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How to Write the “Why Berkeley Law” Essay With Examples

December 20, 2023
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

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

Reviewed: 12/20/23

Getting ready to write your "Why Berkeley Law?" essay? In this blog, we'll offer tips and examples to help you write a standout essay.

When applying to Berkeley Law, one of the most crucial components of your application is the optional essay. This essay provides you with an opportunity to express your genuine interest in the school and explain why you are a perfect fit. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into strategies for crafting an effective "Why Berkeley Law?" essay, explore examples of successful essays, and address frequently asked questions.

Writing the "Why Berkeley Law?" Essay

If you’re applying to Berkeley’s Public Interest Scholars Program, you'll find an optional essay prompt that gives you up to 350 words to answer the following question:

“Tell us more about your interest in Berkeley Law. What makes our school a good fit for you in terms of academic interests, programmatic offerings, and learning environment?” 

Let's explore how you can effectively respond to it. 

male student typing

Discover What Sets Berkeley Law Apart

Berkeley Law has a rich history and a lot to offer prospective students. When tackling this extra essay, be sure to explore the school's traditions, the variety of programs it offers, and the unique qualities that align with your academic goals. 

Reflect on Academic Goals

Now, take a moment to think about your academic goals, including what you want to achieve in the short term and the long term. Think about the specific academic interests that have drawn you to Berkeley Law. Explore how the school's academic offerings can help you reach these goals.

Are there specific courses, areas of study, or research chances that align with your interests? Make sure to express these connections clearly in your essay to demonstrate how well your academic aspirations match with Berkeley Law.

Forge a Regional Connection

The Bay Area is a thriving legal hub, but breaking into it can be challenging without prior connections. If your goal is to practice law in California, don't hesitate to mention it in your essay. Take it a step further by aligning yourself with a specific Bay Area population or legal specialization, such as tech law.

Embrace Diversity and Activism

Berkeley prides itself on its diversity and rich tradition of activism, like the historic Free Speech Movement. Incorporate this culture into your essay to show your appreciation for a vibrant and inclusive campus if you want to stand out. 

Though this isn’t necessarily a diversity essay, it is a good idea to highlight any personal experiences or values that demonstrate your commitment to diversity and social justice. Whether it's through your own background, extracurricular activities, or future aspirations, make it clear that you'll actively contribute to and benefit from Berkeley's diverse community.

Highlight Leadership and Initiative

Berkeley values students who take the lead and make a positive impact. Share examples of your leadership roles, whether in school, work, or community organizations. Highlight instances where you took the initiative to solve problems or create positive change. Demonstrating your potential to contribute actively to the Berkeley community will strengthen your essay.

Connect Your Past Experiences to Future Goals

Your essay should tell a story of your academic and personal journey, culminating in your desire to attend Berkeley. Explain how your past experiences have shaped your ambitions and why Berkeley is the ideal place to continue your growth. Discuss specific resources or opportunities that will help you achieve your long-term goals.

Be Authentic and Reflective

Lastly, be yourself in your essay. Berkeley is looking for authentic individuals who can contribute to their diverse and intellectually vibrant community. 

Share your true passions, values, and aspirations. Reflect on your experiences and insights, and don't be afraid to acknowledge the challenges or setbacks you've faced. A genuine, thoughtful essay will make a lasting impression.

Structuring Your "Why Berkeley Law?" Essay

To effectively write the essay prompt, make sure to follow a structured approach:

Introduction (Approx. 50-75 words)

  • Start by introducing yourself and your intention to join Berkeley Law.
  • Mention your passion for public interest law and why you are excited to apply.

Academic Interests (Approx. 75-100 words)

  • Talk about your academic interests and how they align with Berkeley Law's offerings.
  • Highlight specific courses or professors that pique your interest.

Programmatic Offerings (Approx. 75-100 words)

  • Explain why the Public Interest Scholars Program stands out to you.
  • Discuss how the program's features, like mentorship or clinics, will benefit your career goals.

Learning Environment (Approx. 75-100 words)

  • Describe what you admire about Berkeley Law's learning environment.
  • Mention the diverse community and the emphasis on activism, and explain why these aspects resonate with you.

Conclusion (Approx. 25-50 words)

  • Summarize your main points and reiterate your enthusiasm for Berkeley Law.
  • Express your eagerness to contribute to the Berkeley Law community and make a difference in public interest law.

This approach will help you effectively convey your genuine interest in Berkeley Law's Public Interest Scholars Program within the 350-word limit.

Mistakes to Avoid in Your “Why Berkeley Law” Essay

As you work on your essay, it's crucial to steer clear of common mistakes that could hinder your application's impact.

  • Generic Responses: Avoid generic statements that could apply to any law school. Your essay should be tailored to Berkeley Law specifically.
  • Lack of Specifics: Provide concrete examples and specifics about Berkeley Law and how they relate to your goals.
  • Negativity: Refrain from negative comments about other law schools or institutions.
  • Ignoring the Word Limit: Stick to the specified word limit. Admissions committees appreciate applicants who can communicate concisely.
student typing essay

Examples of Successful “Why Berkeley Law” Essay

In this next part, let's dive into “Why Berkeley?” law essay examples that really hit the mark, demonstrating the applicants' genuine alignment with the school's ethos, academic programs, and dedication to public interest law.

Example Essay #1

“As an aspiring public interest attorney, Berkeley Law's commitment to social justice and its extensive programmatic offerings make it the ideal institution for me. From my research, it's clear that Berkeley Law's values align perfectly with my passion for advocating for marginalized communities. The Public Interest Scholars Program, in particular, stands out as an opportunity to further my commitment to public service.
Berkeley Law's wide array of clinics and centers, such as the Policy Advocacy Clinic and the International Human Rights Law Clinic, strongly resonates with my academic interests. These hands-on experiences will allow me to apply legal theory to real-world situations, honing my skills while making a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need. Additionally, the Pro Bono Program's emphasis on community service deeply aligns with my commitment to giving back.
The vibrant and inclusive learning environment at Berkeley Law is another compelling reason for my interest. The diverse student body and faculty create a dynamic atmosphere where I can learn from different perspectives and foster a global understanding of legal issues. The Berkeley Law community's dedication to activism and the Free Speech Movement is particularly appealing, as it mirrors my own desire to be a catalyst for change and contribute to a more just society.
In my pursuit of a legal career focused on public interest, Berkeley Law's dedication to fostering social justice and providing extensive resources for students aligns perfectly with my aspirations. I am eager to engage with the Berkeley Law community, contribute to its legacy of activism, and take full advantage of the opportunities it offers to develop into an effective public interest attorney.”

Why This Essay Was Successful

This essay succeeded because it showed that the applicant's goals match what Berkeley Law offers. They clearly expressed their passion for public interest law and mentioned specific programs and opportunities at the school that interested them. 

They also talked about how Berkeley Law's diverse community and commitment to activism aligned with their values. Overall, the essay made a strong case for why the applicant would be a good fit for Berkeley Law.

Example Essay #2

“Berkeley Law is the epitome of my academic and professional aspirations as a future public interest attorney. Its exceptional academic offerings, programmatic diversity, and commitment to social justice have convinced me that this is where I belong.
My academic interests lie in environmental justice and sustainable development. Berkeley Law's esteemed Environmental Law Program, renowned for its interdisciplinary approach and impactful research, perfectly aligns with my goals. I am eager to engage with faculty members such as Professor [Faculty Name], whose work on environmental justice has been a constant source of inspiration for me.
Furthermore, the Public Interest Scholars Program is the embodiment of my career aspirations. It offers unparalleled resources and mentorship opportunities that will not only help me refine my legal skills but also empower me to make a meaningful difference in disadvantaged communities. The program's emphasis on experiential learning through clinics and community engagement resonates deeply with my commitment to public service.
The Berkeley Law community's dedication to diversity and activism is also a significant draw for me. Having been an advocate for social justice throughout my undergraduate years, I am excited about the prospect of contributing to Berkeley's legacy of activism and making a positive impact on pressing societal issues.
In conclusion, Berkeley Law's academic excellence, programmatic offerings, and unwavering commitment to social justice make it the perfect fit for my academic and career goals. I am enthusiastic about the prospect of joining the Berkeley Law community, where I can harness my passion for public interest law to effect change and promote justice for marginalized communities.”

Why This Essay Was Successful

This essay succeeds because it shows a strong match between the applicant's goals and Berkeley Law. They clearly express their interest in environmental justice and sustainable development and explain how Berkeley Law's programs align with these goals. 

The essay also mentions a specific faculty member who inspires them, demonstrating their genuine interest in the school. Additionally, the writer emphasizes their commitment to hands-on learning and public service, which fits well with Berkeley Law's offerings. 

Finally, they express their excitement about contributing to the school's diversity and activism, making a strong case for why they are a good fit for Berkeley Law.


Navigating the application process for Berkeley Law can be complex, but our FAQ section is here to provide you with clear and concise answers to your most pressing questions.

1. What Makes Berkeley Law School Unique?

Berkeley Law stands out for its commitment to academic excellence, social justice, and innovation. It offers a diverse range of courses, renowned faculty, and numerous clinics and centers focused on various legal fields.

2. What Is the Mission Statement of Berkeley Law?

Berkeley Law's mission is to educate leaders who will contribute to the development of law and society. They aim to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity while fostering a supportive and collaborative community.

3. What Is the Optional Essay for Berkeley Law?

Berkeley Law provides an optional essay prompt that allows applicants to address any aspects of their application they wish to clarify or expand upon. While it's not required, it can be a valuable opportunity to provide context if needed.


Writing the "Why Berkeley Law?" essay requires thoughtful reflection and a deep understanding of what makes Berkeley Law unique. By following the strategies outlined in this guide and studying successful examples, you can craft an essay that not only impresses the admissions committee but also conveys your genuine enthusiasm for joining the Berkeley Law community. 

Remember to be specific, passionate, and authentic in your writing, and best of luck with your application!

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