The Personal Statement

Although most law schools continue to rely heavily on G.P.A.s and LSAT scores, your G.P.A. and LSAT score do not define who you are. Admissions committees also are interested in learning more about you as a person. Because interviews are given only in rare instances, the personal statement will allow you an opportunity to communicate something about yourself to the admissions committee that may not be evident from the information provided in other parts of your law school application. The personal statement, therefore, is your one shot (and perhaps your best shot) at helping the committee to see you as the unique individual you are.

Although some schools will provide you with a specific question, most schools deliberately leave the topic open-ended. Because the personal statement, by definition, is unique to each applicant, no single model exists for what constitutes the "perfect personal statement." Your challenge, then, is to develop an essay that is well written and positive in tone.* Your statement should provide the committee with insight into your character, personality and motivation to attend law school. For example, you may choose to focus on a particular experience that has shaped your interest in law. Or, you may choose to reveal something about your personal qualities by discussing a particular talent or skill that you have developed and which demonstrates one of those qualities, and will positively impact your ability to succeed in law school and the practice law. Most importantly, you must be honest in your personal statement. At the end of your efforts, if you are confident that your personal statement reflects the "real you," then you will have met your challenge.

In addition to the content of your essay, admissions committees will pay close attention to the form of your essay. Some schools prescribe the length of the essay; most do not. Typically, personal statements are between one and two typed, double-spaced pages. You must ensure that your personal statement conforms to all the norms of good writing. Your statement must be well- organized and logically constructed. In addition, proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar are essential to a well-written essay. Like all good writing, you should allow sufficient time to revise and rewrite your statement. When you believe that you have completed the statement to your satisfaction, you should elicit feedback from at least one objective reader. Remember, your personal statement reflects you and should only be submitted when you are confident that it represents your best work.

* Avoid the temptation to use your personal statement as a vehicle for addressing weaknesses in your application. Any negative information that you feel compelled to address in your application should be discussed succinctly in an addendum to your application. This includes any concerns you may have that your LSAT score does not reflect accurately your intellectual potential and stands in sharp contrast to the G.P.A. you have earned at WCU. Please see the Pre-Law Advisor to discuss more specifically how you can address this issue in an addendum.

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