College Application Essay Tips for Aspiring Lawyers
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Your aspirations are an important component of what makes you who you are, and if you aspire to become a lawyer, you should share this information with any college or university that you apply to. In the college application process, essays are the best opportunity for you to discuss your passion for the law and your interest in becoming a lawyer. You may incorporate your legal aspirations into your personal statement or they may form the backbone of your supplemental essays where you respond to questions about why you are interested in a particular school, program, or major.
Describe Your Reasons Why
Generally speaking, a smart way to approach your essays is to introduce your interests and connect them to specific personal stories and goals. As a person who aspires to be a lawyer, you want to introduce your interests that relate to the law and describe what attracts you to the legal field. What is it about studying the law and becoming a lawyer that you find most compelling? Why does this path feel meaningful and necessary to you? Draw on specific experiences in your life and lessons you have learned to formulate your rationale for pursuing this career path.
When you explain why you aspire to be a lawyer, be as specific as possible. “Lawyers help people. The legal profession is lucrative.” These reasons are too simplistic and generic to provide any useful insight for an admissions officer to understand who you are. If you want to become a lawyer, you should explain your motivation to pursue this career path in terms of:
- Why you want to help others and who you want to help, such as immigrants or victims of domestic violence
- What areas of the law interest you, such as tax law, family law, or corporate law
- What it is about studying and practicing law that appeals to you intellectually, such as that you have an analytical mind and enjoy solving complex problems
- What disciplinary perspectives you find interesting in relation to the law, such as history, philosophy, political science, public policy, or criminology
- What experiences you have had and people you have met that have inspired you to pursue a legal career. Any experiences you cite should extend beyond your favorite episode of “Law and Order” or “How to Get Away with Murder.” Maybe a movie or TV show about the law initially sparked your interest, but then you developed this interest into an enduring passion by volunteering at your local courthouse, joining your high school’s mock trial team, or becoming certified as a paralegal.
After you have thoroughly explained why you are interested in becoming a lawyer, you should look to the future and discuss your career goals. Identify a specific area of the law that you want to practice, and ground this in the various reasons why you want to become a lawyer. It is completely fine if you are not entirely sure what area of law you want to practice. Regardless, the winning strategy is to pick a specific area of law that you want to pursue and cite this consistently throughout your college applications. It will allow you to construct an application that is specific, developed, and memorable rather than overly general, unfocused, and potentially forgettable.
Ultimately, colleges and admissions officers will not hold you accountable for matching the goals and plans you outline in your essays. You are free to start college and decide that you don’t want to pursue a legal career at all. You should know before you apply to and attend law school whether you want to practice law, but undergraduate institutions recognize that you are young and still trying to explore your interests and define your goals. If you do pivot, admissions officers will rest assured because they know you have been through the process of creating a goal and that you can go through this process in any field you choose.
The Personal Statement
If you are applying to a school that does not have any supplemental essays as part of its application, then you should discuss your legal aspirations in your Common Application personal statement. Your personal statement is the place in your application where you share your personal story, and you should tell this story in such a way that you weave your past, present, and future together. When you discuss your future, include some information about your interest in becoming a lawyer, drawing connections between this goal and your past experiences and present endeavors that inform and relate to your aspirations.
For more information, review this comprehensive guide on How to Write the Common Application Essays for the 2022-2023 application cycle.