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On this webpage, you will find our advice and guidance for approaching the personal statement component of the application.

Instructions

The personal statement provides an opportunity for you to present yourself, your background, your ideas, and your qualifications to the Admissions Committee. Please limit your statement to two pages using a minimum of 11-point font, 1-inch margins, and double spacing. We expect applicants to use the full two pages in crafting their statements.

The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement.

Application Insights: Personal Statement

  • Overrated/Underrated Part 3

    Continuing our Overrated/Underrated series, this week, we shift our focus to highlight some of the overrated approaches that we recommend applicants avoid as they craft their applications. 

    November 17, 2021

  • Overrated/Underrated Part 1

    The J.D. Admissions team recently came together to offer their thoughts on some underrated and overrated approaches that applicants might take towards their HLS application. We hope you’ll find some of these nuggets useful.

    September 9, 2021

  • Real Talk: The Personal Statement

    For our first entry in the Real Talk series, Associate Director Nefyn Meissner shares advice on approaching the personal statement.

    August 6, 2020

  • Personal Statement Advice

    The personal statement is “an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School.” But what does that mean to us?

    November 6, 2018

Podcast Advice

Miriam Ingber (Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Yale Law School) and Kristi Jobson (Assistant Dean for Admissions at Harvard Law School) provide candid, accurate, and straightforward advice about law school admissions — direct from the source. They will be joined by guest stars from other law schools to discuss application timing, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and more.

Mathiew Le (University of Texas at Austin School of Law) joins Miriam and Kristi to offer advice on personal statements.
You submitted, and we’re offering our thoughts! Miriam, Kristi and Eulas Boyd (Brooklyn Law) dig into personal statements submitted by listeners. Read along with our first personal statement here.
You submitted, and we’re offering our thoughts! Miriam, Kristi and Eulas Boyd (Brooklyn Law) dig into personal statements submitted by listeners. Read along with our second personal statement here.
You submitted, and we’re offering our thoughts! Miriam, Kristi and Eulas Boyd (Brooklyn Law) dig into personal statements submitted by listeners. Read along with our third personal statement here.
You submitted, and we’re offering our thoughts! Miriam, Kristi and Eulas Boyd (Brooklyn Law) dig into personal statements submitted by listeners. Read along with our fourth personal statement here.

Personal Statement Workshop

Our Personal Statement Workshop provides applicants with straightforward advice on how to craft their resumes with a reflective activity and guiding questions to consider.

FAQs

  • How should I approach my personal statement?

    The personal statement is intended as an opportunity to give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential student and graduate of Harvard Law School. In many instances, applicants have used the personal statement to provide more context on how their experiences and strengths could make them valuable contributors to the Harvard and legal communities, to illuminate their intellectual background and interests, or to clarify or elaborate on other information in their application. Because applicants and their experiences differ, you are the best person to determine the content of your statement.

  • I made an error in my personal statement. Can I provide an updated document after my application has been submitted?

    We do understand mistakes happen. You are more than welcome to upload an updated document through your status checker. We will review the new material alongside what has been previously received.

    Note that when you complete your application and hit “submit”, the information contained in your application may not be altered or deleted in any way by you as an applicant or by us as an admissions team.

  • I am a reapplicant. Should I submit a new personal statement?

    We retain application records for three academic years after the original year of your submission. Should an applicant choose to reapply within that time frame, our office will fully consider any previous applications alongside the current one. Your file will contain everything you’ve previously submitted within the past three years.

    We generally suggest that applicants provide an updated or refreshed personal statement, especially if your motivations in the law have changed. Some candidates may choose to submit an entirely new essay.

  • Is there any specific guidance for rising 2L transfer applicants?

    We ask that transfer candidates also address the reason(s) for applying for transfer enrollment. Please visit our Transfer Applications Components for more information.