Thoughts Please

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
The_Skinny
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:56 am

Thoughts Please

Postby The_Skinny » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:57 am

Hi all, long time lurker here looking for some advice on my PS. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance.


Decisive victory came as a sweet ending to weeks of intensely hard work, especially since we were the underdog. After our celebration dinner, I finally had a chance to catch my breath and reflect. It was my first trial, and a significant accomplishment. Despite having no trial experience, I was chosen as the only paralegal on a team with six lawyers, and performed well. Looking back, I realized that the trial offered a window into notable strengths of mine as well as the value of my work experience.

To begin with, my dedication to tasks I undertake proved to be a useful attribute at the trial. For example, on one occasion when we ran low on supplies in the middle of the night, I offered to research the nearest 24-hour store and drive there to restock. Even later that night after completing my work, I had to wait to carpool to the hotel with one of the attorneys. I found an opportunity to go one step further with my project – preparing materials for a bench conference in the morning – to occupy myself until the attorney was ready. At the tail end of an extremely long work day, I was still putting forth an effort over and above what was required.

Another personal strength typified by my performance at the trial was my initiative. A prime example was when, while preparing the attorneys for the day’s proceedings, I suggested ways to better organize their documents, and decrease the volume while still satisfying the intended purpose. Even while completing seemingly mundane tasks, I anticipated needs and found a solution to meet them.

Even more important than showcasing my dedication and initiative, the trial helped my perspective on the world around me to grow. Specifically, I gained a deeper understanding of leadership. Contrary to what my intuition might have led me to believe before, leadership can emerge even from the more junior members of a team – in my situation, the paralegal working with lawyers. By doing things like better organizing the documents the attorneys had to work with, I made their work more efficient, enabling them to focus on prosecuting the case. I thereby maximized the usefulness of my position for the team and furthered the team’s overall agenda in the process – exactly what a leader should do. In assignments subsequent to the trial, I capitalized on this realization about the opportunity for leadership by further expanding my role within my case teams.

Through self-motivated progress such as this, my work experience has strengthened my self-awareness, independence, and potential. Furthermore, this strengthening has occurred on an accelerated schedule due to the demands placed on me, as evidenced by the trial. The resulting perspective and skill set, coupled with my already strong character traits, will enable me to contribute uniquely and meaningfully to the law school community.

The_Skinny
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:56 am

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby The_Skinny » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:13 pm

No one?

NewtonLied
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:16 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby NewtonLied » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:22 pm

I don't think it's a bad statement that'll hurt you, but I don't think it'll help you much either. While I see the points you're trying to make (and they're good points), a 2am trip to Walmart for pens and notepads, or doing some extra work to kill time, may not be the best ways to show them off. I could see this story being truncated into one effective paragraph within a PS, but stretching it out to be the entire thing makes it feel watered down.

Also, if you decide to stick with it, you talk about how you won the case even though you were underdogs. That'll be more concrete if you add in a sentence about what the case was. Vivids help more then generalities.

The_Skinny
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:56 am

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby The_Skinny » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:38 pm

I see what you mean about the examples not being very profound, and that's a concern I had. Unfortunately, paralegal work is mundane by nature. Maybe there's a better example I haven't thought of.

NewtonLied
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:16 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby NewtonLied » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:46 pm

Yea, that's why I figured all the paralegal stuff could be compressed into a single example of what a work horse you are, constantly go above and beyond, all that. Then toss another story in there about something else.
Just my thoughts. I'm only one person.

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jonas586
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:21 am

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby jonas586 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:01 pm

If you don't want to make any impression at all with the admission officers, then this personal statement is perfect. After reading it, I felt like I knew less about you personally, than if I never knew you existed. You were a paralegal who worked on a case, learned some leadership skills, and wasn't afraid to pick up some supplies at 2 in the morning. Congratulations, you have just rendered yourself into generic applicant #3496. Your PS reads more like an everyday occurrence of life rather than something you should be relying on to portray the type of person you are to adcoms.

I personally think you should start over. Find a topic or experience that reveals more about who YOU are. If you decide to stick with the same topic, then fine, but at least breath a few emotions and details into the story to give it some life. Don't just say, I showcased dedication in this case, but rather, write in a way that reveals your dedication without saying it. Consider the following:

It was the middle of the night and supplies were running low. It had been a long day and everyone was more edgy than usual. I knew that running out of supplies would interrupt our flow for the upcoming days and didn't think we could afford the setback. It was apparent what I had to do. I grit my teeth together, slipped my shoes back onto my aching feet, and drove tiredly down to the supply store.....

This is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but a stranger is only going to know as much as your PS tells them, and in my opinion, your PS tells me you are boring.

pieceofbeth
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:49 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby pieceofbeth » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:10 pm

I would avoid focusing an entire personal statement (your opportunity to stand out) on one trial that you landed due to circumstance.

Instead, write a statement of purpose and mention the trial and how it helped solidify your decision to go to law school

The_Skinny
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:56 am

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby The_Skinny » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:03 pm

Thanks for taking the time, both of you. I think some of what you say contradicts what I wrote, but it's good to have multiple opinions.

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JustDude
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:07 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby JustDude » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:49 am

The_Skinny wrote:Hi all, long time lurker here looking for some advice on my PS. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance.


Decisive victory came as a sweet ending to weeks of intensely hard work, especially since we were the underdog. After our celebration dinner, I finally had a chance to catch my breath and reflect. It was my first trial, and a significant accomplishment. Despite having no trial experience, I was chosen as the only paralegal on a team with six lawyers, and performed well. Looking back, I realized that the trial offered a window into notable strengths of mine as well as the value of my work experience.

To begin with, my dedication to tasks I undertake proved to be a useful attribute at the trial. For example, on one occasion when we ran low on supplies in the middle of the night, I offered to research the nearest 24-hour store and drive there to restock. Even later that night after completing my work, I had to wait to carpool to the hotel with one of the attorneys. I found an opportunity to go one step further with my project – preparing materials for a bench conference in the morning – to occupy myself until the attorney was ready. At the tail end of an extremely long work day, I was still putting forth an effort over and above what was required.

Another personal strength typified by my performance at the trial was my initiative. A prime example was when, while preparing the attorneys for the day’s proceedings, I suggested ways to better organize their documents, and decrease the volume while still satisfying the intended purpose. Even while completing seemingly mundane tasks, I anticipated needs and found a solution to meet them.

Even more important than showcasing my dedication and initiative, the trial helped my perspective on the world around me to grow. Specifically, I gained a deeper understanding of leadership. Contrary to what my intuition might have led me to believe before, leadership can emerge even from the more junior members of a team – in my situation, the paralegal working with lawyers. By doing things like better organizing the documents the attorneys had to work with, I made their work more efficient, enabling them to focus on prosecuting the case. I thereby maximized the usefulness of my position for the team and furthered the team’s overall agenda in the process – exactly what a leader should do. In assignments subsequent to the trial, I capitalized on this realization about the opportunity for leadership by further expanding my role within my case teams.

Through self-motivated progress such as this, my work experience has strengthened my self-awareness, independence, and potential. Furthermore, this strengthening has occurred on an accelerated schedule due to the demands placed on me, as evidenced by the trial. The resulting perspective and skill set, coupled with my already strong character traits, will enable me to contribute uniquely and meaningfully to the law school community.




After reading this I am going to remove you from my facebook friends... Dissapointed..

Santiago and Dunbar
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby Santiago and Dunbar » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:20 pm

JustDude wrote:
The_Skinny wrote:Hi all, long time lurker here looking for some advice on my PS. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance.


Decisive victory came as a sweet ending to weeks of intensely hard work, especially since we were the underdog. After our celebration dinner, I finally had a chance to catch my breath and reflect. It was my first trial, and a significant accomplishment. Despite having no trial experience, I was chosen as the only paralegal on a team with six lawyers, and performed well. Looking back, I realized that the trial offered a window into notable strengths of mine as well as the value of my work experience.

To begin with, my dedication to tasks I undertake proved to be a useful attribute at the trial. For example, on one occasion when we ran low on supplies in the middle of the night, I offered to research the nearest 24-hour store and drive there to restock. Even later that night after completing my work, I had to wait to carpool to the hotel with one of the attorneys. I found an opportunity to go one step further with my project – preparing materials for a bench conference in the morning – to occupy myself until the attorney was ready. At the tail end of an extremely long work day, I was still putting forth an effort over and above what was required.

Another personal strength typified by my performance at the trial was my initiative. A prime example was when, while preparing the attorneys for the day’s proceedings, I suggested ways to better organize their documents, and decrease the volume while still satisfying the intended purpose. Even while completing seemingly mundane tasks, I anticipated needs and found a solution to meet them.

Even more important than showcasing my dedication and initiative, the trial helped my perspective on the world around me to grow. Specifically, I gained a deeper understanding of leadership. Contrary to what my intuition might have led me to believe before, leadership can emerge even from the more junior members of a team – in my situation, the paralegal working with lawyers. By doing things like better organizing the documents the attorneys had to work with, I made their work more efficient, enabling them to focus on prosecuting the case. I thereby maximized the usefulness of my position for the team and furthered the team’s overall agenda in the process – exactly what a leader should do. In assignments subsequent to the trial, I capitalized on this realization about the opportunity for leadership by further expanding my role within my case teams.

Through self-motivated progress such as this, my work experience has strengthened my self-awareness, independence, and potential. Furthermore, this strengthening has occurred on an accelerated schedule due to the demands placed on me, as evidenced by the trial. The resulting perspective and skill set, coupled with my already strong character traits, will enable me to contribute uniquely and meaningfully to the law school community.




After reading this I am going to remove you from my facebook friends... Dissapointed..


JustDude...after all of your "constructive criticism" of personal statements....

I am disappointed that you don't know how to spell disappointed.

User avatar
JustDude
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:07 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby JustDude » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:25 pm

If you are both pissed and disappointed, it is dissapointed

Santiago and Dunbar
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby Santiago and Dunbar » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:32 pm

JustDude wrote:If you are both pissed and disappointed, it is dissapointed



hahahaha, noted.

yo, read my PS, a few threads down. click the Final Draft one, there are a few minor changes, but I would like to hear what you think.

thanks.

shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby shoop » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:16 pm

TBH, I would scrap this topic entirely and write about something that actually tells the adcomm something interesting about yourself. Assuming you did as wonderful a job as you said you did on this trial, at least one of those six attorneys should be willing to write a LOR that says you're hardworking and organized. I realize you're probably trying to convey how motivated and dedicated you are, but "I'm capable of Googling the nearest store selling Post-Its at 2am" and "I manage to organize documents better than attorneys who are neck-deep in an intense trial" aren't really compelling reasons for a law school to admit you.

dynomite
Posts: 143
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:58 pm

Re: Thoughts Please

Postby dynomite » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:32 am

Also, the statement as written is about your personal strengths as if you're applying for a job.
Instead, it should be about how your skillset and experience will add to the law school community and why you've chosen to devote your life to the law.

You want to stand out, and you'll have to do it quickly. The first sentence/paragraph must be arresting.

Edit:

You know, the more I read this the more I like it:

jonas586 wrote:Don't just say, I showcased dedication in this case, but rather, write in a way that reveals your dedication without saying it. Consider the following:

It was the middle of the night and supplies were running low. It had been a long day and everyone was more edgy than usual. I knew that running out of supplies would interrupt our flow for the upcoming days and didn't think we could afford the setback. It was apparent what I had to do. I grit my teeth together, slipped my shoes back onto my aching feet, and drove tiredly down to the supply store.....

This is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but a stranger is only going to know as much as your PS tells them, and in my opinion, your PS tells me you are boring.


1) Agreed on show don't tell.

2) Maybe that one trip to the store could develop into the whole PS? Maybe during that drive at 2 a.m. you started to question whether this was all worth it? And you felt silly putting your Bachelor's to use buying pens at a 7-11. But then you reflected on the trial, and you passed a car being pulled over by the cop and remembered that all of the grunt work was in service of the greater purpose of the law, yadda yadda yadda?




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