Personal statement and law school application tips
- How do I find out if I want to be a lawyer? Video
- How do I do an informational interview?
- I just started college. How do I prepare for law school? Video
- I’m not sure if I want to go to law school right now. How do I decide? Video
- How do I study for the LSAT? Part I Video
- How do I study for the LSAT? Part II Video
- How and when do I apply to law school?
- How do I choose which law schools to apply to? FREE tracking sheet!
- How do I prepare for a law fair or forum? FREE law fair tip sheet!
- What is the biggest mistake people make on their law school application? Video
- Why is the personal statement so important to the law school application? Video
- How do I write a law school personal statement? FREE 16-page packet!
- I have a boring life. What do I write about? Video
- How do I find ideas for my personal statement? Video
- I read that packet and I don’t have a tragic story to write about. Now what? Video
- How do I write a law school diversity statement? Video
- How do I write a law school addendum? Video
- How do I write a criminal record addendum? Video
- Are optional essays really optional? Video
- How should I format my personal statement and addendum?
Thinking about going to law school? Not sure where to start? Confused by the process?
View Peg Cheng’s tips below to discover whether law school is right for you and how to successfully apply.
Exploring Law School Tips
LSAT Prep Tips
Applying to Law School Tips
Law School Personal Statement Tips
Law School Addenda Tips
EXPLORING LAW SCHOOL TIPS
The legal profession is not one to enter lightly. It’s a commitment of thousands of dollars and many years of personal and professional sacrifice. Watch this video to learn about how to explore the legal field. Back to top.
I recommend that pre-law applicants conduct at least 7-10 informational interviews with lawyers BEFORE they decide to go to law school. Get honest advice from the people who are doing the work. Really find out if this profession is right for you. To help you prepare, read this great article on Mastering the Informational Interview by Marci Alboher. Back to top.
Watch this video if you are in college and want to know two key pieces of advice for preparing for law school. While this advice is meant for freshmen and sophomores, it is also very helpful for juniors and seniors. Back to top.
Watch this video, then read Ed Tom’s Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go to Law School. Ed is the Dean of Admissions at Berkeley’s School of Law and he’s been in this business for over 20 years. The man knows his stuff. Answer his questions with brutal honesty. Back to top.
LSAT PREP TIPS
Watch this video for valuable LSAT prep advice that I learned from successful LSAT test-takers. Back to top.
I have heard a lot of great LSAT stories over the years. Watch this video for more helpful LSAT prep tips and an inspiring story from one of my former students. Back to top.
APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL TIPS
You apply to law school in the fall, about one year prior to admission. For example, if you want to attend law school in the fall of 2014, you would apply in the fall of 2013.
I recommend that you reserve time during the summer to write your personal statement, resume, addenda and more.
If you have already taken the LSAT by the end of the summer, I recommend applying by October 1st. If you are taking the October LSAT, I recommend applying by Thanksgiving or the last week of November.
Why apply in the fall when most deadlines are in March or April? Because if you apply in the spring, your application will be late. Many admissions decisions will already have been mailed out. Also, if you are on the edge of a school’s numbers, it’s a good idea to apply in October or November when less people have applied. Back to top.
To ensure your success in the admissions process, you should apply to a diverse pool of law schools. I recommend to most people to apply to 10% Safety Schools, 50% Solid Schools, and 40% Stretch Schools. For example, if you are applying to 8 schools, you would choose 1 safety, 4 solid and 3 stretch. Use my FREE Law Schools Tracking Sheet to understand the difference between Safety, Solid, and Stretch Schools, and start listing the schools you might want to attend. Back to top.
Do not wait until the day before to prepare yourself for a law fair or forum! You need at least a week to sufficiently prepare. Print out and read this FREE Law Fair Tip Sheet that tells you exactly what to do before the fair, at the fair, and after the fair. I’ve heard from admissions officers that they appreciated the people who read my tip sheet and followed it. Read it. Absorb it. Do it! Back to top.
It makes me sad every time I hear about people making mistakes on their law school applications. Watch this video to figure out how you can avoid making the mistake that so many applicants make. Back to top.
LAW SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT TIPS
Watch this video to find out why it is incredibly important to spend time writing a stellar (not mediocre or good) personal statement for your law school application. Back to top.
First, read this 1-page FREE Law School Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts tip sheet.
Next, read this 16-page FREE 16-page Law School Personal Statement Packet.
The 16-page packet contains real essays from real students that I worked with when I was a Pre-Law Adviser at the UW. There are 7 personal statements and 4 diversity statements. All of these students got into great law schools and many received scholarships.
I recommend reading each of the statements twice. The first time, just read the statement.
The second time, read slower and pay attention to what the applicant was trying to share about him or herself. Try reading the essay out loud. Then, write down the values and lessons learned by each applicant. Also, notice how each applicant structured his or her statement. Analyzing and understanding how they wrote their essays will help you to write your own. Back to top.
Even if you think you have a boring life and have no hope for writing an interesting law school personal statement, you should still watch this video. Back to top.
Watch this video and remember that everyone has stories. Asking yourself questions and writing down your answers is an effective way to unearth the stories that reside within you. All of my clients complete an exercise called the 49 STORIES where they answer 49 different prompts by writing as much as they can in a short period of time. The results? Not only do they know themselves better at the end of the exercise, they now have unique topic ideas for their personal statement, diversity statement, and addenda. Back to top.
I read the FREE Personal Statement Packet and I don’t have a tragic story to write about. Now what?
If after reading the packet you think that writing a great personal statement is only about having a tragic life story, you are missing the point. Watch this video, then go back and read the essays again.
Pinpoint the moral or lesson learned for each essay. Think about your own past and write down the lessons you’ve learned in life. Why do you still remember them? How do they reveal who you are today? Back to top.
LAW SCHOOL ADDENDA TIPS
One of the most overlooked parts of the law school application is the diversity statement. Watch this video to figure out if you should write one. If yes, follow the tips listed in the FREE Personal Statement Packet. The packet includes four different examples of diversity statements. Back to top.
You should write an addendum for any weaknesses in your application like a low LSAT score or low grades. You need to have a good reason for it though such as an illness, medical issues, significant family issues, major economic issues, disabilities, or other big changes in your life. Watch this video for more details. Back to top.
When it comes to the Criminal Record Addendum, you should always disclose. When in doubt, disclose. Watch this video for more details. Back to top.
In most cases, optional essays are only optional if you do not want to get into that law school. When in doubt, contact the law school admissions office to get clarification. In some cases, "optional" does mean optional; but in many cases, it does not. Watch this video for more details. Back to top.
Law school admissions officials have to read thousands of applications every year. Do not make them angry by straining their eyes.
Follow the directions on the application. Some schools want two pages while others want three or four or a specific word count. If no specifics are given, I recommend keeping your personal statement to two pages, double-spaced. For addenda, I recommend no longer than one page, double-spaced; although in some rare cases, two pages might be needed.
Unless otherwise indicated, format your materials with one-inch margins, double-spaced, and Times or Times New Roman (it’s compact and easy to read) in 11- or 12-point font. Back to top.
Just for kicks, watch this video...
Hats off to law student Jon Ng for his hilarious video about (not) going to law school.
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