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Top Law School Personal Statement Topics + Ideas (2024 Guide)

How do you choose a law school personal statement topic? 

You’re in the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to pick the perfect topic that makes your topic stand out. 

Want to learn more? Read on!

Key takeaways: 

In this article, you’ll learn: 

  • Why a topic can have a big impact on your law school application 
  • What questions to brainstorm to come up with topic ideas 
  • How to pick the right topic idea 
  • The biggest mistakes people make when deciding on their topic 
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With that, let’s dive right in. 

Why is your law school personal statement topic important?

Let’s start from the beginning. Why is your law school personal statement topic important? 

The thing is: 

Choosing your law school personal statement topic is often one of the most difficult—yet most important—decisions you have to make in your law school application. 

A strong personal statement topic can help your law school application: 

  • Stand out and land you your dream law school
  • Support weaker GPA and LSAT scores 

That’s what I figured out early on. 

Why I knew I needed a good topic 

The worst case of procrastination I ever experienced was when I was trying to figure out my law school personal statement topic. 

I would tell myself I only had to write for 30 minutes, and then somehow before I ever even sat down at my computer two hours passed by and I had reorganized my entire room, cooked an apple pie (true story), and chatted on the phone with my sister about my dog doing more weirdo things (he’s a giant german shepherd who loves to hide in closets…weird). 

Talking about myself, thinking about what made me “unique” or “special” or “interesting” made me squirm. 

Whenever I would come up with a law school personal statement topic, I would second-guess myself quickly. The self-doubt quickly crept in and the little voice in my head whispered that won’t be good enough.

But at the same time, I knew I needed to have a kick-ass personal statement because I wanted to go to a top 10 law school. 

However, while I had a pretty good GPA, it was slightly below most of the schools’ medians. And my LSAT score was definitely not at the medians. 

So I knew that the only thing left in my control was my application – and most importantly, my personal statement. 

Even though it felt overwhelming and at times impossible, I knew I had to find that perfect topic to go with my application. 

How to find your story 

I’m guessing regardless of your law school goals, this resonates with you. 

For many applicants, it feels like there are a million different things they could write about, and they wonder how they are supposed to fit it all into two to three pages double spaced.  

For many other applicants, it feels like they have nothing interesting or novel to write about at all, and they don’t know how to make their application stand out from everyone else. 

Whichever you resonate with most, I can assure you that there is a compelling personal statement within your reach.

I like to tell my consulting clients that getting to a powerful personal statement—which means a personal statement that will make you stand out and get admitted into your dream law school—is like sifting for gold. 

You have to sift out a lot of muck and grime, and even other shiny rocks that you think are gold but if you look closer, are actually just another worthless rock.

Figuring out the gold of your personal statement is the same. It requires a lot of digging, a lot of sifting, a lot of close examination, and a lot of cleaning up, but in the end, you will be rewarded. 

And lucky for you, after years of helping my clients—who all come from different backgrounds and have different stories, experiences, and interests—develop a powerful personal statement that got them into their dream law schools, I have developed a streamlined system to help you get into your dream school. 

It will still require a lot of work and a lot of digging, but with this method, it will get you the gold. 

Let’s (pun intended) dig in. 

What are good topics for a law school personal statement? 

You might already know what you want to write about for your law school personal statement topic. Or you have no clue. 

It doesn’t matter – you will still want to brainstorm to find your topic. 


Because oftentimes the thing you think is the best topic, actually isn’t the more you dig (remember all those shiny rocks that you think are gold, but on closer examination are really just rocks?).

And even if you think you don’t have time or just want to get writing, you still must brainstorm first if you really want to find your best law school personal statement topic.

Why you need to brainstorm to pick a topic

Let me explain why I am so so adamant that all of my clients start with a brainstorm:  

First, the brainstorm, even though it’s an extra step, will actually save you time.

I always hated the advice from teachers to outline before you write your essay, I was the impatient type who just wanted to get the words out on the page. But we all know that outlining does help you write something faster, and let’s be real, better. 

The brainstorm does the same thing.

Second, and probably most importantly, the brainstorm helps you see everything in one place, the whole universe of You together.

This is so important because to develop a powerful and stand-out personal statement, you want to have an overarching theme that runs through your essay. This is what will tie together all of your experiences, and help you talk about things that may feel totally distinct. 

We’ll get into this in more detail later.

Third, the brainstorming questions that I share with you below are not random. These are questions that will draw out the experiences and character traits that law schools will find most compelling. 

By going through the brainstorming questions, you may find a narrative or experience or character trait you didn’t think to talk about, but which actually fits in and adds to the strength of your application.

Download the Brainstorming Questions Here!

Brainstorming questions to find your personal statement topic

Now that you know why you should brainstorm to pick your topic, let’s take a look at the actual brainstorming questions that will help you get there. 

#1: The three character traits that set you apart

The first brainstorm question will ask you to talk about three character traits that set you apart from others, and then to tell a few stories that illustrate each of those traits.

Law schools want to see who you are and what you will bring to the table. Anchoring your personal statement around a character trait can be a great theme. 

Note that the most important part of this exercise is telling the stories that illustrate that trait. You will want to show how you exemplify something, not just tell them. 

These stories can come from any time in your life, from childhood to recent. But try to include at least one story from your more recent past.

#2: What someone wouldn’t know about you 

The second brainstorm question asks you to make a list of things someone wouldn’t know about you from your transcripts or resume.

When answering this question, remember your audience. You’re speaking to a law school admission officer, so no need to say things like you can tie a cherry stem with your tongue or you were beer pong champion. 

Remember, this is a curated list of things an admission officer might want to know about you. So not anything and everything needs to go in.

Some examples might be: your family background or dynamic, what your childhood was like, accomplishments that aren’t resume or transcript builders, unique skills/talents. This question can often give great material for a diversity statement too.

#3: Why you are applying to law school 

The third brainstorm question asks you to think about what in your life has led you to apply to law school. Think about things beyond just your recent past. What experiences, what people, and what activities have influenced you and or guided you down this path toward law school?

Your personal statement should answer the question: Why is law school the inevitable next step in my life’s narrative? This brainstorm question helps get that out.

#4: What you hope to accomplish as a lawyer 

Finally, I ask you to think about what you hope to accomplish as a lawyer, or instead, to think about what problems you see in society or in your world that you want to fix. Be as specific as possible. If you don’t immediately know, really let this question sit with you. Lawyers solve problems. Whether they’re societal or just for their clients. Thinking about your role in that will be important to building a powerful personal statement.

You can download the questions here so that you can refer back to them: 

Download the Brainstorming Questions Here!

How to use these brainstorming questions

Ok, as you can see, you have a lot to do in order to figure out your law school personal statement topic.

This can feel intimidating, and overwhelming. Don’t let it be.

At this stage I want you to not think about the final product. Don’t think about these brainstorming questions becoming an actual essay. Just writing casually, free-form, and even bullet points are fine at this stage.

And while I told you to remember who your ultimate audience is, don’t let that get too much in your head. I see too many applicants try to cater their personal statement to what they think admissions officers want to hear, instead of being true to what they believe and feel. 

This comes across in your personal statement and will take away from its impact.

Also, here are some logistical rules of the road as you do the brainstorm: 

  • Take your time going through the questions. Do a first round and get as much out as you can. Then come back on a different day and add to it.
  • Don’t spend more than two hours on this at a time. There is only so much quality material you can get out at once.
  • And finally, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Dig deep, and really think about all of your experiences, not just the ones you think are the reason you’re going to law school. You may surprise yourself.

While you’re at it, let’s take a look at a recap of the most powerful law school topic ideas. 

Law school personal statement topic ideas

Look: There’s not one right topic, as this is unique to everyone. More than the topic itself, it’s the perspective or insight you share. 

That’s why I don’t share the typical list including questions like “What are your hobbies?” A common misconception is that those types of questions, as such, will be enough. 

But to help you get started, use the prompts from the previous chapter.

Remember that everything has to connect to your personal story and support your argument why you should be selected instead of all the other applicants.

The topic ideas are: 

  • What’s a story that sets you apart? 
  • What was your childhood like? 
  • What are some “undercover” accomplishments you wouldn’t add to your resume? 
  • What are your unique skills or talents? 
  • What are things people don’t know about you? 
  • Why are you applying to law school? 
  • What do you want to accomplish as a lawyer? 

Now you’ve done a lot of brainstorming…Just one thing left – you need to find and pick your topic.

How? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

How do you decide on your personal statement topic? 

Congrats! You’ve finished your brainstorm.

Unfortunately, we’re not done with that brainstorm just yet. Now it’s time to get out our gold pans and start sifting through the muck.

I want you to put on your objective observer hat, and pretend you don’t know yourself. Pretend you’re learning about yourself for the very first time.

Go through your brainstorm and start looking for common threads.

What themes do you see emerging?

What is a character trait that is weaved throughout many of your experiences? 

As you go through your brainstorm, you may want to print it out or use track changes in Word and write comments or questions for yourself on the side.

For instance, maybe you had a formative life experience that taught you something. You’d want to find out where else in your life have you seen that lesson carried through. As you read through your brainstorm, make a comment, highlight, or circle around other stories that exemplify that same theme.

As you go through your brainstorm, you should start seeing some common themes emerge. Note, I say themes plural. There will likely be multiple themes.

It may be clear to you which one is stronger. Or you may still be struggling with what direction to go in. 

This is totally normal! And part of the process.

Now you know how to brainstorm your topic.

But what topics should you stay away from? Let’s take a look. 

What should you not write about in your law school personal statement? 

There are a few mistakes I see law school applicants make all the time. These are…

Mistake #1: Don’t cram everything in

A mistake I see time and time again is an application that has too many different themes going on, shows too many different interests, and makes me feel like the applicant can’t commit to anything.

This is not a quality you want admissions officers thinking about you.

A simple, but powerful, way to try to narrow down your theme is to ask yourself…

If someone had to write a thesis that encompassed most of my important experiences, what might they say?

Note that I say most of your experiences, not all, and that I say important ones. Important ones need to be filtered through what is important to you going to law school. Not necessarily what’s important to your life in general. This will be different for everyone. 

For example, maybe your backpacking adventures across Tanzania, your bungee jumping in New Zealand, your viral blog on complicated baking techniques, and your work in mechanical engineering feel totally distinct, like they’re different parts of you. 

But if you take a step back, there will always be an overarching theme.

This was a real client of mine, Beth. And after going through her brainstorm, we realized that she is someone who is always pushing boundaries, always trying to innovate, whether it is through her adventurous travel, her baking, or her work engineering innovative products. 

And that idea of her pushing boundaries is what she focused her application around. 

Not everyone will want or even need to fit in all those disparate experiences. For some people, they will have to let some things go, or realize that maybe those aspects of themselves are better left for a different essay – like a diversity essay or a school’s supplemental essay. 

Mistake #2: Don’t use sensational or shocking stories 

The next mistake I see law school applicants make is to use a sensational story as their topic.

But a shocking story is definitely not enough to get you admitted.

Your seemingly “novel” or “exciting” experiences—the ones people think will capture an admission officer’s attention—may not actually have much depth if you keep digging. 

They may be exciting, but after telling the story, there’s not much of anything left to say. There’s no real point to it.

For instance, I had a client who had experienced severe racial profiling at an airport. When she first came to me she was convinced this experience was her reason for going to law school, and that was what she should focus her personal statement on. 

But as she went through the brainstorm, a stronger and more persuasive theme emerged—her desire to combat inequity in the healthcare system.

She still felt that the racial profiling was a formative experience for her and wanted to put it in her personal statement. But no matter how hard she tried, we just couldn’t get it to fit seamlessly. 

And it’s because it really wasn’t a core part of why she was going to law school.

But it was a great story to tell as part of her diversity statement and she was able to include it there. And her personal statement was still incredibly powerful. 

P.S. This client is at Harvard Law now.

Another client comes to mind on the topic of exciting and interesting stories but without much point beyond it being interesting. This client was at the site of the London terrorist attacks and felt like that was his story. 

But the more we dug, the more he realized that it was just a fact of his life, not something that really motivated him or shaped him toward law school.

So keep that in mind as you go through your experiences. Be cautious about trying to shock an admission officer. Instead, what you want to do is impress admission officers and show them how you will be a kick-ass lawyer.

Learn more about writing a law school personal statement

Want to learn more about how to create a law school personal statement? 

Take a look at my resource library for more insights on how to write and polish your personal statement: 

And here are a few helpful resources from some of the top law schools: 

Over to you!

There you have it! 

Now you know how to pick the perfect law school personal statement topic.

After all, choosing the right topic can make that difference between getting accepted to your top choice or getting rejected.

Want more help creating a strong personal statement – and law school application? 

I help law school applicants get accepted to their dream law schools. 

Read more about my services here.

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Hope you enjoy this blog post! Want to know how to use the power of your personal statement to get into your dream law school, even if you aren’t the “perfect” applicant?

Mara has helped countless law school applicants get into their dream law schools, even without a perfect GPA, the highest LSAT score, or most unique story. Mara used to be a litigator at one of the top law firms in the world and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a prestigious Toll Public Interest Scholar.

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