Please critique my personal statement

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FranklinFive
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:22 pm

Please critique my personal statement

Postby FranklinFive » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:29 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm applying to law schools for the upcoming fall semester, and would appreciate any commentary/critiques on my personal statement, following below. If it matters, I just turned 29, so it's been a while since I've last seen a classroom/lecture hall. Thanks in advance!

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“But that settlement was within guidelines!” Tim implored as I glared at him from across my desk. The paralegal had made a costly mistake. Offering the defendant fifty cents on the dollar to settle a judgment against her would give a quick jolt to his recovery performance this month, putting him within reach of a sizeable bonus check. His protests notwithstanding, Tim failed to recognize the motivation behind her surprising willingness to settle, and so overlooked the Order for Wage Execution recently served against her employer. Investing considerable time to prepare and file the requisite motion with the court, our attorney ensured that the firm would have the upper hand in any forthcoming negotiations. That is, until Tim’s myopic pursuit of fast money entered the equation.

In nearly eight years employed for two of New Jersey’s largest creditors’ rights firms, I had observed with some curiosity that their characteristically stern, no-nonsense reputations seemed more often lamented by their own employees than adversaries in court. After my promotion to supervising paralegal, I was expected to respond at least as forthrightly to the occasional debacle, appearing on my agenda as regularly as client meetings or writing performance reviews. Still, Tim’s arrangement was technically sound; he met our client’s bottom line in concluding the settlement. But, while tangible concepts like settlement authority and applicable case law remained relatively simple to teach, imparting upon inexperienced employees the subtleties of effective negotiating proved far more elusive. One way or the other though, I was going to exploit this as a positive learning experience.

My father’s favorite Polish proverb immediately leapt to mind: “Lepiej dać głodnemu wędkę niż rybe” or, “Better to give a hungry person a fishing pole than a fish.” This succinctly paraphrased my approach with my staff, embodying a philosophy deeply rooted within me at an early age. My father would repeatedly emphasize the development of comprehensive knowledge as the foundation of any endeavor, himself the product of a rigorous, Communist-era engineering education. I would remember well my childhood, the countless hours spent at a kitchen table covered in textbooks, my father “helping” me with my homework the way a drill sergeant might “help” his recruits. Careless mistakes were inexcusable, and even achievements were scrutinized for value – many years later, proudly standing before my family in my graduation cap and gown, I would poignantly recall not words of praise, but his vocal skepticism of the quality of a U.S. university education. Nevertheless, in spite of it all, or perhaps because of it, I became a stronger person.

Lecturing Tim, I couldn’t help but smile at the situation. In a way, my role had transmuted from student to teacher so subtly I had scarcely realized it. The torch had been passed, and I became a reflection of my father, albeit without the demeanor of a harsh disciplinarian. Upon deeper reflection, I would understand his Spartan values were of lasting merit, and always present within. Yet, given the appreciation for the rational and the logical that I’d developed, it would seem easy to question my motivation to pursue a legal education. My chosen career path provides a comfortable living in a less-than-comfortable economy, as well as no dearth of exposure to some very jaded, cynical attorneys whose only free legal advice seems to be “don’t become a lawyer.” But, as I reclined slightly in that tall office chair, I ultimately came to realize that Tim was not the only person in that room who could be admonished for settling for less than appropriate. In my view, a law degree represents that rare pinnacle of achievement for which I’ve waited for far too long. My background in the legal field will no doubt afford me a seasoned perspective that will prove indispensable in my studies. And I could think of no better way to both fully realize my potential, and affirm that unyielding thirst for knowledge that is my father’s lasting imprint on my life.

Upon concluding my meeting with Tim, my decision to go to law school had become certain. After sending him back to his desk, I briefly contemplated how my life would change; returning to school, leaving my job – maybe I’ll just leave a sign – it’ll say:

GONE FISHIN’

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scribelaw
Posts: 771
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: Please critique my personal statement

Postby scribelaw » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:48 pm

You're a pretty good writer.

The lead is too clever by half. I don't really get the first paragraph. I read it twice and still don't really get it. Try something more straightforward, maybe.

Also, I don't like how it ends -- a lttle hokey.

I think with a new opening paragraph and conclusion, this could really work. Other than that, it hangs together really well and it's a good story.

A few nits....

This is a major run-on sentence, break it down into two...: "Careless mistakes were inexcusable, and even achievements were scrutinized for value – many years later, proudly standing before my family in my graduation cap and gown, I would poignantly recall not words of praise, but his vocal skepticism of the quality of a U.S. university education."

And watch your grammar, a la this sentence: "In my view, a law degree represents that rare pinnacle of achievement for which I’ve waited [strike]for[/strike]far too long."




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