The Best Personal Statement I’ve Ever Read

March 10, 2011
Bill Corwin

The law school application process is certainly not easy to navigate. After the LSAT, applicants are often most challenged while tackling their personal statement. This month, our team of Admissions Consultants at Kaplan will share with you their insights on what makes for the best personal statements in our March series – “The Best Personal Statement I’ve Ever Read.” Want the team to help you with yours? Check out our personal statement review package and get unlimited access to any of our top consultants.

I love working on personal statements with law school applicants because at the end, their statements are ALWAYS better.


Sure! Sometimes a little but often a lot. For example, after 27+ years of doing this business I never forget that personal statements can be dangerous double-edged swords. I like to prevent otherwise perfectly competitive candidates from committing application suicide by steering them away from certain themes or writing styles that I know are perfect poison to weary admission committees.

But mostly I’m pro-active. I love working on statements because like any good defense counsel, I know how these documents can be critical to an application’s success.

Here’s a sample grab bag of five memorable statements that had happy admission endings from among the most competitive law schools in the country. The “quoted” ones are lifted verbatim and others are “theme” summaries.

  • “With a name like Horowitz, growing up in the tiny town of ____, Georgia in the heart of the Bible Belt, I was exposed to two very different cultures and traditions.”
  • “When I was in my first year of high school, my horse attacked his trainer. Horses attack trainers all the time but my trainer was so well qualified, when he filed suit his attorneys espoused new, unique, and destined-to-be-historic theories of equine psychology. When they lost, what I remember most clearly is thinking: I could do better.”
  • “Go ahead. Call me a nitpicker, hairsplitter, quibbler, I’ve heard them all. I prefer to describe myself as having an eye for detail.”
  • At age twelve, I formally declared myself an atheist. This strictly personal decision has had more consequences than I ever could have imagined, including the course of my future professional life.” NOTE: The school’s admissions dean asked the applicant’s permission to publish the whole statement as a “high quality” example of its kind.
  • With a that-was-me-then and this-is-me-now theme, working with this client’s personal statement was a challenge (to say the least) since her history included eight months in prison. Rising to this challenge, she transformed a near-certain admissions denial into an enthusiastic acceptance.

The moral of these stories is this: If you’re within the ballpark GPA and LSAT numbers of applicants admitted to your target schools, the law school personal statement can and often is the single element that will push you into the acceptance column.

Bill Corwin

Bill Corwin After 16 years as Princeton University’s pre-law advisor, starting in 2000 I have been privileged to help literally hundreds of Kaplan clients create strong and competitive applications to law schools throughout the United States and Canada. Although my Kaplan clients are world- wide, the internet and now remarkably inexpensive phone service makes each client a next-door neighbor and friend. I particularly enjoy the terrific variety of experience and stories each client brings to our discussions and how we can strategically use that background to create a powerful law school application. My long career prior to Kaplan includes: managing a college recruiting program for a large Wall Street bank; a twenty year reserve assignment as Deputy Commander (Lt. Col.) for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Admissions Liaison office; a director of career services at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business; Associate Director of Admissions at the Florida Institute of Technology. I have an M.A. in career counseling from City University of New York. My wife Ann is currently Director of Graduate Career Services at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and we and our four cats live in a small rural community just north of Princeton, NJ. In my not-so-spare time I am an active commercial pilot and most recently was a “Shadow Traffic” reporter flying a Grumman AA-1 out of North Philly.

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