Real Law School Personal Statements Reviewed: Use Strong Supporting Examples

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Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog - Real Law School Personal Statements Reviewed: Use Strong Supporting Examples by jdMission

In this series, a jdMission Senior Consultant reviews real law school personal statements. What’s working well? What’s not? If it were his/her essay, what would be changed? Find out!


Note: To maintain the integrity and authenticity of this project, we have not edited the personal statements, though any identifying names and details have been changed or removed. Any grammatical errors that appear in the essays belong to the candidates and illustrate the importance of having someone (or multiple someones) proofread your work.

Personal Statement

I love gardening: My hands in the dirt, the smell of freshly grown flowers or vegetables, the invigorating sensation of working the earth in the great outdoors. There is order to sowing seeds – steps and clear directives that allow life to reproduce generationally.

I feel like the law boasts numerous similarities to a garden. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are serious guidelines to each. In a legal environment, you have to understand the existing laws of the land. But you must also understand that public opinion shifts and makes room for subtle changes to the law.

Similarly in a garden, one day it might be raining, and the next there may be a freeze. So although you might understand the rules of how to make a plant grow, you are also a subject to the whims of the weather.

Every year I plant all the vegetables I like to eat in a salad. I am very specific in what I like to eat and the truth is, I only like a salad that contains each of these very specific vegetables. If one or more hasn’t yet grown, I subsidize it with ones from the market. In my every salad I expect:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Corn

More often than not, I do not have corn so I use frozen corn from the season before that I keep in my freezer. I plant corn, just as I plant lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. I like the flavors as they come together: The sweetness of the corn, the juiciness of the tomato, the crunch of the cucumber, the pepper of the radish and the freshness of the lettuce. This is, to me, the perfect taste.

This is very much how I believe the law is. You bring together a specific group of rules and together they create a civilization that is preferable and comfortable and in which its citizens may thrive. For the law against drunk driving to be enough, there must be traffic laws for drivers to follow. For laws around safety there must be laws around security. For laws that protect property and finance there must be laws about how property and finance may be used.

Gardening reflects many things that are similar to the legal system. One is required to get really dirty when they garden, literally. You must dig deep in order to give your seeds the best hope of flourishing. In law, sometimes you have to dig through endless cases in order to find the seed to plant so that your jury understands your client’s case.

When one gardens, one must have patience. Things don’t happen immediately, even if you are re-planting something already half-grown. For the plant itself must find its roots to become a stable and thriving entity. Only then may you reap its bounty. Law is the same way. Changing the existing ways of the land takes time. The ideas must take root and grow strong and independent before you may harvest them.

It’s easier to garden as a team. When I garden with my family, the garden grows bigger and stronger. In a legal team the same is true. The more brilliant minds you can bring together, the better the case you can build. But sometimes you must work alone. It can become lonely and tedious but because in one case, the vegetables are your companions and in the other, the client’s story is, you aren’t really ever alone. There is always a sense of accomplishment as a team.

When you sit down at the table and take a bite of the first salad of the season, you remember why life is good. When it comes to a good legal battle, the same can be true. Taking the sweet with the crunchy and peppery richness creates the perfect bite of an American salad, a dream for which my parents moved from across the sea from Ukraine to realize.

jdMission Review

Overall Lesson: Use a few strong supporting examples rather than multiple weak ones.

First Impression: I would give the first paragraph an A grade. Gardening is a rather unique subject for a personal statement, which immediately makes this essay seem interesting. Also, the beginning is neither overly dramatic nor excessively dull or abstract. It strikes a good balance in that way—and this is rarer than one might think.

Strengths: I believe the essay’s overall theme of comparing gardening to law can work. Although the candidate offers too many supporting examples (as I will discuss further in the Weaknesses section of this review), the following comparisons are particularly effective:

  • The similarities between the constantly-shifting legal environment and the whims of the weather in the second and third paragraphs
  • His discussion about the importance of patience in the eighth paragraph
  • His point about how combinations of laws/plants work together in the penultimate paragraph (though this could benefit from a little revision by the candidate)

Weaknesses: The candidate’s comparison of law to gardening would work better if he were to describe gardening first in each instance and the law second. Notice how he does the opposite at the beginning of the essay:

I feel like the law boasts numerous similarities to a garden. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are serious guidelines to each. In a legal environment, you have to understand the existing laws of the land. But you must also understand that public opinion shifts and makes room for subtle changes to the law.

Similarly in a garden, one day it might be raining, and the next there may be a freeze. So although you might understand the rules of how to make a plant grow, you are also a subject to the whims of the weather.

The candidate could fix this by simply changing the order of the two paragraphs.

In addition, we do not need to know what he likes to put in his salad, nor that he will not eat a salad unless it includes specific vegetables. Not only is this information superfluous, but it also makes him seem a little too compulsive.

Finally, although I actually like the idea of comparing gardening to law, the candidate provides too many comparisons. He needs to pick one or two—possibly three, if they are somewhat related—and focus on those rather than listing five or six parallels, several of which are quite weak and thereby detract from the impact of his theme.

Final Assessment

This essay essentially needs to be rewritten, though parts of it can be salvaged and used as draft material. Again, I would suggest that the candidate concentrate on fleshing out just two or three comparisons—such as the strong ones I noted in the Strengths section of this review—and eliminate the rest. However, he must be careful not to try to tell the admissions committee too much about how the law works. After all, he has not been to law school yet. 📝


jdMission is a leading law school admissions consulting firm with a team of dedicated consultants who have not only been through the law school application process themselves, but also possess elite communications skills and can help you navigate this crucial—and often perplexing—process. Your consultant will serve as your coach and partner every step of the way, advising you on school selection, helping you brainstorm personal statement topics, editing your essays and resume, helping you manage your recommenders, advising on any addenda, and more!

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