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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Kay

Weaving Your Story

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

The art of weaving a story involves showing the depth and complexity of the character by taking the reader on their journey to self-discovery. Your law school application should be an artfully woven story of your character and display what brought you to the pages before the reader, all while seeking to answer one question: “Why Law?”

So how do you write your personal statement in 1,000 words or less and convince a law school admissions panel that you will thrive in their environment?

1) Find your ZEN Zone. Your ZEN Zone is the place that you escape to mentally and emotionally to determine what feels right for you. It’s that sense of being in tune with your gut and where it is guiding you. If you don’t already know how to get into your ZEN Zone, then now’s the time because it is an exercise that will be vital to your success in law school. Personally, my ZEN Zone used to be a long run (now, with older knees, my ZEN Zone is found in time spent on the Peloton). With fast breaths, a pumping heart rate, and forward momentum, my thoughts seem suspended long enough to get in line, and what is truly important floats to the present. ZEN Zone enables me to organize my thoughts, tune into my gut and chart the best course for next steps. It is also during ZEN time that I gain a sense of what brings me joy, peace, and excitement. Discover what motivates you, organize your thoughts, and your story will begin to unfold.

2) Develop a Common Theme. Don’t begin drafting your personal statement without first identifying your common theme. Remember, your story must be woven into a cohesive law school application that showcases not only your intelligence quotient (“IQ”), but also (and perhaps more importantly), your emotional quotient (“EQ”). See my blog post entitled “Law School Admissions Formula” for a full explanation of EQ and its relevance to your application. For many applicants, it helps to have someone who doesn’t know them or love them to help formulate the common theme. As a law school admissions consultant, I meet one-on-one with candidates and over a cup of coffee (or several cups of coffee), we identify a common thread that we weave into the applicant’s story. The result is a complete outline and ultimately an impressive personal statement. In our meetings, I provide guidance on gaps in extracurricular activities and relationships with recommenders to further flush out and support the overarching common theme. In addition, I advise whether law school is right for the applicant, suggest which law schools to attend and why, and provide insight into areas of the law the applicant might enjoy pursuing.

3) Support your Story with your Resume. Once you’ve identified your common theme, you will need to provide further support of this passion, goal and strength through your interests displayed on your resume. For example, if your passion is advocating for the disabled or less fortunate, then volunteer in organizations that support their needs, join a group in your community that further ignites your passion in this area. If such organizations don’t exist on your college campus or in your current environment, then spearhead the creation and development of the organization.

4) Enhance your Application with Key Letters of Recommendation. Think of your letters of recommendation as third-party witnesses to your character, drive, integrity, and emotional quotient. Recommenders are outside parties that provide objective, unbiased feedback on your application and character. What they say and how they say it is vital to your application. When I work with a law school applicant, we spend time appropriately identifying and developing relationships with the potential recommenders. We also carefully draft the letter requesting the recommendation for the purpose of making sure the recommender’s submission supports the woven thread, or common theme of the application. If you’re a stealth student (one who slips into the classroom, does the work, gets the grade and heads on to the next semester), then it’s time to identify those classes you really enjoyed and forge a relationship with those professors. All law school applications require at least one academic recommender that will speak to the applicant’s ability to handle the intense and heavy workload of law school. Identify these contacts and build your relationship with them now. Your ability to do so will serve as further evidence of your emotional quotient (“EQ”), which is a key component to a successful application.

5) Answer the Question: Why Law? If you’ve discovered your ZEN Zone and woven your common theme throughout your extracurricular activities evidenced by your resume and supported by your recommenders, then you’re ready to write your personal statement. The personal statement must answer a simple question: Why Law School?Remember, you’re taking the reader on your journey to self-discovery. The personal statement must display your maturity and emotional and intellectual capacity to succeed in law school. Law schools are seeking applicants with an ability to thrive in a competitive legal environment and use the skills and knowledge gained to make something of themselves and give back to the world around them.

6) Answer the Question: Why OUR Law School? Law schools are ranked by U.S. News & World Report based upon several criteria, including admission acceptance rates or yield. Yield is the percentage of admitted applicants who ultimately choose to attend that school. In other words, law schools want to know that if they give you an offer, then you will accept. Research and know the law schools you are applying to and be able to tell why their law school is part of your journey to a career in law. End the last sentence of your essay with a statement about their law school.

Get in the ZEN Zone, find your common theme, weave your story with your resume and recommenders, then set forth to tell your story that answers Why Law and Why OUR Law School. Contact me today to help you realize your full potential by weaving your story into a compelling, cohesive application for law school admission.

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