PLEASE be CRITICAL!! It needs revision

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
americano
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:32 pm

PLEASE be CRITICAL!! It needs revision

Postby americano » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:39 pm

My aspiration to attend law school stems from an unwavering passion for social justice.
My career is centered on the quest to fulfill this pursuit through upholding the values of opportunity, equality, and public service. I am confident that an education in law would empower me to succeed in achieving such goals within our nation’s policy sphere and beyond.

The socioeconomic status with which I was raised placed me amid a bracket of society in which the notion of post-secondary school was often unrecognized, much less an education in the law through graduate study. I have been a witness to the human struggle for survival in today’s world. One of two children of a single mother, I can empathize with the societal group living at the margins. To be clear as to not illicit sympathy, I must state that I have been incredibly fortunate in the life given me. However, I cannot reflect on my childhood and not remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck without two nickels to rub together, to be concerned about the security of our healthcare insurance as children, to have one means of transportation—and when the car broke down, the source of funding for repair was nonexistent—, to be one of the very few of this bracket to go to college, and in doing so, accept nearly 100% need-based financial aid. These are the experiences at the core of my motivation, from which I extrapolate my personal values and my passion for public policy. These, indeed, are common issues in the overwhelmingly large lower middle class, which are most effectively addressed by public policy.

Even with such immersion in this “enclave” of American society, I have also a considerably broad perspective from my experiences as a young adult. I attended a premiere XXX research institution; I studied the liberal arts though one X University’s leading academic programs, and I studied abroad in XXX for a semester of undergraduate work. I served as a X intern on XXX and as a bilingual ethnic media intern at the XXX in Washington, DC, alongside our nation’s leading policy experts. There, specifically, I was given a window of opportunity to work for the purpose of enfranchising and educating our nation’s minorities—people who, generally as a class, live at the margins of a healthy democracy. My work at XXX and on XXX provided me a macro lens through which I could perceive and apply what I had experienced on a micro level as an adolescent.

I believe that law school would certainly empower me to serve the populace for which I am so convicted. I have seen how law is used in Congress, at XXX, and by lawyers in my extended family. I have a great capacity to look at both sides of an issue and pursue that course which most enhances the quality of life for a client—or in a Congressperson’s position, their constituent(s). I have received just a glimpse of how the legal process works, and in that glimpse alone, I recognized the high degree of difficulty in achieving such an end. For this reason, I strongly desire an education from an American law school.

I am motivated by passion to become a thinker, to be able to reason and analyze. I want to draft legislation that will achieve the goals it is intended to, which ultimately requires excellent “lawyering” skills. I want to effectively communicate such legislation to the jury, the judge, an appeals court, and the public. Law school would inevitably provide such abilities.

To “connect the dots” for people—to understand and to ultimately better the quality of life for people—requires a substantially high level of sophistication. Combined with a good deal of raw talent, I believe my attending law school would achieve that. Crossing the threshold to make a complex situation or issue simple—and doing so in way that is not polarizing—requires the study of law. As a lawyer I will be clear, concise, and effective in representing my views and those of my clients—whether that client is an individual or a class of people.

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eupelia
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: PLEASE be CRITICAL!! It needs revision

Postby eupelia » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:29 am

First of all, kudos to you for posting this on here, I know that's not easy. I'd love to give you feedback, but it's coming from a 30 something professional, not an admissions counselor, so don't feel like you have to listen to me! =)

Question, is this specifically in response to the question "why do you want to study law" or is it a general statement? If it is general, I would make the opening a little more of a story to draw the reader in, instead of answering the question right off the bat. So like, show them the answer, don't say it.

For example, you might start it with a story-like version of this part:
"I cannot reflect on my childhood and not remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck without two nickels to rub together, to be concerned about the security of our healthcare insurance as children, to have one means of transportation—and when the car broke down, the source of funding for repair was nonexistent—, to be one of the very few of this bracket to go to college, and in doing so, accept nearly 100% need-based financial aid."

Maybe saying something like Although memories of my childhood are filled with images of my tight-knit family, yada yada image, and yada yada image, I cannot reflect on my childhood without remembering my mother worrying about her next paycheck ...etc. Something more story like. Then you can go into the concrete of in a transition sentence.



americano wrote:My aspiration to attend law school stems from an unwavering passion for social justice.
My career is centered on the quest to fulfill this pursuit through upholding the values of opportunity, equality, and public service. I am confident that an education in law would empower me to succeed in achieving such goals within our nation’s policy sphere and beyond.

The socioeconomic status with which I was raised placed me amid a bracket of society in which the notion of post-secondary school was often unrecognized, much less an education in the law through graduate study. I have been a witness to the human struggle for survival in today’s world. One of two children of a single mother, I can empathize with the societal group living at the margins. To be clear as to not illicit sympathy, I must state that I have been incredibly fortunate in the life given me. However, I cannot reflect on my childhood and not remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck without two nickels to rub together, to be concerned about the security of our healthcare insurance as children, to have one means of transportation—and when the car broke down, the source of funding for repair was nonexistent—, to be one of the very few of this bracket to go to college, and in doing so, accept nearly 100% need-based financial aid. These are the experiences at the core of my motivation, from which I extrapolate my personal values and my passion for public policy. These, indeed, are common issues in the overwhelmingly large lower middle class, which are most effectively addressed by public policy.

Even with such immersion in this “enclave” of American society, I have also a considerably broad perspective from my experiences as a young adult. I attended a premiere XXX research institution; I studied the liberal arts though one X University’s leading academic programs, and I studied abroad in XXX for a semester of undergraduate work. I served as a X intern on XXX and as a bilingual ethnic media intern at the XXX in Washington, DC, alongside our nation’s leading policy experts. There, specifically, I was given a window of opportunity to work for the purpose of enfranchising and educating our nation’s minorities—people who, generally as a class, live at the margins of a healthy democracy. My work at XXX and on XXX provided me a macro lens through which I could perceive and apply what I had experienced on a micro level as an adolescent.

I believe that law school would certainly empower me to serve the populace for which I am so convicted. I have seen how law is used in Congress, at XXX, and by lawyers in my extended family. I have a great capacity to look at both sides of an issue and pursue that course which most enhances the quality of life for a client—or in a Congressperson’s position, their constituent(s). I have received just a glimpse of how the legal process works, and in that glimpse alone, I recognized the high degree of difficulty in achieving such an end. For this reason, I strongly desire an education from an American law school.

I am motivated by passion to become a thinker, to be able to reason and analyze. I want to draft legislation that will achieve the goals it is intended to, which ultimately requires excellent “lawyering” skills. I want to effectively communicate such legislation to the jury, the judge, an appeals court, and the public. Law school would inevitably provide such abilities.

To “connect the dots” for people—to understand and to ultimately better the quality of life for people—requires a substantially high level of sophistication. Combined with a good deal of raw talent, I believe my attending law school would achieve that. Crossing the threshold to make a complex situation or issue simple—and doing so in way that is not polarizing—requires the study of law. As a lawyer I will be clear, concise, and effective in representing my views and those of my clients—whether that client is an individual or a class of people.

yeff
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: PLEASE be CRITICAL!! It needs revision

Postby yeff » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:29 pm

americano wrote:... To be clear as to not illicit sympathy I must state that I have been incredibly fortunate in the life given me.


The first phrase is really hard to understand, and I'm pretty sure you mean elicit (draw forth) not illicit (illegal).

americano wrote:However, I cannot reflect on my childhood and not remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck without two nickels to rub together, to be concerned about the security of our healthcare insurance as children, to have one means of transportation—and when the car broke down, the source of funding for repair was nonexistent—, to be one of the very few of this bracket to go to college, and in doing so, accept nearly 100% need-based financial aid.


Why the double negative? I think your message can be conveyed more clearly by stating "I remember what it was like to grow up in a family living paycheck to paycheck without two nickels to rub together, x, y, z." There are other grammatical issues too; even without the double negative you write that "I reflect on my childhood and remember what it was like to...be concerned about the security of our healthcare insurance as children."

americano wrote:Even with such immersion in this “enclave” of American society, I have also a considerably broad perspective from my experiences as a young adult. I attended a premiere XXX research institution; I studied the liberal arts though one [??] X University’s leading academic programs, and I studied abroad in XXX for a semester of undergraduate work. I served as a X intern on XXX and as a bilingual ethnic media intern at the XXX in Washington, DC, alongside our nation’s leading policy experts.


This is resume stuff. I get the contrast you're trying to draw, between underprivileged childhood and your prestigious academic/intern experiences, but a list like this does not strengthen your statement. You can probably draw the contrast and make your point in one sentence, and make your statement more personal.

Some general comments - there are a number of instances where you use too many words to describe something and undermine the clarity of your writing.

"A window of opportunity" could be "an opportunity"

"to have one means of transportation—and when the car broke down, the source of funding for repair was nonexistent—" could be "unreliable sources of transportation"

"achieve goals it is intended to" could be "effective"

"the populace for which I am so convicted" could be "lower-income people" or "the needy" or "people struggling in circumstances like those of my childhood"

I think you also have some mistaken assumptions about law school.

I am motivated by passion to become a thinker, to be able to reason and analyze. I want to draft legislation that will achieve the goals it is intended to, which ultimately requires excellent “lawyering” skills. I want to effectively communicate such legislation to the jury, the judge, an appeals court, and the public. Law school would inevitably provide such abilities.


You claim here that law school will "inevitably provide" you the ability to draft legislation. This is in itself an unwarranted assumption.

Based on the logic of your statement, law school will also "inevitably provide" you the ability to:

Pass effective legislation (a bill can only achieve its goal without passage if the goal is to make a statement)
Effectively communicate effective laws you yourself drafted to: juries, judges, appeals courts, and the public

It just won't do that. And conflating the 4 groups you list there just shows you don't understand yet how the law works and further undermines your bold claims.

As a fellow social-justice/advocacy oriented law school applicant, I am right with you in terms of your aspirations. I love that you want to use your success to give back to your community and help others in difficult circumstances. I love that you recognize collective action - legislation - is needed in addition to direct service and philanthropy. But I fear that you do not have realistic ideas about what 3 years and a J.D. will get you.

Shit, even Obama can't pass legislation that achieves its intended goals.

The biggest gripe I see in every advice book, article, etc, about the public-interest/social-justice appeal in law school personal statements is that without significant real-world work experience, the claims always sound naive. I think you have that in spades.

Now, I think that law schools need to own up to the reality that their crushing debt load contributes to a great many applications who declared such intentions failing to pursue them. But you might want to make your statement more personal and about the contrast between your difficult childhood circumstances and later success, perhaps a "made it against the odds" type angle.

But hey, I'm a 0L, so what do I know, really.

Good luck!

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teaadntoast
Posts: 252
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:31 pm

Re: PLEASE be CRITICAL!! It needs revision

Postby teaadntoast » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:47 pm

I think this is a good start, but there's a lot you could do to make it more arresting. I'm also not sure if this is your natural writing voice - but you could stand to tone things down a bit and adopt a more conversational attitude. This is a bit strident.

Where are you, exactly, in this statement? You've told me lots about what you've done (information I might also find on your resume), but given me little to go on as far as what makes you tick. Is there a memory or specific experience that really illustrates, really shows why you're interested in law?




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