Law Students

Personal Statements Gain Importance for Minority Law School Applicants Post-Harvard Decision
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When an anonymous student from Harvard heard about the Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College decision, they considered chucking the whole idea of law school. The child of Colombian immigrants had planned to focus their application’s diversity statement on brushes with the juvenile justice system that they believed were racially motivated. However, several universities have scrapped those optional essays since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, leaving this Harvard student uncertain about how to proceed.

Feeling Invalidated

The decision sparked concerns among minority law school applicants about whether discussing race could adversely affect their chances of admission, despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion stating that students could still share information about their race. In response to this uncertainty, programs at institutions like Dillard University have shifted their focus to help underrepresented and minority students emphasize personal statements, a crucial element in law school admissions.

The Impact on Diversity Statements


In light of this summer’s decision, programs for aspiring law students at Dillard University and online are helping underrepresented and minority students focus on the personal statements typically required for law school admissions.

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Navigating the New Landscape

Overcoming Hurdles

Laura Fonseca, the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the Law School Admission Council, acknowledges the heightened anxiety among students, stating, “Students are nervous right now about what they can write and what they can’t.” However, she emphasizes the importance of students owning the entirety of their stories.

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The Role of Diversity Statements

For many students of color without exceptional standardized test scores or GPAs, the diversity statement played a vital role in presenting their case. Dwan Jacque-Boucree, a program assistant at Dillard, notes that the diversity statement allowed minority applicants to express what they could bring to the legal community.

Guiding Applicants

Legal Education Advancing Diversity Program

At Dillard, Jacque-Boucree runs a free, yearlong Legal Education Advancing Diversity program, guiding students from three New Orleans-area HBCUs through the admissions process. Workshops within the program address the delicate balance of discussing race in personal statements.

Connecting Experiences to Law

Sydney Montgomery, the executive director and founder of Barrier Breakers, stresses the importance of connecting personal stories about race and immigration experiences back to the desire to pursue a legal education. Her organization has been involved in the LSAC’s online Writing for Impact pilot program, assisting underprivileged law school applicants.

Encouraging Forward Momentum

The Need for Extra Encouragement

Like the anonymous Harvard student, many students required additional encouragement to proceed with their applications. Montgomery emphasizes the efforts needed to convince students they are still wanted and valuable.

Moving Forward

With the assistance of an adviser, the anonymous Harvard student crafted a personal statement that transcended their racial identity while acknowledging its role in their path to law school. Their acceptance to the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law exemplifies the importance of persevering despite the challenges of the changing admissions landscape.

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Personal Statement Writing Tips

To assist aspiring law students in navigating the evolving admissions landscape, directors of law school application programs offer practical insights:

  • Start Early: Allow yourself plenty of time.
  • Relevance of Race: If race relates to why you want to attend law school, include it; otherwise, refrain.
  • Narrative Structure: Answer the question “why law” with concise stories organized into a narrative.
  • Honesty and Integrity: Write from a place of honesty and integrity.
  • Resilience Over Trauma: Focus on resilience rather than solely on trauma.
  • Feedback: Seek input from professors, advisers, friends, and family.
  • Rewriting: Be prepared to rewrite multiple drafts.
  • Adaptability: Tailor your story to each school’s prompts.
  • Proofreading: Have someone proofread your statement before submission.
  • Optional Diversity Statements: Check if law schools accept optional diversity statements.

In conclusion, as law school admissions criteria evolve, personal statements become increasingly crucial for minority applicants. Navigating this landscape requires strategic and thoughtful storytelling, emphasizing individual experiences while connecting them to a genuine passion for the legal profession.

Don’t be a silent ninja! Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.



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