“How to Write a Law School Personal Statement” (Ann Levine, U.S. News and World Report)

In her article, “How to Write a Law School Personal Statement,” Ann Levine gives many excellent tips, particularly her idea to pursue insight over drama. However, I do believe that a powerful personal story, if it truly led you to pursue a legal career, can be an effective way to begin your personal statement. The major weakness I see in the law school personal statements that I edit is the lack of a specific answer to the question, “Why law?” Many applicants talk about their desire for intellectual challenge, the power to help others and ability to support their family financially, but these goals can be achieved by politicians, social workers, doctors, teachers, and so many other professions. I’m much more impressed and convinced if you get to the heart of how you will achieve your goals in a legal setting: why is the law right for you and how are you suited to a career in law? I also disagree with the advice to avoid stating a specialization: the legal field is simply too broad and I won’t believe that you have really thought deeply about your future unless you name a possible path or two. Telling me that you want to become a lawyer in order to protect battered children is excellent, but I want to know how you will accomplish this goal: as an attorney, a judge or a divorce mediator? Dare to be specific and you will impress the reader.

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