Personal Statement and Resume
Personal statements are a critical component of your law school application as they allow you to address the admissions committee directly as you would in an interview. While the LSAT and undergraduate GPA form the foundation of the admission evaluation process, law school essays provide you an opportunity to “show” who you are as a person, to demonstrate your commitment to the legal profession, to explain the reasons you are a good fit for the particular law school, and to generally set yourself apart from other applicants. Thus, a well-written personal statement might make an otherwise equivocal admissions committee take another look at an applicant’s file; and an outstanding personal statement might make the difference between a “waitlist” and an “admit” decision.
Consider the following recommendations as you develop your personal statement:
- Emphasize those things that will distinguish you from other candidates (e.g., significant employment, travel abroad, research projects, presentations, and/or publications).
- Do not emphasize shortcomings in your record in the personal statement. If you want to explain a low GPA or LSAT score, do so in a separate addendum, where you should be brief, factual, and honest.
- Write in a direct, concrete fashion about real experiences, events, people and how they impacted you.
- Speak to one particular topic or theme in each paragraph; use separate paragraphs to signify the transition from one topic to the next. Be clear, organized and reader-friendly.
- Limit yourself to around two double-spaced pages.
- Have a Pre-Law advisor or another trusted advisor review your personal statement.
Because many law schools do not grant interviews for applicants, it is important to provide detailed information relevant to your academic and personal qualifications for the study and practice of law. You should note and describe briefly your academic record, honors and awards, work and volunteer experiences, foreign language competencies, and study abroad and research opportunities that you have undertaken. To learn more about writing an effective resume, please visit www.luc.edu/career.
Consider the following advice as you develop your resume:
- Order each section in reverse chronological order by employment end date. If your most recent experience is not related to the legal profession, consider alternate section headers to bring your most relevant experience to the top of your resume. For instance, you may consider a “Related Experience” and “Additional Experience” section in order to list a more relevant, yet less recent, experience at the very top of your resume.
- Focus on transferable skills (e.g. synthesized, analyzed, researched, wrote, addressed, persuaded); avoid simply listing tasks. Describe a particular role in terms that show its relatability to law school or the legal profession. For instance, you may describe a tutoring position in terms of your ability to develop rapport with your client to build an effective working relationship, assess the student’s level of understanding, and synthesize complex information to the most pertinent points of discussion. These examples are stronger than simply listing the task, e.g. tutored an eighth grade student in English, in that you demonstrate several skills could transfer from that setting into law school.
- Include bullet point descriptions not only for paid experiences, but also for unpaid positions (including student clubs and organizations). If it’s worth listing on the resume, it’s worth offering context as to what you learned and what can be transferred from that role.
- Review each school's application material to see if there are any specifications to which your resume must conform (e.g., page limits).
- Review the Career Services Resume Guide in Handshake for a comprehensive overview of resume writing.