ABA approved law schools require applicates to maintain a file with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS), accessed via the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) web site (http://www.lsac.org) for ABA approved law schools. You will submit applications to specific schools via this service.
Follow their on-line instructions to prepare your application information. This will include submitting transcripts, requesting letters of recommendations, and preparing a personal statement.
Drafting a personal statement is a challenge. Law school admissions officers read thousands of statements every admissions cycle. However, they may offer only a finite number of seats. Design your personal statement to persuade the admissions committee to give you one of those seats. To distinguish your statement from others, determine which talents, experiences, and characteristics separate you from other applicants.
Effective statements employ:
- Maturity - Law schools seek mature candidates. Reflections regarding accomplishments and objectives are appropriate. Law school admissions committees also look to your statement for clues about your ability to be a productive law student.
- Originality - Avoid the quotes and platitudes of famous thinkers.
- Honesty - Discuss organizations, activities, or experiences which shaped or moved you.
- Polish - Professionals rarely display arrogance about strengths or defensiveness about weaknesses. Do not be afraid to admit human frailty: certain unique shortcomings may be part of who you are. The very bright may use irony to make light of limitations.
- Sincerity - Forthrightness about your feelings, experiences, and goals is refreshing.
- Restraint - Avoid a show of fancy words or legal phrases: this is not the time to display thesaurus or law dictionary skills. Maintain a middle tone, neither pedantic nor vulgar. Assume your audience is socially conservative: avoid off-color words. Applicants frequently discuss their admiration of the Bill of Rights, abhorrence of problems with the legal system, desire to change the world, or fascination with law. Consider a more original platform.
- Focus - The personal statement should reflect a choice of one or two themes.
- Allegory - Consider telling a story. Stories may keep the attention of a tired reader.
- Brevity and conciseness - The statement should be approximately two pages and double spaced. Resist impulses to restate your transcript and the activities presented elsewhere in your application. However, do explain academic trends and pitfalls briefly. Consider accepting responsibility for a less than standard performance.
- Clarity - Draft your statement in clear, concise, and well thought-out prose. The trend in legal writing is toward simplicity.
- Relevance - If an experience gave you insight into the legal profession or the law generally, you may explain it in your personal statement.
- Freshness - The most lyrical narratives tend to be polished, but not written following instructions from a how-to book.
- Attentiveness - Law schools often request personal statements which address specific topics, so follow those instructions.
- Revision - Draft your personal statement early. Personal Statements profit by editing: ten drafts are not too few. Ask professors and professionals to review your personal statement. Do not be surprised if you receive differing opinions regarding content. Thank editors for comments and corrections.