If you’re wondering how to write a law school diversity statement, this article will provide insight into what you need to do to write a stellar law school diversity statement.
Deciding to write a law school diversity statement is not always the easiest call to make. In many ways, writing a diversity statement requires you to be vulnerable and speak candidly about factors in your life that have contributed to your identity. You'll have to talk about the core of who you are, which can often be challenging.
This article will cover when and how to write your diversity statement and dissect a few successful diversity statement examples. We will also go over some other burning questions you may have about writing a diversity statement.
Now that we’ve gone over some tips on writing your law school diversity statement, we’ll be looking at a successful law school diversity statement example and breaking down what makes it a great one. The statement we’ll be looking at below was written by Madeline Baker, a student from the California Western School of Law.
Baker’s diversity statement starts strong as she dives straight into her story.
“I was adopted when I was less than one year old from the North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. I grew up in Seattle, Washington with Caucasian parents and attended private school until college. American culture was inescapably my sole identity. Traditional American pastimes such as attending baseball games and eating hot dogs were staples of my childhood. However, as I've accumulated more life experience, I've come to acquire a taste for cultures dissimilar to my own. I'm a fanatic for spicy, flavorful foods and have become eager to understand social traditions that seem foreign to me. Although many people assume at first glance that I am accustomed to Korean culture and am fluent in the language, the comical truth is that I've never even had Korean barbeque. Unlike most of my friends and peers, I have also never met my birth mother. Having never experienced these traditions seemed normal to me until I noticed the pattern of assumptions that my outwardly Asian appearance dictated.”
Why this is a strong start: She immediately highlights the conflicts she’s experienced between her racial and ethnic background and her cultural upbringing. This provides a strong base for the story she’s about to tell and keeps it straight to the point, as you know right off the bat what she’ll be talking about.
While this is only one of many great ways to start your statement, remember that your goal is to captivate your reader’s interest so they keep reading. Don’t meander too much here, and make every sentence count!
As she continues to write, Baker discusses how she has grown in relation to a fragmented identity–one based on her appearance and the other based on her cultural upbringing.
“As I've grown older, I have encountered more and more of a racial and cultural disconnect in my daily life. When I was a child, the fact that I had different-shaped eyes and a richer skin tone than most other children in my class was never questioned, nor was the fact that I didn't resemble my parents. Now, as an adult, I've become accustomed to looks of shock and interest when I share my life story—as if I were some type of exotic specimen. “
Why this body paragraph is successful: Discussing how your experiences have evolved and impacted you over time can provide more insight into your story. This will ultimately make a stronger essay as it provides a clear trajectory that seamlessly leads your reader from one point to the next.
The meat of your statement should be providing information on formative moments throughout your experience. Baker talks about going to a camp for Korean children adopted into Caucasian families in hopes of getting in touch with their Korean roots.
“...attending camp for one week per year for eight years of my childhood was not exactly organic cultural immersion, which created a skewed view of my cultural heritage. My view of my cultural heritage. My encounters with others puts into light a new perspective for how quickly society and individuals jump to conclusions about people that they have never met. Although I have never felt discriminated against, it is eye opening to relate how I feel in culturally relevant situations to how others feel when they are treated differently for their skin color, their customs, and their lifestyles. This is a predominant issue in current society that many people will never have the opportunity to truly experience.”
Why this body paragraph is successful: These experiences contributed greatly to her perspective on culture and identity and provided some commentary on how we are often exposed to different cultures. When writing your law school diversity statement, it is essential that you consider how your story presents a diverse point of view. Once you’ve figured that out, use it as a focal point to drive your statement home.
Baker ends her statement with this:
“I have been given a rare opportunity that every single day I am thankful for. An opportunity that many people will never have the chance to experience. I have the opportunity to see society from many different perspectives, a viewpoint I am constantly building on as I continue to blossom. I will continue developing my perspective and use it in a positive way to contribute to society through its justice system. Through my interest in criminal defense, I believe that I can help our country appreciate the benefits of a diverse culture, which will ultimately help non-predominant citizenry pursue their dreams. As a minority person with an Americanized upbringing, I hope to bridge the gap between our country's treatment of minorities in the justice system and the desire to create a society where minority citizens are encouraged to pursue their dreams—just as I am pursuing mine. We all have a right to be seen as individuals and not boxed into the preconceived notions of society. I will do all that I can to uphold this right for everyone.”
Why this ending was successful: She speaks about her experience from a place of empowerment by stating how it has shaped her to be the person she is and how these interactions with her identity have driven her to pursue a career in law.
While these experiences can be easily seen as negative ones, she reframes her own experiences as those of learning and growth.
As you write your diversity statement, think about how you can approach your experiences from the vantage point of growth. Ask yourself the following questions:
These are some great questions that will ultimately highlight your strength, resilience, and character as you write your law school diversity statement.
Much like your personal statement, your law school diversity statement gives the admissions committee a chance to get to know you and the experiences that shape you. Though it isn’t the be-all and end-all of your application, an excellent diversity statement can definitely help you stand out.
On the other hand, it’s also important to understand that a weak diversity statement can compromise the impact of your overall application. So, think about how this might affect your application.
Diversity within any student body strengthens the community and expands the breadth of ideas and perspectives within it. As an aspiring law school student, writing a diversity statement allows you to talk about your life experiences. Doing this gives the admissions committee an opportunity to get to know what makes you, you.
By the time you get to writing your diversity statement, you probably would have looked over your entire law school application about a million times. Going over parts of your application, like your personal statement, for example, should give you an idea of whether or should consider writing a diversity statement.
Before you start writing your statement, ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered yes to both of those questions, it probably means that writing a diversity statement for your law school application may not be necessary.
If you feel that your personal statement covers your background adequately, and you’re finding writing an additional diversity statement isn’t coming naturally to you, you’re probably better off skipping this part of the application.
Generally speaking, the key to writing a diversity statement for your law school application is genuinely having something to write about.
In the same right, it is crucial to consider what you have to offer in terms of diversifying the school community. Seriously think about your background and the experiences you have faced and how they enable you to contribute diverse perspectives and ideas to the community.
Now that we’ve covered whether or not writing a law school diversity statement is best for your application, we’ll go over a few tips on how to write a stellar diversity statement.
As with any supplemental essay or statement, you’ll want to do research on what is required to write a successful one. While this article will leave you with less guesswork on how to approach your diversity statement, it’s essential that you know what each school’s requirements are to write a successful statement.
This includes how each law school defines diversity and what they expect in terms of statement length and formatting. For instance, Harvard and Yale law diversity statement prompts are vague, stating that you write about how you are able to contribute to their community based on your breadth of experience.
In contrast, some law schools like Duke provide a more detailed set of sample topics to guide your writing, which include the following:
While some schools may look at diversity as socio-cultural (things like race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual identity), some schools may also consider factors like age, career shifts, and socio-economic status, among others, so make sure you know what each school expects.
Once you have reviewed the prompts and guidelines for each law school diversity statement, it’s time to find a topic. You’ll want to write about something memorable and impactful. All law schools look for a common factor: your ability to contribute diverse perspectives to the school community.
With this said, use your background and life experiences to guide your writing. Although these things can often feel vulnerable and challenging to write about, whatever topic you choose should come naturally to you–but more on this later!
Many experiences highlighting diversity often go hand in hand with some hardship, challenge, or adversity. Though it might not be your intention, these statements can sometimes come across as a victim’s narrative. As you write your diversity statement, make sure you write from a place of empowerment instead of victimhood.
Regardless of what experience you choose to write about, center your statement around how you were able to persevere against all odds. Talk about what you learned and how that impacted and expanded your perspectives.
An essential aspect of any essay or statement is having a strong beginning and end. Your law school diversity statement should catch your reader’s attention, keeping them interested up until the very end.
Once you’ve chosen your topic, there are many ways that you can go about starting a strong essay and finishing it off with a bang. To do this effectively, you’ll want to draft a strong trajectory for your diversity statement. See your law school diversity statement as your hero’s journey, and tell your story.
After going over what makes a great diversity statement, you might still have some questions about writing a diversity statement for your application. Below, we will cover some frequently asked questions that might clarify any concerns you might still have.
You should only write a diversity statement if you have something thoughtful to say. Remember that, at times, what you say in your personal statement may overlap with your diversity statement–if this is the case, you may want to skip it.
Typically, your diversity statement will be no more than 1-2 pages long, but remember to do research on each school’s requirements.
Generally, you’ll be asked to write about how your diverse experiences have shaped your perspective. While each school might provide a different prompt, you’ll want to write about experiences or parts of your life that are less conventional.
If you’re an aspiring law school student who might be switching career paths or are returning after a long hiatus, you might consider writing about what has led you to law.
Similarly, you can also write about your experiences as a socio-economically or culturally diverse student if that applies to you. There are a plethora of topics to consider–make sure you pick one that is true to you.
There are many elements you should avoid in law school diversity statements (and personal statements), including rehashing stories you’ve already shared in your application, using quotes, being too ambiguous, and focusing your story on others rather than on your own experiences.
Figuring out whether or not to write a law school diversity statement can be tricky, and writing one can be even more challenging. Remember that this statement is a great opportunity for you to introduce yourself and share your background with the admissions team.
Make sure that your statement highlights what you have to bring to your school community. Best of luck!