Personal Statement Workshop
Loyola College Pre-law Society
October 5, 2007
The Two Purposes
To give the Admission Committee some insight
into you that they would not otherwise have.
That is, to give the Admissions Committee
another reason why they should admit you as 1
of 200 applicants for 85 spots.
Purpose of insight: They benefit by admitting
The Two Non-purposes
To tell the Admissions Committee how
great their law school is.
To tell the Admissions Committee why you
want to go into law [unless they ask]
This is trite.
If the Application asks you to write on
this, you still use the Personal Statement
as an insight vehicle.
The Formula for Success
what you write about:
Statement can apply
only to you.
Personalness Law schools seek
Remember - - They want to know how
YOU will enrich their classroom.
Statement has flair.
Statement has a
Statement has that
To the “legal enterprise”
[anything related to law].
To the study of law.
To the excitement of law.
To the intellectual content
To the empowering of
The Structure of the Statement
The first sentence: sink the hook
The central, or core, paragraphs: develop
the one theme
The final paragraph: Linkage
Font: Times New
Size: 12 point 2 pages
Margins: 1 inch
underline, or bold
. . . .maybe once
Use active voice.
Use simple words.
Write in the first person.
Use parallel structure.
Use descriptive rather than vague words.
Cut, cut, cut: be precise and succinct.
Use gender-neutral phrasing.
After graduating from Loyola, Jared spent the year at Loyola’s Bangkok,
Thailand program. He taught English and in general sampled what it was like
to be a foreigner, an outsider, a minority member in another country. He
learned about different foods, customs, people, problems, the whole array of
broadening things one encounters when living in another country. On one
weekend, Jared rented a motorbike and went out to tour the countryside. After
a while he felt he was lost and at that moment was surrounded by men
speaking a language he did not recognize, all wearing red bandannas. He
recognized the men as Khmer Rouge, the ruthless and fanatical group which
took over Cambodia after the Vietnam war. They took him a mile or so into a
village , took his motorbike, threw him into a hut, stripped him, and left him
there. He stayed there all night. Once someone came in to talk roughly to him,
but the language barrier made the conversation one-sided. The next morning,
they threw him his clothes. He dressed., They took him outside and gave him
his motorbike. They pointed the way and obviously told him to leave. He left.
Following the directions given at several Khmer Rouge checkpoints, he was
able to make it back into Thailand.
Sinking the Hook & Linkage: I
My first encounter This experience
with the law was when directly triggered my
I was seized by the very personal interest
Khmer Rouge. in the rule of law and
gave me a glimpse of
what life can be like
when the rule of law
Rebecca Susan took a year off of college to work for NCCC, our
domestic Peace Corps type program. NCCC sends their teams out on
various “spikes” to do various projects ranging from clearing brush in
campgrounds to the spike Rebecca Susan’s group was sent on --- to
Cleveland to help the IRS hand out tax forms and staff the Information
Desk at the Federal Building. The group arrived in Cleveland and was
put in a hotel. In the daytime, they would work at the IRS operation
and some of the NCCC persons were even able to help people fill out
some of the simpler tax forms. At night, they would stay in the hotel
which turned out to be a fully operational crack house with a little
prostitution thrown in. Arrangements were made after several nights
to move the NCCC people to a better place but until they were moved,
the nights were noisy and at times scary, with people knocking on the
students’ doors to see who was there., etc.
Sinking the Hook & Linkage: II
I used to live in a I learned first-hand
crack house. how we depend on
law, and I also learned
how easily unlawful
people can live
amongst us. This
experience rather than
turning me off to law
fired up my interest.
Jeveeta was a member of a young people’s group which
was able to meet Mother Teresa and actually spend some
time talking with her. Jeveeta was most impressed by the
sense that something was “different” about Mother Teresa,
something about how she seemed to live every second
putting God’s kingdom here on earth first. In listening to
Mother Teresa talk about why she did all the humbling and
lofty things she did, Jeveeta felt somehow that she should
try to carry into her life some of the values she sensed in
Mother Teresa --- dedication to building God’s kingdom
on earth, dedication to bettering the condition of people
she was in contact with, and total selflessness.
Sinking the Hook & Linkage: III
As a result of my Because of their
conversation with position and power,
Mother Teresa, I will lawyers can make a
never be the same as I difference. I think
what I bring to the
once was. study of law is that
now I have a clear
vision of the type of
difference I want to
1. Write about yourself.
2. Cover an aspect of yourself not covered
elsewhere in your application.
3. Have only one theme
4. Follow the format rules.
5. Critique your statement by the ingredients
of the formula.
Is the statement Unique, or could someone
else who is applying write pretty much the
Is the statement Personal, that is, does it give
the reader an insight into who I am?
Does the statement have Pizzazz, something a
little unexpected, something extra?
Do I link the theme of the statement to a law
1. Don’t plead or whine or try to get
2. Don’t be too creative.
3. Don’t use big words to impress.
4. Don’t lie or deceive.
5. Don’t have any grammatical or technical
If You Do the Don’t’s and
Don’t Do the Do’s . . .
A “Core Statement” Strategy
Some schools require statements on certain topics.
Most subjects are adaptable to a “core statement.”
Therefore, for a school-specific statement:
First Paragraph = Substantially revised
Core Paragraphs = Core paragraphs which can
be used for all statements with minor changes
Last Paragraph = Substantially revised
Process at Loyola
Get a faculty reader. OWL’s
Only “final” drafts. http://owl.english.purdu
Next, use me as a reader. e.edu/internet/owls/writi
Core statement to LSDAS. ng-labs.html
Individual statements to http://www.missouri.edu
individual schools. /~writery/
Loyola's Writing Center