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The Personal Statement

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majorgeneraldave's picture
The Personal Statement

To kick ass with your Personal Statement, accomplish these six things:

1. Find a story to tell.

Somewhere in your life, there is a story that indicates who you are, and why you're you. Think until you find that specific, true story, and then use this space to tell it. Your personal statement should be a narrative; it should show the reader why you're a good fit for her school, instead of trying to explain anything.

2.  Demonstrate leadership.

Your story should indicate that you have an impact on your world. Show how you've changed your environment. This tells the reader that you are a go-getter; that you make your life happen instead of watching it happen to you.

3.  Show why you're a good fit.

Your personal statement should show the school that you're a natural fit. It's like a first date; you need to show the school why you'll be compatible.

4.  Avoid cliche.

Everybody wants to change the world. Everybody wants to make the world a better place. Why, specifically and individually, do you want to do those things? By keeping your statement as specific and detail-oriented as possible, you'll avoid the tropes that every other applicant trots out come personal-statement-time.

5.  Don't mention your weaknesses.

Readers have an emotional connection to well-written essays. You don't want that connection to be pity or scorn. Use the addendum to your application to talk about your low GPA (if you must). In your personal statement, keep the focus on all the things that make you wonderful, and that show what a great addition you'll be to the school(s) you're applying to.

6.  Put yourself in their shoes.

Your personal statement is a sales pitch. If you want to convince someone that they need what you're selling, you have to first understand what it is they need. Admissions officers want bright, active, diverse, accomplished student bodies. Keep those attributes in mind as you write, and use this space to show how you are all of those things. 


So first, plan and write an essay that does those things.

Then, if you want, I can help you hone the style till it's sharp enough to cut someone open. But that's up to you (individualized personal statement help begins at $300 for 3 edits).

Questions? Sock 'em to me!



Anonymous's picture

Hey Dave,

I do need help with my PS, I was hoping we could arrange something, and also are there things in the RC specific course that aren't covered in the comprehensive course. Thanks.

majorgeneraldave's picture

Hi, Michael,

First, the VTP Comprehensive Course really is comprehensive - it offers you every bit of written and video content available on our website.

Second, I do offer help for Personal Statements.

The cost is $300 for 3 edits. Here are the details:

1. You write a first draft of your statement, using the outline above.

2. You submit that draft to me via Google Docs (if you don't know how t0 do this, or haven't used Google Docs, first - You totally should be using Gogle Docs! It's awesome! - and second, I'll set it up for you).

3. VTP sends you an invoice through PayPal for $300.

4. Upon receipt of payment, I get clearance to go to work on your Statement. I return it to you with suggestions for improvement.

5. You make changes and return it to me.

6. I make a second round of suggestions.

7. You implement those suggestions.

8. I make my final round of suggestions.

9. You implement them, and have your finished product.

When you want to get started, please send me an email at, and we can get to work!

ksalter1's picture


I have completed my personal statement and was wondering where or even if I should put my name on my personal statement.  Also should I add page numbers to the pages?



majorgeneraldave's picture

Hey, K,

1. Check with the law school to which you're applying to see whether they have specific requirements (many request that you include your SSN, or have particular formatting requirements).

2. Absent specific instructions, do the following:

  • Name, LSAC number, and "Personal Statement" on the first page (as you would format the address for a business letter)
  • Create a header with your last name and page number on the next page



ksalter1's picture

Thanks man

harleensaroya's picture

I am applying to multiple schools, some of them not for any specific reason other than having more options, so do you have any tips for school specific personal statements, like when they ask why you want to attend their school in particular?

majorgeneraldave's picture

First, I presume you're not applying to schools that you're not interested in attending.

So, why are you applying to those schools? Your answer to that question is the answer you'll give when they ask. There's some reason you applied to the school; why did you?

And if your full, considered answer really is to "have more options," what does that mean to you? If you don't know anything about the school, do some research! It strikes me as a much better use of your resources to apply to schools that you want to go to, and then the reason that you'll give on any directed statement will be candid and meaningful.

Candor and meaning are possibly the most important traits to any writing you ever do; make that your backbone and the rest will follow.

I hope that helps you think,


Apug98's picture

I recently experienced something that was particularly traumatic that has relit my desire to go to law school. I really want to make that experience the focus of my personal statement because I think it will show has resilient I am, but I don't want it to come across as trying to get the pity vote. What do you think is the best way to approach writing about something bad that has happened?

majorgeneraldave's picture

I'm sorry to hear that you've encountered recent trauma. I'm glad to hear that it sounds as though you've overcome. 

It also sounds to me like you've got your answer to your own question (maybe without realizing it)—I recommend that you tell the story of what happened so that you can write about your resilience in response. Keep the focus on the strength and fliexibility you demonstrated in order to survive the experience, and how you view the world (and your place in it) as a result.

I hope that helps you think!

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