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UPenn Law Personal Statement | How to Write + Examples

August 25, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

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

Reviewed: 03/03/23

A well-crafted and polished personal statement can be the icing on the cake that gets you into your top law school! To learn more about how to write a winning UPenn Law personal statement, read on!

Figuring out an opening hook for your personal statement can be difficult. You want to catch the admissions committee’s attention and urge them to read on, but you still want it to be relevant to the rest of your personal statement. 

Consider this hook for a UPenn Law personal statement: “Fish don’t have feelings, what are you crying for?” 

Would you be intrigued to continue reading this statement? Do you want to know what fish have to do with going to law school? 

You’ll find out in this guide! In it, we’ll break down how to write your own compelling personal statements, delve into UPenn’s specific statement requirements, and share two personal statement samples for you to draw inspo from!

UPenn Law School Personal Statement Requirements

UPenn does not have strict personal statement requirements, but suggests students use their essay to share information they deem important to their candidacy. Students may describe aspects of their backgrounds and interests, academic or non-academic, and how they can uniquely contribute to the UPenn Law community and legal field.

UPenn asks that students try to limit their statement to two pages, double-spaced.

How to Write the UPenn Law Personal Statement

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Writing your UPenn Law personal statement can be overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down for you into easy to follow steps:

Begin With Brainstorming

Give yourself at least a few days just for the brainstorming process. Inspiration comes at random times, so don’t force yourself to write your entire statement within a limited timeframe. Ask yourself what you’re passionate about, what experiences have shaped you into who you are today, and what you hope to achieve in the future.

Think about what you’re known for amongst your families and peers, and what unique stories you can share to convince the committee you’re an excellent candidate for law school. At this stage, there are no wrong ideas! Write them all out so you can sort through them in the next step.

Narrow Your Experiences

You should begin your story with an engaging anecdote that gives the committee a glimpse into your personality and life. While it can be tempting to jam several meaningful stories into your personal statement, doing so can make it appear unfocused. 

Choose the experience that is the most intriguing and most likely to have never been heard by the committee. This will be your focal point! Then, choose a few experiences to share to provide context for this story. If your story explains how your interest in law began, share how you developed this interest further. 

What did you learn through your pursuits? Which ones had the most impact on you? Remember, you will already have to submit a resume detailing all of your work, volunteer, and extracurricular activities, so you don’t have to reshare all of these. 

Begin Writing

Your first draft should be rough—it might be a little all over the place, have several run-ons, and may even go past the page-limit. That’s okay! Don’t limit yourself during your first draft. Get out all of your ideas, so you can refine them and can feel confident you’re sharing everything you want to.

Be Descriptive

As you write your first draft, be descriptive! Use sensory details and vivid language to bring your experiences to life and immerse your readers. 

Focus on Your Passion for Law and Your Future Goals

While you’ll want to talk about your past and present experiences, you need to also spend some time discussing your future. Most students spend their last paragraph or so providing the committee with specific aspirations to illustrate their commitment to law and their desire to make a real difference in it!

Refine Your Draft

Once you’ve written your first draft, it’s time to revise it. Give yourself some time between your first and second draft, and review it with a fine-tooth comb. Get rid of any redundancies, vague statements, or clichés. Cut down on your word count if necessary, and ensure you aren’t sharing any irrelevant information.

Your second draft should be cohesive and concise. Revise it as many times as necessary before you feel confident enough to move to the next step.

Seek Feedback

The best way to judge the efficacy and accuracy of your personal statement is to have others read it. They can bring new perspectives to your essay and confirm if it paints the best picture of you. Your friends and family can also offer you suggestions on how to increase the clarity of your statement. 

People students

Final Touches

Once you’ve gotten at least one other person to review your statement, you can make the finishing touches for your final draft. Go over it several times to ensure there are no errors, and only submit it when you’re absolutely confident you’ve improved it as much as possible and are happy with it!

By following these tips and putting in the time and effort to write a strong personal statement, you can increase your chances of being accepted to UPenn Law School.

UPenn Law School Personal Statement Examples

Knowing the steps involved in writing your UPenn Law personal statement is a great place to start, but seeing how these steps come together can increase your confidence and help you write a compelling personal statement!

Example One

Fish don’t have feelings, what are you crying for?

That’s what my father said to me when I was six years old and refused to go fishing with him, as I told him I did not share his same enthusiasm for killing animals. It was a sentiment I heard often coming from a family that fished every chance they got. 

It was an Easter tradition to wake up at 5 am Sunday morning and head to Lake St. Clair, hoping to catch an early bite. But, as my family partook in this tradition that always seemed barbaric in my eyes, I sat home with a babysitter, thinking about all the fish that would lose their lives that morning.

I have always felt a deep connection to animals and their wellbeing, regardless of their size. It was why I went vegan in middle school and rescued three cats and two dogs in high school. 

It was also this love for animals that led me to volunteer at local animal shelters throughout high school and college and join local animal advocacy groups throughout my junior and senior years at UMichigan.

In one of these groups, our mission was to defund lab and animal testing programs. What I learned and saw through this organization was horrific: animals kept in cages so small that they could not lie down, lethargic mice that had given up after so many pokes and prods, and dozens of shaking and scabbed rabbits. 

I will never forget the stench of antiseptic mixed with animal feces, and the sense of hopelessness that engulfed some of these laboratories. This experience was eye-opening for me and shaped by desire to pursue a career in animal law. 

Our organization continues its mission in hopes of one day succeeding, but we know it will be a long battle with little support and slow progress. This has taught me about how complex the legal issues that arise in animal welfare are, and just how few animal advocates exist within the legal system to aid these efforts. 

Driven by a passion for justice and animals, and a deep interest in animal law, I will bring a unique perspective to UPenn Law School. 

Through my experience working with and advocating for animals I have developed a deep understanding of the emotional and ethical dilemmas of animal welfare, and am eager to learn more about the legal frameworks that govern them.

I am particularly interested in UPenn’s Animal Law and Policy program, which will provide me with the knowledge and skills necessary to become an effective animal law advocate and ensure no animal is overlooked or considered too small to be advocated for. 

Why This Works

This personal statement hits all the marks it’s supposed to: it describes the students background, experiences, unique interests, and how they plan on contributing to the legal profession and UPenn! 

It also starts with an interesting hook (no pun intended) that will catch the readers’ attention and urge them to read on, which is what you'll want to do considering the admissions committee reviews thousands of applications each year!

fish hook

Example Two

The Killer Clown—a deranged man who tortured and killed at least 33 young men in a six-year-long killing spree. 

John Wayne Gacy’s story was first introduced to me at the age of 10, which not only ruined clowns for me but ignited a profound curiosity within me regarding the intricacies of the criminal psyche and the underlying motivations that drive these monstrous actions. 

By the time I was 11, I had researched and learned about all of the most notorious serial killers—Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Harold Shipman, Albert Fish, you name them. A rather macabre hobby, as my mother put it.

But, this interest continued to develop as I grew up. Throughout my undergraduate years, I studied criminal law and policy with fervor, immersing myself in the legal system. 

I volunteered with the California Innocence Project in my freshman year at UC Berkeley, providing assistance to individuals caught in the web of the criminal justice system, which was one of the most profound experiences I had.

 As I listened to stories of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, I was filled with a sense of rage and indignation. In all my research and passion work, I learned about criminals that committed heinous crimes and were justly convicted for them.

Learning about wrongful convictions, I was struck by the fact that the criminal justice system can be flawed, condemning the innocent while letting the guilty walk free. I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my life to fighting for justice for those who have been wronged by the system. 

The more I learned about the ways in which the criminal justice system operates, the more committed I became to advocating for change. As I look ahead to law school, I know that I want to focus my studies on criminal law. 

I am particularly interested in learning about the ways in which the legal system impacts the most vulnerable members of society. I want to understand the psychology behind criminal behavior, and the role that society plays in shaping it. 

I want to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for my clients, to push for reform, and to make a real difference in the lives of those who have been touched by the criminal justice system. UPenn Law School is the perfect place for me to pursue these goals. 

I hope to participate in the school's Criminal Justice Law Project, as well as its pro bono legal clinics. I also plan to get involved with local advocacy groups, working to raise awareness about the ways in which the criminal justice system can be reformed to better serve the needs of all members of society. 

I am excited to continue my journey of discovery and advocacy at UPenn, and hope to use my education to help create a more equitable society.

Why This Works

Again, this personal statement follows UPenn’s guidelines by explaining the student’s unique experiences and passions and sharing their specific goals for the future. The student avoids making vague generalizations, and provides concrete examples to back up all of their claims.

Like the first example, it also uses an intriguing hook as its opening!

FAQs: Personal Statement for UPenn Law School

question marks

We’ve gone into depth about how to write the UPenn Law personal statement, and provided you with step-by-step instructions on how to tackle your own essay. For any remaining questions about this application component, read on to find your answers!

1. Does UPenn Require a Personal Statement?

Yes, UPenn requires a personal statement from all of their applicants, so that they can gain more insight into their unique experiences, personalities, and career goals.

2. How Long Should the UPenn Law School Personal Statement Be?

The suggested length for the UPenn Law personal statement is around two pages, double-spaced. 

3. How Important Is the Personal Statement for UPenn Law School?

Your UPenn personal statement isn’t the only factor that admissions committees consider when evaluating your application, but it can play a significant role in the decision-making process. It allows the admissions committee to see beyond the numbers and transcripts and get to know you on a personal level. 

An average or poorly written personal statement can weaken an otherwise strong application, and a strong personal statement can set an applicant apart from other candidates with similar academic scores and backgrounds.

Therefore, applicants should take the time to craft a compelling and well-written personal statement that showcases their strengths and unique perspectives.

Final Thoughts

Your UPenn Law personal statement can be a crucial factor in the admissions decision. Strive to make the most of this opportunity and use it to make a strong case for your candidacy to join this top-ranking law school

Remember to be honest, thoughtful, and reflective in your writing, and let your distinct voice shine through!

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