PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
shotinthedark
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Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:55 pm

PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby shotinthedark » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:25 pm

Since high school friends and family have asked me, “Why law school?” To which I usually respond that School House Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is the likely culprit. This answer serves as well as any other because while my desire to go to law school has always been strong, the initial reasons were very general. A nebulous inclination spurred by my fascination with law and government. My interest in law and government found focus and resolve in 2006 just after my sophomore year of college.
The average household income is seventeen dollars a month. Children are left in front of churches or shelters because their parents can’t afford to feed them. Reading these statistics in no way prepared me for the nine months I spent volunteering at a children’s shelter in the Philippines.
Living in and around such extreme poverty and working with children whose parents had abandoned them was sobering. Children arrived malnourished, sickly, and afraid. My days were spent helping the children with homework, teaching them how to tie shoes, and being trounced in soccer games by 7 years olds. The children were happy despite their surroundings. For them, having next to nothing was an improvement from their previous situation where they had nothing at all. I tried to focus on the positive impact I was having on these children’s lives however dismal the environment.
Though it was exhaustive and frustrating, this experience magnified the importance of fundamental needs like food, shelter and basic health care. In the Philippines there is little law or regulation, those that do exist have no feasible means of enforcement. Relief organizations and volunteers like those at the shelter try to fill that void, but it is not nearly enough. The absence of institutions, laws and social programs in the Philippines reinforced my belief in their ability to help provide fundamental needs of society by showing me the consequences of their absence.
The grateful and proactive attitude of the 35 children I spent countless hours with inspired me. It left with a stronger conviction in my goals and a greater appreciation for every opportunity in my own life. Their boundless optimism fostered in me a strong appreciation for the opportunities I have been given, as well as a motivation not to squander them.
These events humbled and inspired me. I was educated and motivated in ways I never could have imagined. My interest in law was cultivated, shaped, and expanded to include international law, human rights and public interest. My experiences in the Philippines continue to fortify my desire to pursue the study of law and the unique perspective it brought has enhanced my interests.
Prior to this experience I was involved in my university’s pre-law society and my interest in law was active. However, after this experience I had a strong desire to engage in new and more specific opportunities that would enhance my understanding of law in relation to my experience in the Philippines. I began working in a Boise law firm during my senior year in order to gain a more practical understanding of law as well as obtain advice and perspective from practicing attorneys. This experience illuminated the realities of practicing law, it supported my interest and furthered my desire.

I move forward with the initial drive I’ve held for years. However, my fascination and affinity for law has been enhanced by invaluable experiences. These experiences have helped me grow as an individual and will prove invaluable as a student of law.

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ec2xs
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby ec2xs » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:27 pm

The first few sentences seem awkwardly structured.

Also, the transition from your opening paragraph to the second paragraph seems really sudden. Maybe you should actually introduce the Philippines in your opening?

shotinthedark
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby shotinthedark » Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:29 pm

That's a good note. Thanks

shotinthedark
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby shotinthedark » Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:56 pm

Even If it's just to say you don't like it. Ill take any input

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ConMan345
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby ConMan345 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:19 pm

This is going to be piecemeal. Excuse the terseness, too.

I haven't gone through the whole thing, but my first impression is that you either need to simplify your sentences (especially in the first paragraph) or use more punctuation to control the flow. Sentences shouldn't be puzzles. Other notes: don't capitalize after the quotation, just punctuate with a comma and continue; also, the phrase beginning "A nebulous..." is a fragment. Don't begin the second paragraph by inverting details and setting the scene. I know it's a very enticing style trick, but just start out by saying what you were doing in the Philippines, then describe what you saw and what the area was like.

It's "7-year-olds," not "7-years-olds;" "exhausting," not "exhaustive."

Overall, I think this could be much better. Things like this: "The grateful and proactive attitude of the 35 children I spent countless hours with inspired me. It left with a stronger conviction in my goals and a greater appreciation for every opportunity in my own life. Their boundless optimism fostered in me a strong appreciation for the opportunities I have been given, as well as a motivation not to squander them.," could easily be seen as trite, or cliche. Prepare for the worst case scenario: some grizzled law professor has your app foisted upon him. Make his life as easy as possible. I think one of the main problems is that the statement seems internally redundant. You go through the kids->inspired->goals trope several times. Instead, have a paragraph for each. Talk about the terrible conditions. Talk about what you did and what you learned from the kids. Talk about how that is guiding you as you move forward. Simple, clean, direct prose--lawyers love that shit; trust me, I work for them.

PM me if you have other questions or another draft. I'd also be willing to do a punctuation/grammar edit, as I have worked as an editor for a few years.

shotinthedark
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby shotinthedark » Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:07 pm

Thanks, thats really helpful and I see your point about the redundancy.

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jonas586
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby jonas586 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:50 pm

The Philippines is a magical place my friend; where were you located? I lived in Angeles City for a little while and loved it.

Having said that, I think you should revise your whole PS. Start by taking out the entire first paragraph; it is awkward and doesn't fit with the rest of the Statement. Second, I think you have picked a great topic to write about, but are focusing on the wrong details. This is a personal statement; make it personal. Above all else, I think your personal statement should be a good narrative of you; it should draw attention to the kind of person you are and not solely the kind of experiences you have had. Talk about your specific experiences in the Philippines; what did you see, what did you learn, and how did you grow? What were some of the specific struggles you faced and how did you react to them? For example, you mention that the events in the Philippines humbled and inspired you, but you don't really give any compelling narrative to these events. In my opinion, this makes a potentially good story hollow and superficial.

Also, I think you spend too much time in your statement trying to convince people that you want to go law school when you should focus more on why they should want you to go to their law school. By virtue of applying, adcoms are going to know you want to go to law school, I think what they really want to know is why they should admit you over some other asshole with similar numbers.

Once again, these are just suggestions. I'm not aware of your numbers or where you want to go to school; nor am I saying I could do better, but if you are looking to dazzle people with your PS, I think revision and work is still needed.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:08 pm

shotinthedark wrote:Since high school friends and family have asked me, “Why law school?” To which I usually respond that School House Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is the likely culprit. This answer serves as well as any other because while my desire to go to law school has always been strong, the initial reasons were very general. A nebulous inclination spurred by my fascination with law and government. <-- fragment My interest in law and government found focus and resolve in 2006 comma? just after my sophomore year of college.
The average household income is seventeen dollars a month. Children are left in front of churches or shelters because their parents can’t afford to feed them. Reading these statistics in no way prepared me for the nine months I spent volunteering at a children’s shelter in the Philippines.
Living in and around such extreme poverty and working with children whose parents had abandoned them was sobering. Children arrived malnourished, sickly, and afraid. My days were spent helping the children with homework, teaching them how to tie shoes, and being trounced in soccer games by 7 years olds. The children were happy despite their surroundings. For them, having next to nothing was an improvement from their previous situations comma where they had nothing at all. I tried to focus on the positive impact I was having on these children’s lives comma? however dismal the environment.
Though it was exhaustive and frustrating, this experience magnified the importance of fundamental needs like food, shelter and basic health care. <-- This sorta sounds like you were previously unaware of the importance of food. In the Philippines there is little law or regulation, those that do exist have no feasible means of enforcement. <-- comma splice Relief organizations and volunteers like those at the shelter try to fill that void, but it is not nearly enough. The absence of institutions, laws and social programs in the Philippines reinforced my belief in their ability to help provide fundamental needs of society by showing me the consequences of their absence. It seems like you're saying "If not A then not B; therefore, if A then B" here, which, as we all know, is not correct. (A is the institutions etc.; B is the fundamental needs.)
The grateful and proactive attitude of the 35 children I spent countless hours with inspired me. It left with a stronger conviction in my goals and a greater appreciation for every opportunity in my own life. Their boundless optimism fostered in me a strong appreciation for the opportunities I have been given, as well as a motivation not to squander them.
These events "events" seems like the wrong word here... need a synonym for "experience" humbled and inspired me. I was educated and motivated in ways I never could have imagined. My interest in law was cultivated, shaped, and expanded to include international law, human rights and public interest. My experiences in the Philippines continue to fortify my desire to pursue the study of law and the unique perspective it brought has enhanced my interests.
Prior to this experience comma I was involved in my university’s pre-law society and my interest in law was active. However, after this experience I had a strong desire to engage in new and more specific opportunities that would enhance my understanding of law in relation to my experience in the Philippines. I began working in a Boise law firm during my senior year in order to gain a more practical understanding of law as well as obtain advice and perspective from practicing attorneys. It sounds like you're giving your experience in the Boise firm as an example of your engagement in activities that would enhance your understanding of the situation in the Philippines. Since there isn't an obvious link there, you might want to draw one for the reader. Otherwise, I think there is a risk of, "Yeah I'm super interested in human rights and stuff!! so I worked for this personal injury dude in Boise for a while." This experience illuminated the realities of practicing law, it supported my interest and furthered my desire. <-- Another comma splice.

I move forward with the initial drive I’ve held for years. However, my fascination 2nd usage of "fascination" and affinity for law has have - you have a compound subject been enhanced by invaluable experiences. These experiences have helped me grow as an individual and will prove invaluable as a student of law the experiences aren't going to be the student; you are.

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rw2264
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby rw2264 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:37 pm

shotinthedark wrote:Since high school friends and family have asked me, “Why law school?” To which I usually respond that School House Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” is the likely culprit. This answer serves as well as any other because while my desire to go to law school has always been strong, the initial reasons were very general. [strike]A nebulous inclination spurred by my fascination with law and government.[/strike] don't use a big word when a small word will suffice. its painful to read. My interest in law and government found focus and resolve in 2006 just after my sophomore year of college.
The average household income is seventeen dollars a month. Children are left in front of churches or shelters because their parents can’t afford to feed them. Reading these statistics in no way prepared me for the nine months I spent volunteering at a children’s shelter in the Philippines.
Living in and around such extreme poverty and working with children whose parents had abandoned them was sobering. Children arrived malnourished, sickly, and afraid. My days were spent helping the children with homework, teaching them how to tie shoes, and being trounced in soccer games by 7 years olds. The children were happy despite their surroundings. For them, having next to nothing was an improvement from their previous situation where they had nothing at all. I tried to focus on the positive impact I was having on these children’s lives however dismal the environment.
Though it was [strike]exhaustive[/strike] exhausting and frustrating, this experience magnified the importance of fundamental needs like food, shelter and basic health care [in third world countries]. In the Philippines there is little law or regulation, and those "those little law and regulation" is not grammatically correct that do exist have no feasible means of enforcement. Relief organizations and volunteers like those at the shelter try to fill that void they try to act as laws and regulations? do you possibly mean that they try to meet the kids' needs despite a lack of resources due to the lack of laws and regulations?, but it is not nearly enough. The fallout from the/effects of the absence of institutions, laws and social programs in the Philippines reinforced my belief in their ability to help provide fundamental needs vague of society by showing me the consequences of their absence.
The grateful and proactive attitude of the 35 children I spent countless hours with inspired me. It left with a stronger conviction in my goals and a greater appreciation for every opportunity in my own life. Their boundless optimism fostered in me a strong appreciation for the opportunities I have been given, as well as a motivation not to squander them. thrown in
These events humbled and inspired me. I was educated and motivated in ways I never could have imagined. My interest in law was cultivated, shaped, and expanded to include international law, human rights and public interest. My experiences in the Philippines continue to fortify my desire to pursue the study of law and the unique perspective it brought has enhanced my interests. awkwardly worded
Prior to this experience I was involved in my university’s pre-law society and my interest in law was active. However, after this experience I had a strong desire to engage in new and more specific opportunities VAGUE that would enhance my understanding of law in relation to my experience in the Philippines here would be good time to mention human rights/international law/public interest law--"understanding of law in relation to the underprivileged/underserved/international community.". I began working in a Boise law firm during my senior year in order to gain a more practical understanding of law as well as obtain advice and perspective vague. advice and perspective on what? from practicing attorneys. This experience illuminated the realities of practicing law, it supported my interest and furthered my desire.

I move forward with the initial drive I’ve held for years. However, my fascination and affinity for law has been enhanced by invaluable experiences vague. These experiences have helped me grow as an individual and will prove invaluable as a student of law.


oftentimes its vague. but you can work on that. overall its not bad... but i think you should discuss your initial motivations for going to the philippines. was it an interest in international law, philanthropy, or something else? how does that relate to what you got out of the experience? also, is it the "laws" specifically that have failed the children, or is it the government?

spece212
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Re: PS Please help. Be brutal. No ego to bruise

Postby spece212 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:48 pm

The things I liked about your PS
1. Your experience in Philippines is truly unique

The problems with your PS
1. It does not describe your personality in detail. Just when I think I will find out more about you, you change tracks i.e. when you were describing the Philippines experience, I was hoping you would describe the exact work you carried out there but you moved on to the conclusion etc.
2. You describe well that your motivation to study law was re-enforced by your experience in Philippines but the conclusion is vague. For e.g. Your motivation to do something must also be served once you have done the thing
Event A -> motivated me to study law
studying law -> Impact Event A/ Event A like situations
You mention that you now understand the benign impact of law enforcement and regulation but you do not mention that how does it translate to your becoming a lawyer. You have listed areas like human rights, international law and public interest but you do not explain how obtaining knowledge in these specific interests connects with your Philippines experience.
3. Overall the statement seems to lack a coherence and comes across as a collection of experiences and actions which have brought you at the door of law school i.e. your experience in Philippines, your participation at pre-law society, your work at a law firm in Boise. So I get a sense that you are eager to pursue legal education but you are not very clear why.

Since your personal experience is quite unique, you can come up with a really nice and compelling PS. To summarize, I would like to see the following things in your statement:
1. Think hard on what is your motivation for studying law and then see how it connects with your experience in Philippines
2. Demonstrate your thought process by expanding upon your Philippines experience and how acquisition of legal education would allow you to do something for society. Now the catch here is that you are going study and practice law in US but the motivation you have comes from your experience in a developing country. The problems you witnessed there may not be relevant or are already addressed well in the US. So how do you connect the two would go a long way in establishing coherence in your statement
3. Put in more of you in the statement with things like, I believe, I learnt or I did XYZ etc. and hence law school, after law will do this etc
4. Describe your academic side i.e your major / gpa etc.
5. Your introduction should act like a summary of your PS i.e. who I am, why I want to study law and what will I do with legal education. Then in the conclusion make sure you have answered these questions in the course of the statement.

I would recommend that you go through the section of PS on this website. It describes a lot of basic things which go a long way in making your statement look professional.

Best of Luck!!




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