Deciding to go to law school is a huge decision, and one which often comes with high financial implications. Luckily, there are many scholarship opportunities for law students that can help make the process more manageable. Scholarships are available, both from individual schools as well as private funders. There are many important pieces of your scholarship application, including your previous academic transcripts, college GPA and LSAT scores. However, the essay is one of the most important aspects of receiving a scholarship for law school because it provides you with an opportunity to prove to the scholarship committee who you are as a writer, a person, a student and as a future lawyer.
Having good GPA and LSAT scores are undeniably important. However, these measures only represent a number, and many applicants come from strong academic backgrounds. This means if you want to stand out, the essay is the place to shine in terms of increasing your chances for both being accepted to law school and receiving scholarship funds.
Doing your research and understanding the ins and outs of law school scholarships is essential to increasing your chances of receiving a scholarship. Be sure to double-check deadlines, conduct due diligence on what kinds of scholarships you meet the criteria for, and research every possible avenue of funding that might be available. Most schools offer merit-based scholarships for accepted students, and often this kind of scholarship decision is determined by the school’s general law school application.
For merit-based scholarships from schools, this means that you should consider your personal statement as both your ticket to get into law school as well as a chance to receive merit scholarship funds.
Personal statements for law school should focus on what makes you unique as a person. They can focus on an important event in your life, your upbringing, your background, or anything that shows committees why you deserve to receive a scholarship while at the same time demonstrating that you are a good candidate to go to law school. Keep in mind that a personal statement is meant to be just that. It’s different from a statement of purpose because it’s not a time to tell committees what kind of law you want to practice or the kind of research you hope to conduct. Committees want to hear about you!
Another important aspect of the law school scholarship application process to understand is that some law schools have endowment funds that can provide scholarships to law students. These scholarships sometimes require a separate essay, so be sure to pay close attention to individual school’s requirements. Endowment funds sometimes take financial situations into consideration, but writing an essay that is unique, well written and distinct from your personal essay (if they are separate essays) is essential. Some schools suggest focusing on aspects of your life that you consider unique or diverse.
Private, outside scholarships are another great source of funding and once again, writing a good scholarship essay is extremely important.
Once you’ve researched which scholarships you are eligible to apply for, give every essay you write individual attention. If there is a specific prompt, make sure you answer the prompt directly, and don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. Scholarship committees will be able to tell if you are recycling the same essay and aren’t tailoring your writing to their specific scholarship or prompt. Though with these kinds of essays you should keep your audience in mind, staying authentic and true to your values and beliefs is as important as ever.
Specificity can be a key factor in writing a successful essay. Many scholarships are geared towards minority groups, veterans, or people who want to practice in a certain area of law. Additionally, there are also scholarships for future lawyers who want to teach or to work in public service. Knowing what niche you fit into and tailoring your writing to these categories is a great way to set yourself up for success.
Regardless of what kind of law school scholarship essay you are writing, your writing should reflect the fact that you are applying for funds that are tailored to a very challenging level of education. Having errors, typos and careless mistakes is not the kind of first impression you want to make to the scholarship committee. You want your writing to be mature, accurate and thoroughly edited. This will help prove your attention to detail and willingness to commit to your work.
Similarly, be sure to adhere to all essay requirements, such as word count, format and answering all parts of the prompt. Stay on top of deadlines and be sure to research whether or not applying early will increase your chance of receiving a scholarship. You don’t want to miss out on funds because you waited until the last minute or missed a deadline.
Some sources of scholarship funds provide scholarship money on a rolling basis until the funds are gone, so try to write those essays first in order to get them turned in quickly. Have someone you trust, such as a mentor or advisor, proofread your essays. It can also be helpful to read examples of other successful law school scholarship essays, so you can get a sense of what committees are looking for.
Putting in the time and effort to craft a law school scholarship essay that truly shines can significantly ease the financial burden of law school, and making your essay the best it can be will pay off in the long term.