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Article Critique Sample Law School Personal Statements

You are a thoughtful, intelligent, and unique individual. You already know that—now you just need to convince top law school adcoms that you're a cut above the rest.

By reading the sample law school essays provided below, you should get a clear idea of how to translate your qualifications, passions, and individual experiences into words. You will see that the samples here employ a creative voice, use detailed examples, and draw the reader in with a clear writing style. Most importantly, these personal statements are compelling—each one does a fine job of convincing you that the author of the essay is a human being worth getting to know, or better yet, worth having in your next top law school class.

We’ve compiled several Law School Sample Essays to give you ideas for your own. Give the admissions committee (adcom) a clear snapshot of who you are as a real person, student, and future legal professional. Write an essay that's so gripping, they want to know more about you after reading it. 

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Here’s a round-up of four recent takeaways!

1. No headings. No gimmicks.

Give your personal statement a heading if you want, sure. Give it a weird layout. Write it as a poem, an acrostic poem or haiku, or turn it into a musical if you want.

And then revise into not these things.

It is good for you to do whatever you need to do so that you’re able to freely and genuinely write from the heart, but then, best take out whatever quirky structural element enabled you to write openly. You may be convincedit’s cute/clever, but that’s sort of like being convinced your baby is the cutest baby of all time.

(Those of you who still don’t trust me, please set up a [free] consultation and let me try to convince you!)

Sample essay here.

2. Put your head in your story.

In your creative writing classes in college, you were probably told to “show, not tell.” If you were writing a short story, you’d be advised to reveal the characters’ feelings by what they did and how they acted, rather than by announcing it: “Lydia was heartbroken.”

This holds true to a certain point in law school personal statements. You want to give enough detail that your story is sincere and poignant and resonates with the reader. But you actually don’t want to leave it open to interpretation in the same way that many contemporary short stories are, because you actually have an agenda here, which is to persuade someone of your suitability to a particular law school.

Sample essay here.

3. If you say you love American History (or any subject), you have to explain what you love about it.

Remember in most romantic comedies ever made when two people are on a date, and one says, “I love that book!” never having read it, and comedic tension ensues as he tries to converse about a book he hasn’t read? If you say you are passionate about a subject or thing, and you don’t actually say why, or what about it you love so much, it comes across a little like this. It’s an easy mistake to make—but for the same reason, it’s an easy one to fix, too, if you catch yourself doing it.

Sample essay here.

4. When you discover abstract truths (“who you are” or “your life’s purpose”), elaborate…concretely.

This is along the same lines as the previous reminder, because both boil down to: Don’t leave the reader hanging. Here’s a brief excerpt from the critique of a personal statement that had this problem: “At the climax of her essay, the candidate writes, ‘I needed to help them see from my perspective and also see from theirs. In Korea, it was no longer just about how to speak, but also how to make the other person understand.’ Great! But what? I don’t know what her perspective was, or what needed to be understood.”

Again—an easy fix if you know what to look for.

Sample essay here. 

For literally dozens more critiques, visit jdMission’s blog. Happy writing! 📝


Don’t forget that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free. We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Mary Richter is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. Mary has degrees from Yale Law School and Duke. She has over 10 years of experience teaching the LSAT after scoring in the 99th percentile on the test. She is always thrilled to see students reach beyond their target scores. At Yale, she co-directed the school’s Domestic Violence Clinic for two years. After graduating she became an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in New York City, where she was also the firm’s pro-bono coordinator. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and more. Check out Mary’s upcoming LSAT classes here.

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