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How to Write an Essay to Enter Law School

by Nadia Archuleta

The application essay, typically a personal statement, gives you the opportunity to highlight the qualities you bring to the law school. Essentially, your law school entrance essay articulates your voice and perspective as an introduction to the admissions committee. Give yourself time to draft, proofread and edit so that the essay shows a true reflection of yourself as a potential law school student.

Topics

If the school asks a series of questions, ensure you answer them all fully. Otherwise, start by brainstorming your unique qualities. Consider your motivation for applying to law school, especially if you have any work experience related to the field. Think about hardships and obstacles you have overcome; however, do not force this as a topic if it does not come up naturally. Other topics include volunteer work, leadership potential, pivotal life experiences, ideals and even hobbies that relate to your decision to enter law school.

Writing Style

Admissions committees look for applicants who show maturity. Therefore, keep the tone conversational but appropriate, as if you were interviewing for the position. Use clear and direct writing that makes your points easy to understand. As a future lawyer, practice rhetoric in your application essay. For instance, do not make unsubstantiated statements about your qualities; use facts and examples to highlight those aspects of your character. Paint yourself as the ethical lawyer you hope one day to be.

Structure

Your entrance essay should convey that you have maturity, the stamina to succeed in rigorous study, critical thinking skills and a commitment to studying law. Structure your essay to best exemplify these qualities. Write a narrative that demonstrates your character. You can also pose a problem you overcame, emphasizing how your skill set allowed you to solve it. Try utilizing the rhetorical style, posing questions and answers that highlight your persuasive skills. Alternatively, describe the influence of a mentor or life experience on your decision to become a lawyer.

Tips

Because the opening paragraph gives the admissions committee its first impression of you, spend time crafting this introduction. Hook your readers with a question that you later answer or a quote representative of you; or tell a brief anecdote that is appropriate and relevant. The conclusion lingers with your audience; use this opportunity to shine a new light on topics or examples from the body of your essay. Finally, edit and proofread your essay thoroughly; you want the entire piece of writing to be flawless.

What to Avoid

Certain elements weaken entrance essays. For one, avoid simply summarizing achievements already on your resume. Additionally, don't go for shock value. A former member of Berkeley Law's admissions states that a deliberately provocative opening statement dismays the committee. Don't over-inflate your vocabulary in an attempt to sound educated; use whatever wording fits best. Likewise, avoid slang and clichés; you should sound like you hold the bachelor's degree necessary to enter law school. Similarly, do not focus on high school or childhood anecdotes; law schools want to see that you have grown.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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