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Real Examples of Personal Statement Law School

Sample Personal Statement #1

I was born in Juneau, Alaska. For the first year of my life I lived in a tiny cabin in the woods with plywood floors and no indoor plumbing. Even though my parents were the only ones in their families to have college degrees, they were always struggling to make ends meet. My father, a Vietnam veteran, was either unwilling or unable to hold a job for very long. Eventually my mother decided to go back to school, leaving my father to take care of my sister and me while she studied and worked.

At the start of elementary school I was placed in a program for gifted students, taking special classes designed to challenge me where regular classrooms could not. It was wonderful, but it wasn’t to last. When I was eight, my parents decided to move to northern Minnesota, and I was pulled out of the gifted and talented program. We moved to a small rural town with a tiny, financially strapped school district. There were no special programs at my new school. Most of the students were from poor rural families like mine and the dropout rate was high. Suddenly, I was very bored in school and began to hate it.

When I was fourteen, we moved again. This time we went to yet another small rural town in the farming country of southwestern Minnesota. Right away I got a job as a waitress at the local diner, using the earnings to help my family. The job was difficult for a shy kid like me, but my family needed the money. I eventually learned to overcome my shyness, and after a year of working at the diner I became very good at it. But then my family moved again to, of course, another small rural town, this time in north central Minnesota.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t want to be a waitress in a series of small towns for the rest of my life. I had learned that if I wanted to have a better life I would have to depend on myself. I decided that I wanted to be an exchange student. I wanted the experience of learning another language and visiting foreign countries. To be honest, I think I really just needed an excuse to get away. Thankfully, I was awarded a scholarship from the Blandin Foundation in my community to go to France during my junior year with an exchange program, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Going to France changed my life. I was intellectually challenged for the first time since I left Alaska. I embraced the challenge and loved every minute of it. One of the happiest times of my life came in February of that year when I realized I had broken through the language barrier and had become fluent in French. Despite the initial language difficulties, I earned straight As at the French high school I attended and became close with my French friends and host family. It was difficult to leave at the end of the year, and upon my return to the United States I experienced intense culture shock.

During my senior year I took college courses at the local community college instead of attending high school. I worked full-time in the evenings and had a daily babysitting job, too. On top of that, my parents were both commuting several hours away for work and I was left in charge of my younger sister. I struggled to make it to class and study when I could find the time, and I somehow managed to earn a decent GPA by the end of the year.

I chose to go to St. Cloud State University because I didn’t want to be stuck at the community college for another year, and I knew that if I wanted to get somewhere in life I had to have at least a four-year college degree. College hasn’t always been easy. Having to work outside of school has allowed me little time for studying and campus activities, and I took some classes that were very difficult, but I always remained committed to my intellectual growth and self-betterment. Consequently, I have excelled.

I am seeking the best legal education that I can possibly obtain, and I look forward to being challenged in law school. I am a curious person that craves intellectual stimulation and exposure to new ideas. I want to become a lawyer for many reasons but the primary reason is because I want to have a good career so that I can support my family and myself. I have spent enough of my life in small, rural Minnesota towns and now I am ready for my next big personal and academic adventure.

Sample Personal Statement #2

When I was eight years old my family moved to a small town about forty miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Slinger has a population of 3000. After getting over being the new girl from big scary Milwaukee, I basically sat side-by-side the same twenty-five classmates for the next four years. After that, we all went across the street to the middle school where another elementary school joined us. Of course everyone knew everyone else here as well. This was our class until high school graduation. You can really get a sense of belonging and deep friendship by being so close to people. I was an “insider” who shared everything with the same people, day in and day out.

But the feeling of comfort I had in being part of the group soon gave way to a sense of monotony. The people around me were blind to diversity and were reluctant to change. The people I’ve known forever disregard diversity with respect to people and cultures, but more fundamentally they fail to pursue the diversity of what life has to offer. I knew more existed in the world. I knew life existed outside of Slinger, and that is what wanted for myself. Consequently, I chose to attend college 400 miles away from anyone I ever knew and where no one knew me.

When I decided I wanted to study law after graduating from St. Cloud State University, I knew I needed some experience. I wanted to get my foot in the door at a law firm or simply be exposed to the law in action to see if a legal career was really for me. I went home to Slinger for the summer wanting to work in a law firm. Unfortunately, in Slinger there are just two lawyers. They are husband and wife and work out of their house. Their son runs their errands. So much for the legal market back home.

I realized then and there that I had outgrown Slinger for good. I decided to seek employment in the big city of Minneapolis. I obtained an internship at the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office. Working as an investigator for public defenders opened my eyes to how difficult it is for the accused to obtain what they are constitutionally entitled to. Many of our clients were scary, and committed unspeakable crimes. I had never seen anything like it. While growing up I read about some “kids getting into trouble” in the Slinger Police Blotter, but I never had to sit five feet from a convicted murderer contesting a charge of armed robbery.

Still, this defendant deserved all of the rights and protections that the system could afford, and I was proud to help him. The folks back in Slinger would never have understood this. I participated in a part of our legal system that makes sure everyone is given justice. But when my own clients are reluctant to work with me because the only experiences they have had with the law are negative, it makes it very challenging to serve them fully. I may have been able to get statements from everyone who saw my client the night of the alleged crime, but I can’t convince my client that the law is supposed to work for him. Again, because of where and how I grew up I have always viewed police officers as the “good guys.” But at the public defender’s office, I had a seven-year-old client who shut the door in my face because he thought I as a cop. He wanted nothing to do with me. This is something I have never been faced with before in my life. I wanted real life legal experiences from my internship, and I got them.

After working for the public defender, I continued to further my legal education both in and outside of the classroom. For example, I was nominated to participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum. For two weeks we intensely studied the South African legal system. The experience was amazing. Like my internship, it changed my outlook on the law. The South African legal system is in the process of complete transformation. To see the struggles of a nation working toward a kind of justice its people has never known made me look at the United States system of justice with more reverence. In America we see the right to a jury trial as a fundamental right. In South Africa they see juries as a hindrance to justice. They do not believe that ordinary people without legal education are able to decide the guilt or innocence of a person.

Not only was what I learned about the South African legal system worthwhile, but the people I met made my trip unique as well. I loved being able to talk to other aspiring law students about what we observed. The sharing of thoughts and feelings about these new approaches to the law was intellectually stimulating. Moreover, I made lasting friendships. The folks back home didn’t want me to go on the trip—they were worried for my safety due to South Africa’s notoriety—but I’m so glad I did.

I have begun to learn about what the law entails and I have seen the law at work in a variety of places. I want to continue learning in law school. To be able to work with some of the most diverse, educated, and experienced people in the world is an aspect of law school that I look forward to. I want to learn with and from them. I am committed to exploring and mastering the legal field, and I know that I will succeed because I have the drive, patience, and courage to go tackle the “unknown.”

I have come a long way from being a small town girl living where everybody knows my name. But, I still have a long way to go in reaching my personal and career goals, and law school is the next step that will enable me to do just that.

Sample Personal Statement #3

[Note: The following 345-word personal statement was part of a successful application to a top-25 law school. When he arrived on campus with the law school’s new entering class, the Dean of Admissions not only remembered his application, but also told the author that his was “the best personal statement that [she] had ever seen.” Study this personal statement carefully. Note that the stories told reveal a lot about the applicant, and that despite its short length, this statement packs a lot of punch.]

For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal.

Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face.

We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.

I was not a perfect soldier the next day; neither was I the same unmotivated person who, for lack of effort, had failed at virtually everything I had previously attempted. I was determined (itself a novel experience) to apply myself to soldiering.

That was eight years ago. In the interim I have enjoyed a short but distinguished military career, married, fathered a child and resumed my college education. I am currently poised to graduate with honors from [State] University. Looking forward to law school, I can only trust that my distant mistakes are not too costly; I am certain, however, that the lessons I’ve learned will continue to assist me.

 


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