Skip to content

Essays For Law School Admission Example

Year after year, as applicants begin work on their law school applications, they struggle to try to make themselves stand out among thousands of other qualified applicants.

What can prospective students do to illustrate that they are special and smarter than the competition? What will convince admissions committees that they are the ones who should be offered the coveted seats in the entering class?

In addition to putting together a tight, concise, and attractive résumé, and paying careful attention to each application question so that your answers are responsive and complete, you have the opportunity to show what makes you unique — or “special” — in your personal statement.

This essay is the vehicle through which you may shed light upon yourself as a person, over and above what is reflected in your résumé and academic record, both of which probably look very similar to many others.

What You Should Do (Generally)

Your statement should have a theme, tell a story, and leave your readers feeling that you are an interesting, intelligent, and insightful person. It should tell admissions officers that you know where you have been and where you are heading; that you have the ability, intellect, and maturity to succeed in the study of law; and that you will add something positive to their law school communities and to the legal profession.

You want to grab the attention of committee members in your first sentence; you want to keep their attention, both with the content of your story and clear, skillful writing. And when they finish reading your statement, you want them to want to have a conversation with you.

The best personal statement shares insights about you, based upon your experiences and self-reflection. It builds from and enhances the rest of your application package.

Essays That Worked

The Baker

One personal statement I particularly enjoyed was a story about how the applicant loved to bake. She had developed and mastered certain cake recipes through trial and error — and persistence. She had started her own bakery and grown it into a successful business.

She used this story as a case study, a way of exemplifying the precision with which she approaches her work. The essay showed that she is attentive to detail and always strives for perfection while accepting that some failures along the way are inevitable. She concluded the piece by explaining how her experiences with the baking business — and the skills and strengths she had developed through it — would help her excel in legal studies. Her story was well-written, interesting, provided some nice imagery, and was different from many others.

The Missionary

Another very strong statement I read was from a young man discussing his service during a faith-based mission in South America. He recounted the trials and tribulations that accompanied living in a foreign country where he felt unwelcome. He went on to describe how — eventually — he was able to win over people in the community.

This applicant used specific examples of interactions in which both he and others opened their minds and hearts to learn more about each other. He explained how his notions of tolerance and acceptance had changed, how his spirituality and character grew during his mission, and how, during his time in South America, he had come to realize that he wanted to devote his professional life to serving others through a career in the law. His commitment was genuine, and that came across immediately.

What You Shouldn’t Do (Generally)

What you should not do is grab attention in a negative way. Some of the most memorable statements I read during my many years as an admissions dean did just that, and demonstrated extremely poor judgment on the part of applicants in the process. These essays were game changers for applicants who otherwise would have been admitted.

Stories That Didn’t Work

The Track Runner

One example came from a young woman who discussed traveling with her college track team and going to a male strip club. In excruciatingly graphic detail, she described the behavior of her friends and the anatomies of the male dancers. The whole admissions committee wondered the same thing: What was she thinking?

The Arrogant Applicant

Another example came from a young man who discussed how unique he was because he had excelled in his college studies and was much more intelligent than any other person who was applying to law school. He used complex sentences and multisyllabic words very excessively. He concluded his statement by letting the admissions committee know that he fully expected to be offered admission to all of the top-tier law schools, and that he would only consider attending this particular institution if he were offered a full-tuition scholarship — a housing stipend would be nice as well. Arrogance has no place in personal statements.

The Divorce Diarist

And do not be “too personal.” Discussing details of your parents’ ugly divorce is, in most cases, inappropriate for an audience of strangers. Admissions committees do not need to know about your family members’ extramarital affairs or their ugly battles over money.

A better approach for someone in this situation would have been to discuss the lack of attention she received from her parents while they were going through their divorce. This applicant might then have discussed the ways that this challenging family situation affected her growth and development, and her eventual maturation into an independent adult.

The Obit Author, and Other Odds and Ends

Other approaches to avoid are writing your own obituary — “Applicant X died on January 1, 2076, after serving as Attorney General, as well as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and President of the United States, over the course of his career.” Another bad idea is to present your personal statement as a legal pleading: “Here comes before the court applicant X and moves her admission to law school Y and, in support hereof, states the following….”

Further suggestions: Do not write a poem for your personal statement, and do not write your essay in the third person. Trying to show you are different because you are outrageous or ridiculous is not a convincing approach if you want to be taken seriously as an applicant.

What does work best when it comes to writing your personal statement is being yourself, exposing your good qualities, strengths, character, and passions. Law schools want to build classes of talented, interesting, and likable individuals. Show admissions committees you are one of these people in a well-written and thoughtful essay; and communicate to them that you are a serious candidate who has the maturity, ability, and drive to excel in law school and in the practice of law.

Find more advice about law school admissions from Noodle Experts like Anne Richard, who has also written about why you shouldn't let magazine rankings choose your law school.

Exploring your law school options? Then try out the free and customizable law school search tool on Noodle.

Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services
Law School Sample Personal Statements
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." Oscar Wilde

I know that today’s society usually associates lawyers more with the latter half of the above quote than the former, but never the less I hope to become a lawyer myself, and in so doing, help change public perception of the profession one client at a time. My road to the law has not been a smooth one, but every rut and pothole along the way has been essential in helping me mature as a student, and as a person...
I was born into a traditional Middle Eastern family where the man is the head of the household and all major decisions first go through him. As a young woman learning to adapt to American cultural norms, it was difficult for me to balance the input I was getting at home with the messages I received daily from the world around me. Even my college major, architecture, was chosen by my father so that I could follow in his footsteps...
Growing up in America the son of Indian parents, I never felt truly American or Indian. I spoke Hindi at home, but was educated in English so I had difficulty with both languages; being fluent in spoken Hindi, but unable to write it, and being able to write in English, but hesitant to speak it. I felt like an outsider, not fully embraced by either culture and so left to drift in this netherworld between the two...
"A diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the person perfected without trials." -- Chinese Proverb

The truth of this proverb has only become clear to me in the past few years as I have had to grow and mature at an accelerated rate due to the misfortunes of my family and my own increasing drive to ensure that I arm myself with the tools to build a stable career that will stimulate my mind, while also benefiting society at large. As a youth growing up in California, I had very few concerns and much was taken care of for me...
Sometimes fiercely competitive friendships can push you towards successes you never would have dreamed possible on your own. I have one such friend who pushes me to do better. Her name is Mary and we grew up together in Thailand. The academic system in Thailand is very different from that in the U.S.: there are so few openings in the universities for new college students that ever year thousands sit for the entrance exams, all desperate to pass after months or even years of fevered preparation, only to see their hopes of furthering their education dashed forever by less than adequate scores...
Being raised in a family of high achievers is wonderful in many ways, but there are occasions when it can actually be a draw back. My father is from China and he is a genius. A real genius: not just a smart guy, but an off the charts genius. He got into graduate school in the United States at 18 and has devoted his life to being a dedicated mathematician ever since. My mother, an American, is no slouch herself with a MD and a successful career as an Pediatrician...
“What I believe I should have and can have is what I will have” -- (anonymous)

The meaning of the quote pasted above is only now beginning to become clear to me. There have been times in my life that I didn’t have the confidence to believe that I could succeed in anything I set my mind to. Through much effort I have now come to a place where I know that no goal is too lofty, and this is why I am now applying to ____ School of Law...
I often wonder what kind of career I would be driven to pursue of events in my life had not transpired as they did. Perhaps I would take my love of cooking to the next step and be pursuing culinary school right now rather than applying to law school with the ultimate goal of becoming a prosecutor on the horizon. You can’t, however, change the past, and at least I can be grateful that I have been spurred on in a positive direction from the tragic events that changed my family forever...
We didn’t have great seats, we weren’t the best looking family in the crowd, and there certainly wasn’t anything glamorous about our hand-me-down clothes, but when I think about the minor league baseball games my parents used to take my 6 siblings and me to every week, I recall that these outings were the most magical and exciting events in my life, and I wouldn’t have traded places with the richest kid in America if it meant I would miss them...
The prospect of law school that so many students ponder has always been a certainty to me rather than a possibility. I devoted my undergraduate course work towards the task of acquiring admissions into Law School, and my professional career towards attending Business School. As a finance major, I quickly realized how nicely the knowledge of law and finance complemented each other...