Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

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Think_lax86
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Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:45 am

Over the past few years I have become very involved in politics, not in the sense that I help local campaigns, but the majority of what I watch, read and express general interest in has to deal with political news. This has actually been one of the main reasons for me wanting to pursue law school because our government, which is the central body for creating and enforcing laws, has in my opinion undergone some very interesting and controversial situations. My question is should I stay away from mentioning any kind of controversial political things that have been going on recently? Such as the huge debate going on in congress right now over the repeal of the "Don't ask Don't tell" law, or the recent controversial law in Arizona SB-1070, or even some of the debates going on over the new healthcare reform and/or what needs to be done for financial reform.

I feel like I am living in an era that will constitute a turning point for this country, and the law, which dictates right from wrong will have the main impact on what direction that turn is toward.

The real theme of my personal statement is why law fascinates me so much, and its because of how it shapes us culturally and also on the other side, how we shape it with our cultural morals and principals of that time. This country was built on the back of immigrants, but now with SB-1070 and the views and principals of the time, things are different. Gays fighting in the military used to be completely outlawed, but now with the views and morals of the times, those laws are changing. Financial deregulation, and laws that allowed hedge funds and other investment platforms to trade with leverage and sell risky derivatives and credit default swaps to uninformed investors has lead to the financial collapse that occured in 2008. There are so many things that fascinate me about how the law has developed, how it changes our cultural perspective and how it evolves with the changing times as well.

Another reason I want to mention for my desire to attend law school, is this feeling of fear of what is going on in this country. With everything that is going on politically. I feel that there are some corrupt things going on in congress dealing with campaigns being funded by unknown investors and certain interest groups in the sum of millions of dollars. I am also very fearful of what is happening with our economy and the fact that certain pieces of legislation that would surely help get the economy moving again are being held up in congress because of and unprecedented amount of filibustering and hindrances stopping these plans from taking effect.

Please let me know if politically themed essays are not something I should talk about. I know these are very controversial issues, but it is honestly something that really interests me about the law and the constitution and our government. I also intend to keep a relatively neutral stance on these issues and just focus on why this has been a catalyst that sparked my interest in the law. Thanks in advance for your comments.

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nataliejane38
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby nataliejane38 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:53 am

I would say no, but if done correctly it could work. Just what you have described, I don't know if it is possible to do without portaying some of your beliefs and that is risky. Also, I would not mention at all about being fearful about what is happening to the country, or mention "fear" at all. If anything mention how empowered you feel through being able to use the law in order to create a better future for this country.

If you do decide to do it, will you post on here? I would be interested to read it.

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StillHerexxx
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby StillHerexxx » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:54 am

I personally wouldn't do it. It might be okay if you talk about politics in a general theme, but don't let on your personal views because that will ruin it and hurt you more than help. You can't guarantee they will agree with your politics, and as someone interested in politics, you probably realize how the system works. If someone doesn't agree with your politics, they are more likely to ignore you and simply reject you than take in your views.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:44 pm

If anything mention how empowered you feel through being able to use the law in order to create a better future for this country.


Great advice, yeah this is what I was aiming for. I want to talk about how everything that has been going on in the past few years has really sparked my interest in the law and has made me want to pursue law as a career. I feel that lawyers are fighters, and depending on how they present a case determines how the judge rules, and in a system where court decisions and laws are based on previous case precedents, each case sets up a potential base for future advances.

I do feel empowered, but moreso I feel a sense of obligation. I think there are some very radical views and some very unjust views that are trying to sneak there way into mainstream ideology. I feel that the law is in place to keep balance and to weed out these extreme positions. I feel obligated to the betterment of my country to advance what this country was founded upon, and that is the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. I know that last bit sounded corny but I do feel that way. I feel that I have been given opportunities, such as growing up in a middle class household and granted to ability to attend college, and that not alot of people have these opportunities. In fact with the way the economy is heading, and capitalism driving thousands of people into unemployment, there needs to be changes made. I feel that lawyers are upholders of the law, and government is something I definitely am interested in pursuing in the future. I feel that going to law school will help prepare me for that kind of work.


You can't guarantee they will agree with your politics, and as someone interested in politics, you probably realize how the system works.


Yeah, that is precisely the reason that I am hesitant to write about these things. The reason why we have a multi-party political system is because you simply can't please everyone. As much as I want to make sure I please the write people with my essay, I really dont want people on the admissions committee to see my comments as attacking their own parties views. This is why I am going to really try and take the most neutral stance I can, while still trying to show why all of this has sparked my interest in the law.

I just hope I can make it work. Thanks for the comments, if anyone has anything else to add please do.

sarahh
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby sarahh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:56 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:
Yeah, that is precisely the reason that I am hesitant to write about these things. The reason why we have a multi-party political system is because you simply can't please everyone. As much as I want to make sure I please the write people with my essay, I really dont want people on the admissions committee to see my comments as attacking their own parties views. This is why I am going to really try and take the most neutral stance I can, while still trying to show why all of this has sparked my interest in the law.


I don't think this is the problem. I think the admissions committee is generally good at keeping their personal feelings out of it. To me the problem is that it seems that you read about issues and probably discuss them with friends or family, but do you take any action? Are you involved with any organizations? It does not seem so based on your description. To steal a line I read in a previous post, you need to "show" not "tell". The focus should be more on what you have actually done and less on your beliefs. Don't be a law school zombie.
http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... e-law.aspx

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bk1
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:59 pm

Don't talk about it if you haven't actually done something.

Unless you have actually worked with these laws in some meaningful way other than watching them on the Daily Show (i.e. working in campaigns, helping people who have suffered discrimination under them, etc), it would make for a horrible statement.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:28 pm

To steal a line I read in a previous post, you need to "show" not "tell". The focus should be more on what you have actually done and less on your beliefs. Don't be a law school zombie.
http://blogs.law.yale.edu/blogs/admissi ... e-law.aspx


I guess I thought that going to law school, was me wanting to take action. I have many questions about what is going on in this country and the thing that interests me about the law is that it dictates and governs what the answers will be. For instance the whole issue with the building of the Mosque close to ground zero or on the opposite end, whether or not the pastor was legally permitted to burn those Qurans in florida. I know that freedom of religion states that the potential owners have every right to build the mosque but of course this can be seen as a slap in the face to those who have had friends and family killed in the 9/11 attacks. And freedom of speech would surely allow this pastor to say what he wanted about a certain religion and from what I am guessing, if he got a permit, he could burn those books. But of course that would be wrong in the moral sense to all of the Muslims who hold that book in such high regard.

What is "legally right" and "morally right" have been constant themes that I have been thinking about lately, and alot of it stems from political issues. Should corporations be allowed to trade sub prime mortgages without the governmental oversite needed to protect consumers? should there be laws prohibiting drilling for oil at distances that if a problem occured we could effectively limit any environmental damage? Would that be infringing on a coporations freedom and the capitalistic society we have developed? Should gay people be allowed to serve in the military? Should there be transparency in campaign finance? Should immigrants be allowed some kind of pathway to citizenship if they came here illegally 20 years ago and have been paying taxes since they have been here and contributing to the public welfare?

These are questions that I feel law school will help me answer and these are things that really interest me.

Does this have any basis for a viable personal essay?

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bk1
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:30 pm

As I said before:

If you haven't done something, then don't talk about it.

sarahh
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby sarahh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:48 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:
I guess I thought that going to law school, was me wanting to take action. I have many questions about what is going on in this country and the thing that interests me about the law is that it dictates and governs what the answers will be. For instance the whole issue with the building of the Mosque close to ground zero or on the opposite end, whether or not the pastor was legally permitted to burn those Qurans in florida. I know that freedom of religion states that the potential owners have every right to build the mosque but of course this can be seen as a slap in the face to those who have had friends and family killed in the 9/11 attacks. And freedom of speech would surely allow this pastor to say what he wanted about a certain religion and from what I am guessing, if he got a permit, he could burn those books. But of course that would be wrong in the moral sense to all of the Muslims who hold that book in such high regard.

What is "legally right" and "morally right" have been constant themes that I have been thinking about lately, and alot of it stems from political issues. Should corporations be allowed to trade sub prime mortgages without the governmental oversite needed to protect consumers? should there be laws prohibiting drilling for oil at distances that if a problem occured we could effectively limit any environmental damage? Would that be infringing on a coporations freedom and the capitalistic society we have developed? Should gay people be allowed to serve in the military? Should there be transparency in campaign finance? Should immigrants be allowed some kind of pathway to citizenship if they came here illegally 20 years ago and have been paying taxes since they have been here and contributing to the public welfare?

These are questions that I feel law school will help me answer and these are things that really interest me.

Does this have any basis for a viable personal essay?


As a lawyer, you are not going to be dealing with all or perhaps any of these issues. Do you have a realistic sense of what lawyers do? Law school is a means to an end, not the end itself.

You don’t necessarily need to address why you are interested in law school in your personal statement, but if you do, it should have a connection to your background. The connection does not have to be a job or volunteer position, but it should be something more substantive than “I read about it in a paper.” If there is no connection, the reader may think that you are making something up or that you care more about appearances (appearing to care, appearing to be smart) than actually making a difference. Remember that you are competing with people who do have experience campaigning, volunteering, etc.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:50 pm

I mean i interned for the Broome County Environmental Management Council while I was in school. We discussed alot of environmental issues surrounding development projects and broader environmental policy stuff for NYS.

I also interned for the Rockland County District Attorneys office and also interned for a Judge.

I don't know how proactive this is or if this constitutes "DOING" something, but it really helped shape my perspectives on certain issues.

If I incorporated these experiences in my essay, would it than have a stronger basis?

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:52 pm

sorry to double post, but i saw that last comment late...

I also majored in environmental planning, which sparked a big interest of mine into environmental law (ex. the underwater drilling example I gave earlier)

I don't want to limit myself to environmental interests though because I really am interested in other aspects of law, like corporate law, criminal law, etc.

sarahh
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby sarahh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:00 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:I mean i interned for the Broome County Environmental Management Council while I was in school. We discussed alot of environmental issues surrounding development projects and broader environmental policy stuff for NYS.

I also interned for the Rockland County District Attorneys office and also interned for a Judge.

I don't know how proactive this is or if this constitutes "DOING" something, but it really helped shape my perspectives on certain issues.

If I incorporated these experiences in my essay, would it than have a stronger basis?


Yes, I think so.

sarahh
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby sarahh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:sorry to double post, but i saw that last comment late...

I also majored in environmental planning, which sparked a big interest of mine into environmental law (ex. the underwater drilling example I gave earlier)

I don't want to limit myself to environmental interests though because I really am interested in other aspects of law, like corporate law, criminal law, etc.


It is not like if you say you are interested in environmental law in your personal statement, then that is what you have to do. As a lawyer, you are not going to do corporate law, criminal law, etc. You will do one thing. I think it is better to mention one area or to not mention a specific interest at all. Mentioning all of the things you discussed just makes it seem that you don't have a good sense of what lawyers actually do.

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bk1
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:03 pm

Those seem decent, if you actually worked on important stuff and it wasn't just paper pushing. Even if it was just paper pushing you could probably craft it in a way that sounds like it was better than it really was (which is what I would do if you were sticking to this topic).

My problem is that, even though you haven't written it yet, it already seems like you will come off as disingenuous and out of touch. Why are you so focused on only national legislation (i.e. DADT, oil spill, AZ legislation)? It seems like a "hey I want to save the whales" sort of idea that, to me, sounds immature and that you don't have a good grasp of what that would actually entail. If someone were really serious about this, as you would attempt to portray yourself, wouldn't they actually be in the nitty gritty? And if they had wouldn't they be realistic in their approach and not say how they were trying to repeal something like DADT (which really is unlikely to happen from some person not in a position of power)?

Just some thoughts.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:48 pm

Those seem decent, if you actually worked on important stuff and it wasn't just paper pushing. Even if it was just paper pushing you could probably craft it in a way that sounds like it was better than it really was (which is what I would do if you were sticking to this topic).

My problem is that, even though you haven't written it yet, it already seems like you will come off as disingenuous and out of touch. Why are you so focused on only national legislation (i.e. DADT, oil spill, AZ legislation)? It seems like a "hey I want to save the whales" sort of idea that, to me, sounds immature and that you don't have a good grasp of what that would actually entail. If someone were really serious about this, as you would attempt to portray yourself, wouldn't they actually be in the nitty gritty? And if they had wouldn't they be realistic in their approach and not say how they were trying to repeal something like DADT (which really is unlikely to happen from some person not in a position of power)?

Just some thoughts.


Completely understandable and I guess I should elaborate.

First, yes alot of it was paper pushing but it also opened me up to things that I would intend on "crafting" in a way that sounds alot better than it really was.

Second, I know it sounds very naiive and unrealistic to think that I can have any kind of impact on issues such as DADT, financial reform, climate legislation, etc., however if I got my law degree I would absolutely look into pursuing a career in the public sector and hopefully dealing with legislation in one of these fields (preferably environmental, but I don't know how realistic that is right now with the job market where it is for lawyers).

Furthermore, I know I haven't participated in what you call the "nitty gritty," and I can completely understand how that might sound disingenuous or that I am saying it to say it and not because I actually believe it. There are extenuating circumstances that have prohibited me from actually doing things like volunteering for a non profit or working in a think-tank or the peacecorp, etc. My dad had a stroke about a year and a half ago during my senior year of college and unfortunately was laid off because of it and I have no idea when he will return to work. My mom, a teachers assistant, doesn't really bring home a sustainable paycheck. Instead of jumping into law school right after college which I had originally hoped to do, I took a year to reevaluate whether or not incurring $150,000 in debt with my families financial situation being where it is, is the most reasonable and responsible thing for me to do. With all that being said, in the year since I have been out of college I have been working, interning with the DA's office and trying to really increase my knowledge about the world in order to make the most informed decision I could. When all was said and done, I decided on law school even though the debt is still a heavy burden to bear. I want the intellectual challenge law school and the field of law commands. I am a hard worker and, although it may sound naiive, I feel that a law degree will allow me to utilize my work ethic in a positive way.

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bk1
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby bk1 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:50 pm

I'm not trying to criticize you personally, I'm just pointing out how it might read to outside observer. I think the best you can do is write it and see how it comes out. Try and tie as much of your PS into things you actually did and avoid getting high-minded.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:58 pm

No, i appreciate what your saying... I didn't post this on here to hear what I wanted to hear, I wanted to see what people actually thought... Since you brought it to my attention, I might even include why I havent participated in the "nitty gritty" things you were reffering to because to be honest if family obligations wasn't something I needed to take into consideration I probably would have gotten involved in something like that... My father getting laid off and that whole situation really restricted me from certain things, and honestly I feel like law school is a chance for me to continue pursuing my goals.

sarahh
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby sarahh » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:10 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:
There are extenuating circumstances that have prohibited me from actually doing things like volunteering for a non profit or working in a think-tank or the peacecorp, etc. My dad had a stroke about a year and a half ago during my senior year of college and unfortunately was laid off because of it and I have no idea when he will return to work. My mom, a teachers assistant, doesn't really bring home a sustainable paycheck. Instead of jumping into law school right after college which I had originally hoped to do, I took a year to reevaluate whether or not incurring $150,000 in debt with my families financial situation being where it is, is the most reasonable and responsible thing for me to do. With all that being said, in the year since I have been out of college I have been working, interning with the DA's office and trying to really increase my knowledge about the world in order to make the most informed decision I could. When all was said and done, I decided on law school even though the debt is still a heavy burden to bear. I want the intellectual challenge law school and the field of law commands. I am a hard worker and, although it may sound naiive, I feel that a law degree will allow me to utilize my work ethic in a positive way.


I find this much more compelling than your first post.

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Shooter
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Shooter » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:14 pm

Dude, become a political scientist - NOT a lawyer.

Clearly you are a very idealistic person (which is a good thing), but the law is not a vessel for ideologically-driven inquiry.

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Shooter
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Shooter » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:18 pm

Also, and this might be a little bit forward, it is clear that you are a very liberal person (once again, this is not a bad thing). But you might want to get some experience working in the sectors that interest you first - otherwise I'm afraid you are just going to absent-mindedly regulate the life out of industries that you don't understand beyond the scope of primetime news coverage.

Think_lax86
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Think_lax86 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:34 pm

Dude, become a political scientist - NOT a lawyer.


I dont have a Bachelors in political science so thats out of the question.

Also, and this might be a little bit forward, it is clear that you are a very liberal person (once again, this is not a bad thing). But you might want to get some experience working in the sectors that interest you first - otherwise I'm afraid you are just going to absent-mindedly regulate the life out of industries that you don't understand beyond the scope of primetime news coverage.


I definitely consider myself more liberal than conservative, BUT, that doesn't mean I look at things from a one sided leftist perspective. As much as it pains me to watch Fox news and Glenn Beck, I do watch it, because no matter how much I might disagree with some of those views, I can understand and appreciate the arguments for them (some of them anyway).

And its easier said than done to "get some experience working in the sectors that interest me." No one is hiring and like I said I have family obligations that, until the day comes that I do go ahead and enroll in law school, still weigh heavily on my decisions in life.

I just want to say thank you everyone for commenting, this has really helped me zero in on somethings that I hadn't taken into consideration. I think possibly talking about my family situation and my interning experiences as a supplement to some of the political issues that interest me might be better than simply talking about the political issues by themselves and why I want to pursue law because of it. Does that sound like a more suitable and possibly less controversial path to take?

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Shooter
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Re: Are "political issues" a no-no for personal essays?

Postby Shooter » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:46 pm

Cool man, good luck with everything.

Just one more thing - Glenn Beck and FOX News do not represent the Americans that your actions are going to affect. For most people, life does not revolve around politics. All I'm saying is completely get away from TV (everything you see caters to an 8th grade level of comprehension anyways, so its all essentially useless information) and try to find real-life scenarios where you can have an impact.




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