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(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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BaiAilian2013
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Re: depression

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:34 am

hausoian878 wrote:For anyone who has ever been diagnosed with depression, it is impossible to ignore as one of the most central elements of your life. In my opinion, simply not mentioning it is not being honest with yourself or with the people who will admit you into law school. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've never known the inner-workings of admissions committees, but I have been diagnosed as having mental illness issues and to pass it off as something that is embarrassing or suspecting that someone would try to gain pity from an adcomm is downright insulting to those who have dealt with depression or any other mental illness. This is serious stuff, folks. This is reality, not something to hide. Do you not think that adcomms are aware that many law students and many LAWYERS are prone to depression? Get real.

If I were writing my personal statement today, I would most definitely include my history with mental illness and show how it has impacted me. Further, I would write about how it has changed my mindset and my general outlook on life. There is great potential there for a personal statement, but it all depends on what you want to bring out of it to make yourself the best possible candidate you can be.

I have to dissent here. There are things that have been central to my life that I would NEVER, EVER mention to adcomms unless the only other option was to lie. I have had my medical history used against me in the past with 0% basis in fact or reason and yet to great effect. There are lots of reasonable, intelligent people out there who aren't prejudiced by things like this, but until those people comprise 100% of the professional population, it's such a risk to take. Being honest with yourself does not require that you fully disclose to everyone who crosses your path.

scionb4
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Re: depression

Postby scionb4 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:36 am

I made mention of my OCD and the effects starting anti-depressant medication a week before the LSAT had on me in an addendum, and I've enjoyed multiple offers. I didn't make mention of it in my personal statement. I certainly would now, 9 months after I began treatment. That was one MEGA uphill battle, so I definitely think it would be worth at least a paragraph in my personal statement as it was such a struggle to overcome. "Pure-O" OCD is a bitch.

logicman86
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Re: depression

Postby logicman86 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:38 am

tsbotros wrote:What are your feelings about someone mentioning a bout of depression that they overcame in there personal statement?


Absolutely do not do this for your personal statement. Is depression a defining characteristic in your life? A defining moment in why you want to be a lawyer? This is law school, not an arts academy. Lawyers who overcome mental illness aren't exactly awarded plaques. It's great you were able to turn your life around, and if you are not ashamed, then don't hide it. But to make your mental illness the focus of the one piece of your application that puts a face to the page is just silly. If this were a physical handicap such as you were in a wheelchair, and you felt ostracized growing up, but overcame it and now want to give back to the world -- that'd be gold... but overcoming depression likely won't evoke much empathy from law school counsels.

logicman86
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Re: depression

Postby logicman86 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:41 am

OperaSoprano wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:The strange thing about talking about it as that people seem really happy that such a dialogue exists. People want to be able to acknowledge depression, and they feel like they can't.

I wholeheartedly agree with this, my only concern is whether a law school admissions application is the appropriate forum to have that dialogue. If OP wants to talk about depression here I'm all for that, but that doesn't mean I think he should jump at the chance to tell adcomms about it.

It's probably good that OP is getting varying responses though. It'll give him more options to choose from on what he ultimately ends up doing.


I agree. For many people, however, it creates enough of a disturbance (semester of lower grades, gap in employment) that it needs to be addressed somehow, and OP might fall into that category. It saddens me that we even have to worry what adcomms might think. IMO the more discussion the better, but I acknowledge that this is something not everyone is comfortable talking about. I got very personal in both my PS and DS; there are things in there that my closest friends don't know, and I made risky choices for sure. If I had it to do over again, I might tone down the emotion, but I would not change the content. If OP wants to talk about depression, it is fine to do so, but I don't mean to imply that it's required.


This is why I love the LSAT. All this well depression influenced my GPA that semester, and I got pregnant that semester, and I did a double major while you only did a single major... when does it end????

The LSAT puts everybody in a room for one day for the same test. No excuses. Of course people come up with a million anyway....

logicman86
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Re: depression

Postby logicman86 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:43 am

scionb4 wrote:I made mention of my OCD and the effects starting anti-depressant medication a week before the LSAT had on me in an addendum, and I've enjoyed multiple offers. I didn't make mention of it in my personal statement. I certainly would now, 9 months after I began treatment. That was one MEGA uphill battle, so I definitely think it would be worth at least a paragraph in my personal statement as it was such a struggle to overcome. "Pure-O" OCD is a bitch.


You started a new medication a week before the LSAT???? Whoever advised that should be shot. You shouldn't even be changing your vitamin dosage.

hausoian878
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Re: depression

Postby hausoian878 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:08 am

logicman86 wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:The strange thing about talking about it as that people seem really happy that such a dialogue exists. People want to be able to acknowledge depression, and they feel like they can't.

I wholeheartedly agree with this, my only concern is whether a law school admissions application is the appropriate forum to have that dialogue. If OP wants to talk about depression here I'm all for that, but that doesn't mean I think he should jump at the chance to tell adcomms about it.

It's probably good that OP is getting varying responses though. It'll give him more options to choose from on what he ultimately ends up doing.


I agree. For many people, however, it creates enough of a disturbance (semester of lower grades, gap in employment) that it needs to be addressed somehow, and OP might fall into that category. It saddens me that we even have to worry what adcomms might think. IMO the more discussion the better, but I acknowledge that this is something not everyone is comfortable talking about. I got very personal in both my PS and DS; there are things in there that my closest friends don't know, and I made risky choices for sure. If I had it to do over again, I might tone down the emotion, but I would not change the content. If OP wants to talk about depression, it is fine to do so, but I don't mean to imply that it's required.


This is why I love the LSAT. All this well depression influenced my GPA that semester, and I got pregnant that semester, and I did a double major while you only did a single major... when does it end????

The LSAT puts everybody in a room for one day for the same test. No excuses. Of course people come up with a million anyway....



This is ridiculous. Clearly, you do not take mental illness seriously since if you did, you would not see it as an "excuse". It is anything but.

Also, I wouldn't go so far as to say that writing about depression would be clear attempt to gain empathy from the adcomms and perhaps make them shed a few tears. All I'm saying is that if mental illness has been an integral part of your life and has been a life-changing experience (as it has been for many, many people) then it at least should be considered for your personal statement. Now, it is entirely possible to write a bad PS about mental illness, but it is also possible to write a great PS about how you've transformed yourself for the better for having gone through a struggle such as mental illness. Again, it's all about how you present it.

logicman86 wrote:
tsbotros wrote:What are your feelings about someone mentioning a bout of depression that they overcame in there personal statement?


Absolutely do not do this for your personal statement. Is depression a defining characteristic in your life? A defining moment in why you want to be a lawyer? This is law school, not an arts academy. Lawyers who overcome mental illness aren't exactly awarded plaques. It's great you were able to turn your life around, and if you are not ashamed, then don't hide it. But to make your mental illness the focus of the one piece of your application that puts a face to the page is just silly. If this were a physical handicap such as you were in a wheelchair, and you felt ostracized growing up, but overcame it and now want to give back to the world -- that'd be gold... but overcoming depression likely won't evoke much empathy from law school counsels.


Why the prejudice against mental illness? This is 2010, mental illness is treated very seriously these days. I don't know if you've heard....

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DeSilentio2728
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Re: depression

Postby DeSilentio2728 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:14 am

logicman86 wrote:
tsbotros wrote:What are your feelings about someone mentioning a bout of depression that they overcame in there personal statement?


Absolutely do not do this for your personal statement. Is depression a defining characteristic in your life? A defining moment in why you want to be a lawyer? This is law school, not an arts academy. Lawyers who overcome mental illness aren't exactly awarded plaques. It's great you were able to turn your life around, and if you are not ashamed, then don't hide it. But to make your mental illness the focus of the one piece of your application that puts a face to the page is just silly. If this were a physical handicap such as you were in a wheelchair, and you felt ostracized growing up, but overcame it and now want to give back to the world -- that'd be gold... but overcoming depression likely won't evoke much empathy from law school counsels.


This guy is a complete idiot who exhibits a total lack of maturity.

sibley
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Re: depression

Postby sibley » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:16 am

DeSilentio2728 wrote:
logicman86 wrote:
tsbotros wrote:What are your feelings about someone mentioning a bout of depression that they overcame in there personal statement?


Absolutely do not do this for your personal statement. Is depression a defining characteristic in your life? A defining moment in why you want to be a lawyer? This is law school, not an arts academy. Lawyers who overcome mental illness aren't exactly awarded plaques. It's great you were able to turn your life around, and if you are not ashamed, then don't hide it. But to make your mental illness the focus of the one piece of your application that puts a face to the page is just silly. If this were a physical handicap such as you were in a wheelchair, and you felt ostracized growing up, but overcame it and now want to give back to the world -- that'd be gold... but overcoming depression likely won't evoke much empathy from law school counsels.


This guy is a complete idiot who exhibits a total lack of maturity.


I don't agree with most of what he said, but I do think there are better choices for a personal statement. Mentioned as an aside is good (as in, and I did all this while battling depression), but the main focus is not so much... I'm of the feeling that a PS should be more positive (I don't think anyone who has depression wants that to be their main characteristic though of course it influences their daily life) and that the illness should be saved for a diversity statement.


Saw an article yesterday that tons of lawyers take anti depressants, but they're not good in small doses, or for the people who don't need them... but take them anyway... didn't read very closely, obviously.

scionb4
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Re: depression

Postby scionb4 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:16 am

logicman86 wrote:
scionb4 wrote:I made mention of my OCD and the effects starting anti-depressant medication a week before the LSAT had on me in an addendum, and I've enjoyed multiple offers. I didn't make mention of it in my personal statement. I certainly would now, 9 months after I began treatment. That was one MEGA uphill battle, so I definitely think it would be worth at least a paragraph in my personal statement as it was such a struggle to overcome. "Pure-O" OCD is a bitch.


You started a new medication a week before the LSAT???? Whoever advised that should be shot. You shouldn't even be changing your vitamin dosage.


:lol: You're telling me - Drugged up and fucked up (anyone who has gone on Zoloft knows what the first week can be like) I still got a 154 even though the pages at the time were slightly blurry (I didn't react very well to the meds at first). I thought about retaking it, but I just didn't want to go through the LSAT BS again - I took my chances, and have been very happy with the results. In with scholly's - Saint Louis, Loyola Chicago, St. Thomas; In without scholly - Denver; WL - IUB, Marquette (how, I have no idea considering the other offers I've gotten); Hold - Case Western; Waiting - IU-Indy (bitches), Pittsburgh, and Arizona. I definitely put in an addendum that the meds had a strong effect on me.

eudaimondaimon
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Re: depression

Postby eudaimondaimon » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:39 am

scionb4 wrote:I thought about retaking it, but I just didn't want to go through the LSAT BS again...


That sounds like the depression talking :(

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acrossthelake
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Re: depression

Postby acrossthelake » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:13 pm

I personally wouldn't, just becaues you're taking a risk with the admissions committee that is probably an unnecessary risk.

Additionally, your personal statement is your chance to say hi, this is a great characteristic about me, and this is why you should admit me.

I don't think depression and dealing with depression is the best use of this opportunity.
I've had major parts of my life that I've had to struggle with, too,(intentionally left vague) yet I left them out of my application to undergrad and intend to leave them out of my application to law school. I think there's a lot more to me than just my struggles and that I would prefer to emphasize to the committee.

Jetsetter
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Re: depression

Postby Jetsetter » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:08 am

Risky it could lead them to think is this someone who can hack it in law school and as an attorney. But if handled deftly you might be able to create a great statement. I don't know how strong a writer you are it may be better to avoid a less risky topic but you know your strengths.

lawhawk
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Re: depression

Postby lawhawk » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:34 pm

Use it as an addendum. IMO that is the only appropriate place for it.

If it didn't affect your grades enough to warrant an addendum, then don't.
It does not have enough positive potential to warrant a personal statement theme.
How does it make you diverse?

You can mention it in your personal statement, but it may be better to show it and not tell it.

thomas85
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Re: depression

Postby thomas85 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:28 am

I am unclear, what is the difference between a diversity statement and a personal statement? Is the diversity statement optional?

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vanwinkle
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Re: depression

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:30 pm

thomas85 wrote:I am unclear, what is the difference between a diversity statement and a personal statement? Is the diversity statement optional?

This is correct. A diversity statement is an optional additional statement that many schools take (even if they don't ask for it) that allows you to explain how you would add to the diversity of the student body and should therefore be admitted. It's different from an addendum because it's a selling point about yourself whereas addendums typically attempt to correct or address deficiencies in your application (like low GPA, criminal record, etc.)

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Bert
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Re: depression

Postby Bert » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:00 pm

tsbotros wrote:so you think this subject is a little too personal for a personal statement? might turn admission people the wrong way?


Yes. I would not talk about it. The PS or the DS are not the proper venues for opening up discussions on depression or even asserting that you were ever depressed or were "almost" depressed. You want to portray yourself in the best possible light, and I don't think that talking about depression (or even hinting at it in either statement) would serve this purpose.

Plus, don't the contents of your application follow you around? Somebody once told me that your your law school application materials are provided by your law school to the bar association in the state in which you become licensed (so the bar association would then know about your depression). As some states require attorneys to be "mentally and emotionally stable" won't voluntarily disclosing a bout of depression just put a ripple in the pond that is your bar admission, one that you could/should/would want to do without? Why risk it?

EDITED for quoting fail.

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JTX
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Re: depression

Postby JTX » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:03 pm

edit: nvrmnd

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Bert
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Re: depression

Postby Bert » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:14 pm

Per the ABA's comprehensive guide to bar admissions requirements:

The revelation or discovery of any of the following should be treated as cause for further inquiry before the bar examining authority decides whether the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law:
• unlawful conduct
• academic misconduct
• making of false statements, including omissions
• misconduct in employment
• acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
• abuse of legal process
• neglect of financial responsibilities
• neglect of professional obligations
• violation of an order of a court
• evidence of mental or emotional instability
• evidence of drug or alcohol dependency
• denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds
• disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction

CanadianWolf
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Re: depression

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:19 pm

Your personal statement has to be yours, but it should reflect more of your life than just a down period that you believe is resolved. Discussing depression, or any mental illness, has to be done with great care as you don't want to scare people away. Is the purpose of your personal statement to evoke sympathy? Understanding? Accomplishment? Think about substituting positive words & expressions for "depression". "Growth experiences" "growing pains" "challenges" & let these phrases lead into discussion of growth, maturation, success, understanding, motivation, compassion, etc. Try to reflect on the challenges, successes & positives that were derived from your period of personal growth.

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Bert
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Re: depression

Postby Bert » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:28 pm

Further, as an applicant to the bar you must "execute under oath a thorough application and ... sign an authorization and release form that extends to the bar examining authority and to any persons or institutions supplying information thereto."

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but by the grace of [something out there] you were not officially diagnosed with depression, and I would say its probably best to not hint that you could have been so diagnosed. As canadian wolf says, you had a rough period in life, overcame some personal obstacles, and are now actively pursuing your career goals.

270910
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Re: depression

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:32 pm

Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever write about depression when seeking admissions. It doesn't matter how great your story is, schools have a HUGE incentive to be weary given the emotional tole 1L takes under the best of circumstances and the difficulty it might present come bar / C&F time.

What are the odds it will negatively impact your application at any given school? Hard to calculate. But I guarantee you that something else interesting has happened in your life that you can write about.

Welcome to the legal profession, here's your first lesson: be risk averse! Taking some risk in your PS can be good, this one is just shooting yourself in the foot. Don't reveal a massive potential liability to the school in an effort to tell a personal story. This is a no-brainer, a rare 100% black and white decision.

OmbreGracieuse
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Re: depression

Postby OmbreGracieuse » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:27 pm

BaiAilian2013 wrote:I have to dissent here. There are things that have been central to my life that I would NEVER, EVER mention to adcomms unless the only other option was to lie...


I agree. There are several things I am not sure I would really want to mention to the adcomms either. I did an overcoming adversity statement, and I had to give it a lot of thought on how to approach it. I think there comes a point where you've been through so much you can either pick a specific memory/instance or do broad brush-strokes. I struggled with that. I had to do a "best memory/worst memory paper" in an English class. If an adcomm ever asked for something like that I think I would die in a fit of laughter. :P

DrPlacebo
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Re: depression

Postby DrPlacebo » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:24 am

disco_barred wrote:Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever write about depression when seeking admissions. It doesn't matter how great your story is, schools have a HUGE incentive to be weary given the emotional tole 1L takes under the best of circumstances and the difficulty it might present come bar / C&F time.

What are the odds it will negatively impact your application at any given school? Hard to calculate. But I guarantee you that something else interesting has happened in your life that you can write about.

Welcome to the legal profession, here's your first lesson: be risk averse! Taking some risk in your PS can be good, this one is just shooting yourself in the foot. Don't reveal a massive potential liability to the school in an effort to tell a personal story. This is a no-brainer, a rare 100% black and white decision.


There are certain circumstances where it should be mentioned. Remember, depression is highly prevalent among high achievers. 50% of graduate and professional students are diagnosed with it at some time. Therefore, encounters with stigma or active discrimination, if they spur your interest in law, should absolutely be in your personal statement. It's really one of the last frontiers in civil rights.

270910
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Re: depression

Postby 270910 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:45 am

DrPlacebo wrote:
disco_barred wrote:Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever write about depression when seeking admissions. It doesn't matter how great your story is, schools have a HUGE incentive to be weary given the emotional tole 1L takes under the best of circumstances and the difficulty it might present come bar / C&F time.

What are the odds it will negatively impact your application at any given school? Hard to calculate. But I guarantee you that something else interesting has happened in your life that you can write about.

Welcome to the legal profession, here's your first lesson: be risk averse! Taking some risk in your PS can be good, this one is just shooting yourself in the foot. Don't reveal a massive potential liability to the school in an effort to tell a personal story. This is a no-brainer, a rare 100% black and white decision.


There are certain circumstances where it should be mentioned. Remember, depression is highly prevalent among high achievers. 50% of graduate and professional students are diagnosed with it at some time. Therefore, encounters with stigma or active discrimination, if they spur your interest in law, should absolutely be in your personal statement. It's really one of the last frontiers in civil rights.


No.

DrPlacebo
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Re: depression

Postby DrPlacebo » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:47 am

I still have to disagree. Depression is something to be cautious about, but not to automatically avoid talking about. Obviously it's a bad idea to focus on it, but the overcoming can be very important.

Besides, considering that you have more than a 1 in 3 chance of being diagnosed with depression in law school even if you have no past history of mental illness, if you can show that you can handle it well, that may even be a plus, especially if you were doing something comparable to 1L. (Yes, there are things that 99% of people would find harder and more stressful than 1L.) I'd submit that any school that sees depression as a big negative is one you don't want to go to in the first place.




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