Should I Write a Law School Diversity Statement, an Addendum, or the Optional Essays?

Stephanie Ripley

By: Stephanie Ripley

You’ve just put the final touches on your law school personal statement. It took longer than you thought, but you feel happy with the final product. You breathe a sigh of relief as you prepare to press submit on your law school applications.  

But wait… what is this “diversity statement?” More so, should I even write one? What is this optional essay on “why our law school?” and can someone please explain what an addendum even is?!

These are the examples of “optional essays” that law schools have on their separate applications. Yes, every applicant is required to write a personal statement explaining their transition into law school, but law schools like to throw out the phrase “optional” when it comes to writing additional essays.

Let’s do a deep dive into all three….

1. Law School Diversity Statement

Should I Write a Diversity Statement?

This is typically the most common “optional essay” that law schools like to ask for.  The reason I keep using quotation marks around “optional” is that it’s important to ask yourself why it would be a good idea to write this statement.  

Most applicants like to question if they are “diverse enough” to write a strong diversity statement. But what does “diverse enough” even mean? All of our experiences are unique. It is highly improbable that we share the same exact experiences, so why not share those experiences with the law school of your dreams?

Diversity within the law school application process is not just focused on race or socioeconomic background. The definition of diversity ecompasses a wide range of unique experiences based upon sexual orientation, age, race, culture, religion, socioeconomic status, academic background, employment experiences, etc.  

Law schools are looking to build their classes around background and experiences that will enrich their broader law school community. They want their students to have a rich learning environment and to learn from each other. Ideally that is how you grow to become a leader within the legal community.  

If you feel that you have another story to tell about your life and your experiences, I think it’s a good idea to submit a diversity statement. It will allow the admissions

committee to learn something new about you, and it might even push your application into the admit pile.  

Should I Not Write a Diversity Statement?

There is no easy answer to this question. I always recommend that my applicants at least TRY to make a concerted effort to write a diversity statement. That means sitting down in front of your computer to brainstorm some topics:  

Brainstorming Topics:

  • What sets me apart?
  • How am I different from my peers?
  • Have I ever lived with a chronic illness or a disability?
  • Have I grown up in a household with abuse?
  • Have I ever faced adversity in any situation?
  • Have I ever served in the military or law enforcement?
  • Have I ever lived in poverty?
  • Did I grow up in a faith-based community?  

If you have taken the time to brainstorm and you still feel like you cannot come up with a substantial topic, then it’s okay to stop the writing process. You want to be careful that the diversity statement does not sound ingenuine or uncompelling.

Just like the personal statement, your writing in the diversity statement is taken into high regard, so submitting a sloppy or poorly written statement may hold you back.  

2. Law School Optional Essays

There are some law schools that like to throw optional essays or short answer essays into the mix. The topics of these essays range anywhere from:

  • “Why do you want to attend our law school?”
  • “The library in the town where you grew up has been destroyed. Choose three books to contribute to rebuilding the library's collection.”
  • “In no more than 250 words, write about an idea or issue from your academic, extracurricular, or professional work that is of particular interest to you. The idea or issue you choose does not have to be law-related; this is simply another opportunity for faculty readers to learn more about how you would engage in our law school community.”
  • “Tell us about a time in the last five years when you stood up for yourself.”

My advice to you is to make an attempt to provide answers to these questions. Law schools are asking these questions to learn more about you and to build their class with interesting students. When you decide not to even bother providing an answer, that says something to the admissions committee.

As always, be sure to proofread your work for typos and grammatical errors. Your writing is your opportunity to showcase who you are outside of your GPA and LSAT score, so it should be something that you are proud of.

3. Law School Addendum

Should you feel that there are questions in your application that could be cleared up with an addendum--or addenda--then it is appropriate to include this information in your law school application.  

Two important questions to ask yourself before submitting an addendum are:

  1. Does the addendum provide more of an explanation than an excuse?
  2. Does the addendum provide more information to the admissions committee that they would not already know?  

The following scenarios are some examples of topics that are appropriate to discuss in an addendum:  

  • You have a significantly lower first LSAT score. You can discuss how you changed up your study skills to score higher on your second attempt. I’m not talking about one or two points, but more like five points and upward.  
  • You have one semester where you withdrew from all of your classes or did significantly worse that semester than your other terms. You can write to explain what happened that semester so that the admissions committee don’t come to their own conclusions.  
  • You were placed on academic or disciplinary probation. You will definitely need to report this appropriately through your application, but the addendum provides you the opportunity to express what happened in your own words.  

Do’s and Don’ts for the Law School Addendum


  • Do keep your addendum short to about one to three paragraphs. You don’t need to waste the admissions committee’s time writing a two-page explanation on how you received a grade of C in your first semester at college.  
  • Do make sure you are showing accountability within your addendum.
  • Do keep it simple and easy to understand.


  • Don’t make excuses or blame other people. No one wants to hear about how you slacked off studying the first time around for the LSAT.  
  • Don’t flag negative aspects of your application unnecessarily.

Overall, the optional essays for law school are a judgement call on your part.

If you feel like you can write a well-written statement explaining something in your application that you have not expressed before, then go for it! Just think, it will give the admissions committee another important insight into who you are as a person and your desire to go to law school.  

If you want to discuss the law school diversity statement or optional essays further, feel free to schedule your FREE introductory appointment with me, Stephanie.