Law School Rejection: What To Do Next

How To Approach Optional Essays

Many law schools include an optional essay component in the admissions process. These optional essays are meant to help admissions officers get an even better understanding of who an applicant is and what they can potentially bring to their law school.

“Most commonly, a school might ask about why an applicant would be a good fit for the school, but others may ask unique hypothetical or offbeat questions, like an applicant’s favorite books,” Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, writes.

One of the most common mistakes applicants make, however, is choosing to not include an optional essay in their application. Christine Carr, an admissions consultant at Accepted and former Associate Director of Admissions at Boston University School of Law, recently discussed why applicants should never leave out an optional essay from their application and offered tips for how to effectively approach the essays.

“If you want to get into a school, you should take every opportunity to tell the admissions committee something more about yourself,” Carr writes. “After all, failure to respond to the essays sounds like you are saying that you have nothing interesting to offer to the law school community.”


Carr recommends applicants to closely follow the word limits when it comes to optional essays.

“Most optional essays are short, about 1 page double-spaced,” she writes. “Don’t exceed the limit. Your optional essay should not rival the length of your personal statement.”

Additionally, applicants should view the optional essays as an addition to the personal statement.

“This is your opportunity to continue your narrative not repeat it,” Carr writes. “Examples can be from your own personal or professional experience.”


When writing, it’s important to convey your ideas by showing, not telling.

“In other words, give the reader some detail about what happened so that he or she can picture it,” Carr writes. “Remember, you are making yourself a 3-dimensional person – it is harder to say no to a person.”


Since you’ll want your optional essay to act as an addition to the rest of your application and story, it’s important to take the time to brainstorm what aspects you want to highlight.

“A good way to approach optional essays like these is to brainstorm all possible ideas and situations – think about your college career, volunteer work, employment, family and personal life,” Carr writes. “Which events, experiences, and achievements would you like the school to know about you that aren’t discussed in another essay and that will address the question? Then, decide what makes the most sense for each essay.”

Sources: Accepted, US News