How To Choose A Topic For Your Law School Personal Statement
“What does this resume leave out about me that demonstrates that I am an excellent candidate for this law school?”
That’s the question at the heart of Chuck Cohn’s advice to prospective law students. The Founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, Cohn emphasizes that students must provide concrete examples of how their backgrounds make them special. And the place to make this happen is in their personal statements. For Cohn, the personal statement serves two purposes. First, it demonstrates “something the admissions committee can’t tell about you from your resume.” Second, it should reinforce why you’ll become a great lawyer.
Looking for ideas that don’t cost $100 an hour? Here are Cohn’s thoughts on making your personal statement more valuable and memorable:
- Reflect on What Makes a Successful Lawyer: “Do you have strong senses of leadership, self-motivation, and ethics? Are you passionate, decisive, creative, and a skilled problem-solver? One of the factors that an admissions committee will consider is whether or not you will be employable as an attorney after graduation. Convince them that you have what it takes, and share a story that demonstrates how you possess the key ingredients necessary. Make a list of qualities that successful lawyers possess. Next to them, jot down concrete examples of how you have demonstrated these same qualities.”
- Emphasize Your Unique Qualities and Traits: “Try to distinguish yourself by highlighting experiences that make you unique… always remember to connect the items that make you unique back to your pursuit of a legal education. How will law school enhance you, and what can you bring to the law school class?”
- Show, Don’t Tell: ”When writing, zero in on the “why,” rather than the “what” — consider your motivations for action, rather than rattling off a chronological count of your choices preceding law school.”
- Seek Feedback: “Approach your friends and family for assistance. Several strong questions to get you started include: If you had to describe me in three words, which three words would you pick? What are the most interesting/compelling stories you can remember about me? What kind of person do you think I will be in 50 years? How have I changed since we first met?”
As Cohn notes, “admissions committees review countless applications for each admissions cycle.” At the top schools, every applicant is a star in his or her small universe. If you want to stand out, you must prove that you have the stamina, intellectual heft, creativity, passion, and courage to excel in law school (and make a difference once you graduate).