What Are Optional Essays?

Most law schools offer applicants the opportunity to submit additional information about themselves in the form of optional essays. Although these essays are termed “optional,” it is actually in your best interest to submit any essay for which you can articulate a strong, well-drafted response that provides relevant additional information.

The most common two types of optional essays are: (1) a diversity statement and (2) a “Why ‘X Law School’?” essay. Some law schools may provide additional prompts to which you are permitted to respond. For example, in the 2013-14 application cycle, Georgetown Law offered applicants the choice among four prompts for an optional 250-word essay (e.g., “Who is your ‘one phone call’ and why?”) as well as the option to submit a video statement in place of an essay. Michigan Law suggests 8 topics, and applicants are permitted to submit up to 2. Regardless of the nature of the essays, consider them an opportunity to round out your application and provide another writing sample.