How dangerous is it?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jeremychristiansen
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How dangerous is it?

Postby jeremychristiansen » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:52 pm

My question is, how dangerous is it to put forward my conservative/libertarian views in a personal statement? I really want to practice appellate law. I am a con law maniac. I read Bork, Calabresi, Barnett, Scalia, Thomas, Friedman, Hazlitt, etc for fun. I have read Roe at least 10 tens times word for word. I have read Casey and Scalia's scathing dissent. I have read Lawrence and Wikard v Filburn. I jumped for joy when DC v Heller came down. I believe in nothing but Original Public Meaning. I believe substantive due process is a figment of someones imagination, and have dreamed of the day that I too may be privileged enough to see a "penumbra." If I choose to write about what I am most passionate about, what has most driven me to reach for success academically, I sometimes worry that its not the most popular point of view and could hurt my chances. What do you guys think? I would really appreciate your opinions. If you disagree with my views, that is cool and not what I am hear to talk about so please leave that for another time.

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vanwinkle
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:53 pm

Occasionally someone posts a thread like this, giving a completely irrational fear that they will be discriminated against because they are conservative. A number of people come forward to point out how completely ridiculous that is, a relatively mild flamewar smoulders for a bit, and then it finally seems settled that no, you're not going to face any negative repercussions for it, especially since law school adcomms look for diversity of opinions in the classroom.

Until the next time it's asked and everything starts all over again.

By the way, I disagree vehemently with your political beliefs, which is a pretty amazing feat for you to have pulled off with a single paragraph. However, as long as you present yourself in the same respectful manner other successful students do in your applications, you should be fine.

jeremychristiansen
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby jeremychristiansen » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:58 pm

Thanks vanvinkle I appreciate it. I do not deny the possibility that the belief is unfounded or irrational.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:02 pm

.
Last edited by Big Shrimpin on Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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dominkay
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby dominkay » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:21 pm

jeremychristiansen wrote:My question is, how dangerous is it to put forward my conservative/libertarian views in a personal statement? I really want to practice appellate law. I am a con law maniac. I read Bork, Calabresi, Barnett, Scalia, Thomas, Friedman, Hazlitt, etc for fun. I have read Roe at least 10 tens times word for word. I have read Casey and Scalia's scathing dissent. I have read Lawrence and Wikard v Filburn. I jumped for joy when DC v Heller came down. I believe in nothing but Original Public Meaning. I believe substantive due process is a figment of someones imagination, and have dreamed of the day that I too may be privileged enough to see a "penumbra." If I choose to write about what I am most passionate about, what has most driven me to reach for success academically, I sometimes worry that its not the most popular point of view and could hurt my chances. What do you guys think? I would really appreciate your opinions. If you disagree with my views, that is cool and not what I am hear to talk about so please leave that for another time.


I think you should write about something else.

First off, adcomms tend to be liberal and partisanship can be off-putting; you don't want your personal statement to make them roll their eyes or raise their blood pressure.

But that's actually not the main reason that I think you should choose a different topic. Mostly, I think your personal statement should be more personal than that. I don't think a political screed is going to be all that interesting or original or really give them a idea of what makes you tick. Okay, you're an originalist -- but what are the values or experiences from which your politics spring?

Thumbs up on your reading list, though. :)

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quishiclocus
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby quishiclocus » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:05 am

I'm new to all this so this is a shot in the dark, but there's something about this idea that would bug me just as much if you were going on about how liberal you were. You're applying to go to law school. To learn about law. Trying to show off how much you already know about law could backfire big-time. They want to know what's going to make you a good student, and part of being a good student is being receptive to new information. Going on a lot about how much you know is good in a job application, where they need to know what you know and how you plan to apply it. But this is different. This is judging your ability to learn, to deal with new thoughts and ideas, to evaluate things that conflict with what you already think and see how they fit together.

If you can impart all of that *and* how enthusiastic you are about this particular area, I'm not saying that won't go over well, but it seems like a very tricky prospect.

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romothesavior
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:15 am

I'm against it for two reasons:

1) There is no need to even risk it. Why potentially turn off the adcomms if you can just write about something less controversial? Many of them will read your PS and, either consciously or subconsciously, develop a bias against you based on your views of constitutional law.

2) As noted above, no matter how much you think you know about law, you know less than you think. You've read some Scalia and some opinions... great. But have you read any truly academic pieces on other philosophical views? Do you feel like you really understand the nuances of the law and the issues involved in these cases?

I spent two years researching the Establishment Clause and wrote a 50-page paper on it, but I would never tell the adcomms about my "knowledge" about the subject unless asked. I am proud of my work and I feel like I'm pretty proficient in the area (although my knowledge of law is limited to this area and I am FAR from an expert), but I would still never say anything that might make the adcomm think, "This presumptuous kid thinks he knows about con law?" Even if well-framed, a PS on this issue could make you seem immature, cocky, and uninformed. And very gunnerish.

Feel free to talk about your interest in appellate and constitutional law. Just try not to inject your interpretation of cases or your personal political views.

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invisiblesun
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby invisiblesun » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:16 am

FWIW, Ann Coulter got into UMich with a personal statement that was a critique of affirmative action.

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Osos
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby Osos » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:25 am

I think you'd have to write it in a certain way. I don't think that anybody would discriminate against those with different political views, but in general it may be kind of trite. Don't come off like a Scalia fanboy, not because Scalia is a bad person or anything (though maybe he is), but because that is kind of a shallow thing to write a whole PS about. And don't go too in-depth about Scalia or the cases either, because you won't know as much about them as the people reading your essays.

So I'd say go ahead and use it as your inspiration for why you did well academically and did extracurriculars and whatever if you want. But that you are conservative or libertarian shouldn't be the main point about your essay, because I'm sure there's something more interesting about you.

jeremychristiansen
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby jeremychristiansen » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:27 am

I put what I did in just to paint a caricature of what I think. I by no means think I know everything about the law. But I have have spent an inordinate amount of time reading opinions and not just ones in con law but other areas as well. I have studied philosophy of law. I haven't studied the Establishment Clause for two years, but that sounds awesome. I most definitely know how to hold my tongue and would not come off in the way I did in my post in my PS. I appreciate all of the advise. For as conservative as I am, I am pretty good at getting along with other people and I try to respect other people's opinions (although obviously I have a difficult time with a few, but I'm working on it). The whole process of writing the PS is a daunting one, and I am just trying to figure out what the best plan of attack is. Many people have expressed reservations about addressing specific legal or political philosophies in a PS, and I wanted to see what everyone thought. I posted some other possible topics and would appreciate any comments on them as well. Thanks everyone.

GossipGirl2002
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby GossipGirl2002 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:02 am

I stopped reading after, "My question is,"

MVPson
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby MVPson » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:21 am

You sound annoying.

12262010
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby 12262010 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:43 am

I hate you.

Tautology
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby Tautology » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:46 am

jeremychristiansen wrote:I put what I did in just to paint a caricature of what I think. I by no means think I know everything about the law. But I have have spent an inordinate amount of time reading opinions and not just ones in con law but other areas as well. I have studied philosophy of law. I haven't studied the Establishment Clause for two years, but that sounds awesome. I most definitely know how to hold my tongue and would not come off in the way I did in my post in my PS. I appreciate all of the advise. For as conservative as I am, I am pretty good at getting along with other people and I try to respect other people's opinions (although obviously I have a difficult time with a few, but I'm working on it). The whole process of writing the PS is a daunting one, and I am just trying to figure out what the best plan of attack is. Many people have expressed reservations about addressing specific legal or political philosophies in a PS, and I wanted to see what everyone thought. I posted some other possible topics and would appreciate any comments on them as well. Thanks everyone.


Don't need to respect the opinions, just the people who hold them.

Mirrored
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby Mirrored » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:52 am

I think that it's not "dangerous" to have political beliefs, but that your line of reasoning seems immature-- you are attempting to act like a legal scholar prior to attendance-- which is about as annoying as a pro se litigant imagining themselves as a real attorney.

Do not post ideologies that you would not be able to fully and completely defend. Especially because you only have two pages to do so. At this point, I doubt that you have done enough to make a defensible argument-- PhD graduates end up with one fully defensible thesis, and you are definitely not at that point.

What you should not express are views, because your views are not yet Mature in the fullest sense. Instead, you should talk about your qualities and experiences that have prepared you for what Law School is-- the complete criticism of your views and the abandonment of "issues" and "pro/con" arguments in favor of legal issue spotting and applying black-letter law.

The most any ideological statement is going to do, is provide them with a two page look at arguments they have heard before and heard better. Your personal statement is about you, not an issues paper.

It should explain:

1) Why you are a suitable candidate for admission.
2) What qualities and experiences you will bring to their student body.
3) What kind of challenges you are prepared to confront.

It doesn't matter how much you talk about ideas that you have not seriously scholarly examined for 3 years-- they don't want to hear a pre-law student try to talk like a professor. It just doesn't work.

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kk19131
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby kk19131 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:56 am

"I read Bork..."


I stopped there. :lol:

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3|ink
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby 3|ink » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:56 pm

Mirrored wrote:I think that it's not "dangerous" to have political beliefs, but that your line of reasoning seems immature-- you are attempting to act like a legal scholar prior to attendance-- which is about as annoying as a pro se litigant imagining themselves as a real attorney.


That's the heart of the matter. Also,

1.) people's political beliefs tend to change considerably in their 20's (not assuming your age, but its the most common age-group for applicants).

2.) every jerk coming out of college thinks his or her political opinions are 'groundbreaking'. If you include your political opinions in your essay, you'll be implying that you feel this way about your opinions. Remeber that your applicantion will be read by someone who paid his dues and attended school before putting his name to opinions.

3.) an open mind is best suited for learning the law. You have to be willing and able to weigh both sides of an argument. By indicating the strength of your political views, you are indicating that your scale of reason, so to speak, isn't exactly balance.

psteele99
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby psteele99 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:13 pm

stay away from politics imho... this is law school... you're supposed to learn to be able to argue either side of a fact pattern... if you're too conservative or too liberal, i could see that as a weakness. Especially in the appellate format where your views may not be too popular on hot topic issues of today.

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Grizz
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Re: How dangerous is it?

Postby Grizz » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:36 pm

Mirrored wrote:I think that it's not "dangerous" to have political beliefs, but that your line of reasoning seems immature-- you are attempting to act like a legal scholar prior to attendance-- which is about as annoying as a pro se litigant imagining themselves as a real attorney.


People can have educated opinions about the law without going to law school.

HTH




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