Your Law School Admissions Essay: What Not to Do

Your Law School Admissions Essay: What Not to Do

By Nicholas H. Parker

Without a doubt what you write in your law school admissions essay or personal statement is critical to your application. But what not to write is just as important. You can buy essay papers, which is not recommended — remember that the law admissions committee reads hundreds of essays each year. Avoid these common errors that will make them toss your law school application.

Do Not Send an Essay with Typos and Incorrect Auto-Corrections

Take great care in proofreading your essay. Be sure to list the appropriate school and not send School X a letter addressed to School Y.

Avoid Clichés

Do not tell the admissions committee that you have wanted to be a lawyer since childhood or since the first time you saw a lawyer on TV. It is a common approach that often turns off readers and can land you into the rejection pile. Share a real story about what the law has meant to you or what you hope to accomplish in life by practicing law.

Do Not Submit Your Essay before Evaluating Its Flow

Read it aloud. Have someone else read your essay and ask him or her to read it aloud to you. Sometimes listening to your words will help you catch errors and places where your writing can improve.

Do Not Write in Legalese

Remember that you are not writing a law brief. Do not show off your legal skills. Send an essay, as requested.

Do Not Send the Same Personal Statement to Every Law School

Tailor your essay to each school. Read the application to determine what they are asking for and ensure that your essay fulfills the request. In some cases you may choose to tailor your essay to focus on a unique aspect of the school.Remember that the admissions committee knows all about their program, so incorporate stories about its meaning to you.

Do Not Write about High School Experiences 

It implies that you are recycling your essay and that nothing of import has happened to you since.

Do Not Relay Your CV

Do not review your curriculum vitae and application. Your admissions essay should not simply relay this information. Use your essay as an opportunity to elaborate on these, highlight what is most important, and, preferably, include relevant information and experiences that are not on your resume.

Avoid Controversial Topics such as Religion and Politics

In this instance, it is safer to be diplomatic. You don’t know the experiences or beliefs of the people who will be reading your essay..

Do Not Be Negative 

It is common and often advised to write about challenging experiences, but the purpose is not to be negative but instead to show how you overcame difficulties. Show how the experience caused you to become a better person.

Do Not Be Dramatic

Don’t try to shock the reader – instead try to quickly gain their interest. Honest and insightful stories of disadvantage and difficulty are only useful if they show how you turned it around.

Do Not Write about Everything that Has Ever Happened to You

Choose relevant experiences, don’t write too much, or go on for too long. Most programs request 500-1000 words, and 750 words is typically enough.

Don’t Focus on Your Personal Expectations with the Legal System 

Stories about being arrested, witnessing your parents’ divorce, serving on a jury, or witnessing a crime often are not useful stories to include in or application because lawyers are supposed to be unbiased and not swayed by emotional experiences. Instead your stories should highlight your character, intellect, and work ethic more than your experiences with the law.

Don’t Use Big Words When Small Ones Suffice

Do not over-inflate your vocabulary and use words that are not familiar to you. It will be obvious and portray you as insincere. It is better to write as you would speak so your essay sounds authentic.

Do Not Over-Edit

Editing is crucial to writing an effective personal statement, but take care not to over-edit. Make sure that the final essay sounds like you and is not sterile.

Don't Explain Poor Performance

Do not not use your essay to explain bad grades or a low LSAT score. Instead write an addendum for explanations.


If you keep all of these things in mind and craft an authentic essay that shows why you want to attend law school, you’re sure to succeed!

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Nicholas H. Parker is a business coach, marketing manager, and  writes articles at

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