The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Bennettju
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:12 pm

The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby Bennettju » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:32 am

Hey, folks. Well, most of "us" now appear to be in the waiting/deciding part of the process, but I know there are also plenty of TLSers out there who are just taking those first fateful steps towards LSAT/personal statement drudgery. This topic is intended primarily for these poor souls. :lol:

The conventional wisdom dictates that it's unwise to be overly creative with your personal statement. Similarly, it's considered dangerous to allow too much "bleeding heart" optimism or "I want to save the world" naiveté to show through in your application. While I think there is merit to both of those arguments, I wouldn't take them too far. As you'll see below, I allowed more than a little creativity and optimism to show throughin my statement, which I think was bolstered by demonstrable "public interest/service" work in other parts of my application as well. So, if you really are interested in doing public interest law one day, and have the resume to prove it, don't be afraid to make that claim for your audience.

Also, I know I'm not the only one who felt like they've lived a pretty "boring" life so far (meaning, no near-death experiences or jail cell epiphanies). Therefore, the common strategy of gripping your reader with a startling narrative "hook" wasn't really available to me. But again, I think there are plenty of other, perfectly good ways to get your reader's attention--especially if you're willing to go out on a limb a bit.

You can check my TLS profile to see how I fared this cycle, and judge for yourself if it was a good risk to take or not. Without further ado, I now present my (heavily revised: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=83734) personal statement for your reading pleasure:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have always wanted to be a knight. As a boy, I read countless stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, often bringing them to life in my backyard with the straightest stick I could find becoming my own shining Excalibur. There was much in the image of the brave cavalier that captured my youthful imagination: the sense of unrivaled strength; the grace of the skilled swordsman; the valor of leading the charge into battle against an implacable foe. But those overt characteristics could not have been all that attracted me, for many of them could just as easily be ascribed to the villains of the stories as to the heroes, and I would never have willingly assumed the part of Mordred in my mock battles. Looking deeper into the legends, there appear to be certain indelible qualities which set the true (i.e., good) knights apart from the merely powerful ones. Though I did not know it then, I believe it is this latter set of qualities which instilled in me aspirations of knighthood.

The first of these qualities was the gift of discernment—the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. Discernment was what enabled a knight to distinguish a just cause from an unjust one, in order that he might choose the better side to champion. In my own life, this kind of knowledge has historically grown out of my Christian faith. I am grateful that my parents began taking me to church with them when I was very young, and that much of my identity and sense of morality were initially formed in Sunday school. Over the years, that faith has changed and grown in step with an increased understanding of the multi-faceted world in which I live. And while it would be false to say that every action I take is dictated by the precepts of Christian Scripture, it is true that virtually all of my decisions have been informed by my knowledge and experience of God. Though I would never presume to force my beliefs on anyone else, neither am I ashamed to admit where my moral center lies.

But what good would it be for a knight to recognize the right choice in a situation if he was unwilling to put aside his own agenda to fight for it? Selflessness—a commitment to serving someone or something outside of oneself—is therefore the next defining characteristic of a true knight. Learning to practice this kind of selflessness has been a lengthy process for me. A notable step in this direction took place when I built houses for a summer in Tijuana and saw the potential for simple acts of service to transform not only those being served but also the one serving. In my work for the Department of Social Services and ____ Chapel, I have met some remarkable people who are further along in this process than I. Through their example, I have come to realize that real selflessness cannot fit inside of a summer project. Rather, it is a lifetime decision to put others’ needs above one’s own, despite the cost.

Unfortunately for the knight, this kind of selflessness invariably did involve a cost, often in the form of being exposed to dangers he might otherwise have avoided. For this reason, a final characteristic which united the very best knights of legend was their devotion to a quest—a mission for which they would gladly spend the various currencies of their lives. I believe I have found such a quest for my life in the work of organizations like the International Justice Mission (IJM). Today, IJM works all over the world to combat various manifestations of violent oppression, including human trafficking, unlawful property seizure, and police brutality. Though battling these forces presents what is likely an endless and potentially very dangerous prospect—the human rights activists martyred in Chechnya last summer stand as a testament to the perils of such work—IJM persistently operates through established legal avenues to bring relief to victims and to hold perpetrators to account for their crimes. I can think of no better way to utilize my resources of time, energy, and education than engaging with this work of delivering tangible justice to those under the yoke of slavery or worse.

In an effort to combat the injustices of this age, a properly trained and applied legal mind can act both as a shield against the forces of deception and tyranny and as a sword to rightly punish the perpetrators of those injustices. To accomplish these feats, however, requires more than mere intelligence, or eloquence, or boldness in a courtroom. Just as with the knights I emulated growing up, becoming a good lawyer and a true advocate for the disenfranchised requires discernment to comprehend what the reality of a situation is and what the next step should be. It requires selflessness to seek the client’s best interests above one’s own. And it requires a devotion to justice, despite the difficulties or even persecution that may come. If there is still a place in the world for a true knight, I believe it is in a court of law, defending those who are without the means to defend themselves. Therefore, it is with both eagerness and trepidation that this humble aspirant seeks admittance to _______ Law School, that he might become properly equipped to take the next step forward in pursuit of his quest.

Dave
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby Dave » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:41 am

Hey man I really appreciate you posting a thread for people like me. I don't know why I used the word "epiphany", because looking back at that writing makes me look retarded lol, especially since there were none, but that factors into your "don't be too naive or optimistic" stance. I definitely like your personal statement but as I've said earlier, I'd have to be on some kind of methamphetamine to write something like. I'm sure if I was writing in my feelings diary, it wouldn't be has hard. But knowing this writing can have a significant impact on my future makes me freeze up. Imagine your team being down by 2 in overtime with zeros on the clock. Then imagine you have 3 free throws, you make 3 you win the game, you make less than 2, you lose. That's how I feel when I sit down to think about the PS.

Btw, Knights are badass.

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Ayeshabelle
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby Ayeshabelle » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:12 pm

Loved your personal statement. And King Arthur rocks =)

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soullesswonder
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby soullesswonder » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:26 pm

Judging from your cycle, the conventional wisdom seems pretty wise. Your numbers alone gave you a decent shot at Mich, UVA, and Duke, and made you a strong candidate for Cornell.
Last edited by soullesswonder on Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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vanwinkle
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:30 pm

soullesswonder wrote:Judging from your cycle, the conventional wisdom seems pretty wise. Your numbers alone gave you a decent shot at Mich, UVA, and UVA, and made you a strong candidate for Cornell.

+1. OP, how the hell did you not get accepted to either Cornell or Duke? (I'm guessing your PS is the answer.)

sumus romani
Posts: 565
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby sumus romani » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:33 pm

Sorry, but your cycle does not indicate triumph. It must have been the PS. Are you taking a year off on a knight's errand, or a crusade, and then applying with a sensible PS next cycle?

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JustDude
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby JustDude » Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:45 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
soullesswonder wrote:Judging from your cycle, the conventional wisdom seems pretty wise. Your numbers alone gave you a decent shot at Mich, UVA, and UVA, and made you a strong candidate for Cornell.

+1. OP, how the hell did you not get accepted to either Cornell or Duke? (I'm guessing your PS is the answer.)


sumus romani wrote:Sorry, but your cycle does not indicate triumph. It must have been the PS. Are you taking a year off on a knight's errand, or a crusade, and then applying with a sensible PS next cycle?


172, 3.5 Waitlisted at UM UVA Cornell - WTF?????


Duke is expected WL, since they focus on GPA> If GPA <3.6 for DUKE is a WL.

But Cornell??????

Bennettju
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:12 pm

Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby Bennettju » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:04 pm

Hey again everybody,

Thanks for the feedback, both positive and negative. To be honest, I'm actually pretty happy with my cycle. I applied about midway through (last week of November/first week of December for most of them) and for being something of a splitter (3.45 LSDAS GPA) I really had no idea what to expect. So, to only get two full out rejections (Columbia and HLS), plus getting accepted at one T10 and another T14, I'm more than ok with my results. I also only wrote "Why X" essays for Notre Dame and Northwestern, so I don't know if that affected my chances at UVA, Duke, Mich, etc.

But here's the point from my end: being creative, and putting some of your personality into the statement, isn't a death sentence! Especially for people who want to do PI law, as I do, I think it's good to show your true colors to your school. Georgetown, for example, is hugely focused on PI. Therefore, I feel like I will be a good fit there, and they seem to agree. Conversely, I don't know if I would really have fit in at Michigan, Columbia, or some of the other more corporate/private sector focused schools. I guess I see it as something of a self-selecting process from both sides, in that way.

Well, feel free to continue firing in comments if you guys have any. If nothing else, they're entertaining to read. Meanwhile, I'm going to very happily prepare to head off to one of my very exciting options in the fall and see what doors will open from there.

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kittenmittons
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby kittenmittons » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:13 pm

Reality must be a bitter pill

Bennettju
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:12 pm

Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby Bennettju » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:19 pm

Reality must be a bitter pill.


Not really, no. Tastes pretty good, in fact. :D

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JustDude
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby JustDude » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:38 pm

Bennettju wrote:
Reality must be a bitter pill.


Not really, no. Tastes pretty good, in fact. :D


Thats what she said Ha!

OmbreGracieuse
Posts: 254
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Re: The Knight Returns...Triumphant?

Postby OmbreGracieuse » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:54 pm

Bennettju wrote:
Well, feel free to continue firing in comments if you guys have any. If nothing else, they're entertaining to read. Meanwhile, I'm going to very happily prepare to head off to one of my very exciting options in the fall and see what doors will open from there.


Where do you plan to go? Congrats on having so many options, by the way.

I am still just starting (I won't be applying anywhere until September), and thought your PS was really insightful. I think it was interesting and rather unconventional, something I am pushing for just a little (though not nearly as different as yours). I just want you to know, if nothing else, it helped me. :)




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