We welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to talk about working on your law school diversity statement.
Looking for ways to boost your law school admissions packet? I assure you you’re not alone. During the time I was applying to law school, this was something I was frantic about. My LSAT score wasn’t very high, so I became fixated on assembling an admissions packet that would hopefully be sufficient for the reviewer to simply overlook my score or at the very least not give it too much standing. I mean, a girl can dream right? Ultimately, however, I knew I needed to provide documentation that would support my score and somewhat provide an explanation for why it was so low. Thus I completed a LSAT Addendum and Diversity Statement as the emblems of support I would use to supplement my personal statement and boost my overall packet.
Today I want to speak about the diversity statement, a great option offered by most, if not all, law schools, but one not always taken or even recommended to be taken by diverse applicants. You see, a diversity statement isn’t meant for everyone. Not even someone who is a racial or ethnic minority. Simply having these characteristics by nature, aren’t sufficient if these characteristics haven’t shaped your worldview in some sense and impacted your desire to obtain a J.D. Additionally, even if you aren’t a racial or ethnic minority but you’ve experienced some adversity in life that would make you diverse, a diversity statement may not be the best option for you if you can’t show how you’ve overcome or you’re working to overcome this adversity and how your resilience would make you an exceptional candidate for the law school community. Writing a weak diversity statement could prematurely kick you out of the running, despite the fact that you have a strong personal statement or good LSAT score which could have been sufficient for your acceptance on their own. Therefore, before writing a diversity statement, reflect on whether this is a good option for you. Oh and be sure to check out the helpful tips below, complete with dos and don’ts in the event you land on taking this option.
What is a Diversity Statement?
A diversity statement is an essay which allows you to tell your story of:
- what makes you different from the majority of other law school applicants
- how this difference has shaped your worldview
- how you’ve worked or are working to overcome the adversity or limitations posed by these differences,
- why these differences have influenced your desire to obtain a JD, and
- how you will use your life lessons to positively impact the law school community and the broader local, national or international community when you become a lawyer.
Who should Write One?
A diversity statement is open for any applicant who is a racial or ethnic minority as well as any applicant regardless of race or ethnicity, who has experienced some adversity that would make them diverse. However, I would recommend only completing this statement if you can actually speak to how your diverse nature would fulfill the factors listed above. Don’t just write one for the sake of writing one or simply to fluff your admissions packet. It’s important that you write one with a purpose.
Now if you decide that you are a good candidate for a diversity statement, here are some helpful dos and don’ts to follow:
Do explain how your Diverse Background has Influenced your Desire to go to Law School.
Despite the prompt you receive for the statement, be sure to include how your diverse background has influenced your desire to go to your selected law school. Use this statement to specifically show how a JD will help you to further shape your life lessons and be a good influence in your law school community and the broader world. Don’t forget to speak to how your selected law school has either been a champion for diversity or is currently working towards that and speak to all the ways you can positively impact this value.
Be sure to be concise. Most diversity statements will offer a prompt of topics you can select to write on as well as a word limit. Be sure to actually follow the prompt selected and perhaps select one theme or one issue from your life story that falls within that prompt. Don’t use this as an opportunity to pile a long list of experiences into one. If you have several experiences that fall into one theme, then use that and make sure you cover the five factors listed above within the word limit. If no word limit is offered, 500 words is usually a good limit to follow.
Don’t Rewrite your Personal Statement.
Please don’t rewrite your personal statement. The diversity statement isn’t a space to simply extend your personal statement. Now there’s nothing wrong with telling a story that you may have opened the door to in your personal statement, but both pieces serve a different purpose, and, thus, they should be distinct.
Don’t simply Explain a Hardship Suffered without Explaining how it has Shaped you into an Exceptional Candidate.
Not to sound too harsh, but hardships are subjective. What is hard for one person could be a walk in the park for another. This by no means limits their importance in any way, but it’s likely that every applicant would have suffered some hardship throughout their life. Therefore, a good diversity statement is one in which a candidate doesn’t simply state their hardship, but shows how their life experiences may have shaped the way they define a hardship and the means through which they have worked to overcome it and will thus influence their community based on these lessons.
Looking for a good diversity statement example? Here, are two exceptional examples. One that served as a good application supplement for a student at Harvard and another for a student at California Western School of Law.