This fall, we will discuss each major component of your application in a series of blog posts. Our next topic is personal statements.

Applicants often ask us about the personal statement. As we state on our application, we see the personal statement “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.” We really believe that you are the best person to decide what to include in your personal statement, but this post provides some guidelines to assist you in this process.

Here are five important things to keep in mind as you prepare your personal statement:

  1. First, let’s talk about basics. Follow directions! Say it with me: two pages, double-spaced, 11-point font or larger (but not much larger). Times New Roman or another basic font is a good choice for this document.
  2. This is a very important part of the application and you should spend some time on it. While your transcript and test scores are important, this is where we get to hear directly from you about your candidacy. It is also a piece you have total control over, where you can introduce yourself in your own voice. Therefore, make sure you have enough time to spend on this component of the application.
  3. Get input from others and proofread! Nothing takes away from a personal statement like typos or grammatical mistakes. This is also a writing sample in your application and we treat it as such. It is important that this work is your own, but you are welcome to ask a friend to give it a read and make sure you are communicating what you intended to share in the most effective way.
  4. Keep an open mind about your topic. Sometimes it makes sense to talk about your journey to applying to law school and why you want to attend. Other times, you would rather share a personal story or other aspect of your past. As long as we are learning about you and your experiences, we truly have no preference about what approach you take. Our main concern is that you write about something that is quintessential to us understanding who you are. We want to learn about you, so please don’t leave us wishing we could admit your relative, student, or client.
  5. Finally, think about how the personal statement fits into the rest of your application. Consider all of the components of your application and make sure you’re adding something new in your statement. Remember that we have your resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Add something new and help us learn about you!

Filed in: Inside the Black Box

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