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Harvard Law Personal Statement: How to Write + Example

March 18, 2024
10 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 03/03/23

If you’re applying to Harvard Law School, it’s essential to write an impactful personal statement. Read on to learn how to write a Harvard law personal statement that sets you apart from the crowd. 

The Harvard Law personal statement is an important part of the application process. It provides an opportunity for you to showcase your unique qualities and experiences to the admissions committee. You can communicate your motivations, passions, and goals for pursuing a legal education at Harvard Law School through the personal statement.

To have a good chance of getting into Harvard Law, you need to stand out from the thousands of other applicants. By presenting a compelling personal statement, you can make a positive impression on the admissions committee and increase your chances of admission.

Keep reading to learn how to write a personal statement that distinguishes you from other applicants and demonstrates your fit with Harvard Law School's values and culture. 

This guide will cover the requirements and tips you need to know to write a well-crafted Harvard Law personal statement. We’ll also go over a successful Harvard Law personal statement example and why it works!

Harvard Law School Personal Statement Requirements

To write a successful personal statement that demonstrates your value as an applicant, you need to ensure you stick to the requirements. The admissions committee is looking for applicants who show they care about the application process and pay attention to detail. 

Not adhering to the requirements could suggest a lack of attention to detail and negatively impact your chances of being admitted. Following the requirements ensures that your personal statement is well-organized and focused so that you can effectively communicate your message to the admissions committee.

Here are the requirements for the Harvard law personal statement:

Length: Your personal statement must be no more than two pages in length, double-spaced, with a font size no smaller than 11-point, and one-inch margins. 

Content: It should provide insight into who you are as a person and as a potential law student. Use this space to tell a story that illustrates your strengths, passions, and goals. You can also discuss any challenges you’ve overcome or experiences that have shaped your unique perspective.

Format: Your personal statement should be saved as a PDF and uploaded to the application portal. Your name and LSAC account number should be included on each page of the personal statement.

Additional Information: In addition to the personal statement, you may also choose to submit a supplementary statement about any factors that may have affected your academic performance or a diversity statement that describes your unique perspective and experiences. 

Paying attention to these requirements is key, as failing to do so can result in an incomplete or disqualified application. Adhering to the guidelines and word count ensures that your personal statement is concise and tailored to the expectations of the admissions committee. 

It's also important to note that while the personal statement is a crucial component of your application, it's not the only factor that Harvard Law School considers. Your academic record, test scores, letters of recommendation, and other factors will also be evaluated.

Crafting a Winning Personal Statement for Harvard Law School

Harvard Law is one of the most prestigious law schools in the world. So, it’s important to make sure every element of your application is top-notch. A well-written personal statement can make you a memorable candidate and increase your chances of getting in. 

To put your best foot forward, it’s helpful to learn what’s worked for other applicants. So, refer to this guide when you need to brush up on the Harvard Law personal statement requirements or need a bit of inspiration. It’s been designed to help you write a personal statement you can be proud of. Let’s get started. 

Start by Brainstorming

Before you begin writing your personal statement, take some time to brainstorm your ideas. Consider your experiences, accomplishments, and goals, and think about how they relate to your desire to attend Harvard Law School.

Brainstorming helps generate ideas, clarify thoughts, and identify key themes or concepts. It’s a process of free-flowing, non-judgmental thinking that allows for creative exploration and problem-solving. It can help you organize and prioritize ideas and content. 

By brainstorming, you can uncover unique and compelling aspects of your experiences or qualifications that might have gone unnoticed. It also provides a foundation for the writing process and can help to streamline and focus your message. Overall, brainstorming can bring a lot of value to a Harvard Law personal statement.

Develop a Thesis Statement

Once you have a sense of the main ideas you want to convey in your personal statement, develop a thesis statement that encapsulates your main message. This should be a single sentence that highlights the central theme of your personal statement.

A strong thesis statement is essential for your personal statement because it serves as the central message or argument that you’re trying to convey in your writing. It should be concise and clear, and highlight the main theme you want to communicate to the admissions committee.

A thesis statement helps to focus your personal statement and gives it a clear sense of direction. It also helps to ensure that your writing is coherent and organized, which is important for making a strong impression on the admissions committee.

In addition, your thesis statement can help you to stand out from other applicants. It allows you to demonstrate your unique perspective and approach to the law and helps to highlight what makes you a strong candidate for Harvard Law School.

Overall, having a well-thought-out thesis statement provides a sense of direction throughout your personal statement, helps to make your writing more focused and organized, and allows you to communicate your unique perspective and strengths as a law school candidate.

Tell a Story

Rather than simply listing your accomplishments, use your personal statement to tell a story that illustrates your strengths, passions, and goals. Use specific examples and anecdotes to bring your story to life.

Storytelling can have a powerful impact on a personal statement for Harvard Law School. By telling your story, you can help the admissions committee get a better sense of who you are as a person and as a potential law student.

When done effectively, storytelling can help your personal statement stand out from the thousands of other applications that the admissions committee receives each year. It can make it more memorable, engaging, and can help create an emotional connection with the reader.

Storytelling can also help demonstrate skills and qualities that law schools are looking for, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. Using examples from your experiences to illustrate these skills, you can show the admissions committee why you would be a valuable addition to their community.

Storytelling can be a powerful tool in a personal statement for Harvard Law School. By using concrete examples and narratives to illustrate your strengths and goals, you can create a compelling case for why you would be a strong candidate for admission. 

Show, Don't Tell

Instead of simply stating that you're a hard worker or a great leader, demonstrate these qualities through specific examples and anecdotes. Use descriptive language and imagery to paint a picture of who you are and what you've accomplished.

Showing qualities through the lens of your experiences makes your writing more engaging and memorable. Using specific examples to illustrate your qualities and achievements will ultimately make your Harvard Law personal statement more impactful.

Keep It Brief and On Point.

Remember that your personal statement should be no more than two pages long, so stick to your point. Remember that the admissions committee receives thousands of applications each year, and they typically have a limited amount of time to review each one. 

Ensure that your personal statement is clear and easy to read by using simple language and staying focused on your main thesis. You want to write just enough to make a strong case for why you are a strong candidate for admission to Harvard Law School. 

By focusing on your most important experiences and qualities and avoiding unnecessary tangents, you can demonstrate your value as a potential law school student and make a compelling argument for why you should be admitted.

Edit and Revise

Once you've written a draft of your personal statement, take some time to edit and revise it. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and make sure your writing is clear and concise. Ask someone else to read your personal statement and provide feedback. 

A well-written and error-free personal statement can make a positive impression on the admissions committee, while a poorly edited statement can detract from your qualifications. 

Editing allows you to refine your message, eliminate errors and inconsistencies, and ensure your personal statement is crystal clear. Careful editing helps to demonstrate attention to detail and professionalism, qualities that are highly valued in the legal profession.

Pay Attention to Formatting

Finally, be sure to follow the formatting requirements for the Harvard Law School personal statement. Save your personal statement as a PDF and include your name and LSAC account number on each page.

A well-formatted statement is not only aesthetically pleasing but also shows that you took it seriously. It can make the statement more readable and easier to navigate for the admissions committee. A well-organized statement can also help to structure your thoughts and ensure that you’re effectively conveying your message.

By following these steps and putting in the time and effort to write a strong personal statement, you can increase your chances of being admitted to one of the most prestigious law schools in the world.

What to Avoid in a Harvard Law Personal Statement

When writing a personal statement for Harvard Law School, it's important to know what to avoid. Read on to learn everything you need to know.


Avoid using clichéd phrases or overused quotes in your personal statement. The admissions committee reads a ton of personal statements every year, so it's important to try to make a unique impression.

Clichés can often be vague and lack specificity, which can make it difficult for the committee to understand your message and qualifications. By avoiding cliches, you can demonstrate your individual perspective and voice. Remember, there’s only one you.

Rambling or Tangential Writing

Your personal statement should be focused and concise, with a clear thesis statement and supporting examples. 

Rambling or going off-topic can detract from the overall impact of your personal statement. It can suggest a lack of organizational skills and attention to detail, qualities highly valued in the legal profession.

To avoid rambling when writing, it is important to stay focused on the topic at hand and stick to a clear structure. Start by outlining the main points that you want to make and the supporting evidence or examples that you’ll use to illustrate those points. Use concise language and avoid unnecessary tangents or repetition.

It’s also helpful to read through your writing regularly and ask yourself if each sentence and paragraph is contributing to the overall message you are trying to convey. Finally, consider having someone else review your work to provide feedback and help identify any areas where you may be straying off topic.


While it's essential to showcase your strengths and accomplishments, avoid coming across as cocky or entitled in your personal statement. Instead, focus on demonstrating your passion for law and your commitment to making a positive impact in the legal field.

Admissions committees are looking for candidates who are not only academically qualified but who also possess the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills necessary for success in the legal profession. 

By being humble, you show your capacity for growth, willingness to learn from others, and commitment to serving the greater good. 


Avoid focusing on experiences that paint you in a negative light. Instead, pay attention to the positive lessons you've learned and how you've grown and developed as a person and as a potential law student.

Being negative may raise concerns about your ability to work collaboratively with others. Highlighting negative events or attitudes can take away from the overall message of your personal statement, which is an opportunity for you to promote your talents, experiences, and qualifications. 

The legal profession requires the ability to work effectively with others and to maintain a positive and professional demeanor even in challenging situations. By maintaining a positive tone, you can demonstrate your resilience, adaptability, and ability to work effectively in a team-oriented environment.


It should go without saying, but be sure to avoid any form of plagiarism in your personal statement. This includes copying and pasting from other sources, using quotes without attribution, or hiring someone to write your personal statement for you.

Presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own is a form of academic dishonesty. Your personal statement is meant to express your unique background, experiences, and qualifications, and plagiarism undermines its authenticity.

Additionally, plagiarism is a violation of Harvard Law School's code of conduct and can result in serious consequences, including rejection of your application or even revocation of an already awarded admission. 

By submitting an original and authentic personal statement, you can demonstrate your honesty, integrity, and professionalism, qualities that are highly valued in the legal profession.

By avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on crafting a unique personal statement, you can increase your chances of being admitted to Harvard Law School. Remember, the personal statement is an important opportunity to show who you truly are and why you're a strong candidate, so take the time to do it right.

Harvard Law Personal Statement Example

It can help to read a Harvard law personal statement example to get a good understanding of what the admissions committee is looking for. Reading through successful examples can provide insight into what constitutes a strong Harvard law personal statement.

The following personal statement, written by Dasha Wise, is an example of a successful Harvard Law School application essay. 

"The large room was beginning to feel like a cramped interrogation chamber as we stood anxiously awaiting the next set of difficult questions. We did not have to wait long. Why were there discrepancies in our numbers? Wasn’t the retreat expense unnecessarily large? Not to mention that the submitted documents were not only late but incomplete! 

I could not help but steal a glance at the out-going treasurer standing next to me—as a newly elected executive board treasurer for Community Impact (CI), Columbia’s largest service organization, I had been invited to accompany her to CI’s annual presentation to request funding from the student councils. 

There was no doubt that she had stayed up most of the night completing this presentation, attempting to patch up holes in the financial records. 

I could not blame her for the mistakes—everyone at CI was overworked and stretched well beyond their capacity, too busy keeping up with the activities of each day to step back and tackle the organization’s underlying problems.

As she became visibly more flustered, I knew that I needed to assume responsibility for the remainder of the presentation. Standing there in defense of the organization that I had come to love, I managed to remain calm, elding critical questions to the best of my ability while swallowing the all-too-well-founded criticism along with my pride. 

As the presentation came to a close, I began to understand the systematic change that was necessary and that I would be responsible for making this change a reality.

I began immediately that summer. 

Learning as much as possible about the current system and its laws enabled me to discover that CI’s largest impediments were operational inefficiency and improper communication, the combination of which was contributing to internal frustration, ineffective resource management, and a tainted reputation. 

To establish both scale accuracy and efficiency, I reconstructed treasury procedures and devised an automated budget-tracking and request-processing mechanism that would be administered through CI’s online platform. 

Working closely with our webmaster, I designed a treasury section for CI’s website that would enable coordinators to request funding, monitor their budgets, and access key forms as well as the instructional manuals that I had written over the summer. 

To reposition CI’s public image, I insisted on transparency, persuading the staff of its importance and holding a board meeting to update important documents such as our constitution and spending guidelines. Reacting CI’s core principles and procedures, they would now be publicly displayed on our website.

In pushing for large-scale change, I knew in advance that over-seeing the process would be no easy task and that I would need to hold numerous trainings, respond immediately to student inquiries, and continue to work throughout the year to make further corrections based on feedback and my own observations. 

All this I was prepared for, and with input from my peers and CI’s staff along the way, I arrived at a product that would provide the CI treasury with structural support for years to come. 

CI’s records were accurate, and we were able to cut costs, monitor our spending, and receive approval from our volunteers, for whom the elusive red tape had now given way to simplicity and predictability. 

A system that responded to the needs of students, board members, and staff alike eliminated needless frustration, established procedural efficiency, and improved both internal and external communication. 

When I found myself in front of the student councils exactly one year later, I was not met with the same mistrust and quizzical expressions. 

Our presentation, whose supporting documents had this time been submitted well in advance and verified multiple times, resulted in open gratitude for the effort that we had put in to establish scale accuracy and procedural transparency and to maintain open communication with the councils, informing them of the changes that we were making in light of their concerns. 

Unlike the previous year’s penalty and subsequent funding shortage, this time we received precisely what we requested. Yet perhaps most importantly, we received respect, not only from our own coordinators, volunteers, and other constituents but from the university as a whole. 

Although I had encountered numerous difficulties throughout my life, what I had decided to tackle at CI last year was my most significant challenge yet—not merely for the amount of effort that it required, but for the fact that my decisions now affected whether directly or indirectly, hundreds of others, from CI’s staff and student executives to our nine hundred volunteers and the nine thousand individuals that they served. 

In some quantifiable sense, this was my biggest accomplishment, the most rewarding, and among the most memorable, but it was not the first and it will not be the last. I would not have it any other way. 

To survive difficulties is one thing, but to excel in spite of them is another. Overcoming the most seemingly insurmountable yet worthy challenges is, for me, the primary means of obtaining respect from the one person that truly matters and is, at the same time, the most difficult to please— myself. 

Why this essay works: This Harvard law personal statement example checks every box. It’s personal, concise, impactful, and clearly communicates the qualities that would make Dasha an excellent lawyer. If it helps to get the creative juices flowing, reading sample personal statements can be a great source of inspiration for your writing.

FAQs: Harvard Law School Personal Statement

The Harvard Law personal statement is an important part of your law school application and needs to be carefully thought out. It makes sense to have questions, so keep reading to learn more about the Harvard law personal statement. 

1. How Long Should My Personal Statement Be for Harvard Law?

The length of your personal statement for Harvard Law School should be no more than two pages, double-spaced. Harvard recommends that applicants aim for a length of 750 to 1,500 words, which should provide enough space to effectively communicate your message while still remaining concise and focused.

2. How Important Is the Harvard Law School Personal Statement?

The Harvard law personal statement is a crucial component of the law school application and is given significant weight in the admissions decision-making process. 

The personal statement allows applicants to showcase their unique experiences, qualifications, and motivations for pursuing a legal education and to demonstrate their fit with Harvard Law School's values and culture. 

A well-written personal statement can make a positive impression on the admissions committee and increase an applicant's chances of being admitted to this highly selective law school.

3. What Should I Include in My Personal Statement for Harvard Law?

In your personal statement for Harvard Law, you should include information about your background, experiences, and achievements, as well as your motivations for pursuing a legal education. You should also highlight your skills and abilities relevant to the legal profession, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. 

Additionally, you may want to discuss any challenges or obstacles you’ve overcome and how these experiences have shaped your goals and aspirations. Finally, it is important to showcase your fit with Harvard Law School's values and culture and to explain why you are a strong candidate for admission.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of how to write a solid Harvard law personal statement. Remember to stay true to your voice and experiences, be authentic and sincere, and take the time to edit and revise your statement to ensure it’s polished and professional. 

By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this blog and reviewing the Harvard Law personal statement example provided, you can craft a compelling personal statement that stands out to the admissions committee and increases your chances of being admitted to Harvard Law School. 

Once you’ve written a strong personal statement, you can focus on the next steps, such as collecting letters of recommendation, prepping for a possible Harvard Law interview, or brushing up on legal terms. Good luck on your application journey!

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