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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2009

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After weighing academic performance, law schools are most interested in assembling a class of interesting people. In this sense, their criteria are broader than those used by business or medical schools, whose applicants face more clearly defined expectations. Unfortunately, law school applicants often find this freedom intimidating rather than encouraging.

Too often writers resort to a safe route, and it should be obvious why such an approach would prevent them from achieving the goal of uniqueness. The topic itself need not be revolutionary. Rather, the key to this and all other types of essays is simply to be specific and personal. Don't be afraid to give your readers a glimpse of who you really are.

This applicant describes his upbringing in the inner city as a way to offer insight into his current maturity. He does not use his disadvantaged background as an excuse for anything, nor does he overstate its significance. Rather, he portrays his past honestly to show how it shaped his character and determination.

This applicant focuses on his extensive international experience in business and education. The details of his work often have little to do with law, but in exploring his global travels he demonstrates the unique perspective he has cultivated.

This applicant offers an in-depth account of a boot-camp experience. Note how his focus on a single experience can nevertheless convey a great deal about his character, because he has the space to offer concrete details. Depth is almost always preferable to breadth.

Finally, this applicant achieves uniqueness through his writing style. What makes the essay effective is not the specific topics with which he engages the reader, but the playful and inventive thought process he demonstrates.

The above four examples are meant to show you the boundless ways in which you can offer a unique portrait. You don't need to come from a very diverse background or to have accomplished something extraordinary. These essays are effective because they offer honest portrayals and are grounded in specific, personal details. Law, although mentioned, is not the focus of any of these essays. In your own essay, you should stay focused on the topic you choose and explore it fully, making a connection back to law only if that seems natural.

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Filed Under: Law

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