Updated: Jan 29, 2022
Last week, I wrote a Primer on How to Play the Law School Game and discussed why an excellent LSAT score matters tremendously. For anyone who needs help studying, I even wrote an Official Guide — so take a look! But don't forget another crucial aspect of your application, writing your essays.
Let’s be honest with each other. Writing a good essay will make or break your application. Without question, a compelling essay is the best way to give the admissions committee a reason to accept your file. Not only is it necessary to write an essay, but it also is an excellent opportunity to reconnect (introspectively) with your inner self.
So, let’s take a look at how to frame your personal narrative!
How should you frame your personal narrative?
Not to brag but....ahem...I know someone who attends Harvard Law School, and she told me a secret. What is it you ask? Well, she spoke to the admissions office about what to include in your personal narrative. In her conversation with them, a few admissions officers wanted these three, specific questions answered:
Why are you applying to this law school?
What are you applying now?
What sets you apart from others?
If you can do that — intertwine your motivation for attending law school with your background — then you'll have a compelling story. Getting into a top-tier school can be as a result of the difference between a good story and a great one. If your words bring to life your story, and human emotion, you may find that someone is willing to be your advocate.
Further, as you already know, each applicant is vying for a spot within their affinity group. This makes telling a story that outshines others in your genre, so to speak, imperative. As a military veteran, I know that I won't be competing against a "Kindergarten to JD" student.
But also realize that random, imperfect people pick the applicants they like best. So, don't forget to relax and have some fun when crafting your personal narrative. After some original thought, I have devised a method for categorizing future law school students, and want to share it with you! Not only is it fun (I promise it's really fun) but it may help you with your essays. So keep reading!
How should aspiring law school students be categorized?
Perhaps this is a crude methodology, but I think applicants can be categorized into three primary buckets, and these are: (1) Savers, (2) Rulers, and (3) Buyers. In my mind, the origin stories of each person can greatly influence the types of career paths people tend to pursue.
First, how are "Savers, Rulers, and Buyers" defined?
To me, Savers want to better the world in some fashion or form, Rulers aspire to reshape the legal profession as lawmakers, jurists, or politicians with the hope to make their impact, and Buyers pivot to the most financially lucrative fields for a variety of reasons.
As far as career paths are concerned, the Savers gravitate towards public interest fields, like desiring jobs in legal non-profits or as public servants. The Rulers may overlap slightly with the Savers when it comes to select jobs, but, primarily, they are interested in more political-styled opportunities (think: politicians, judges, lawmakers). Whereas Buyers chase the Almighty Dollar by working in demanding jobs that require intensity and significant time.
Whatever your motivation may be, these are all perfectly fine. The world is structured in a way that requires competent attorneys who can sufficiently provide legal services for the disadvantaged, who can counsel kings, queens, and presidents, and who aid corporations.
When crafting your personal statement, which category exemplifies your motivation best?
Although we are ten months away from law school applications, it is never too early to start thinking about your personal essays. Although I recommend people form their own conclusions on what to include in your law school essays, I wanted to highlight advice that I had gotten from another successful student.
While we shouldn't uncritically take their advice as Gospel, it does seem like a personal essay would naturally attempt to answer these questions. Further, understanding what outcome you value after law school is especially important in how you frame your essay.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!