Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six Mistakes People Make in Law School Personal Statements

Here are Today's 5 Words & Phrases that make me Cringe in Personal Statements:

1. "Worldview"(I'm not convinced this is really a word.)

2. "Personally..." (It's a personal statement - of course everything you say is your own personal opinion. If it's not, you're doing something wrong.)

3. "In Conclusion...." (Blech! Just conclude; Don't announce that you're concluding.)

4. "I believe" (It doesn't matter what you believe about your ability to succeed in law school or what you believe is important in your application - the fact that you believe it is immaterial. Just state the facts so that the reader's independently-arrived at conclusion is that he or she believes whatever you're trying to prove.)

5. "Unique" (Very few things in this world are "unique", especially the use of the word 'unique'.)

6. "Firsthand Experience" (What is a second hand experience and why would anyone write about it? Of course your experiences are "firsthand"....Again, I'm not convinced this should really be a word.)

P.S. This list is not all-inclusive. As I read more personal statement drafts this fall, I promise to post additional tips on the subject of personal statement.


  1. Aarg- this is why you shouldn't read things like this mere minutes AFTER sending off an app. I used the "I believe..." construction in the penultimate sentence of one of my essays, and reading over it now it's clear the sentence would be much stronger without it. Oh well...I believe I've learned my lesson, at least.

  2. if i were to write an addendum, how long should it be?

  3. The answer is that it depends what you are trying to explain. Some things can be explained in a sentence or two and others might require a page....
    Stick to the facts of the circumstances and don't over-embellish your embarrasment.

  4. "Worldview" or "World view" is an accepted translation of the German Weltanschauung.

  5. I made a mistake on my application and sent the wrong addendum. i proofread everything but after moving documents, saving and re-saving, two got mixed up. Is it wise to call the law school, inform them of the mistake, and re-send the correct addendum?

  6. Is it ok to allude to a rape in your personal statement, in connection with how it temporarily set you back in college and led your life to its current direction? (With nothing graphic, mentioned only in 1 paragraph)
    I know it's a bit risky, but I feel it had the greatest impact on my life..
    Thanks for your feedback in advance.

  7. It's hard for me to say without reading it, but it seems perfectly appropriate. I always prefer for people to come out and say things rather than "allude" however.

  8. Would you be able to provide us with some more common flaws that make adcoms itch or groan as if they've got their finger caught in the door?
    My app is due Nov 3rd, I'd love to make sure I've ridded myself of all vulgarities by then. I hope this is possible.