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There's no one correct way to write a personal statement, but admissions officers do provide some helpful tips about what they like and don't like.
- Tell stories. Readers respond much better to an illustrative anecdote than to an abstract list of attributes.
- Make it interesting. Remember that admissions officers are reading hundreds - perhaps thousands - of essays in a 6-month period.
- Be funny if you can pull it off.
- Be unique. What qualities or experiences in your life would make you a particularly valuable member of a law school class?
- Start with a great lead. It's important to grab admissions officers from the beginning.
- Have a general theme. Don't ramble.
- Don't be afraid to express opinions; law schools are looking for people with ideas.
- Tailor your statement to a particular law school. If you're especially interested in a school because it offers a particular program or professor, be sure to talk about that.
- Open up a little. No, you don't have to bare your soul, but don't be afraid to let them know a little about yourself.
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- Avoid the resume approach, which begins at birth and recites every event in your life.
- Avoid the "Why I Want to Go to Law School" essay. What person in their right mind would go through this hassle if they didn't really want to go?
- Avoid "I Want to Save the World." You're playing to a fairly skeptical audience.
- Avoid talking about your negatives. This isn't the place to call attention to your flaws.
- Don't be too personal. Confessional essays can sometimes cross the line.
- Watch the use of fancy vocabulary. The trend these days is toward less legalese.
- Don't discuss legal concepts. You run the risk of showing a certain amount of ignorance.
- Avoid immature subjects. Discussing how you got drunk last summer, for example, isn't appropriate.
- Don't put down lawyers or the legal profession. Spewing cynicism about the legal profession is not a clever device.
- Shy away from the bizarre. Law schools claim to value creativity, but some applicants confuse being creative with being outlandish.
- Don't try to cover too many subjects. Focus on one or two areas you really want to talk about.
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