It can be worthwhile to read examples of essays that have helped applicants win admission to law school. Seeing successful essays might give you a sense of what admissions committees are looking for. Reading what others have written might inspire you to think of an approach that will work for you. Knowing what has worked for other people might give you confidence -- and confidence makes for a better essay. But don't expect to find something that you can adapt a little and submit as your own.
Few law schools offer essay examples. That's because admissions officers want an applicant to write from his or her own experience rather than imitate what someone else has written. Melanie Nutt, the director of admissions for the Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem, N.C., said she wishes applicants would stay away from blogs and books that offer essay advice and examples. Even worse, she said, are services that will "help" someone write an essay, for a fee. "I want applicants to write about something that they care about and have some passion for. Hopefully, by the time somebody is ready for graduate school, he [or she] might have an original thought," she said.
Examples abound for those who want them, however. An Internet search will take you to free sites such as top-law-schools.com that post and critique essays.
A number of books include essay examples and writing tips. They're likely available at your local library and on sale at bookstores for under $20. These books often include writing advice that most college-educated people already know, such as:
- Don't be vague.
- Use active rather than passive voice.
- Be accurate in spelling and grammar.
- Have a good beginning and ending that will interest the reader.
Many include comments from admissions officers at leading law schools (often, the same people appear in several books). And then there are the examples of essays by people who won admission to their law school of choice.
What does make a good essay? Read on for some enlightenment.