Lately we’ve gotten some questions from students in our Mastermind Study Group about diversity statements. When is it a good idea to write one? How does it fit in with the rest of your application? To answer this, I brought in an authority — Peg Cheng, admissions counselor and founder at Prelaw Guru.
A diversity statement is an additional essay which most law schools invite you to submit alongside the other materials in your application. Typically, the purpose of the diversity statement is to highlight unique factors about your background, so that the law school may understand the ways you may contribute to a rich makeup of students.
Enjoy listening to the conversation. My apologies that Peg is a little hard to hear in the video. I’ll make sure to have better recording software next time we do this! For those wishing to get in touch with Peg to discuss the specifics of your situation, email her at email@example.com
Some links are mentioned in the video where you can check out sample student diversity statements and find more advice on this:
Blog article on diversity statements: http://prelaw-guru.com/blog/law-school-diversity-statement/
FREE Personal Statement & Diversity Statement Packet: http://prelaw-guru.com/downloads/Personal_Statement_Packet.pdf
I’m also wondering if I should write a DS. Both of my parents moved to America, from Egypt before I was born (primarily due to wanting a better life for our family). I was raised Egyptian, speak the language fluently, and follow the customs to the T.
I did briefly highlight my background in my PS (mentioned parents moving due to fear of persecution, etc.), so I’m wondering if a DS would be redundant.
Great question, Liz. Yes, you should write a Diversity Statement (DS). Try to include everything you just described. I had a recent client who had a similar situation to you but she is full Iranian-American. Both her parents immigrated to the U.S. in their 20s. She was always told in school that she was “white” but she couldn’t relate to that. She is American but is also Iranian. Like you, she can speak Farsi. She wrote a great DS and I think it was very beneficial to her law school applications. Definitely write the DS. Good luck!
This helps a lot, thank you!
I’m half Iranian (my dad moved here from Iran in his 20s) and half white American. Growing up, we followed many traditional Persian customs, I called my dad Baba and my grandparents Bababazorg amd Mamanbazorg, and I can speak a conversational level of Farsi. Growing up in a mixed ethnicity, mixed religion family definitely impacted me.
However, since Iranians and all Middle Easterners are technically considered ‘white’, would it still be a good idea to write a diversity statement?
Hello. I am wondering if I should write a diversity statement since I am half-Puerto Rican (my mother is full Puerto Rican, born in Puerto Rico). I am proud of my roots but not particularly close to that side of the family. As such, I am wondering if I am better off just mentioning my ethnicity in the personal statement.
Good question, Will. It all depends on how much you identify as half Puerto Rican. If you are proud of your roots, and it is a key part of your identity, I think you should write about it in your personal statement AND your diversity statement.
Depending on what topic you choose for your personal statement, your ethnic background might only be a sentence or two. The diversity statement is where you can delve into your family background and upbringing in more detail (but still keep it to one page, double-spaced!). Hope that helps. Good luck with your application!
Thank you! So, in any event, would I be likely to qualify for URM status?
My opinion is yes, you’d qualify for URM status.
I am a gay male and my parents are accepting, but someone told me since I am white and both of my parents are college educated and there is “no shortage of gay lawyers” that putting this in as a diversity statement wouldn’t really mean much and might actually be a negative factor. Should I include this information or not?
Good question, Colin. I advise all my GLBTQ clients to write a diversity statement (DS). Gay applicants are still a minority and very underrepresented in the world and in the legal profession. I believe it would be beneficial to your application to write a DS.
Hope you don’t mind all my posts! For those of you who are wondering how to get started with writing your Diversity Statement, definitely listen to my chat with Evan and then check out my blog post on writing the DS for more tips.
I don’t mind at all. Thank you!
I am African American Female who is older, who is applying to law school. I have a good GPA and am volunteering as a paralegal at non profit law office. Should I write a diversity essay? And how should I go about it?
Yes, you should write a Diversity Statement. You are a unique applicant with a very underrepresented ethnic background.
Did you know that only about 12% of the lawyers in the U.S. are lawyers of color? Most people are shocked when I tell them this.
Check out the ABA’s stats:
Also, the ABA Journal reported last May that only 3% of lawyers in BigLaw are Black and the numbers are dropping. Only 3%
This is why it’s important for all students of color to SELF-IDENTIFY and write a Diversity Statement when applying to law school.
So I’m trying to figure out if I should write a diversity statement about growing up in a very rural area–a number of miles from the closest town of less than 1000 people. I mention it briefly in my PS, but that’s all. Thoughts?
I think a little of that is going to depend on your circumstances. If you were living on a vast profitable ranch out there, I think you are probably better off skipping the diversity statement. If, on the otherhand, you could fairly be called a member of the rural poor, it would be pretty clear you are contributing to the socioeconomic diversity of the class. I guess I would need a few more details to call it.
No profitable ranches. My family was quite poor before I was born and while I was small. They are better off now, though still below the county’s median. They have some horses but can’t afford health insurance or dental work. I was used to identifying as poor when younger but now my family’s status is a little murkier…to me.
I’ve written some DS drafts that just talk about the perspectives I’ve gained from living in a very rural area. I guess I’m just wondering if that alone (growing up in a rural area) is worth writing about in a diversity statement. I’ve been shying away from my family’s economic status in most of my application materials.
Also, my family was lucky enough to be able to live on land owned by my grandparents (or else they probably would have ended up homeless). But that was definitely a benefit to them.
Sorry I’m responding a bit late. You’ve probably already applied to law school but just in case you haven’t yet, I recommend that you do write a Diversity Statement and that you expand upon growing up in a very rural area, as well as your family’s socioeconomic situation while you were growing up. The fact that your family would have been homeless if they didn’t live on your grandparents’ land is something I would mention.
Talk more about how growing on a ranch shaped your upbringing and your perspective on life. Definitely don’t shy away from mentioning your family’s more meager existence. Good luck!