Who Gets to Write a Diversity Statement?

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Write a Diversity Statement

Diversity statements are optional essays that many law schools accept from applicants. They ask you to describe how you would contribute to the diversity of the law school community.

Who can write one?

Anyone can write a diversity statement. You can write one about your experience as part of a marginalized or underrepresented group, and lots of people write powerfully about those experiences to great effect, by which I mean it helps them get accepted and/or get tuition assistance.

But you don’t have to be a member of a marginalized group in order to contribute to the diversity of experience and viewpoints at the law school, and law schools prize that kind of diversity, which could be called experiential and intellectual diversity.

Should I write one?

You should write one if – and only if – you can relate experiences and insights gained from those experiences that will make you a better law student and/or lawyer and which are not repeated elsewhere in your application. That’s important. Admissions officers have to read a lot of stuff. They want to get to know you, and they will eagerly read optional essays like a diversity statement as long as it’s not wasting their time by repeating what you’ve already told them.

How to Write an Effective One

These don’t really function terribly differently than personal statements because the best personal statements demonstrate that the applicant will bring unique experience and insight to law school.

So, if you were waffling between two significantly different themes for a personal statement, or if there were experiences that ended up on the cutting room floor, you might be able to salvage some of the work you didn’t use on your personal statement.

That said, the best diversity statement does three things:

  1. It relates important life experiences in compelling detail.
  2. It draws lessons from those experiences.
  3. It relates those lessons to law school or the practice of law (your future career, in other words). 

And it usually makes sense to write it largely in that order. 

A Good Example

“The goat ate my homework.”

My fifth-grade teacher nodded at me knowingly. “It’s okay,” he said, waving away the twisted, slobbery bits of math assignment in my outstretched hand, which I had managed to wrest back from Gertrude, one of the more aggressive goats on our family farm, an hour earlier.

I had forgotten to feed the goats before school, even though it was my turn, so I tried to do it on the way to the bus stop. Little did I know, my math homework was hanging out of my backpack, and anyone who has owned goats knows that most of them will chew on anything given a chance.

My teacher’s reaction might seem odd or lackadaisical to someone who didn’t grow up in a farming and ranching community as I did, but that was not the first time Mr. Horvath had seen this type of thing, and I’m sure it wasn’t the last.

This understanding – that there are forces beyond our control – was essential to the close-knit spirit of my community. When you live off the land, you’re subject to natural forces outside your control. During dry or lean years, my community pulled together to provide clothes or food, or money to families that needed it, sometimes my own, sometimes others.

Not many farmer’s kids go to law school, but I realized during my time as an undergraduate that the community spirit I relied on as a kid is not only possible in other realms but essential and that the way I could best protect my community – which I now view much more broadly – would be to bring that spirit to law school and the practice of law.

Posted in
Branden Frankel, Esq.

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