First Draft, Cookies for Comments!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Alek
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:29 pm

First Draft, Cookies for Comments!

Postby Alek » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:00 pm

Hi ya'll. I have around a 3.1 LSDAS gpa and 164 LSAT, looking to apply to mostly low tier one and high tier two schools. Like my GPA, my soft's are not great. I wanted a strong topic to write about but now I am afraid my scope is too narrow. By being this narrow I talk less about myself. Still, I feel I haven't gone deep enough in describing myself. Quickly reviewing it, I just don't think I do a good job of formally conveying my experiences, work, and character. I think I failed in my attempt to adhere to this guide. I don't want to scrap it, but I still don't know how much too cut. I need your help on this one.

I intend to add another paragraph at the end.

(698 words, 2 lines under 2 pages)

*EDIT*- Oh right I forgot, in one of my many campus visits I talked for an hour with an assistant director of admissions, touring the building and obviously doing a great deal of talking. (Apparently it was a slow day for her) With that particular law school, should I write a "why x" paragraph and mention it?


-----


The last night I spent in the Dominican Republic I could not sleep. I had acclimated to the sweltering heat. My diet of instant oatmeal and bottled water made for a settled stomach. The prospect of cockroaches climbing up the legs of my bed did not bother me; I had coated the legs with bug spray. It was my mind that kept me awake. I had lost faith in our group’s purpose. I originally thought the name of the organization, Meeting God in Missions, implied we would advocate our beliefs through service. Instead I discovered these missionaries stroked their own ego at the expense of those they served. Their indifference inspires the opposite in me.

I preferred to work at an aid station, but one day towards the end of my stay I set out to distribute food instead of pills. Our destination was a village in the sugar cane fields outside of town. The arrival of our two large diesel trucks created a commotion, and a restless crowd gathered around the parked convoy. Our team leader quickly lost his patience with the unruly crowd and told us to leave without doling out the food. In hindsight I realize he was concerned for our own safety since we were in an unfamiliar area and many of the missionaries were minors, but the indifference of my friends disturbed me. Our failure to minister to the Haitian migrant workers did not affect them as it did me. We could not make a plan to return or eventually deliver the food, as if it was not even needed. This furthered a sad pattern of disinterest in our failures. It drove home the lethargy of the organization. I initially expected us to accomplish much more.

During my last night in the Dominican Republic I laid in bed with insomnia, separated from stockpiled food by a concrete wall. I could not form the words which I have since then been able to express. We did not dutifully meet people’s needs. We entertained our own emotional sentiments about the romance of our ministry. With this attitude it made sense that if we did not fulfill our goals for the day we should still sleep well, because our beds are comfortable and our stomachs are full. I could not do the same, because I could not shake the feeling that this was more like a vacation than a vocation. The testimony of missionaries in church, given in the Dominican Republic and back home, focused solely on their own spiritual growth and how fun being a missionary was to them. Our goal in service was not to feed or to heal but to exalt ourselves, so it was easy for the suffering of others at our hand to go unnoticed. If a lawyer shared the character that many of those particular missionaries displayed I do not believe he would advocate well for his clients. He might avoid responsibility because he would be more concerned with his comfort than ethical duty. If he worked as a prosecutor he would invariably seek harsh convictions contrary to the justice of a sentence because superficial appearance mattered more than substance.

I imagine the practice of law is comparable to the game of chess. I do not mean that Partners are kings and Associates are pawns, but rather that lawyers think like chess masters. The best chess players distinguish themselves by moving past rote memorization of opening moves and tricks. Their expertise is not borne out of playing countless games, but extensive contemplation of possibilities after each turn. They are creative, able to transform one extra pawn into a decisive checkmate. In the same way lawyers must always be precise with language and have a deep understanding of the law. While this tradition of excellence makes it an interesting profession, law is more than a game or battle of wits. Criminal law especially interests me for this reason. The concern for justice trumps any personal baggage one carries into the courtroom. My experience in the Dominican Republic taught me the importance of good advocacy, and will serve as a motivation in my mind regardless the adversarial legal role I might play.

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verklempt
Posts: 115
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:59 pm

Re: First Draft, Cookies for Comments!

Postby verklempt » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:38 pm

Your concerns are valid. It's not necessarily a problem to choose a narrow topic, but in general you want to focus on a topic where you played a pivotal role. It's okay to talk about a negative or difficult situation, but there needs to be a redeeming element. All I see here is your disparaging your colleagues. I'd much rather read an example -- even if the setting isn't as unusual or the cause as important -- where you take positive action (and thereby demonstrate multiple positive qualities.)

The jump to chess is unexpected and not particularly enlightening. Idle philosophizing isn't necessarily going to hurt you but it won't really help either.

As for your campus visit -- what did you talk about? Maybe you can think about the topics that seemed important then and use one of those as a starting point for a different kind of PS.

Alek
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:29 pm

Re: First Draft, Cookies for Comments!

Postby Alek » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:01 pm

verklempt wrote:Your concerns are valid. It's not necessarily a problem to choose a narrow topic, but in general you want to focus on a topic where you played a pivotal role. It's okay to talk about a negative or difficult situation, but there needs to be a redeeming element. All I see here is your disparaging your colleagues. I'd much rather read an example -- even if the setting isn't as unusual or the cause as important -- where you take positive action (and thereby demonstrate multiple positive qualities.)

The jump to chess is unexpected and not particularly enlightening. Idle philosophizing isn't necessarily going to hurt you but it won't really help either.

As for your campus visit -- what did you talk about? Maybe you can think about the topics that seemed important then and use one of those as a starting point for a different kind of PS.

You're absolutely right. I didn't set out to make a bitchologue it just evolved into that. I'll figure out something to do here.

The chess bit was a leftover form the brainstorming step. I very much like chess and thought it might be a useful illustration but it was tacked on.

Thanks.

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WhatSarahSaid
Posts: 293
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:01 pm

Re: First Draft, Cookies for Comments!

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:07 am

It's a very good idea to mention the campus visit, either here or in some "Why X" addendum.


The last night I spent in the Dominican Republic I could not sleep. I had acclimated to the sweltering heat. My diet of instant oatmeal and bottled water made for a settled stomach. The prospect of cockroaches climbing up the legs of my bed did not bother me; I had coated the legs with bug spray. It was my mind that kept me awake. I had lost faith in our group’s purpose. I originally thought the name of the organization, Meeting God in Missions, implied we would advocate our beliefs through service. Instead I discovered these missionaries stroked their own ego [should be "egos"] at the expense of those they served. Their indifference inspires the opposite in me.

I preferred to work at an aid station, but one day towards the end of my stay I set out to distribute food instead of pills. Our destination was a village in the sugar cane fields outside of town. The arrival of our two large diesel trucks created a commotion, and a restless crowd gathered around the parked convoy. Our team leader quickly lost his patience with the unruly crowd and told us to leave without doling out the food. In hindsight I realize he was concerned for our own safety since we were in an unfamiliar area and many of the missionaries were minors, but the indifference of my friends disturbed me. Our failure to minister to the Haitian migrant workers did not affect them as it did me. We could not make a plan to return or eventually deliver the food, as if it was [should be "were"] not even needed. [This sentence is just a bit off, structurally. Try "We never delivered the food. It was as though we believed that the food wasn't even needed."] This furthered a sad pattern of disinterest in our failures. It drove home the lethargy of the organization. I initially expected us to accomplish much more.

During my last night in the Dominican Republic I laid [should be "lay"] in bed with insomnia, separated from stockpiled food by a concrete wall. I could not form the words which I have since then been able to express. We did not dutifully meet people’s needs. We entertained our own emotional sentiments about the romance of our ministry. [Earlier, you mentioned the other people stroking their own egos, and now you say this, but you never really show what you mean by this. You don't necessarily have to, but as a reader, I'm not sure what you're criticizing] With this attitude it made sense that if we did not fulfill our goals for the day we should still sleep well, because our beds are comfortable and our stomachs are full [go with "beds were comfortable," "stomachs were full"]. I could not do the same, [no comma] because I could not shake the feeling that this was more like a vacation than a vocation. The testimony of missionaries in church, given in the Dominican Republic and back home, focused solely on their own spiritual growth and how fun being a missionary was to them. Our goal in service was not to feed or to heal but to exalt ourselves, so it was easy for the suffering of others at our hand to go unnoticed. [fair enough -- this illustrates what you meant above, but it comes late] If a lawyer shared the character that many of those particular missionaries displayed I do not believe he would advocate well for his clients. [this seems like a jarring turn, especially in the middle of a paragraph] He might avoid responsibility because he would be more concerned with his comfort than ethical duty. If he worked as a prosecutor he would invariably seek harsh convictions contrary to the justice of a sentence because superficial appearance mattered more than substance. [what's the point of this digression? What does it add or illustrate?]

So, wait, you were uncomfortable with the way things went during your time in the Dominican Republic, and you didn't change anything or do anything? It's not like it's necessary for you to save the day, but your story feels like it's missing its ending. Maybe your tie-in with the law was supposed to be that wrap-up, but it's not working for me right now. You need to add something (maybe even just one sentence) about how your experience made you realize whatever you realized.

I imagine the practice of law is comparable to the game of chess. I do not mean that Partners [probably shouldn't be capitalized] are kings and Associates [same] are pawns, but rather that lawyers think like chess masters. The best chess players distinguish themselves by moving past rote memorization of opening moves and tricks. Their expertise is not borne out of playing countless games, but [add "instead out of"] extensive contemplation of possibilities after each turn. They are creative, able to transform one extra pawn into a decisive checkmate. In the same way lawyers must always be precise with language and have a deep understanding of the law. While this tradition of excellence makes it an interesting profession [underwhelming. You need something less bland than "interesting"], law is more than a game or [add "a"] battle of wits. Criminal law especially interests me for this reason. The concern for justice trumps any personal baggage one carries into the courtroom. My experience in the Dominican Republic taught me the importance of good advocacy, and will serve as a motivation in my mind regardless [add "of"] the adversarial legal role I might play.

Right now, here's what I know about you:

-You went on a cool mission trip and were unhappy with the way it was run.
-You want to enter the legal profession because it's kind of like chess.

This isn't a reason for me to admit you. Your anecdote and the way you've written it don't tell me all that much about you. The chess tie-in and the law tie-ins aren't doing it for me, either. They're both fine on their own, but they don't work in conjunction with what you have.

In your next draft, start by ensuring every paragraph and every sentence is building towards an illustration of who you are.




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