The following is a strong personal statement example that I have worked on. Identifying information has been changed. My thoughts are written in bold after some paragraphs. Note that today’s edition is actually a statement of purpose for an MBA/JD program; however, the writing principles within can apply to any type of application essay.

As I looked down at my sister from her hospital bed, following her suicide attempt, I felt profound resentment that our existing legal system denied justice to those who could least afford it.

(This is an incredible start to the essay. It goes without saying that suicide is about as serious and heavy a topic as you can get, and the note about legal system denying justice wants to make the reader empathize. This is exactly how you get a reader to want to explore more of your essay.)

Several months earlier, our application for legal aid services was denied. My sister’s mental health and financial situation deteriorated, leading to her hospitalization. This experience exemplified the consequences of being trapped in the justice gap – the difference between civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet them.  For this segment of society, the “forgotten ones,” I looked for opportunities in combining legal practice with technological innovation to make legal services more available.

(This is a nice transition from the opening narrative into the writer’s current career path and, eventually, why they need more help with a graduate program.)

In recent times, entrepreneurs have sought to identify and disassociate inefficient steps in the legal process from the parts necessary for a lawyer. For example, provides unrepresented tenants with a web app that helps gather evidence and reports violations, while Upsolve allows users to get through the bankruptcy process for free. Both companies, located in New York City, do not try and rework the entire legal system, an impossible task; rather, they spot weak points and provide creative technological solutions to address those issues in the public sector. This frees up time for lawyers to focus on the important work or take on more cases.

Having suffered through my sister’s experience and studied startups like these, I wish to combine legal practice with technological entrepreneurship to make legal services more democratic, narrowing the justice gap. Everything I do from this point forward will work toward that goal.

To do that, I need more than a JD. But I also need more than an MBA. The MBA/JD dual program at New York University, with its explicit focus on social justice through the law school and entrepreneurship through the Stern School of Business, can help me gain the requisite knowledge and connections to make that dream a reality.

(The previous two paragraphs do a great job of concisely summing up what led the writer to this point and then explaining why NYU is the best program for the writer at this time. While a personal statement for undergrad would not typically talk about why the school they’re applying for is best, the “why school” is a very common prompt, and so the following example still provides valuable insight.)

Through the first couple of years at NYU, I will take courses and assignments to better identify problems and brainstorm solutions for low-income Americans. Once I begin taking courses at Stern, I will treat it as an “incubator” to experiment on various hypotheses for fighting the justice gap. Despite having experience with a startup, I still lack knowledge for starting a business—which Stern’s focus on tech-centric business models and strategies can cover. With this knowledge, I will roll out my first of many tech products within two years. While the design and execution of that product needs time to develop, it will involve everything I’ve learned at NYU. It will make the law accessible in some way for those who cannot afford it under the status quo.

(A clear vision for the future, a clear understanding of how NYU can help it, and a willingness to be flexible in the future make this a great paragraph.)

While my sister survived her ordeal, countless others never emerge. The joint MBA/JD program at NYU gives me the chance to lift others up to a level playing field. With the legal education of the JD and the entrepreneurial skillset of the MBA, I will narrow the justice gap through my innovative endeavors, products, and services.

(Finally, closing out with a strong paragraph that sums everything up makes this a strong statement of purpose.)

(Overall, this is one of the best grad school essays I’ve worked on. A strong narrative is presented, the writer understands why NYU is the best fit for them–they don’t just regurgitate what the school website listed–and they demonstrate both a clear vision for the future while acknowledging they cannot know everything. If you’re a grad student, you’ll want to model your statement of purpose along these lines. If you’re an undergrad, the opening paragraphs show how to draw the reader in with a narrative, while the latter paragraphs explain well how to do research for a given program.) 

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