First Draft of a PS

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Nulli Secundus
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First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:45 am

Ok here is the first draft I prepared in a limited time, I am just taking first opinions, this is not intended to be anywhere near the final product so flame less and advice more, thanks in advance. (I am especially unsure about 4th paragraph)


I work as an auditor at Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA), Supreme Audit Institution of Turkey and equivalent of Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the US, at least in theory. Since TCA is organized as a Court, my job description closely resembles that of a prosecutor. I perform audits on accounts of government entities, check whether transactions were made and financial statements were prepared according to applicable regulations, prepare reports including the defense statements of responsible government officials and submit these to be tried at the Chambers within TCA, with appeals possible also within TCA.

I attended two international audit conferences on the audit of Joint Strike Fighter Project as the representative of Turkish Court of Accounts and I took part in the organization of the 2011 Conference in Turkey. F-35 is, according to GAO, US DoD’s most costly and ambitious aircraft acquisition with an estimated investment amount (at the time of GAO report) of $323 billion for the US and $9 billion for Turkey. During the conferences, via presentations, I shared the current status of JSF Project in Turkey and where TCA is at regarding the audit of the project.

To summarize, when it comes to being a civil servant in Turkey, I have one of the most prestigious entry level jobs available. However, the current legal framework concerning the audit of defense projects is seriously lacking and I am tired of having to explain this to colleagues from world over year after year. And improvements in legal framework do not seem likely, considering a new TCA law giving us a broader mandate is being stalled in the Parliament for the last five years. Before attending the international conferences I was perfectly happy with my lot in life, but seeing how much more effective my colleagues from other countries are and how little will probably change in the future in this regard made me reconsider my future.

The timing of this evaluation of my future was partly determined by the current direction my country seems headed inevitably towards, in terms of political allegiances and emphasis on religion. I respect religion as a concept, but I am not a religious person and I do not identify myself as belonging to any organized religion. This has never been a problem in my country, one of the few secular countries among the countries with a majority Muslim population; but I feel this is about to change. And when / if it does the improvements I expect in legal framework will be the least of my problems and I will be lucky to keep my job, as evidenced by the recent changes in recruitment criteria for public sector –while unannounced, parochial focus in recruitment process is at the moment a fact in Turkey-. Since I do not know how far the paradigm change may go, whether it will get to the point of being persecuted for not identifying oneself as a Muslim, I am deeply concerned. And as a tongue-in-cheek comment, I think pursuing a prestigious law education and a law career in the US is an infinitely more elegant solution to my dilemma than seeking political asylum five years later.

As for academic performance, my dedication is directly proportional to level of challenge and I feel I have an untapped potential that I will be wasting if I do nothing and let more time slip by. I believe I will contribute greatly to the class room discussions with my certainly different perspective. Also, I will be taking a huge financial risk by this move and thus I will have ample motivation to try to be at the top of my class.

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JWicker10
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby JWicker10 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:31 pm

This is terrible. Don't keep one word of it. The first paragraphs are a summary of your resume and then you give a description of why you might be screwed and follow up with a weak and boring discssion of the legal framework in Turkey.

A PS is supposed to convey to the reader a good sense of who you are, why you want to go to law school and why you'd be a good fit for law school (even better if you can make it school specific). Your PS does none of that.

Search the forum and find the thread Ken posted about how to write personal statements, do's and don'ts etc.

I know you said this is a first draft etc., but really it's good you're getting this draft out of the way now because it's useless. The only good idea you had is possibly the topic for your PS, your job. Instead give a BRIEF description of the job and develop a theme for how it relates to who you are and give the reader a picture of yourself. Then go on to describe why you'd be a good fit for law school/your motivations for going perhaps.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:26 am

Well here is a somewhat edited version, flame away! :D


All three installments of the popular computer game Fallout begin with the same words, in Ron Perlman’s voice, “War….War never changes”. I work as an auditor at Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA), Supreme Audit Institution of Turkey and equivalent of Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the US, at least in theory. And that words echo in my mind every time I step into my office, “My job…..My job never changes”. Not that I do not get to do anything interesting, I attended two international audit conferences on the audit of Joint Strike Fighter Project as the representative of Turkish Court of Accounts and I took part in the organization of the 2011 Conference in Turkey.

Back in high school, I wanted to be an engineer, I was in the maths-science division. I only added Faculty of Political Sciences among my preferences appease my father; who is a civil servant and his ideal for me was getting to heights in bureaucracy that he could not and this faculty had renown for having the crème-de-la-crème of the Turkish bureaucracy among its alumni. Due to quirks of Turkish standardized testing and placement system, I ended up in that faculty and Business Administration department. For the first two years, I did not attend most of my classes and I only went to school for exams, however, at the beginning of the third year I reevaluated my situation and I saw that my behavior was not sustainable and I started attending my classes and studying as needed, which reflected quite directly to my grades. I got my job right after graduation, with high praise from my father since TCA is basically the best for a civil servant at entry level.

At TCA, I performed compliance audits as in checking whether transactions were made or financial statements were prepared according to applicable regulations, in this sense it is a quasi-legal career. It was this career that primed an interest for law in a would-be engineer. However, especially after having attended international conferences and seeing what kinds of work my colleagues performed the illusion I had about making a difference got dispelled, leaving frustration in its place. And since the law giving TCA a broader mandate is being stalled in the Parliament for the last five years, I do not expect any change in short or middle term. As Keynes said, “In the long run, we are all dead.” I decided forcing a change and doing it before it was too late for doing anything about it, when the questions “Could I have done more with my life?” “Did I waste my potential?” came bubbling to the surface during my mid-life crisis, ten years later.

I did not even consider a new career in Turkey, since I do not approve of the direction my country is headed, thanks to the current administration; I think the people of Turkey are getting radicalized and marginalized day by day, and as a person who respects the idea of religion but does not identify himself as belonging to any organized religion; I feel hard times loom ahead for me and people like me. So the decision was that it was going be a law career and outside Turkey, the first choice was the US; since I had many friends living here already, working as engineers or in hedge funds and banks. I believe my academic success will only continue to increase, as my dedication is directly proportional to the level of challenge. I will have burned the ships, so to speak, when I start my law education, so I will have ample motivation to try to be at the top of my class and I believe I have the potential to do just that.

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JWicker10
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby JWicker10 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:26 pm

Man, honestly, this is total crap. Scrap every word of it and start over. Nobody cares about Ron Pearlman's voice or Fallout-every sentence should have a purpose in your PS, space is VERY limited. Also, nobody cares about your high school experience or why you got into working at your current job. Moreover, you make yourself sound like a slacker for the first 2 years, hardly appealing. I could go into greater detail about why you're COMPLETELY off base here, but I don't feel that I need to. Search the forum and find Ken's article about Personal Statements, then read it twice.

Following a new found understanding of the function/purpose/role of a personal statement, read 20-30 of them on this site. There's literally threads with hundreds of personal statements. Then brainstorm what your topic should be and hash out a new draft. Edit it for grammar, then post it here or PM it to me.

I'm not trying to be overly harsh or a jerk, but you need this tough criticism.

Also, what are your hard factors: UGpa and LSAT? Where are you applying?

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JWicker10
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby JWicker10 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:29 pm

viewforum.php?f=18

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=4353

http://www.top-law-schools.com/statement.html


Try the third link first and read Ken's article. Then browse the other 2 links.

RPK34
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby RPK34 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:36 pm

It's just so dry and boring. I've learned more about your jobs than you. And there's no reason to be quoting Keynes or Ron Perlman (wtf?) in any context, or talking about how much you played all three installments of Fallout.

You need to completely just rethink your entire thought proccess for a PS.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:42 pm

:lol:

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:06 am

Another version; please flame freely.

For the last year, my colleagues and friends have had one favorite question: “Are you out of your mind?” I work for Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA, theoretical equivalent of Government Accountability Office) as an auditor and for them, this is all one would ever want to achieve in life. Indeed, if your sole aim is to have a prestigious career as a civil servant in Turkey, there is almost no better place; since TCA is the sole external audit entity for all public accounts. TCA performs compliance audits, which means auditing accounts and financial statements to see whether they comply with the applicable laws and regulations, a type of audit that requires excellent knowledge of law and more importantly, the ability to quickly deduce which laws apply to a specific case. During my years at TCA, I attended two international audit conferences on the audit of Joint Strike Fighter Project, which according to a GAO report is the most costly and ambitious aircraft acquisition of US DoD at $323 billion, as the representative of Turkey (which is a third level partner with a $11 billion share) and helped organize the same conference in Turkey in September 2010.

However these positive aspects did not change my answer to those questioning my mental faculties; not utilizing one’s potential to its fullest extent should be considered a criminal offense. A prevalent problem during my education was finding sufficient competition as that is only when, and proportional to the level of challenge presented, I find the drive to study. Taking into account the fact that 95 percentile score at LSAT qualifies one for a MENSA membership, I am fully confident I will find all the competition I will ever need at X Law School. My purpose is to explore where exactly the limits of my potential are; given that I have been working as a de facto prosecutor, in the sense TCA is organized as a Court and the report I prepare are tried in Chambers of TCA, and thus law is an area I have come to love, the intensely competitive environment of a law school struck me as the perfect place to do that.

While a law career is definitely what I want, as a corollary of addiction to challenge mentioned above, work schedule and intensity of a civil servant just is not sufficient anymore. And a JD degree from a prestigious law school like X will undoubtedly make the transition to private sector much easier, regardless of what other qualifications I do have and might acquire. My major was Business Administration and I have a strong grasp of financial management thus I intend to focus on Corporate Law. And there simply is no better place than US to pursue a career in corporate law area, in my opinion.

In the end, this is about the question of whether I have the latent potential to have a successful law career in the private sector and finding the answer to this question when I can still do something about it, instead of waiting until my mid-life crisis when the same question comes bobbing back to the surface in the form of a statement like “I wasted my life, I could have done so much more” after festering in my subconscious for another 15 years. It is perhaps an unnecessary risk, considering the usual behavior at this stage, to apply only to X Law School, but it is a risk I am willing to take; changing one’s country under the current economic climate will only work if I have a solid JD degree from a university like X.
Last edited by Nulli Secundus on Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:56 pm

So any thought on how terrible it is?

I cannot change it much, cos I just was not:

- extremely poor
- the only one in my family to go college ever
- black (still am not)
- Mexican (no)
- cancer
- molested
- subject to any kind of serious tragedy of life-altering proportions.

So I have my job and how it relates to my desire to pursue a law career. This is what I could come up with. Any input will be greatly appreciated.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:47 am

No one wants to flame this a bit, I dont want you to help me perfect it, I just want to have semi-decent version, then I ll decide whether to seek professional help.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Stanford4Me » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:02 am

FYI, I'm black and my Personal Statement did not involve my blackness.

I think your third revision is definitely better than the first two (which really were bad, IMO). I still, however, feel like you're focusing too much on your job and responsibilities. Admissions committees get thousands of applicants and read through numerous personal statements, if you were them would you really want to read through a job description? Try to explain more why you want to enter the field of law, think of some anecdote that you think would be interesting (about yourself, not about your job). You are trying to let some person hundreds (or thousands) of miles away know who you are, and the only way you can do this is through your personal statement.

FWIW, my personal statement involved my job but I didn't spend a huge amount of time talking about what it did - I talked more about the experiences I had while at work and how they contributed towards my passion to enter the field of law. Don't be afraid to make your personal statement an interesting read with literary elements (but don't go overhand).

If you're interested, here's the introductory paragraph from my PS:

I still remember my first day clearly. I walked up to the school, a mid-twentieth century
building with not-so-stately columns covered in cracking, white paint, climbed the stairs towards
the entrance and proceeded through a metal detector. My steps echoed through the foyer as I
contemplated what I was getting myself into. For the next year or more I would be working for a
private tutoring company, providing free tutoring to economically disadvantaged students in an
underperforming high school. My goal was to ensure that these students passed the Texas
Assessment of Knowledge and Skills thereby allowing them to graduate high school. Little did I
know, however, that my time at this school would be one of the most difficult yet enlightening
periods of my life.

Let the AdCom know who YOU are, not what your job is.

*Note: I have completed my application cycle, entering LS in the Fall*

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billyez
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby billyez » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:27 am

nullisecundus wrote:So any thought on how terrible it is?

I cannot change it much, cos I just was not:

- extremely poor
- the only one in my family to go college ever
- black (still am not)
- Mexican (no)
- cancer
- molested
- subject to any kind of serious tragedy of life-altering proportions.

So I have my job and how it relates to my desire to pursue a law career. This is what I could come up with. Any input will be greatly appreciated.


You do not need to be any of those things in order to write a great PS. Your last revision was better than the others because it actually alluded to, but barely gave us a solid understanding of who you are as a person - you seem to feel compelled to go on and on about your job. The writing here is also very...technical. As cliche as this is, you have very obviously caught the "tell, rather than show" approach to writing and that doesn't really work well when you're telling a story which is what I've always thought a PS is supposed to be. It certainly is the approach I applied to mine.

There have been plenty of people who have not had life-altering tragedies or been black who have written terrific statements. They accomplished this is many ways, but I'm going to take a gander and say many of them succeded in part because they wrote a statement that clearly crafted a mental image of who they are in the minds of Admission Officers. Your PS fails to do this.

Take Stanford4Me's first paragraph and contrast it with yours. Both allude to jobs. But only his evokes a feeling about what the author was experiencing. The facts are there - I understand what S4M wanted and what the job entailed - but it is at least mildly interesting because it allows the reader to understand what the applicant aws experiencing. Yours does not. The job is the focus in your first paragraph, not you as a person. You seem to vaguely begin to dig deeper into yourself, but not much. What you need to do is to avoid the trap of creating substance by writing about the rote facts of your life and instead write about what you were experiencing.

I, for one, would love to hear about how hard it was for you to get your position. You allude to your friends saying you were out of your mind to want to switch to another career - I suspect its because you could be settled with your current career, right? Tell me about how hard you had to work to get there and your feelings along the way to your current position. Make me feel like you're a person instead of a bullet on a resume.

Also, this:

A prevalent problem during my education was finding sufficient competition as that is only when, and proportional to the level of challenge presented, I find the drive to study


...is a terrible sentence that could be turned into an entertaining story. Heck, why don't you tell us about the experiences in which you've rose to the challenge. Why don't you put your rise to your current position in the context of that desire to rise to challenges, to succeed? Don't tell me that you've rose to challenges before, show me moments in your life in which you've done so.
Last edited by billyez on Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:59 am

Excellent points raised, thank you both; I will work on it some more as soon as possible.

Scott4LLM
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Scott4LLM » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:28 pm

Maybe talk about your frustrations with your job (without going into too much detail!) motivating you to go to law school.
A lot of your verb tenses are not quite right, which not only interrupts the flow, but also raises questions about your English competency. E.g. 1st sentence--"have had"; 2nd--"I work" or "I have been working"

GettingReady2010
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby GettingReady2010 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:32 pm

Stay away politics and religion in your PS! Why is this so hard for people? Do they seriously feel compelled to tell people who they feel about a particular subject. If you want to talk about these subject, there are plenty of losers online who would love to have a cyber debate with you for next month.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:35 pm

Um actually there is no religion in the last revision, but whatever.

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billyez
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby billyez » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:39 pm

GettingReady2010 wrote:Stay away politics and religion in your PS! Why is this so hard for people? Do they seriously feel compelled to tell people who they feel about a particular subject. If you want to talk about these subject, there are plenty of losers online who would love to have a cyber debate with you for next month.


There is a caveat to this. It really does depend on how you integrate these topics into your PS. In the second revision the OP alluded to the political and religious issues in Turkey in a manner that would not be conducive to a good PS. It was a wise decision in his case to take it out in the third revision.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:12 pm

Ok changes bolded, check diz awt:

For the last year, my colleagues and friends have had one favorite question: “Are you out of your mind?” I work for Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA, theoretical equivalent of Government Accountability Office) as an auditor and for them, this is all one would ever want to achieve in life. Indeed, if your sole aim is to have a prestigious career as a civil servant in Turkey, there is almost no better place; since TCA is the sole external audit entity for all public accounts. TCA performs compliance audits,(took out the definition of compliance audit, unnecessary technicality, they can always look it up if they dont know it :P) a type of audit that requires excellent knowledge of law and more importantly, the ability to quickly deduce which laws apply to a specific case. During my years at TCA, I attended two international audit conferences on the audit of Joint Strike Fighter Project, entrusted with the duty of representing TCA at these conferences. A lot of people share my friends' views with regards to being an auditor at TCA, thus it has an intensely competitive recruitment stage consisting of three separate exams.

However neither my position within TCA, nor what it took in the first place to get into TCA have not changed my answer to those questioning my mental faculties; not utilizing one’s potential to its fullest extent should be considered a criminal offense. My purpose is to explore where exactly the limits of my potential are; given that I have been working as a de facto prosecutor, in the sense TCA is organized as a Court and the reports I prepare are tried in Chambers of TCA, and thus law is an area I have come to love, the intensely competitive environment of a law school, specifically of X Law School with its very strict admission requirements, virtually guaranteeing a competition above a certain caliber, struck me as the perfect place to do that.

My job is closest I can get to a law career without having a law degree. And there is no doubt in my mind that, a law career is what I want, but work schedule and intensity of a civil servant just is not sufficient anymore. And a JD degree from a prestigious law school like X will undoubtedly make the transition to private sector much easier, regardless of what other qualifications I do have and might acquire. My major was Business Administration and I have a strong grasp of financial management thus I intend to focus on Corporate Law. And there simply is no better place than US to pursue a career in corporate law area, in my opinion.

In the end, this is about the question of whether I have the latent potential to have a successful law career in the private sector and finding the answer to this question when I can still do something about it, instead of waiting until my mid-life crisis when the same question comes bobbing back to the surface in the form of a statement like “I wasted my life, I could have done so much more” after festering in my subconscious for another 15 years. It is perhaps an unnecessary risk, considering the usual behavior at this stage, to apply only to X Law School, but it is a risk I am willing to take; changing one’s country under the current economic climate will only work if I have a solid JD degree from a university like X.

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smartin
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby smartin » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:32 pm

I suggest approaching this from a different angle, one that relies much less on the workings of the TCA. Pick a topic more accessible to your readers. It still feels like a narrative version of your resume or a cover letter for a job.

Also, If you are going to talk about your time at the TCA, I think it's important to emphasize why you want to study law in the States rather than Turkey. I know you mention the private sector but do you mean the domestic private sector or an international one.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:44 pm

Law education in Turkey is an undergraduate course requiring you take an exam (like SAT but much more reliant on rote learning, asking stuff like 13. century writers, trigonometry, basically the stuff I studied and forgot like 10 years ago) whereas law school in USA is a graduate program and LSAT is doable at any age since it requires nothing but logic and reading comprehension :P So to do this in Turkey, I d have to take that exam, take a 4 year UG course and basically be at the same level with 22 year olds at 33. Not very appealing :)

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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Scott4LLM » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:18 pm

"since TCA is the sole external audit entity for all public accounts" this is not the reason your friends think you have a dream job; as written it suggests it is. Cut it.
Also, cut this from its original place: (TCA, theoretical equivalent of Government Accountability Office) So that the beginning, (without performing major surgery) would read:
For the last year, my colleagues and friends have had one favorite question: “Are you out of your mind?” I work for Turkish Court of Accounts as an auditor and for them, this is all I would ever want to achieve in life. Indeed, if my sole aim were to have a prestigious career as a civil servant in Turkey, there is almost no better place. My agency ("TCA") performs compliance audits that require....

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smartin
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby smartin » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:11 pm

nullisecundus wrote:Law education in Turkey is an undergraduate course requiring you take an exam (like SAT but much more reliant on rote learning, asking stuff like 13. century writers, trigonometry, basically the stuff I studied and forgot like 10 years ago) whereas law school in USA is a graduate program and LSAT is doable at any age since it requires nothing but logic and reading comprehension :P So to do this in Turkey, I d have to take that exam, take a 4 year UG course and basically be at the same level with 22 year olds at 33. Not very appealing :)


I don't doubt that, but I doubt that many adcomms are familiar with the Turkish educational system. If you discuss the TCA in such detail, I think you should also answer the question "Why do I want to pursue an American J.D.?"

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billyez
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby billyez » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:00 am

No. No, no, no.

What you did was add a few sentences, when what you need to do is rewrite your PS with an entirely different approach. The subject is fine. I can see a means to make this effective. The way you tell the story is what's making this so difficult. Every detail about your job that is either extraneous or is not utilized to tell us about who you are as a person should be discarded.

I compel you to read this PS which is complete and, as all writing is, imperfect but still effective: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=123441. The approach in the first three paragraphs is what you need to adopt - explaining your experience and linking it to you personal development as a person. Not just stating what your job entails and then leaving those facts there to stew on the page. Can you take a personal experience you had on your job that really pushed you to become a lawyer and develop it?

The last paragraph in particular flounders. This should be where you strongly reassert your reasons for law school and instead you let out a whimper when you need a bang. We go through all these facts about what your job entails, your desire (actually, what appears to be a need) for a competitive environment (the only part of the PS that actually sticks out to me as something about yourself that I learn), and hope for a good private sector job and the reason why is...because you want to avoid a mid-life crisis? Also...this is about finding out whether you have the "latent potential" to succeed in private practice? No, you have that potential already - you've proven it by your experiences in the Courts in Turkey. There can be ambiguity and uncertainty in a PS and a little humility is refreshing, but I think it's a terrible note to end your composition on. Just take that part out.

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Nulli Secundus
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby Nulli Secundus » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:22 am

Thank you for your comments, though given the example PS includes things like calling breaking up fights between 12 year olds as on-site conflict resolution, how should I refer to my experiences as a person auditing billion dollar accounts?

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billyez
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Re: First Draft of a PS

Postby billyez » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:08 pm

You're thinking about it far too literally. Again, it's not the content that you should be reading for, it's the approach. What he does is write about his experience in such a manner that is engaging. You tell me what your work entails, but nothing else. You state that you love competitive environments, correct? Take an moment from you job when you were under pressure, when you were handling these biillion dollar accounts and tell us about how you thrived under that pressure.* Segway into how you know you could also thrive in such a competitive environment again in law school.

*But don't just write it in a technical manner. Don't just say - "my work is difficult, but I thrived under that pressure", as I envision you doing - get into your own head about how you felt in those moments and state what made you overcome the difficult aspects of the job.




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