An effective personal statement is based on sound self-assessment. To help you reflect on some of your accomplishments, interests, personal traits and characteristics, ask yourself:
- What’s your background, your values? (first generation college student, parents' occupation, role models, spirituality, social justice, etc.)
- Who have been the most influential people in your life and why?
- If applicable, reflect on the diversity/uniqueness that you bring (culture, age, major, special life experiences and perspectives.)
- How would you describe yourself?
- How would your professors, employers, family members, classmates and friends describe you?
- What are you passionate about?
- What keeps you motivated? Why?
- What kind of learner are you?
- How do you re-energize?
- What are your greatest assets?
- What is it that you would like for a law school to really know about you?
- Why should a law school want to have you as a student?
- Think of your proudest moment. Why was that accomplishment particularly meaningful to you?
- What skills are you learning in your classes, research experiences, and other academic endeavors that are relevant to the legal profession?
- What are you learning about yourself through your experiences inside and outside of the classroom?
- Reflect on your extracurricular experiences: remember critical incident moments, "revelations" etc.
- Ponder about one or two particular events that deeply affected you. Why did these people/events have such a profound impact on you?
- How have you demonstrated leadership?
- What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome in your life?
- What cocurricular activities have broadened your horizons?
- What experiences have enabled you to interact with people of different backgrounds and cultures?
- How have you formed your own opinion/perception of the nature of legal practice and the daily demands placed upon lawyers and their families?
- What kind of lawyer would you like to be and why?
- What impact do you want to have on your community? In what ways have you already started this process?
- What are your goals for the future, both personally and professionally?
- Why do you want to become a lawyer? Be as sincere as you can
- What experiences have confirmed your career choice? Be as specific as you can
- What do you want law schools to know about you beyond what is stated in your application?
Ryan, an RLS volunteer intern while in college in 2011-12, wrote the following summary of his volunteer experience:
RLS has been an amazing place to work and I can't think of a better place to gain experience in the legal field while helping an organization that does so much for the community.
If I had to choose the single most important thing that I learned at RLS, I think it would be the absolutely enormous need that exists for civil legal representation for those who can't afford it. Even given the relatively limited scope of cases that RLS handles, the sheer quantity of cases that we take (and quantity of applicants we are unable to accept) is just staggering. After realizing this, though, I think a second shock for me was when I began to get a sense of just how important getting legal assistance is for almost every one of the people that apply. This largely came from looking through cases and realizing that, if it wasn't for RLS, this child would probably still be with her abusive father, or that mother of three probably wouldn't be receiving child support. It really does give you a sense of the enormous justice gap that exists, and how essential organizations like RLS are.
In a completely different sense, I also learned some of the basic legal information that I think provides a really good foundation for someone interested in the legal field. Just having a sense of how you get from the first client meeting to the final order, and being able to open up a file and understand why a certain motion was filed, are things that make the legal field seem slightly less baffling. Also, just being in the same office as practicing attorneys and having an idea of how their day is spent is something that I think was incredibly important for me as someone hoping to eventually be in a similar position.
One of the most basic things that I learned, though, was simply getting used to working in an office setting. Having never worked in an office before, I had to learn for the first time everything from how to communicate with co-workers, to how to transfer calls and make copies. As simple as it may seem, I think one really nice thing about RLS was that I got the chance to learn these basic skills in a place where it was always really easy to ask someone for help.
Again, thank you so much for everything throughout this whole year. I honestly have learned a great deal in so many different ways, and I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to volunteer at a place that truly does a lot of good.
Best of luck with everything!