A separate, optional essays can be submitted so you can let us know why you wish to attend Berkeley Law in particular and/or how you might contribute to the diversity of the school
A personal statement is required of all applicants. The statement can be up to four double-spaced pages. There is no required topic for the statement. It is your opportunity to describe the subjective qualities that you will bring to the study of law at Berkeley. We recognize that there are many personal factors not measurable by one’s academic record or test score and that these factors are important to consider when building a law school class. Some of these factors include leadership potential, integrity and accountability, intellectual curiosity, determination in the face of adversity, problem-solving skills, resiliency, motivation, compassion, creativity, and the ability to relate well with people. Implicit in the value of a Berkeley Law degree is the caliber of our classroom dialogue. That dialogue is a function of the voices that comprise the class. Thus your personal statement, first and foremost, should describe your voice. Because we do not interview applicants, the personal statement is your only opportunity to introduce yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity to describe your life journey, and what brings you to our door.
The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement.
The student applying to law school to study environmental law immediately persuades readers of his commitment by telling a personal story of how environmental law affected his family business. He also traces his educational path from community college to a bachelor’s program, where he completed a technical senior thesis with ties to a government agency. With law schools just as interested in recruiting students with a diverse background and life experience as they are with seeking pre-law majors, this student builds a strong case for himself as a candidate in just one page.
It requires a lot of effort and thought to write a personal statement that effectively captures your greatest qualities and stands out to admissions committees. While we have an entire article on , one of the best ways to assist and inspire your writing is reading and learning from several personal statement samples. Although writing personal statements requires that you reflect upon what is unique and exemplary about your background, the following personal statement samples will provide insight into how other applicants have successfully crafted their statement. Below you can find 31 personal statement examples found in the book, which has sections on why these personal statement samples are strong and also how they could have been improved upon. More personal statement samples can be found in the .
Law schools believe that the academic experience of all students is enhanced by diversity of views, interests, and perspectives among the students and faculty. Therefore, you should not be afraid to be different. Write about why law school is interesting to you – and BE PERSONAL. An effective Personal Statement will capture the readers, introducing them to parts of your life and passions that even your closest friends may not know about. Your essay should convey to the committee (1) who you are (and why – what particularly formative event(s) put you on the path you are on), (2) your plan for the future, and (3) law school’s fit into the overall arc of your life. For many people it can be quite challenging to be completely open regarding their goals, passions, and influential experiences – but great Personal Statements require extreme candidness.
The Personal Statement is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions committee. It should thus be written to address points of interest to that audience. Top law schools are looking for students who will (1) be successful at the school [i.e. are capable of taking advantage of the precious spots available in the class], (2) add to the educational experience of other students, and (3) be successful after law school. Admissions committees will use GPA and LSAT scores to determine the likelihood of an applicant’s success in the classroom. The Personal Statement, however, presents the best opportunity for members to gauge a prospective student’s ability to meet the final two prongs.
A couple words of warning before closing out this bullet: Do not write an essay on why the legal profession is a noble one. Do not write about the importance of law in a civilized society (at least in a broad context). Everyone on the admissions committee already believes these things and assumes you do to. They are trying to determine whether you are a good fit for law school, not whether law school or the legal profession are good in general. Thus you must present your story – and how law school fits into it.
Almost all great Personal Statements have a theme, some overarching idea tying together the various parts of the essay. Such essays are much more likely to capture the interest of committee members, who will have reviewed numerous applications. The best Personal Statements that I have read relate a specific story from the applicant’s life, tying that experience into to their proposed life direction and law school’s place in the overall plan. These essays use the story as the theme and, when done well, are incredibly effective. Not all applicants, however, will have a truly formative experience that makes for good use in a Personal Statement. Still, use of a theme remains crucial to creating a stand-out essay.
Following the first two bullets will require you think deeply through why you are going to law school. It is impossible to write an essay properly addressing your fit with law school if you have not thought through it well yourself. Many applicants may not know (or be able to express) initially why law school is right for them. Law school may just “feel right” or seem like a natural “next step.” However, in order to write a decent Personal Statement, you must go deeper. This can be a daunting task.
Although creating a strong personal narrative can be challenging, do not fall into the trap of creating a story that isn’t there. Insincerity is amazingly easy to detect, even in well written Personal Statements. Do not use your visit to Haiti when you were twelve as your theme if you have not thought about the trip since – however, if something you saw there made you want to be a lawyer, then it will likely make for a great theme to build the essay around. Even if you can’t answer the “why law school?” question very well right now, an underlying reasoning exists. It may take a lot of work to draw that out of yourself and get it on paper, but forego the temptation write something disingenuous just because you think it sounds good – I promise it won’t.
$85 (non refundable). You may pay the fee by credit card when you submit your application or you may enclose a check or money order payable to Harvard Law School with your certification form. Do not send cash.