The personal narrative is the most common structure for the personal statement genre. In this structure, the author tells his or her story. The personal statement is a brief but high-density autobiography, with certain zones you want to weight more heavily. In the personal narrative structure, you relate a representative story, a choice you made, or an event that changed the course of your life. You tweak the story, like a photographer would compose a self-portrait, to make it represent yourself in a particular light. A strong personal narrative, whether it presents one or more than one story, should have an organizing theme linking the parts of the statement. By beginning with a theme, a metaphor, or an image that you then end with, the essay concludes satisfyingly as Samuel Taylor Coleridge said with its tail in its mouth. With any structure or topic, you should always remember you are trying to persuade your audience to admit you to law school. You do this most powerfully by describing specific examples that show you possess intellectual excellence, leadership abilities, abilities to work with a team, that you have reached beyond the safety net of college, and that you can look at issues from multiple perspectives. Also try to use your narrative to persuade your admissions committee reader that their law school is the best fit for you.
Eighteen months ago, I was sitting at my computer, wedged between a dripping coffee maker to my left and the company’s CFO five feet to my right. Every keystroke shook the flimsy fold-out card table that served as my desk, on loan to the company from another employee’s garage. We were packed in the largest of three rooms in a 2,500 square foot space baking in the heat generated by ten co-workers in close quarters, fifteen running computers, and an abnormally warm summer. On the glass doorway was etched the ghostly lettering of the former company occupying the space, serving as a grim reminder of the ever-present possibility of failure.