Writing A Law School Personal Statement
Our Law Admissions Expert Reveals Exactly What She Wants To See
Robynn Allveri joined the University of San Diego School of Law in 2015 as Assistant Director of Graduate and International Programs Her primary responsibilities include admissions, scholarships, marketing, recruitment, and general administration of the law school’s LLM and MSLS programs. She is a member of the Arizona State Bar and is admitted to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
To help you achieve the success you deserve with your LLM applications we have taken four genuine (and successful) LLM personal statements from four genuine LLM students and asked LLM admissions expert Robynn Allveri to fine-tune them to make them as good as they possibly can be. To put it simply, our admissions expert cast her (very) critical eye over all four law school personal statements – that had already proved successful – and offers advice on how they can be improved. She highlights where the LLM personal statements let the candidates down, and of course also shows where and why they enable the candidate’s qualities to really shine through.
Our genuine LLM personal statements have been written by both international students and home students, applying to law schools in the UK, the USA and Canada. This unique selection of real law school personal statements will give you real insight into how to make you own law school personal statement a success. Armed with our knowledge of the dos and don’ts of LLM personal statement writing and unique admissions tips, you should be just a hop, skip and a jump away from LLM admissions success!
So here is our real-life guide on how to write a law school personal statement to guarantee success with your LLM application.
Key To Expert Analysis
Unnecessary words/sentences =
Grammatical corrections = in red
Positive information to include = highlighted in yellow
Negative points = highlighted in turquoise
Why the highlighted content is in fact highlighted = [blue writing in square brackets]
Anna Petrov*, from Russia, applied to study her LLM program at an American law school
Dear Admissions Committee,
I am a highly qualified lawyer with
substantial, more than seventeen years’ experience in Russian, International private law, and Czech migration and real estate law. I established that allowed me to set up my own international law firm in 2010. My on-going work as a practicing attorney, licensed both in Russia and the Czech Republic (EU), and my second graduate degree are related to international law, including cross-border problem solving. In addition, In recent years, many of my established customers clients have applied me for requested legal services concerned with American law. In light of this, I seek to obtain tend to enhance my prior legal training and professional experience by obtaining knowledge of US law so that I could can comply with my clients’ requests. regarding to legal challenges arising across Russian codified legal system and American common law. Considering my clients being legal entities, in this digital age with revolutionized business, culture, communication and law, Many of my clients are legal entities. Therefore, I am keenly interested in taking Corporate, Intellectual Property and Information Law, and Dispute Resolution courses. areas of specialization your law school realizes. As for my customers being individuals, To better assist my individual clients, I would also like to take courses on concerned with concentrating on Labour and Employment Law, as well as Criminal Law and Procedure. [naming courses of interest is good] courses offered by your school, since Russian day-to-day realities are not in compliance with Russian and International Human Rights Law. and Even Russian courts are not able to satisfy people’s complaints because they do not understand actual human needs, rights and freedoms as a result of lacks in cultural, historical, social and legal educational development of my home state. Acquiring the relevant knowledge of law of the USA as one of the most developed countries in the World with high level of human rights protection could help me greatly with my own cases. within my home legal cases as I will be able to use more successfully legal instruments and backgrounds of US law besides. Evolvement of my knowledge by Studying American law could also allow me to broaden a range of my law company’s services and meet my established customers’ growing demands connected with their international transactions, disputes and other challenges. Moreover, my prior experience in learning Czech Law shows that studying law of another country is a perfect transformative experience. because When you immerse yourself in a foreign law, you come away with a deeper understanding of your home country’s law, the pros and cons of the home country’s legal system and political, economic and social processes in the home region. as a whole. I believe that as a well qualified attorney specializing in Russian and International law I make a real difference in the lives of my customers on whose cases I work, efficiently helping them to solve their cross-border problems arising in family, labor, civil, administrative and even criminal area , including, besides others, legal assistance to single women with children with their families and financial challenges, and development of my knowledge of American common law will bring useful skills and experience to the table.
In this regard, analyzing different LLM programs offered by US law schools, I came to know that the LLM program at your law school is one of the most diverse programs and your Clinics and other real-practice programs (for instance, Mediation and Legislation Clinics, the Truancy Mediation Project, the Public Interest Externship Program) [it’s good that she mentioned specific classes/programs] allow students to work alongside school members and external specialists on real-life cases, and obtain an invaluable combination of
theoretical knowledge of law and practical experience to be prepared to hit the ground running in their legal careers. Taking into account this opportunity, I feel hopeful that I will get a chance to study American law in your law school.
Furthermore, especially for a student of law who is very much interested in a career in Corporate, Information and Dispute Resolution Law, location of your law school in a major metropolitan area provides opportunities after completing your LLM degree program to explore my interests and strengths as an active team member of a law company or worldwide organization or set up the office of my own law firm. [this could be a red flag, as most LLM programs are not designed to help international attorneys practice law in the US]
While I know that there are many well qualified applicants for your reputable program, I feel that I am a notable strong candidate as I possess an exceptional passion for the law and I am determined to participate enthusiastically in the program and to excel within it. In addition, I firmly believe that my educational level (two graduate degrees), substantial life experience in
absolutely different regions (Russia and the Eastern Europe), professional experience in the field of International law, ability to have a good grasp of related spheres, skills to deal with a wide range of issues both action-oriented and theoretical in a speed way and to compromise efficiently will enable me to add considerable value to a class studying American law within your LL.M. program and to which I am sure I can bring useful and interesting insights. [this sentence is way too long and should be broken into at least 2 sentences]
I feel that my ability to lead and to work as a part of a team, outstanding research and writing skills as well as my absorption for legal services work, proficient (this sounds more like job application language) my knowledge of Russian and Czech and understanding of different European countries’ legal systems, political, economic and social processes could strongly contribute to the intellectual diversity and strength of your LLM program and enrich your community.
I hope my diverse background will provide assurance to my exceptional commitment, intelligence and diligence that allowed me to set up and successfully manage my own international law firm.
Thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart for considering my application.
What's Hot About This LLM Personal Statement...
It’s clear that the student wrote the statement herself. This is positive, as one of the worst things to come across when you’re on an admissions panel is a personal statement that has obviously been adapted from a template. In contrast to this big no-no, Anna’s personal statement has a natural voice and tone.
Anna did an excellent job of highlighting the diversity that she would bring to the classroom, this is always a positive point that international students should include.
She did her homework on the school she was applying to by mentioning some courses/clinics that they offer – this always impresses the admissions panel.
... And What's Not!
The candidate should use shorter, more concise sentences. Admissions committees have lots of statements to read and will get frustrated trying to decipher some of the long sentences – I certainly did!
If you are aware of a professor who teaches a course you want to take at your chosen law school, mention that professor by name to show that you really have done your research. Although Anna did well to mention specific courses and module – she didn’t actually name any of the professors.
As an international student it is important try and get a native English speaker to read through your LLM personal statement before you submit it to fine-tune some of the language and grammar.
Aparna Gupta*, from India, applied to study her LLM program in Canada
My fascination for financial and corporate laws began with the Great Recession of 2008 which left Western Governments disillusioned as to why their financial legal system
which was falling like a set of dominoes. Conversely, while the Indian markets valiantly survived, leading to economists and jurists hailing the rigid yet flexible financial legal structure of India. Yet locally, the Indian market was looked down upon for its inability in curbing the existing corrupt practices. These made me wonder why analyse only failures and not success and what is the true nature of our financial legal system? [good opening with reference to a historical example]
Specialising in Business and Intellectual Property Laws in my final year of BA LLB (Hons) has enabled me to have a curriculum
, which along with all the basic law subjects, has been which is heavily oriented towards corporate, financial and trade laws. This has kindled and furthered my interest in the commercial and financial world of today. Post-bachelors, I intend to do my masters of law in business and corporate laws from abroad.
In my five years of law school, I have put efforts in various activities with equal vigour, and have tried to achieve a holistic development in both academic and co-curricular interests. Academically speaking, I have always maintained a CGPA of over 8.0/10 overall. Within the ambit of academic performance, research has always been my stronghold. The focus of my research work has mostly been towards analysing the changing nature of corporate laws. This was the subject of
had been my final research paper, which helped me achieve at college that did get me my final grades in a good position.
Apart from academics and research activities, I have also been involved
closely associated with mooting and debating. I have been able to perform admirably in these activities and have earned accolades in multiple national events. I have always given one hundred percent in any competition academic or extracurricular because performing well in these competitions had provided me with an identity, [what identity? – student should explain further] which acted as an inspiration to grow and extend my knowledge in various laws. Performance and dedication itself have always acted as a catalyst in enabling me to grow better and consistently outdo myself.
My area of interest lies in corporate laws. University of XXXX guides and makes students excel at fields that they aspire to practice in. The LLM in this course structure gives equal importance in understanding these fields of law at national as well as international level. The guidance of Professor XXXX [good to mention a specific professor] will be invaluable to my journey as a corporate lawyer with his course on corporate laws. Every professor, librarian and other faculty at this university aims at focussing a student on achieving their goal. The University, I believe, will provide me the opportunity to extend my horizons of understanding the facets of corporate jurisprudence, which will help me to join the academic circle in the future. [? – too vague] Induction into this course will give me the opportunity to interact with students from various cultural and geographical backgrounds and work with diverse set of people.
As an individual, I am
fairly well organised who manages their and manage my time very well – a lesson taught to me by my parents. [nice personal touch] They have inculcated in me the importance of being organised in daily activities. Everything in its place and a place for everything has become my mantra. Apart from academic and co-curricular, I have taken up teaching underprivileged children as a way to spend my evenings at college and have been greatly drawn towards it in the last few years.
I believe this particular LLM from this esteemed university will help me achieve my dreams [what are your dreams?] and the path that I have chosen will only be nurtured and grown by my steps at this university.
What's Hot About This LLM Personal Statement...
Aparna started her LLM personal statment with a historical example to “hook” the reader. This is a great way to get the admissions committee interested in your personal statement from the start. A personal story or example is another good option for the opening paragraph.
Mentioning a specific professor in your chosen law department is a great way to demonstrate that you've thoroughly researched the LLM program and that it is right the place for you.
The candidate uses clear, concise sentences, which makes her personal statement easy to read.
... And What's Not!
Aparna should use a tiny bit less formal language as this can sometimes come across as sounding arrogant. However, formal language also shows good English proficiency, which is of paramount importance for international LLM students.
She should give more specific information about her career and professional goals to help explain why she set her sights on this particular LLM program.
James Woods* is a UK student who applied to study at a UK law school
I am writing to you today to apply for postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of XXXX for the following reasons: to further expand my knowledge in the area of criminal justice (particularly penology), to meet new people, to
engaging with explore a topic in different surroundings and experiences, and finally, to increase my employability and stature in the field of criminal justice. To engage in this postgraduate study course will allow me to have a more in-depth understanding of the specific areas of criminal justice systems; this knowledge will allow me to further academic research and practically assist me in a future career in this area. [this sentence is somewhat redundant and probably unnecessary]
The University of XXXX is an outstanding institution in the field of law, being included in the top 100 in the world. This means
; this prestige is well known, meaning I will be receiving exemplary academic teaching and feedback. For this reason, I am aware that a place in one of the universities postgraduate courses is not something to be taken lightly, requiring hard work on my part; work I am more than willing and capable of doing.
The Criminal Justice LLM is particularly interesting to me for a number of reasons. Although the course centres on criminal justice systems, it
has a focus around focuses on penology. This, therefore, makes the course to me and opens up incredibly interesting and diverse field of study available. [what do you mean here?] My work in HMP XXXX and the teachings I have received both at the University of XXXX and Universiteit XXXX in the areas of international, comparative criminal law and penal justice systems gives me not only an avid interest in this area but an existing knowledge base to build on. [good reference to his background] This course will allow me to acquire knowledge and skills to eventually develop a career in penal law or policy, which is a personal goal of mine. I am also looking forward to completing the dissertation attached to the masters. I have a few preliminary ideas as to the questions and topics my dissertation might pose and examine. [good inclusion – shows that he’s proactive and focused] The topic I am particularly interested in is that of the rights of prisoners while incarcerated, the extent of such rights that should be afforded, and how they affect rehabilitation, particularly regarding the right to vote.
There are two qualifying modules of this course that I feel will be particularly exciting to engage and participate in at the University of XXXX. Namely, the Criminal Justice module and the Penal Law & Human Rights module. [great to mention the specific course modules; shows that he’s done his homework on the law school] which I have taken great notice of. The reason for my interest is that they focus on the imprisonment of individuals and the systems in place around them, to protect inmates from harm while detained, either from themselves or from figures of authority. The imprisoned population is a forgotten population and makes for an interesting field of study theoretically and a rewarding profession practically. [good tie-in to a possible future career]
Since studying at the University of XXXXX in England and Universiteit XXXX in the Netherlands, I have engaged with a number of international human rights modules, criminal justice modules, criminology modules, and penology modules. Modules I particularly found interesting were my Prison and Imprisonment Module in my penultimate year at the University of XXXX, looking in depth at the UK prison system and attitudes towards the current prison system, both in and outside the institution. I also found my Children’s Rights and Juvenile Justice module to be particularly engaging while studying in the Netherlands. Examining the differing views and approaches to criminal justice in different jurisdictions was particularly appealing, and provokes curiosity as to why certain ineffective systems remain in place while other systems prosper. [new paragraph is needed here to discuss following practical experience] As before mentioned I have had practical experience with the penal system in England and Wales. Working for the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP XXXX has given me an invaluable insight into the field of criminal justice. Having engaged with members of the criminal justice system in my work, from judges to prisoners, it has really given me a rounded perception of the current climate in the English and Welsh penal system as it stands today.
I have developed a variety of skills throughout my undergraduate studies that will contribute to me achieving success at a postgraduate level. I have developed my paper writing skills greatly over the course of my undergraduate studies; while studying abroad I completed numerous lengthy comparative papers which attained high marks. I developed my ability to present to an audience as many of my modules required presentations to be conducted, taking the lead in seminars, and contributing to the debate. Finally, many modules both at XXXX and in XXXX required me to participate in a team, working as a unit to develop our understanding and improve each other’s knowledge of the module.
Thank you for considering my application, I look forward to hearing from you.
What's Hot About This LLM Personal Statement...
James effectively connects his interests and experiences to the offered Master of Laws program and to his potential future career plans.
He highlights specific course modules of interest, which shows that he's really done his homeowrk on the LLM program he's applying for.
Mentioning his potential dissertation ideas shows him to be proactive and focussed, which are ideal qualities for a Master of Laws student.
James's LLM personal statement demonstrates strong writing and good organisation.
...And What's Not!
There's not too much I'd change about this LLM personal statement, but I do think James could maybe trim a few words here and there to make sentences shorter and more direct.
He should find alternative words for “engage/engaged/engaging” – it was used five times in his statement!
Emma Williams* is a UK student applying to study an LLM at a UK law school.
Having recently returned from a 3-month placement in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I am unswervingly [odd word choice] determined to enhance my academic development in international social policy, human rights law, and security through the International Law and International Relations course. During my consultancy assignment, I
felt privileged to produced the social justice strategy for an international NGO, and made recommendations that I believe are sustainable and innovative – all based upon personal first-hand research. It is my firm hope that I might receive the opportunity to advance my conceptual thinking and educational experience by continuing my study at the University of XXXX.
Throughout my time in West Africa, I had countless opportunities to implement ideas influenced in part by my undergraduate studies at the University of XXXX. I found further inspiration from global movements that intentionally invest in women and children - as
found in reports reported by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, as well as through the development and cultural writings by Paul Collier. The former’s findings that most gripped me centered upon personal story as the most powerful tool for international change, and on the importance of moral responsibility as a global citizen. The latter intrigued me in terms of organisational culture – that successful NGOs possess a supreme ability to communicate with – and invest in – their workforce, who then have the capacity to impact through an internalisation of organisational aims and objectives. [awkward last sentence – maybe break it into 2 separate sentences] Evolving from current academic concepts such as these, I witnessed and influenced the beginnings of positive, real-world impact upon communities of slum dwellers who are generationally living in absolute poverty. Studying Social Policy provided me with some theoretical framework and understanding that was helpful in the design of localised, empowerment practises in Freetown; extending my studies to the postgraduate level will enhance and solidify my curiosity and insight.
I am particularly
enthused enthusiastic [enthused is too casual – use “enthusiastic”] about the International Law and International Relations course due to its interdisciplinary approach that will enable me to explore the connectedness and congruence of people on local, regional, national and international scales. Of specific interest are the Human Rights, International Security, and Conflict, Security and Development modules, [good mention of specific modules] as each will further my knowledge and capacity to one day influence decisions in those spheres. It is my ambition to pursue a career as an international consultant – with focus on corporate social responsibility and development that aligns with social justice. In completion of my postgraduate study, I hope to broaden my experience of living in developing countries in order to consult the policy [what do you mean?] and best practise of local NGOs. My longterm goal is to work for a UK-based consultancy that is committed to delivering innovative solutions within professional, international, cross-cultured environments. [good clear summary of her chosen career path]
In the two years since completing my undergraduate degree, I have widened my skillset through multiple managerial roles in non-profit
not for profit organisations. Positions in the UK, Canada and West Africa have increased my capacity to lead, think critically, and communicate publicly. Living abroad has allowed me to develop an understanding of culture and its impact upon varying worldviews and human rights policy. Working with marginalised groups in unfavourable living conditions has further increased my perseverance, as well as my passion for global social responsibility. Writing a 20,000-word report in 6 weeks has strengthened my ability to meet the demands of postgraduate study. Where my undergraduate dissertation mark may have hindered my overall degree classification [good to acknowledge a low mark – shows candour], I know that my ability to form research and reports has since matured greatly astronomically, and that this advancement is irreversible as I eagerly anticipate further study.
I am excitedly applying for this combined course because I believe that it provides
much credibility, necessary learning and a challenging environment that intentionally calls for students to excel. I believe that it will aid my academic and personal development as I seek to consult professionally in the future. Moreover, I anticipate the rewarding progression of studying at postgraduate level after fieldwork experiences that I am confident will enhance my education. I love the city of XXXX, the University of XXXX, and my involvements in managing XXXX both during and after my Social Policy studies. With International Law and International Relations being of utmost importance to me, I anticipate your consideration and welcome the opportunity of an interview or further communication should you require an expansion of any of the above. I am incredibly hardworking, passionate and wholly committed to producing excellent work as your postgraduate student.
What's Hot About This LLM Personal Statement...
Emma has included interesting and relevant examples of past experiences, and her commitment to social justice shines through. These are both excellent for demonstrating her suitability to the LLM program.
Emma mentions specific modules of interest which shows that she's fully researched the LLM program that she's applying to.
It's good that she refers to her disappointing bachelors grade as this shows honesty and also the fact that she has learnt from her previous mistakes.
This LLM personal statement demonstrates good overall writing and organisation.
... And What's Not!
Emma should use less intensifiers and tone down adjectives so it doesn’t sound like exaggeration. For example – use “greatly” instead of “astronomically.”
Watch for repeated word use (such as “anticipate,” “influence,” and “enhance”). Find synonyms for these words.
*Names have been changed to protect the students' privacy.