Please Critique My Personal Statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Nailjohnj
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:40 am

Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby Nailjohnj » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:12 pm

Hey everyone,

I have gone over this PS time and time again, and I am fairly happy with it, but I Want to make sure this is what I want in a PS. Please take a look over it and feel free to tear it to pieces. Thanks for all of your help.

Instead of being fast asleep at 8:30 in the morning of April 10th, 2010, my twenty-fifth birthday, I was nervously inspecting the cabin of an old, silver Cessna from the 1950s with a rotund character who claimed to be my pilot. As he explained what trouble I would be in if I didn’t exit the plane in a certain manner when the door opened at 10,000 ft., I began to reevaluate the decision that I had made only hours earlier. Nevertheless, after this short lesson on how to survive a 2 mile fall, which did not seem anywhere near comprehensive enough, I crammed into this tiny plane with the pilot and four other men, all of whom seemed as quietly reflective about this decision as I was. One of them even crossed himself as the propeller started to spin.

When the plane reached 2,500 ft, according the altimeter on my wrist, I started to have a slight panic attack and wondered to myself, “Why in the world did I decide to embark on this little adventure?” The short answer was because I had planned to make this jump each birthday for at least four years, but in reality, it was because my mother had passed away only five months earlier and I realized it was time to put my plans for my life making into motion. To calm myself, I began to remember the important lessons that my mother taught me, both with her words and her life. The one that came to mind so for this situation was that sometimes you had take a risk and put yourself in an uncomfortable situation to get a stagnant life moving again. I learned this lesson when I was 9 years old and my mother moved us from our house in upstate South Carolina to Augsburg, Germany. At the time, I hated moving to a country where I didn’t know anybody and couldn’t speak the language; but looking back on it now, I realize that it was the second most important change of my life. Over the next 9 years, I learned other languages, made friends across cultural boundaries, and developed a thirst for knowledge that comes from being exposed to arts, architecture, and other works than many people only get to read about.

It was this thirst that originally led me to study economics in college and gave me the dream to pursue a career in law, but that dream quickly vanished after I graduated college and realized that I wasn’t in a position to take on the debt that would be associated with going straight to law school. After spending two years working, I had a chance encounter with a lawyer from Washington, D.C. who worked in international trade law, more specifically agricultural subsidies. This was a subject I studied in school, and the conversation reinvigorated my passion. And though I had been planning to take the LSAT since I graduated, I had never talked to anyone about it until I opened up to my mother in October, 2009. Once she realized that I had found my passion, she motivated me to realize it at any cost. She even went as far as to buy me two LSAT prep books from Amazon.com and have them shipped to me without my knowledge. The package arrived on November 1st, 2009. My mother passed away on the 18th. This was the most important change of my life; because it pushed me to finally make my dream of a career in law a reality.

On the morning of the 18th, I had to catch an early morning flight to a training program for a new job that I had started about three weeks earlier. After I had checked in for my flight, I decided to give my mom a call, since she was the only person that I knew would be awake and willing to help me stay up. We hadn’t spoken in about a week due to my new job and the time difference between Germany and the US, but when her boss unexpectedly answered her line on the sixth ring my life was turned upside down with a ten minute conversation. The next few months were a complete blur for me, with the memorial and a 4 day trip to Germany set in the middle of the holiday season. I spent each morning waking up to a job I had grown to hate and slowly devolved until I became a shell of myself. But in February, a new problem suddenly came to the forefront. Due to the complexities of the German and American probate codes, my brother, who lives in Portland, OR, and I were potentially liable for almost $600,000 of debt between real estate and medical bills in Europe that threatened to consume our mother’s estate in the United States.

Since I had taken on responsibility as the executor of her estate, I took responsibility for solving this problem. I began spending hours after work in the library reading German and American legal code, I worked with German consulates in Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; and Greenville, SC, and consulted lawyers in South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Frankfurt. After two weeks of intense research, I found a method where we could dispose of the German liabilities without affecting the estate in the United States. With the rush that I felt from solving this complex international problem, I felt my drive to study law return and on March 23rd, I registered for the June LSAT. With this new found eagerness, I finally went home and opened my mother’s last gift to me, the LSAT preparation package, and began studying for the upcoming exam.

So that is what I was thinking when out of nowhere the door of the Cessna flew open and the lack of air pressure hit my lungs like a punch to the chest. One by one, my compatriots launched themselves out into the icy blue sky until all that was left was me, the pilot, and the videographer on the wing. I slid to the door until my feet hung above the empty sky, kissed the my mother’s pendent of St. Patrick that I wear around my neck, gripped the side of the plane and pulled myself forward into a front flip out into nothingness. As I stared at the quickly approaching ground, I grew excited knowing that I was going to realize my dream of a career in law, and nothing would stop me from spending my life helping people understand the complex legal system that I had begun to learn how to navigate. Nothing, that is, except a malfunctioning parachute.



Again, thanks for the look.

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AreJay711
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Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:27 pm

I think this was good personal statement. It answers a lot of questions the admissions officers are going to have. The only thing I have overall is just that I do slightly doubt if you enthusiasm is real or something you are doing for your mother's memory. It is not really clear that you would have ever gotten the ball moving without. Idk if that's necessarily a good thing even though it is what you are writing about. You partially answer that concern in talking about dealing with the liabilities but not entirely. Maybe a short extra sentence about how you would enjoy doing this under better circumstances. It isn't a big deal and wouldn't make a difference if I was making the decision but you never know.

"Since I had taken on responsibility as the executor of her estate, I took responsibility for solving this problem." - Also I'm not a big fan of using the same word twice like this. Maybe reword.

Other than that I really like your humor about the parachute scene. It really lightens up your story and will hekp people rememer you essay.

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am588
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:16 pm

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby am588 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:28 pm

I really like it!! The only thing that kind of caught me was the flow was great, up to "So that is what I was thinking when out of nowhere the door of the Cessna flew open and the lack of air pressure hit my lungs like a punch to the chest." The wording of it just seems kinda off to me, almost like a last minute conclusion to wrap everything up.

Nailjohnj
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:40 am

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby Nailjohnj » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:20 pm

Thanks for the advice, I have taken these recommendations into account. Anyone else wanna give me a few ideas?

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby Action Jackson » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:15 pm

I hate to be the contrarian, but I think this is overly complicated. You start with jumping out of an airplane, then say that you always dreamed of being a lawyer, and then say that your mother encouraged your right before she died (a "her dying wish" type of deal), and then mentioned how actually it was having to deal with the mess of her estate that inspired you to go to law school, and then back to the plane. It's like trying to follow a conversation with someone that's over-caffeinated.

I think the plane stuff is too clever by half, so I think you should cut that. Then I think you need to decide what it is that actually makes you want to be a lawyer. Was it that you always thought about doing it, or was it the calamity with your mother's estate. Simplify and focus.

Nailjohnj
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:40 am

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby Nailjohnj » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:21 pm

I hate to be the contrarian, but I think this is overly complicated. You start with jumping out of an airplane, then say that you always dreamed of being a lawyer, and then say that your mother encouraged your right before she died (a "her dying wish" type of deal), and then mentioned how actually it was having to deal with the mess of her estate that inspired you to go to law school, and then back to the plane. It's like trying to follow a conversation with someone that's over-caffeinated.

I think the plane stuff is too clever by half, so I think you should cut that. Then I think you need to decide what it is that actually makes you want to be a lawyer. Was it that you always thought about doing it, or was it the calamity with your mother's estate. Simplify and focus.


No worries about being a contrarian, because that is usually what makes people think about things more in much more depth. I use my trip skydiving as a method of trying to create a story that admission committees will remember, and maybe add just a little bit of humor because that is my personality. Its something that I planned to rework or cut out for shorter (500 word) PS statements that I'll encounter. Is the movement between the skydiving scene and the rest to hard to follow?

Also, I don't mean to make anyone think that I am trying to fulfill my mother's death wish, but rather my mom passing away unexpectedly forced me to deal with a situation in a way that a lawyer (and good law student) would have to, through research, hard work, and outside of the box thinking. I wanted to show that I grew from just wanting something, in this case law school, to actually liking everything that goes into it and having a passion for the process. I don't understand why I can't want to be a lawyer because of both always wanting to do it and the calamity of my mother's estate.

Thanks for the thoughts, Action, does anyone else agree/ disagree?

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:41 pm

It's okay, but a bit too long. This essay will not decide a tie regarding whether or not you should be admitted to a highly competitive law school, however, it will satisfy the personal statement requirement in an acceptable manner.

jdhonest
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:31 pm

Re: Please Critique My Personal Statement

Postby jdhonest » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:49 pm

Since I had taken on responsibility as the executor of her estate, I took responsibility for solving this problem. I began spending hours after work in the library reading German and American legal code, I worked with German consulates in Portland, OR; Atlanta, GA; and Greenville, SC, and consulted lawyers in South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Frankfurt. After two weeks of intense research, I found a method where we could dispose of the German liabilities without affecting the estate in the United States.


I actually laughed out loud. Why even go to law school? With a few weeks of study you're ready to handle international probate and estate problems. I say, move to Cali, take the bar and open up shop, baby. The legal world is your oyster!


No really, some adcoms "hate it" when an applicant writes about their "legal experience"




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