforcement officials briefed on the matter.

Three others were injured, including two students and an administrator, the officials said.

One of the injuries may be fatal but the investigation is ongoing, the officials said.

Biden tracking details on Iowa high school shooting

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

Kelly O'Donnell

President Joe Biden is tracking the latest on the Iowa shooting, a White House official said, adding that senior staff have been in touch with the Iowa governor’s office.

ATF responds to active shooter incident at high school

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has responded to the active shooter incident at Perry High School, the ATF’s Kansas City Field Division said in a post on social media .

FBI on scene to assist with shooting investigation

Agents from the FBI Omaha Des Moines resident agency are at the shooting scene and assisting the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the lead agency.

Victims headed to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center

Matthew Mata

Victims from Perry High School are being taken to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson said.

The hospital dispatched ambulances and helicopters to the shooting scene.

It was not immediately clear how many patients were headed to MercyOne.

"We cannot comment on the number of patients, patient statuses or names," the hospital said in a subsequent statement.

Parent says daughter was rushed from high school at 7:45 a.m., AP reports

Parent Erica Jolliff told The Associated Press that her daughter, a ninth grader at the school, reported getting rushed from the school grounds at around 7:45 a.m. 

Jolliff was distraught and looking for her son Amir, a sixth grader, one hour later, according to the AP. 

“I just want to know that he’s safe and OK,” she said. “They won’t tell me nothing.”

First reports of shooting came in around 7:40 a.m.

The first reports about a possible active shooter at the high school came in around 7:40 a.m. local time, according to NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines, Iowa .

The middle school was cleared around 8:25 a.m., the news station reported, and a second team cleared the high school by 8:27 a.m.

As a result of the situation, the elementary school was evacuated and dismissed by 8:32 a.m.

Police respond to Perry High School.

Ramaswamy: ‘Pray for the community in Perry, Iowa’

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy posted on the social media site X , formerly known as Twitter.

"Pray for the community in Perry, Iowa this morning," he wrote.

Ramaswamy was hosting a campaign event in Perry on Thursday.

The shooting comes days before the Iowa caucuses , which will kick off the 2024 Republican presidential primary process on Jan. 15.

Police confirm active shooting at high school

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

A spokesperson for the Perry Police Department confirmed there is an active shooting at the high school. No further details were immediately available.

A news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET.

Police respond to Perry High School in Perry, Iowa

'This is just disgusting,' school board president says of shooting

Linda Andorf, board president for the Perry Community School District, said news of today's shooting is "terrible."

"It is horrendously awful," she said. "People need to figure out their life. This is just disgusting. It's terrible."

Multiple law enforcement vehicles seen outside school

Multiple law enforcement vehicles, including what appeared to be police and state troopers with flashing lights, were lined up outside Perry High School in Iowa.

Additional vehicles, including an ambulance, could be seen coming and going this morning.

Today begins first day of second semester

Today is the beginning of the second semester for the Perry Community School District following the winter break.

Perry High School is about 25 miles from Des Moines

Perry High School is part of the Perry Community School District, which is about 25 miles northwest of Des Moines. It serves around 1,785 students, according to its website .

Perry High School in Perry Iowa.

Limited information available

The Dallas County Sheriff's Office confirmed the shooting investigation but said no other information is available at this time.

Active shooting investigation at Perry High School

The Dallas County Sheriff's Office confirmed that there is an active shooter investigation at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa.

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how many pages should a law school personal statement be

  • Working, jobs and pensions
  • Holidays, time off, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave
  • Simplifying holiday entitlement and holiday pay calculations
  • Department for Business & Trade

Holiday pay and entitlement reforms from 1 January 2024

Published 1 January 2024

how many pages should a law school personal statement be

© Crown copyright 2024

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .

Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/simplifying-holiday-entitlement-and-holiday-pay-calculations/holiday-pay-and-entitlement-reforms-from-1-january-2024

This guidance sets out the changes to the Working Time Regulations which the government introduced on 1 January 2024.

It does not provide definitive answers to all individual queries. It is not intended to be relied upon in any specific context or as a substitute for seeking advice (legal or otherwise) on a specific circumstance, as each case may be different. If employers introduce changes to terms and conditions, they must seek to reach an agreement with their workers or their representatives. 

The guidance focuses on the legal minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday. Many workers will have contracts entitling them to additional paid holiday beyond the statutory minimum. This additional holiday is known as contractual holiday entitlement. Individual contracts should be checked first, and if necessary, independent legal advice sought.

All the illustrative holiday pay calculations provided in this guidance use gross pay data (before any taxes or deductions).

All references to ‘worker’ refer to all individuals whose employment status is either as a ‘worker’ or an ‘employee’, meaning they are entitled to paid holiday. Visit  employment status  for further information on employment status and definitions.

Before reading this guidance, you should check the guidance on holiday entitlement . This explains how to calculate holiday entitlement and pay for the majority of workers.

1. Introduction

The government has introduced reforms to simplify holiday entitlement and holiday pay calculations in the Working Time Regulations.

These changes include:

  • defining irregular hours workers and part-year workers in relation to the introduction of the holiday entitlement accrual method and rolled-up holiday pay (see section 2)
  • introducing a method to calculate statutory holiday entitlement for irregular hours and part-year workers (see section 3.1)
  • introducing a method to work out how much leave an irregular hour or part-year worker has accrued when they take maternity or family related leave or are off sick (see section 3.4)
  • removing the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which affect the accrual of COVID-19 carryover of leave (see section 4.1)
  • maintaining the current rates of holiday pay where 4 weeks is paid at normal rate of pay and 1.6 weeks paid at basic rate of pay, whilst retaining the 2 distinct pots of leave (see section 5.1)
  • defining what is considered ‘normal remuneration’ in relation to the 4 weeks of statutory annual leave (see section 5.1)
  • introducing rolled-up holiday pay as an alternative method to calculate holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers (see section 5.2)

Note that the following reforms will only apply to leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024:

2. Definition of an irregular hour worker and a part-year worker

A definition for irregular hours workers and part-year workers has been set out in regulations. This is so that employers know which workers the accrual method for entitlement and the introduction of rolled up holiday pay apply to.

How a worker is classified will depend on the precise nature of their working arrangements. We would encourage employers to ensure that working patterns are clear in their workers’ contracts.

The government has defined irregular and part-year as the following.

Note: a pay period is how frequently a worker gets paid, for example, monthly.

2.1 Irregular hours worker

A worker is an irregular hours worker, in relation to a leave year, if the number of paid hours that they will work in each pay period during the term of their contract in that year is, under the terms of their contract, wholly or mostly variable.

  • Kevin, a hospitality worker who works a different number of hours each week.

Kevin would qualify as an irregular hours worker if his contract says that the hours he works will be wholly or mostly variable in each pay period. Kevin’s contract could be a ‘casual’ contract, otherwise known as a zero-hours contract. Find more information on zero hour contracts . 

  • Paul, who has a rotating 2-week shift pattern where he works 15 hours in week 1 and 20 hours in week 2. He does not work overtime.

Paul would not qualify as an irregular hours worker if his contracted hours are fixed during both week 1 and week 2. Given that Paul does not work overtime, it is not the case that his hours worked are wholly or mostly variable. Instead, Paul’s hours are fixed (just worked in a rotating shift pattern).

2.2 Part-year worker

A worker is a part-year worker, in relation to a leave year, if, under the terms of their contract, they are required to work only part of that year and there are periods within that year (during the term of the contract) of at least a week which they are not required to work and for which they are not paid. This includes part-year workers who may have fixed hours, for example, teaching assistants who only work during term time, and who are paid only when working.

  • Melanie, a seasonal worker in the farming industry who only works and gets paid during spring and summer months.

Melanie would qualify as a part-year worker if her contract reflects that there are periods of time that last more than a week when she is not contracted to work and does not receive pay. 

  • Ian, who is paid an annualised (flat) salary over 12 months but has periods of time that last more than one week where he is not working.

Ian would not qualify as part-year worker if his contract reflects that there are weeks where he is not working and there are no weeks where he does not receive pay. (Ian would need to not receive pay during the periods he is not working, in order to be classified as a part-year worker).

3. Holiday entitlement for irregular hours workers and part-year workers

3.1 how statutory holiday entitlement is accrued.

For workers who are not irregular hours or part-year workers, there is no change in how their statutory holiday entitlement is accrued. The method remains so that in the first year of employment, workers receive one twelfth of the statutory entitlement on the first day of each month. After the first year of employment, a worker gets holiday entitlement based upon their statutory and contractual entitlement. Their entitlement will be based upon the proportion of a week which they are contracted to work. This is known as ‘pro-rating’.

For leave years that begin before 1 April 2024, holiday entitlement will continue to be calculated in the same way for irregular hours and part-year workers. Use the holiday entitlement calculator to work out entitlement.

For leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, there is a new accrual method for irregular hour workers and part-year workers in the first year of employment and beyond. Holiday entitlement for these workers will be calculated as 12.07% of actual hours worked in a pay period.

Example of how statutory holiday entitlement is accrued

Jill works irregular hours and is paid monthly. Her leave year starts on 1 April 2024. She is entitled to the statutory minimum holiday entitlement only.

In June, she works 68 hours. To work out how much holiday she accrues in June, you will need to calculate 12.07% of 68 hours.

Table 1: calculation of statutory holiday accrual for irregular hours and part-year workers

Answer: Jill accrues 8 hours of holiday during the month of June.

Note: the hours can be rounded down (to zero if it is less than 30 minutes) but will be rounded up to one hour if it is 30 minutes or more than 30 minutes.

The 12.07% figure is based on the fact that all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ leave. This means that a worker’s total working weeks in a year is 46.4 (52 weeks in a year minus 5.6 weeks of leave). 12.07% of 46.4 is 5.6.

This figure is based on the statutory minimum holiday entitlement (5.6 weeks). An irregular hour or part-year worker may be entitled to more than the minimum, if this is specified in their contract.

To find the relevant percentage for these workers, you would need to do the following calculation: (total holiday entitlement ÷ remaining working weeks in the year) x 100.

For example, if a part-year worker is entitled to 6 weeks of leave as per their contract, then:

6 ÷ 46 = 0.1304

0.1304 x 100 = 13.04

Therefore, this worker’s holiday entitlement would be calculated as 13.04% of actual hours worked in a pay period.

The accrual method to work out entitlement will apply to an agency worker if the agency worker’s arrangements fall within the meanings of both a “worker” (as already defined) and either an “irregular hours worker” or a “part-year worker”, as per the new definition in the Working Time Regulations.

An agency worker who is a “worker” but not an “irregular hours worker” or a “part-year worker”, will continue to accrue leave at one twelfth of their entitlement at the start of each month during their first year of employment.

Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. For example, staff working 6 days a week are only entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday.

3.2 Leave entitlement when leaving a job part-way through a leave year

If a worker leaves their job part-way through a leave year, a calculation should be completed to check the worker has received the statutory minimum holiday entitlement to which they are entitled. Any shortfall should be paid in lieu of untaken leave. 

In such cases, statutory annual leave entitlement can be calculated as:  

Leave entitlement for full year × Proportion of leave year in employment  

This is calculated in a 3-step method:  

Calculate the worker’s full annual leave entitlement.  

Work out the proportion of the leave year in employment.

Pro-rate based on the proportion of the year in employment.  

Days worked per week example

Edward has been working for his current employer for more than a year, working 6 days per week. His current leave year started on 1 July 2024, ending 30 June 2025 and he is leaving his role on Saturday 16 November 2024.

Table 2: calculation of leave entitlement when leaving during leave year, based on days per week

Answer: Edward’s statutory holiday entitlement is 10.7 days.

3.3 Hours worked per week

Where workers work a fixed number of hours each week but not the same number of hours each day, the legislation does not state how to incorporate the 28-day statutory cap when calculating their full annual leave entitlement. In our view it is appropriate to incorporate the cap as 28 days of the worker’s average working day.  

Therefore, statutory leave entitlement should be calculated in days, and then multiplied by the average length of the working day.

The average working day is defined as:

Average working day = hours worked per week ÷ days worked per week.

Example of calculating holiday entitlement when on fixed hours

Irene works a total of 30 hours over 4 days a week, working 9 hours on Monday and Wednesday and 6 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Her statutory entitlement in days is the lower of 28 days or 5.6 x 4 days (22.4 days). Therefore, Irene’s full statutory annual leave is 22.4 days. 

Her average working day is 30 hours divided by 4 days, or 7.5 hours per day. 

Therefore, Irene’s statutory holiday entitlement for a full leave year is 22.4 days x 7.5 hours = 168.0 hours a year. 

Depending on which days she takes off as leave, it will either be 6 hours or 9 hours from her total leave entitlement.

Workers who leave employment have their annual leave pro-rated based on the time that they spent in work as a proportion of the year. This is calculated based on calendar days in employment, not days spent at work.  

This is calculated in a 4-step method:  

Work out the proportion of the leave year worked.

Pro-rate based on the proportion of the year worked.  

In our view, it is appropriate to then multiply by the average working day to convert into hours.

Example of calculating leave when worker leaves during leave year when on fixed hours

Mary has been working for her current employer for more than a year, working 45 hours a week over 4 days. Her leave year started on 1 April 2024, running until 31 March 2025 and she is leaving her role on Thursday 25 July 2024.

Table 3: calculation of entitlement for a worker who works fixed hours leaving during a leave year

Answer: Rounded to the nearest hour, Mary’s statutory holiday entitlement in hours is 80 hours.

3.4 Calculating statutory holiday entitlement accrued by irregular hours and part-year workers while they are on maternity or family related leave or off sick

Some irregular hours and part-year workers may take maternity or family related leave or be off sick within an annual leave year. Whether a worker can take maternity or family related leave depends on their employment status. Visit  employment status  for further information.

Maternity or family related leave (defined as ‘statutory leave’) includes leave such as maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption leave. During these absences from work, a worker would continue to accrue leave. Annual leave cannot be taken during a period of maternity leave. Some other types of family-related leave can be taken in blocks with annual leave in between. Visit holidays, time off, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave for more information.

A calculation method has been introduced for leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024 to help employers find out how much leave is accrued by an irregular hours or part-year worker in such circumstances. The calculation method follows the same principle as the accrual method for statutory holiday entitlement outlined in section 3.1.

However, as the accrual method relies on the employer knowing how many hours someone has worked, this method introduces a 52-week relevant period so employers can look back and work out an average of hours worked across that period, to inform what period of leave should be deemed to have accrued during the period of absence.

The relevant period would run from the day before the worker starts their maternity or family related leave or time off sick, going back for 52 weeks. When calculating the average weekly hours worked, employers should not include weeks where the worker is on maternity or family related leave or off sick for any amount of time. However, weeks not worked for any other reason should be included. If the worker has not worked for the employer for 52 weeks, the relevant period is shortened to the number of weeks the worker worked for the employer.

The employer is only required to perform this calculation once per period of leave.

The calculation method is set out below in Table 4.

Example: part-year worker on maternity leave

Harriet is a part-year worker who is entitled to the minimum 5.6 weeks statutory holiday. Over a 52-week period, she worked in 26 weeks, for a total of 1032 hours. She then took the following 40 weeks as maternity leave.

Table 4: method for calculating statutory holiday entitlement accrued by irregular hours and part-year workers while off sick or on statutory leave

Answer: Harriet accrued 107 hours of holiday entitlement while on maternity leave.

Most employers will be using this calculation for workers who only take a single period of leave, such as maternity leave.

However, it is possible that some workers who are eligible may take multiple periods of maternity or family related leave or be off sick multiple times during the 52-week relevant period. For example, a worker may take maternity leave, return to work, then be off sick at some point within the next 52 weeks.

Employers will need to take into account these previous periods of maternity or family related leave or time off sick when calculating the statutory holiday entitlement accrued during subsequent periods. This may mean that the relevant period needs to go back further than 52 weeks, up to 104 weeks. If a worker has not worked with the employer for long enough and there are fewer than 52 weeks to take into account, then the relevant period is shortened to that lower number of complete weeks.

Example: part-year worker on multiple periods of maternity or family related leave or who is off sick

Sharon is a part-year worker. Over a 52-week period she worked in 39 weeks, for a total of 832 hours. She then took 19 weeks of shared parental leave.

Sharon then returned to work for 5 weeks, working 88 hours in total. She then proceeded to take a further 4 weeks of shared parental leave.

After this second period of shared parental leave, she returned to work for 6 weeks, working 108 hours. Sharon was then off sick for 3 days.

Her employer will need to calculate her statutory holiday entitlement after each of these leave periods.

Table 5: a part-year worker who takes multiple periods of maternity or family related leave or takes time off sick - first period

First period of maternity or family related leave or period off sick (19 weeks of shared parental leave for Sharon).

Answer: Sharon accrued 41 hours of statutory holiday entitlement while on her first period of shared parental leave.

Table 5.1: a part-year worker who takes multiple periods of maternity or family related leave or takes time off sick - second period

Second period of maternity or family related leave or time off sick (4 weeks of shared parental leave for Sharon)

Answer: Sharon accrued 9 hours of statutory holiday entitlement while on her second period of shared parental leave.

Table 5.2: a part-year worker who takes multiple periods of maternity or family related leave or takes time off sick - third period

Third period of maternity or family related leave or sickness (3 days off sick leave for Sharon).

Sharon accrued 1 hour of statutory holiday entitlement while she was off sick.

4. Carryover of leave

From 1 January 2024 the following principles relating to the carryover of annual leave apply.

Workers can normally carry over a maximum of 8 days into the next leave year, with the agreement of their employer.

If a worker gets more than 28 days’ leave, their employer may allow them to carry over any additional untaken leave. Check the employment contract, company handbook or intranet to see what the rules say.

If any worker is unable to take some or all of their statutory holiday entitlement as a result of taking a period of maternity or other family related leave, then they will be entitled to carry forward up to 28 days of their untaken leave into the following leave year.

If a worker working regular hours and all year round is unable to take some or all of their statutory holiday entitlement as a result of being off sick, then the worker will be entitled to carry forward up to 20 days of their untaken leave into the following leave year, provided it is then taken by the end of the period of 18 months starting from the end of the leave year in which it was accrued. These 20 days should be paid at the ‘normal’ rate.

An irregular hour’s worker or part-year worker will be entitled to carry over up to 28 days of leave in these circumstances. Again, this worker would need to use that leave they have carried over within 18 months starting from the end of the leave year in which it accrued.

An employer must allow a worker who is unable to take their statutory holiday entitlement as they are on maternity or other family related leave to carry over all their holiday entitlement to the following leave year.

A worker will be entitled to carry forward into the next year the leave that they should have been entitled to take if:

  • the employer has refused to pay a worker their paid leave entitlement
  • the employer has not given the worker a reasonable opportunity to take their leave and encouraged them to do so; or
  • the employer failed to inform the worker that untaken leave will must be used before the end of the leave year to prevent it from being lost

The above scenarios should be avoided as it is important that workers are able to take their annual leave. This is to enable workers to rest from carrying out the work they are required to do under their contract of employment.

4.1 Leave affected by COVID-19

Previously, workers could carry over untaken leave into the next 2 years if they could not take it because their work was affected by coronavirus.

From 1 January 2024, workers can no longer accrue COVID carryover leave. Workers will still be able to use the leave they accrued prior to 1 January 2024 before or on 31 March 2024.

Workers whose employment terminates on or before 31 March 2024 are able to claim any pay in lieu of any remaining entitlement they were unable to use due to the effects of coronavirus. 

5. Holiday pay calculations

5.1 holiday pay rates.

All full-year workers, except those who are genuinely self-employed, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid statutory holiday entitlement per year. Four weeks of this entitlement must be paid at a worker’s ‘normal’ rate of pay (as specified by Regulation 13 of the Working Time Regulations). This could include regular payments, such as overtime, regular bonuses and commission. The remaining 1.6 weeks’ entitlement can be paid at ‘basic’ rate of pay, that is, the worker’s basic remuneration (as specified by Regulation 13A).

The regulations do not state which entitlement should be used first. Many employers choose not to distinguish between the 2 pots of leave, and to pay the entire 5.6 weeks at the ‘normal’ rate of pay. If an employer wishes to pay different holiday rates for different periods of leave, then they should consider explaining this clearly and consistently to the worker, for example in the worker’s contract or staff handbook.

Holiday pay is based on the legal principle that a worker should not suffer financially for taking holiday. The amount of pay that a worker receives for the holiday they take depends on the number of hours they work and how they are paid for those hours. Pay received by a worker while they are on holiday should reflect what they would have earned if they had been at work and working.

From 1 January 2024, the components which must be included when calculating ‘normal’ rate of pay are defined in regulations.

The following payments must be included in the 4 weeks of normal (regulation 13 leave) holiday pay: 

  • payments, including commission payments, intrinsically linked to the performance of tasks which a worker is contractually obliged to carry out
  • payments relating to professional or personal status relating to length of service, seniority or professional qualifications
  • other payments, such as overtime payments, which have been regularly paid to a worker in the 52 weeks preceding the calculation date

Workers with regular hours and fixed pay must receive the same holiday pay as the pay they would receive if they were at work and working. For example, workers typically on a fixed monthly salary, if they take a week’s holiday, they will receive the same pay at the end of the month as they normally receive.

For leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, part-year and irregular hours workers are legally entitled up to a maximum amount of 5.6 weeks of paid statutory holiday entitlement per year, calculated according to actual hours worked using the 12.07% accrual method. If their employer chooses to use rolled-up holiday pay, then the entire amount of their leave for irregular hours and part-year workers will be paid at the ‘normal’ rate of pay.

The rolled-up holiday pay method is set out below. Employers may choose not to use rolled-up holiday pay, in which case they can use the existing 52-week reference period method to look back at a worker’s previous 52 paid weeks to calculate what that worker should be paid for a week’s leave. Both methods are set out in more detail in the sections below. Workers who are irregular hours or part-year workers will have all of their statutory holiday entitlement paid at a rate based on their total pay, whether it is calculated as rolled-up holiday pay or by reference to the previous 52 weeks.

5.2 Rolled-up holiday pay

Rolled-up holiday pay allows employers to include an additional amount with every payslip to cover a worker’s holiday pay, as opposed to paying holiday pay when a worker takes annual leave.

The regulations allow employers to use rolled-up holiday pay as an additional method for calculating holiday pay for irregular hour and part-year workers only, for leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024.

The calculation of holiday pay by employers is 12.07% of a worker’s total pay as 12.07% is the proportion of statutory annual leave in relation to the working weeks of each year, for example, 5.6 weeks of statutory annual leave divided by 46.4 working weeks of the year.

Employers using rolled-up holiday pay should calculate it based on a worker’s total pay in a pay period. A pay period is the frequency at which workers get paid, that is weekly, fortnightly, monthly, and the like.  

If employers intend to start using rolled-up holiday pay, they should check their workers’ contract in case this amounts to a variation of contract. Employers should tell their workers if they intend to start using rolled-up holiday pay and for this payment to be clearly marked as a separate item on each payslip. The holiday pay should be paid at the same time as the worker is paid for the work done in each pay period. Employers of agency workers must include this information in the agency worker’s Key Information Document.

The holiday pay should be paid at the same time as the worker is paid for the work done in each pay period. Rolled-up holiday pay is to be paid in addition to the worker’s normal salary, which should be at National Minimum Wage or above. If annual leave is carried over where a worker is paid using rolled-up holiday pay, the leave will already have been paid at the time the work was done.

Employers that do not want to use rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hour and part-year workers can continue to use the existing 52-week reference period to calculate holiday pay for irregular hour workers if they choose to do so as set out in section 5.3 below.

If a worker who receives rolled-up holiday pay goes off sick or takes maternity / family-related leave during a pay period, their rolled-up holiday pay would be calculated according to average amount of the worker’s total earnings in each pay period during the 52-week relevant period.

Tables 6 and 7 below set out how to calculate how much rolled up holiday pay a worker could receive under different scenarios.  

Example: holiday entitlement when paid weekly

Hana works irregular hours and is paid weekly. Her hourly rate is £10.42 per hour for all shifts. In the week 1 October to 7 October, Hana worked 35 hours.

To work out how much rolled-up holiday pay Hana is entitled to, you will need to calculate 12.07% of Hana’s total pay in this pay period.

Table 6: rolled-up holiday pay calculation when a worker’s basic pay is their normal pay

Answer: Hana is entitled to receive £44.06 rolled-up holiday pay in her payslip for the period 1 October to 7 October.

Example: holiday entitlement when paid fortnightly

Mark works irregular hours and is paid fortnightly. His hourly rate is £11 per hour (normal hourly rate) for shifts 7am to 11:59pm and £12 per hour (enhanced hourly rate) for shifts midnight to 6:59am. In the fortnight 1 August to 14 August, Mark worked 40 hours. He worked 20 hours at normal rate (£11 per hour) and 20 hours at an enhanced rate (£12 per hour).

To work out how much rolled-up holiday pay Mark is entitled to, you will need to calculate 12.07% of Mark’s total pay in this pay period.

Table 7: rolled-up holiday pay calculation when a worker’s shifts are at a premium rate

Answer: Mark is entitled to receive £55.52 rolled-up holiday pay in his payslip for the period 1 August to 14 August.

As Table 7 shows, the calculation for rolled-up holiday pay applies to a worker’s total pay in a pay period, regardless of differing hourly rates of pay.

5.3 A 52-week reference period to calculate holiday pay

Where a worker has irregular hours or works part of the year, employers can calculate their holiday pay using an average from the last 52 weeks in which they have worked and have earned pay.

If a worker has not been in employment for long enough to build up 52 weeks’ worth of pay data, their employer should use however many complete weeks of data they have. For example, if a worker has been with their employer for 26 complete weeks, that is what the employer should use.

If a worker takes leave before they have been in their job a complete week, then the employer has no data to use for the reference period. In this case the reference period is not used. Instead, the employer should pay the worker an amount which fairly represents their pay for the length of time the worker is on leave.

In working out what is fair, the employer should take into account:

  • the worker’s pay for the job
  • the pay already received by the worker (if any)
  • what other workers doing a comparable role for the employer (or for other employers) are paid

How far back employers should look

To prevent employers having to look back more than 2 years to reach 52 weeks’ of pay data, there is a cap on how far back employers should look.

Any weeks that are before the 104 complete weeks prior to the first day of the worker’s holiday are not included. In this case the reference period is shortened to however many weeks are available in this 104-week period.

Employers should still only count back as far as is needed to achieve 52-weeks’ worth of pay data if this is less than 104 weeks.

Where a worker has been employed by their employer for less than 52 weeks, the reference period is shortened to the number of weeks of their employment.

The reference period must only include weeks for which the worker was actually paid. It must not include weeks where they were not paid as they did not work. Where this gives less than 52 weeks to take into account (that is, where the worker has many weeks without any remuneration), the reference period is shortened to that lower number of weeks.

If a worker started work 30 weeks ago, employers should use pay data from as many of those weeks that the worker was paid to calculate the worker’s holiday pay and provide a fair rate of pay.

If an employer has counted back over 104 weeks and has only found 40 weeks of pay data for a worker, then the employer should use these 40 weeks of pay data.

If a worker has taken a period of leave within the 52-week reference period, then any weeks on which no pay was due should not be included when calculating pay (in contrast to the calculation of holiday accrued). Any weeks with time off sick or on maternity/ family-related leave are also excluded from the reference period. Instead, additional earlier paid weeks should be included to achieve the 52-week total.

The definition of a ‘week’ for the purpose of the holiday pay reference period

The relevant definitions within the Employment Rights Act 1996 are:

  • a week starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday;
  • the holiday pay reference period should start from the last complete working week that was worked ending on or before the first day of leave, starting on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday.

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, the holiday pay reference period starts from the last whole week ending on or before the first day of the period of leave. This will typically be a week from Sunday to Saturday, but it could end on another day of the week if a worker is paid on a weekly basis.

There is an exception for workers whose pay is calculated weekly by a week ending on a day other than Saturday. In these cases, a week is treated as ending with that other day. For example, if a worker’s pay is calculated by a week ending with a Wednesday, then the employer should treat a week as starting on a Thursday and finishing on a Wednesday.

Table 8: 52-week reference period holiday pay calculation examples

5.4 calculating holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers.

If the reference period method of accrual is used, the holiday pay irregular hour workers and part-year workers receive will be their average pay over the previous 52 weeks worked. This involves taking the last whole week in which they worked and earned pay, ending on a Saturday, as the most recent week. (If the worker is paid weekly on a day other than a Saturday, this would not apply).

The reference period must include the last 52 weeks for which they actually earned, and so excludes any weeks where no work was performed as well as any time when the worker was on sick leave or maternity or family related leave.

This may mean that the actual reference period takes into account pay data from further back than 52 weeks from the date of their leave. However, it should go back no more than 104 weeks. If this gives fewer than 52 weeks to take into account, then the reference period is shortened to that lower number of weeks.

A paid week will include a week in which the worker was paid any amount for work undertaken during that week. Only if no pay at all is received in a week, should it be discounted as part of the 52-week reference period.

The following example uses a worker’s gross pay data to set out how to calculate paid and non-paid weeks.

Table 9: illustration of paid and non-paid weeks, for the 52-week reference period method for holiday pay

An employer should discount weeks 6, 23 to 25 and 46 to 48 in Table 9, which is 7 weeks, as there was no pay in these weeks, reflecting that the worker performed no work. As 7 weeks have to be discounted, the employer must go back a further 7 weeks to take the total to 52 weeks of pay data when calculating holiday pay for this period. These extra weeks are weeks 53 to 59 in Table 9.

The total pay over the 52 weeks is calculated by summing the pay for each week. The calculation is:

(1 × £300) + (4 × £350) + (1 × £10) + (15 × £100) + (15 × £400) + (5 × £200) + (6 × £180) + (5 × £150) = £12,040.

This is then divided by the 52 weeks-worth of data used to calculate the average:

£12,040 ÷ 52 = £231.54.

A week’s holiday taken in the week following would therefore be paid at a rate of £231.54 (which is the average weekly pay from the pay data in Table 9).

5.5 Payment in lieu

If an irregular hour worker or part-year worker does not take their accrued holiday entitlement by the time they leave employment, they should be paid for this untaken holiday (known as ‘payment in lieu’).

This should be calculated by working out the individual’s remaining holiday entitlement and then working out their holiday pay for this period. Employers should remember to deduct any holiday taken from the total holiday entitlement to correctly calculate the remaining holiday the worker is entitled to.

A worker is employed for 2 weeks. They start to accrue holiday entitlement from Day 1 but take no holiday leave during the 2-week period.

At the end of their contract (termination of employment) they should be paid in lieu for all holiday accrued during this 2-week period.

Holiday pay for the leave accrued should then be calculated using an average of the 2 weeks in which they were paid.

6. Additional resources

Workers should not suffer detriment for querying whether they are receiving the correct holiday entitlement and pay.

If workers feel that they are being denied their statutory holiday entitlement or holiday pay or any other employment rights, they may wish to speak to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) .

Acas provide free and impartial advice to employers and workers on employment matters. You can read their guidance on holiday entitlement and pay for more information .

Contact information for Acas is below:

Acas helpline Telephone: 0300 123 11 00 Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

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Law School Optional Essays: What to Know

U.S. News & World Report

January 7, 2024, 7:00 PM

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Every law school requires applicants to submit a personal statement, typically limited to two or three double-spaced pages, along with a resume typically limited to two pages. These two documents provide applicants with their chief opportunities to detail their interests, goals and path to law school.

Beyond those core documents, many law schools allow other essays, usually optional but sometimes required. Most prominent is a type of essay that used to be called a diversity statement.

Diversity, Perspective or Background Statements

Until recently, almost every law school offered an optional diversity statement. Prompts for diversity statements varied among law schools, but typically concerned an applicant’s identity and background, past hardships or potential to contribute to a diverse and inclusive campus environment.

[ READ: What Underrepresented Law School Applicants Should Know. ]

After the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed race-conscious admissions policies in June 2023, law schools adapted diversity statements in different ways, which will likely continue to evolve over future admissions cycles.

Currently, most law schools offer one or more optional essay prompts that give applicants an opportunity to discuss their perspective, identity, personal adversity, experience interacting with diverse viewpoints or other topics related to diversity.

While it’s hard to generalize about all these essay prompts, they still differ from personal statements in many ways. They are more reflective, looking backward rather than forward. They often have tighter page or word limits.

The purpose of these optional statements is not solely for applicants to detail their unique background. Everyone is atypical in some ways . Rather, these optional essays are intended to free applicants from having to weave together their background and interests within the same two-page statement.

For example, imagine an Armenian American inspired by the trauma of the Armenian genocide to become an international human rights lawyer. This would make a great topic for a personal statement.

[ Read: How to Choose the Right Law School to Become a Human Rights Lawyer. ]

But what if that applicant actually feels most passionate about securities law? It would be counterproductive to force such a candidate to awkwardly cram genocide and securities law into the same essay. This is why schools allow applicants space to tell more complicated stories.

Other Optional Law School Admission Essays

Beyond personal and diversity statements, some law schools also allow or require extra short essays. Most commonly, a school might ask about why an applicant would be a good fit for the school, often called a “Why this law school?” essay . These are almost always worthwhile to write.

Some schools have short-answer questions on topics like an applicant’s career goals or how an applicant aligns with the school’s values. A few schools, like Stanford University Law School in California and Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., have offbeat essay prompts that tend to vary from year to year.

Finally, some law schools provide dedicated space for applicants wishing to explain issues often covered by an addendum , like underperformance on standardized tests or in their transcripts.

Are Optional Essays Worth Writing?

A classic mistake applicants make is to write as much as allowed , hoping that something will stick. Many law school applicants fear that if they fail to maximize every possible opportunity to write about themselves, they will appear lazy or disinterested. Therefore, they sabotage themselves by padding their application with redundant and repetitive text.

[ Read Law School Admissions Process: A Month-By-Month Guide. ]

Applicants can best show their professionalism, communication skills and respect for the reader by writing efficiently and purposefully. Admissions officers have a limited amount of time, perhaps a matter of minutes, to review your application. Anything you write that does not contribute to a coherent argument for your admission risks wasting that time.

Thus, an optional essay is unnecessary if its key points are already adequately communicated through the personal statement or other materials. Optional essays should be used strategically to build your argument for admission. Don’t simply talk about yourself to fill space.

For example, if an optional essay prompt asks for your favorite book, there is no need to lie and claim that it is “The Common Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

On the other hand, before you write about your love of “Harry Potter,” consider whether and how that would bolster your application. Unless you can trace your interest in justice to Hermione’s efforts to emancipate house elves, you might be better off choosing another book or skipping the essay altogether.

In sum, optional essays should convey or emphasize something about you that your personal statement and other materials fail to address. If you cannot think of anything else that would strengthen your case, then forgo the essay. Like a lawyer, show meticulousness and fine judgment with restraint, not verbosity.

More from U.S. News

College Classes That Best Prepare You for Law School

How to Survive and Thrive First Year of Law School

Advice on How to Prepare for Law School

Law School Optional Essays: What to Know originally appeared on usnews.com

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  21. 2 Law School Personal Statements That Succeeded

    Pishko says these two personal statements demonstrate the necessity of sincerity in an admissions essay. "It has to be sincere, and it has to be you and what you want to write about and why you ...

  22. 9 Important Personal Statement Tips for Law School Applicants

    Tip 3: Be genuine. You don't need to be a superhero to impress the law school admissions committee. You can show your passion, dedication, and law school readiness in lots of everyday anecdotes from your life. You can even write your personal statement about a mistake or a weakness—just make sure you turn it around to show how you ...

  23. Should You Write Multiple Personal Statements For Law Schools?

    Some medical schools may require a personal statement of a certain length, while others may simply ask for a personal statement of any length. In general, however, a personal statement for law school should be around two to three pages in length. How long should a Personal Statement be? Law schools that make the top 50 list are the best.

  24. Personal Statement Length : r/lawschooladmissions

    I understand that most law schools ask personal statements to be two pages, but I was wondering if anyone has applied with personal statements slightly longer than two pages in the past.

  25. Iowa school shooting: Sixth grader killed, 5 others injured at Perry

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  26. Holiday pay and entitlement reforms from 1 January 2024

    Days in employment during the leave year ÷ days in leave year x 100. Between 1 April 2024 and 25 July 2024 there are 116 days. The leave year runs from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025. 116 ÷ 365 x ...

  27. Iowa Department of Education Homepage

    Emergency Relief for PK-12 Schools; Every Student Succeeds Act; Parent, Guardian & Community Concerns; PK-12 Data & Reporting; School District Maps; ... Many of our previous documents and pages have new links. Search is currently not working. Your patience is appreciated. Published on January 8, 2024 ; last updated on January 9, 2024 ...

  28. Law School Optional Essays: What to Know

    Every law school requires applicants to submit a personal statement, typically limited to two or three double-spaced pages, along with a resume typically limited to two pages. These two documents ...