474,500 law school applications were submitted in in the U.S. in 2021. The national average for law school acceptance is 44%.
Yale University has an acceptance percentage of 7.4%.
These are some tough odds to stand against.
So, you have to strengthen your case with the best application the admissions officer has ever seen. These are some common mistakes that stand in the way of your legal profession.
Reading sample statements before making your outline
A Google search of the best personal statements will fetch you useful results. Many people recommend you start this way actually.
But, it’s not always beneficial. When you read a sample essay, especially one that’s been deemed as excellent, your thought process will shrink. You will subconsciously want to replicate the sample, which leads to unoriginal pieces.
Don’t do this.
Instead, brainstorm and draft your outline first. This way, the story you want to tell isn’t influcenced by other ideas. Then, read samples to get ideas on how to tell your story.
Always read more than one sample. This will keep you from getting fixated on one idea and then regurgitating the same thing.
Not following the explicitly stated instructions
Every college has its own set of rules for the personal statement. Some want an elaborate paper, while for others, a short story will do.
Make sure to stick to the requirements when submitting your applications. Otherwise, the admissions officer may reject your application without even reading it completely.
You need to ensure all the necessary documents are attached. The addendums could be the difference between going to law school and not. Similarly, don’t attach documents that aren’t asked for.
Don’t have the character count on while you’re composing the essay. You will limit the amount you write. This may lead to the omission of important information. Instead, write what you want completely, then edit out parts that seem unimportant.
Getting LORs from high-profile people who don’t know you
A recommendation letter from Mr. Fancy-Trial-Attorney is cool, but if they don’t know you personally, it could be an issue.
A letter of recommendation from such a person will be like reading a template. Odds are there won’t be personal information about what you actually bring to the table.
Let’s do a quick exercise.
- This student will be an excellent addition to your prestigious institution.
- Having worked alongside this student, she is highly motivated and thinks of ingenious solutions to tricky problems.
Now, you tell us which letter you’re more likely to believe.
Having a good letter of recommendation is indispensable. It adds staggering value to your application, so pick a person you’ve worked with and have a personal relationship with.
Also, don’t add your recommendation letter as an afterthought. Make sure to ask your recommenders well in advance, so they can prepare a good letter.
Acting like you’re the legal pro
Even if the people reading your personal statement aren’t lawyers, they’ve been at this for a while. You can assume that they know more about the law than you do.
So, don’t boast about your legal knowledge by using unnecessary jargon. It usually comes off as arrogant and isn’t a good first impression.
Similarly, do not use mouthy words when simple ones will suffice. It is very apparent when you don’t actually know what the words mean. This is a one-way ticket to a rejected application.
Don’t make it a hopes-and-dreams paper
Your personal statement is a recounting of your experiences that portray why you’re a worthy law student. It is used to showcase the type of person you are.
You can imagine the admission panel’s annoyance if you’ve only stated what you want to do with your law degree. You may have big dreams of doing a lot of good in the world, but don’t make that the main focus of your statement.
Failing to do a simple grammar check
You can’t forget the most basic step of writing an essay. Doing so shows immense carelessness on your part.
When you’re in the proofreading stage, a helpful tip is to do a manual proofread of your essay at least twice. After you’ve done that, have someone else proofread it as well. New eyes are likely to catch something you missed.
You need to give yourself enough time to do all of this. So, if the application is due on Friday, and you need three days to write and edit it, don’t start on Tuesday. Allocate yourself some buffer time.
Always have at least three people proofread your essay. One person should be a good writer who can spot mistakes.
The second should be someone who knows you well. They will be able to tell you if the story you’ve written about is a good reflection of who you are.
The last person should be someone who doesn’t know you too well. After they read your essay, ask them what they’ve deduced about you. If their answer matches with what you want the admissions officer to think of you, then you’ve written a successful essay.
Repeating information from your CV
Why would you repeat information the admission team will already have? It’s a huge lapse of judgment on your part, which doesn’t speak well for a lawyer-to-be.
Do not talk about instances mentioned in your letters of recommendation. The personal statement should be a reflective essay on your experiences.
Your “unique touch” is actually very cliché
Think about it. The admissions panel is probably reading thousands of essays every week. It’s safe to infer that they’ve probably heard it all.
They know all the idioms and the popular quotes. If you want the reviewer to be intrigued by your essay, you need to think outside of the box.
Make an outline of how you want to structure your essay, then write your statement. Next, purge all the statements that are similar to “listening to Mahatma Gandhi/Abraham Lincoln’s speech inspired me to become a lawyer.”
Though it may be true in your case, it isn’t refreshing in any way, and might bore the reviewer.
Even if your statement doesn’t have artistic flairs of writing, make it so that it’s a good read.
Making controversial statements
You will never know the viewpoints of the person reading your essay. And making controversial statements like this will lead to them forming an unconscious bias on you. Once formed, it will be impossible for the reviewer to read the rest of your essay with an objective outlook.
So keep personal opinions, especially about religion, politics, and social issues out of your application. Never hit submit on your application, without reviewing it at least two times. Follow our advice and there’s a good chance you can see your aspirations of being like Abe Lincoln through.
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