New Law School Diversity Statements ("Life Experience/Perspective Essays"): FAQ

This blog post comes from our consultants Anne Dutia, Danielle Early, Paula Gluzman, and Tom Robinson. You can read their full bios here or at the end of this post.

Over the last year, as a result of the 2023 Supreme Court decision on race-conscious admissions, most law schools have changed their prompts for the essays that have long been known as “Diversity Statements.” These new prompts have many names, but two of the most common are Life Experience Essays and Perspective Essays, so we will refer to them as “E/P essays” moving forward.

Choosing whether and/or how to write the new versions of these E/P essays can be a difficult decision. Our team has collectively guided hundreds of applicants as they navigated this new component of the application process in the past admissions cycle. Below, we’ve collected our responses to frequently asked questions about these newer essay prompts. We hope you find them helpful! 

Quick disclaimer that the 2024-2025 application instructions and prompts are not yet available. It is very important to pay special attention to the schools’ prompts as they may well change again this coming cycle. 

Law School Life Experience/Perspective Essay FAQs

What’s the difference between Life Experience and Life Perspective essays, and how do they differ from what law schools wanted before? 

For a bit of context, along with the required personal statement, law schools have traditionally offered the option of writing a diversity statement for applicants to share more about aspects of their identity, background, and overcoming hardships and adversity. In more recent years, but specifically, after the 2023 SCOTUS decision to remove race-conscious admissions practices, diversity statement prompts have evolved to encompass broader life experiences and perspectives—hence the new names and titles for these optional statements.  

In many ways, both types of these new essay prompts are asking about the understanding you have developed and the insights you have gleaned on issues important to you. For some people, those insights will come from personal experience, and for others, it may be from study. Regardless of how you came to these experiences or perspectives, there should be a clear articulation of why your insights would be valuable in the study and practice of law, whether it’s how you engage with others or the questions you may raise that wouldn’t occur to others. Here is a quick diagram to illustrate the differences a bit more.

What if I am not a member of an underrepresented minority group? Should I still write an E/P essay, even when it is optional?

Everyone’s experiences and the insights derived from them are valuable. E/P essays are certainly not limited to members of underrepresented minority groups but can be about a significant aspect of your life or identity, exposure to new ideas, and/or impactful experiences. If you can connect those in a meaningful way to how you would approach certain situations or interact with certain groups, that could be quite effective. Or, if you can use your experience to demonstrate grit, compassion, or a particular understanding of a specific issue, that could also work well. If you are writing about challenges or adversity, these also don’t have to be limited to challenges or adversity associated with being a member of a minority group. For example, you could discuss what you learned growing up while spending all of your free time working for a small family-owned business, or as the caretaker of elderly grandparents or younger siblings, or the leadership lessons gained from being a student-athlete—these could be interesting topics that could make for excellent E/P essays. 

I am an underrepresented student. What should/can I share in my E/P essay? Is there anything I should avoid writing about now that these prompts are not traditional Diversity Statements?

First and foremost, write your story authentically and do not feel like you have to hide or undermine your true identity. Let your story illustrate your diversity, perspectives, and how your experiences shape the contributions you will make. Your identity should be shared within the context of your story, and it may encompass new perspectives you have shared in personal, academic, or professional settings. In some cases, underrepresented students might have painful stories to share about encountering racism, discrimination, or marginalization. While you are not required to share these aspects of your life story, it can help the admissions committee understand the distance you have traveled in your journey to law school. Many applicants from underrepresented student groups have both positive and negative experiences to share in an E/P essay. The key is to tell your story in the context of how it will help you contribute during your law school years and as a legal professional.

How long should the E/P essay be?

Pay attention to schools’ instructions. While you don’t have to use the entire length allowed, be sure not to go over the maximum length. Some schools limit the E/Pessay to 500 words, one page, or two pages, while others do not give a page limit. If a school does not give a page limit, then anything in the range of one to one and a half pages would be a good guide to follow. 

Is this essay really optional? How many should I write when a school provides multiple prompts?

For most schools, the answer is, yes, they are optional! (However, don’t count yourself out because at first glance you can’t think of a topic.) The E/P essays are required for a few schools (e.g. Harvard and Vanderbilt), while other schools may require one additional essay from a list that may include a Diversity or an E/P-related prompt. 

If a school allows for more than one essay, be judicious and use good judgment on whether your application needs another essay added to the collective materials you are already submitting. More is not always better.

What types of life experiences and perspectives are they interested in? Can I share about my own personal growth? Interpersonal experiences in my family or community? Work/professional experience? How far back can I go? What if I am still in college and don’t have work experience?

We have provided a sample of ideas below that clients successfully wrote about last year. This list shows you the array of experiences, ranging from one-of-a-kind unique situations to common occurrences experienced by many. Don’t count yourself out just because you think your experiences aren’t significant, unique, or compelling. You can speak to experiences from as far back or as recent as you want as long as they are still relevant to you today. 

Law School Life Experience/Perspective Essay Examples Topics: 


  • Trying to promote female empowerment within their industry
  • Being a woman in a mal/e-dominated space
  • Being raised gender neutral 


  • Ways, as a member of mostly majority classes, the applicant’s experiences being exposed to different groups influenced their approach to their jobs/lives
  • As a leader, having to deal with difficult, emotionally-charged conversations 
  • Acknowledgments of the value of ensuring all voices are heard
  • Learning how to communicate across different academic and cultural backgrounds
  • Volunteering in a prison
  • Dealing with family difficulties, abuse, mental health issues, incarceration, or other major adversities
  • Being a primary caregiver for siblings, parents, or grandparents
  • Military experience


  • Experiences with racism
  • Positive experiences with cultural identity
  • How being mixed race provides perspective


  • Reckoning experience as bisexual in a traditional family
  • Experiences with discrimination based on sexuality


  • Growing up with significant financial struggles
  • Living in an area with severe blatant wealth inequality


  • Struggling with finding their place within their family’s religion
  • Growing up in multiple religions
  • How religion emphasizes acts of service
  • Connecting to faith later in life


  • Growing up with different cultural expectations between immigrant parents and US standards
  • Following an unexpected path to STEM
  • Creating and developing communities in new places


  • Being misdiagnosed
  • Being ignored by doctors 
  • How having a diagnosis changes the way people see your actions
  • -Neurodivergence or late-diagnosed neurodivergence
  • Having a “hidden” illness or disability

Do I have to write a different essay for each school?

Many times, you can use the general topic or theme of one school’s prompt and adapt it to other schools, but you probably won’t be able to use the same exact essay for every school on your list. The reality of these newer and broader prompts is that they make it more challenging for applicants to select one workable topic or to write one relevant essay that applies to all. You’ll likely have to write a few different versions, either slightly augmenting your first essay to work for one unique prompt or tweaking the topic to work for prompts of multiple schools. This is especially true for applicants who may have more traditional diversity statement content to share. 

There are so many different E/P prompts! How do I adapt my essay for the various schools? 

There are several different strategies you can use for picking your essay topics. One way is to start by focusing on the message or story you want to share about yourself, and then read the school’s prompt to see how your messaging fits into the prompt. Ask yourself if there are stories and experiences not covered in your personal statement that law schools should know about you, and how those circumstances can be conveyed in ways that directly respond to the prompts.

Another strategy is to begin with the prompts, determine the different categories of content they want to learn about you, and then see which aspects of your story fit into them. For some prompts, you may need to write a new essay, but the topic could be the same. For example, you may have written your essay for one school about your life experience growing up in a religious household, realizing that you have different beliefs, and how you came to that realization. However, another school might ask you to write about difficult conversations you have experienced. For this prompt, you might then consider sharing how you told your parents about your conflicted feelings about the family’s religion. 

Another working strategy is to figure out which schools require an E/P essay (for example, Harvard and Vanderbilt), use those prompts to draft your essay, and then customize versions as needed for the other schools. 

Depending on your story and experiences, your strategy may differ from that of another applicant. Regardless, take the time to be strategic so you can work smarter, not harder when it comes to crafting these essays. Make sure you read each school's prompts and think about how you can share your story based on what they are asking for. Hopefully, you won’t need to write too many different versions.

Certainly speak to intersectionality, if you can. If you are choosing between multiple options for your topic, and if you do come from a traditionally underrepresented race or ethnicity, keep the following in mind: Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that schools cannot directly ask about a student’s racial background, they can still consider your identity(ies) if you share them through your essays—in other words, law schools can no longer ask, but applicants can certainly still tell. Race cannot be a deciding factor in admissions, but it can still be one of many considerations if the applicant shares their perspective in their application. Essays that highlight your racial diversity and speak to how that perspective shapes you will be the only place that a school will learn about your diverse identity as they make their admission decision.  

How do I include information about my background in a way that is helpful to the admissions reviewers?

The Supreme Court made sure to emphasize that it is not just your experience and perspective that matters, but how this can contribute to your law school community and the legal profession at large. Paraphrasing Chief Justice Roberts’ words: 

Nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university.

Accordingly, it will be most helpful to admissions for applicants to connect the dots between your experience/perspective and the contribution you will make. Think outside of the box about what “contribution” means in the context of your actions, viewpoints, representation, interactions with others, and work outcomes you bring as a person, student, and future professional. Have your experiences encouraged you to see from multiple different viewpoints with more clarity? Have they allowed you to empathize and identify with communities you hope to work with as an attorney? Will they allow you to share a perspective that is often overlooked in the classroom or the judicial system? These could all be themes of a strong E/P essay.

How can I talk about overcoming adversity for schools that don’t ask for it?

In some cases, it may not be advisable to attach an unsolicited E/P essay. It is important to consider whether a school allows for this or if they would frown on unsolicited information. One option is to ask an admissions officer at the school if they would be open to an unsolicited E/P  essay. For example, Stanford Law and Yale Law do not currently have a space for this type of essay. In 2023-2024, Yale did have a “Grit” essay, but some applicants might not feel that this prompt would be appropriate for what they want to share. So, think carefully and maybe inquire about this possibility before doing it. Also, when the 2024-2025 applications are launched, YLS and SLS may bring back this opportunity. 

Parting thoughts:

As more relevant hot topics and burning questions come our way, we will update this post. For now, we hope these FAQs are helpful as you navigate the best strategy, topics, and story to share in your E/P essays.

Anne Dutia has been involved on both sides of the admissions process since 2001. After practicing law for a few years, she spent four years in admissions at The University of Michigan Law School as Assistant Director and then served as a pre-law advisor at The University of Texas at Dallas until joining Spivey Consulting in October of 2017. As a pre-law advisor, Anne was on the Executive Board of the Southwestern Association of Pre-Law Advisors (SWAPLA) and on the Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC), helping to organize multiple pre-law advising conferences. She was also a coach of a Top 15 undergraduate Moot Court team and continues to serve on the Executive Board of the American Moot Court Association (AMCA).

Born in Bombay, India, Anne has lived all over the United States. She earned her BA at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, and her JD from the University of Alabama. Despite living in Texas for almost 20 years, she still calls Alabama home and can be found cheering on the Crimson Tide most Saturdays in the fall.

Danielle Early has 15 years of admissions experience, most recently serving as Associate Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School. As a voting member of the HLS admissions committee, she evaluated over 10,000 applications and conducted hundreds of admissions interviews. Prior to joining Karen in the HLS admissions office, Danielle worked in undergraduate admissions at Harvard College as well as Clark University.

In addition to the many roles Danielle filled in the HLS admissions office, she also served as a proctor (or dorm parent/resident hall director) while at Harvard, acting as an academic and career advisor for students. Danielle has spent considerable time counseling students throughout their undergraduate careers, job searches and grad school applications.

Danielle earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Clark University as a double major in Communications and Studio Art and then continued on there to earn a Master’s Degree in Professional Communications. These days, you are likely to find her hiking with her dog, taking cooking classes or working on a new drawing.

Paula Gluzman has over a decade of experience in legal practice and law school administration. Her true passion for working with students throughout their entire law school journey is demonstrated through her diverse professional positions. As the Assistant Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at the University of Washington School of Law and later at UCLA School of Law, Paula has read and evaluated hundreds of admissions files, interviewed applicants, and worked directly with candidates all over the country and abroad to advise them on the law school admissions process. In addition to mentoring and advising pre-law students and traveling the country to present on law school admissions topics, Paula also worked in law school career services, employer outreach and recruiting, and professional development training. She has reviewed and edited hundreds of resumes, cover letters, and other application materials, as well as graded California Bar exam practice tests. Additionally, Paula’s work as a law school career advisor allows her to bring the full-circle perspective to the admissions process, helping applicants make informed and strategic law school decisions from a career and professional development perspective.

Paula has served in elected leadership and board positions during law school (including a journal comments editor), and professionally in NALP (National Association for Law Placement), SDLRA (San Diego Legal Recruiting Association), and LEAP (Legal Education Access Pipeline). As an immigrant and the first in her family to attend law school, Paula is proactive in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education and hiring. In the years that she has studied and engaged in DE&I work, she understands the challenges involved in getting to law school and the value of knowledgeable mentorship through the admissions process. As Spivey Consulting Group’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, Paula also spearheads the firm’s annual Pro-Bono Program and other efforts to provide equal access to law school admissions information.

Lastly, to complement her advising and counseling experience, Paula prides herself on helping her clients bring their stories to life through their statements. Through her personal passion for written expression, as well as her academic and professional writing and editing experience, Paula provides each client with the guidance to showcase their best attributes and highlight how they add distinguishing value to their future law school.

Paula lives in Northern California with her family and their scruffy little pup.

Tom Robinson has worked in admissions for over 20 years and enjoys advising students as they navigate the admissions process. Most recently, Tom served as the Director of J.D. Admissions at Harvard Law School, where he received the 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence. During his years in admissions, Tom has evaluated thousands of applications, interviewed more than 900 law applicants, and served on admissions committees within three different universities.

As a first generation college student himself, Tom understands the value of good advising throughout the admissions process. He is particularly proud of his role in admitting the first-ever class at Harvard Law with more than 50% women, has advised students from across China, Europe, and North and South America, and enjoys talking with veterans about their law school aspirations.

In addition to his professional experience, Tom earned a Master of Education at the University of Vermont and a Doctorate in Leadership in Higher Education from the University of Massachusetts, where he concentrated on issues related to learning outcomes and campus racial climates.

Tom has focused on academic and creative writing throughout his education, including while conducting a qualitative ethnographic study that became the basis of his dissertation. He has also co-authored several articles in peer-reviewed journals within the education field. Tom invests time in getting to know his clients and how their stories can be persuasively and compellingly shared with admissions committees.

When not working with potential applicants, you can find Tom hiking with his yellow lab Wilma, spending time with family, kayaking, or cycling northwest of Boston!