Unlike the AMCAS for medical schools, law schools don’t use a standardized application with a universal personal statement prompt. Each law school can ask you to write a personal statement of any length; ranging from 250 to 2,000 words.
But generally speaking, most law schools limit the personal statement to a length of either two pages or four pages. The two page personal statement will be approximately 1,000 words and the four page personal statement will contain approximately 2,000 words.
Even though two full pages is a substantial difference, you can use similar content for both both. But there is a major difference in the strategy you need to employ for different personal statement lengths because you what you include in a 2,000 word essay might not fit into a 500 word essay.
So if you’re applying to numerous law schools with different length requirements you will have to use different content and a different strategy for each personal statement.
Different length, different approach
If you’re law school application requires a a two-page 1,00o word personal statement, you need to narrow your focus and use concise writing. You might have a lot on your mind that you think will be convincing to an admissions committee, but you need to narrow the focus of your personal statement to your very best ideas, the ones that define you as a person and don’t simply elaborate on your application.
As a general principle, one or two compelling experiences will be more effective in a two-pager than numerous short anecdotes that don’t give your admissions reader much insight into who you are as a person and how you will contribute to a law school program.
If you’re assigned a four-pager, you’ll need to brainstorm more ideas and write longer, more detailed sections. The challenge here is identifying several experiences that all connect to the theme of your paper without including information that is blatantly padding your paper to reach the length requirement.
Whether your personal statement has to be two or four pages long, you need to use compelling language and creative structure that goes beyond the boring and conventional “I did this, then that, now I want to be a lawyer” structure. It’s a challenging style of writing that few law school applicants get right the first time, so write several drafts and edit them carefully.
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This article was originally published at PersonalStatementSecrets.com by Don Osborne.