Tips for a Successful Personal Statement

Happy Thanksgiving!  The Office of Admissions wants to wish you and yours a safe holiday weekend.  Enjoy catching up with loved ones, the shopping, and the food!  We know that a lot of you will be using your time off to work on your personal statements, and we wanted to give you a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use the space provided.  We allow 3 pages for the personal statement; if you submit a 1 page document, you’re really just cheating yourself.  Remember, this is your one opportunity to tell us about yourself; it’s your interview on paper.  Make sure that by the end of your statement, you’ve included everything you want us to know about you, and we have a complete idea of you as a candidate.
  • Don’t be too creative.  We want to be able to see your unique personality and character through your writing, but remember that you are applying to a professional degree program, not a creative writing seminar.  It’s best to leave out the poetry and illustrations, and focusing on a well written, thoughtful statement.
  • Focus on the ‘personal’ in personal statement.  For example, you may have been inspired by someone to go to law school, and we want to hear that story, but just be sure to keep the focus on you and your strength, and how an experience with that person may have shaped your decisions.  If you tell us the life story of the other person, we’ll know everything about that person, but unfortunately nothing about you.
  • Keep it positive.  The personal statement is not the time to explain why you did so poorly during a semester of undergrad.  Save those explanations for the option statement, and keep the personal statement positive.
  • Don’t duplicate information.  A common mistake applicants make is including the information that is on their resume in their personal statement.  If you tell us information that is already presented somewhere else in your file, you are wasting one of the few opportunities you have during the application process to tell us about yourself.  It’s fine to elaborate on a specific point in your resume, but done make your personal statement just another list of credentials and achievements.
  • Remember your audience.  This is not the time to try to show us how much you know about the law.  We’re all lawyers; chances are we know more than you.  Focus on information that will help us understand your strengths and why you will make a good law student.
  • Last but most definitely not least, proofread!  In addition to reviewing spelling and grammar, make sure you aren’t sending a personal statement intended for one school to another.  Mistakes like this are completely avoidable, and can be embarrassing for an applicant.  Don’t rely on your computer’s spell-check; a lot of words you didn’t mean to use will slip under the radar because you spelled them correctly.  Have others read your statement.  Proofread, proofread, proofread!

We hope this helps answer some of the many questions you probably have about the personal statement.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that your personal statement will act as your sales pitch, your writing sample, and your admissions interview.  Make sure that when it’s complete there are no unanswered questions, and we have a clear picture of you as a candidate to our program.  We look forward to reading your personal statements, and getting to know more about you.  Now, back to the turkey!

Congratulations!

The Law Center’s Blakely Advocacy Institute and its mock trial program have earned yet another accolade–a win at Regionals of the ABA Arbitration Competition.  The team of law students Sean Monks, Luis Batarse, Whitney Wester and Nadia Barrow was coached by Dennis Clifford ’05.  The student were undefeated, beating teams from Memphis, Seton Hall, Duquesne and Fordham on their way to the title. They will now compete at the national competition in Los Angeles in January.

Congratulations to our students, to coach Dennis Clifford, and to mock trial teams coach Jackie Houlette and good luck at Nationals!

Students help free Death Row inmate

One of the many benefits of earning your law degree at the University of Houston Law Center are the various opportunities to gain real world legal experience while still in school.  While all of our students have their own personal victories through the numerous practice-based programs at UHLC, every now and then something truly extraordinary results from the hard work and dedication of our faculty and students.

The Office of Admissions is thrilled to share one such instance with you.  Thanks to the hard work and collaboration of Law Center students and several other members of the legal community, Anthony Graves, a former Texas death-row inmate, has had all charges against him dropped after an 18-year legal battle.  The case originated in UHLC Professor David Dow’s Texas Innocence Project and over a dozen Law Center students have worked on the case during the past decade.  The ruling is especially remarkable because the exoneration was not based on DNA, a very rare situation.  To read more about the truly impressive feat, visit:

Students help free Death Row inmate.