Applying to law school is an intensive process involving multiple requirements. Applicants must request and send in transcripts, gather letters of recommendation and draft personal statements when pursuing graduate degrees in law. However, these admission materials may not carry the same weight when it comes to an applicant’s profile. Let’s examine why the personal statement is so highly valued when it comes to admission success.
This process provides admissions personnel additional context when assessing potential candidates. In these statements, applicants have the opportunity to tell law program decision-makers how they intend to use the skills and insight they gain in graduate school, as well as provide additional personal details that might distinguish them from other candidates. With this in mind, individuals pursuing graduate law degrees should devote considerable time and effort to unpacking the purpose of the personal statement, familiarizing themselves with best practices to craft an impactful law school application.
Understanding the personal statement purpose
Individuals wondering how to write a personal statement for graduate school often wonder why they have to draft essays in the first place. Are transcripts not enough? The short answer is no. These written assets tell admissions staff how prospective students might fit into their programs, what they intend to accomplish with their education and if their personal beliefs match institutional values. This sort of information is key, especially today when the law school recruitment pool is larger than ever before .Data from the Law School Admission Council revealed that application volumes increased more than 3% for the 2019-2020 academic year.
With so many applicants intent on getting graduate law school degrees, institutions are using all means at their disposal to pinpoint strong candidates, and the personal statement ranks among the most effective of these decision-making aids.
Unpacking personal statement writing best practices
There are numerous law school personal statement tips out there. However, a handful of proven drafting strategies have been known to lay the groundwork for statement-writing success, according to The Princeton Review. These compositional methodologies include:
- Writing customized statements for each school: Admissions personnel generally do not appreciate receiving generic personal statements, which are easy to recognize. This is why aspiring law school students should tailor each piece they send to address specific programmatic details and cover issues or ideas that might matter to each audience.
- Using concise language: Poetic masterpieces stuffed with figurative language and confusing sentence structures do not make good personal statements. Applicants should instead use pared-down prose and simple wording to communicate their thoughts, which should constitute the centerpiece of this asset.
- Getting quality feedback: Proofreading is an essential part of the personal statement writing process. Most people have their family members, partners or spouses read their statements .Individuals who share their work with others before sending can catch spelling errors, grammatical problems or narrative flaws that may lead to a quick rejection.
- Finding a good angle: Seeing the phrase “personal statement” often leads people to tell condensed versions of their life stories. While this kind of content offers some value to admissions staff, it is hardly unique. Applicants must stand out to gain acceptance and should therefore find good storytelling angles that go beyond linear fact-sharing and show ambition and other strong qualities.
In the end, aspiring law school students who use these composition tips for a graduate school personal statement can craft high-quality work that catches the eyes of application reviewers.
Assessing strong personal statement writing
Most applicants look for law degree personal statement examples prior to beginning the writing process — and for good reason. Reading a well-crafted essay can make it easier to organize and create something that is similarly concise and meaningful. Again, there are many examples out there, but only a select few can give aspiring law school students the insight they need to succeed with their own content.
U.S. News & World Report tackled two examples: one essay from a single mother looking to change careers and another from an aspiring civil rights attorney fresh out of his undergraduate studies. Both personal statements yielded acceptances. Admissions personnel were drawn to the single mother’s straightforward approach to addressing her nontraditional applicant profile and the way she used her personal story to show why she would be a good lawyer. Conversely, the recent undergraduate used his participation in protests as an entry point into his belief system and demonstrated his willingness to stand up for his values, no matter the cost.
While each of these students possessed vastly different stories and experiences, they both managed to capture the attention of admissions staff by writing tailored personal statements with strong angles.
Finding the right graduate law program
With these best practices and examples in hand, aspiring law students have the tools they need to write compelling personal statements and therefore complete perhaps the most challenging portion of the application process. The issue now becomes finding the right graduate law degree track. There are numerous available options. However, few compare to Hofstra Law’s programs.
The institution offers an online Master of Laws in American Law program, as well as an online Master of Arts in American Legal Studies track. The 24-credit LL.M. degree is ideal for attorneys intent on moving up in their careers, while the legal studies master’s is a good fit for people pursuing legal careers outside of the courtroom or a greater understanding of how the law affects their current roles.
Are you interested in enrolling in either the LL.M. or legal studies program at Hofstra Law? Connect with an enrollment advisor today.