First Draft Feedback

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
goldenflash19
Posts: 477
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:15 pm

First Draft Feedback

Postby goldenflash19 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:25 pm

Would really appreciate some honest feedback on my rough draft. Please be brutally honest :D Any tips/suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time!


Moving my pen as quickly as possible across the page, I was in absolute awe of the magnitude of what I was writing. I did not want to miss a single word. The speaker, a recent law school graduate himself, addressed the courtroom but not under the traditional role one would expect. The session I was attending was not a criminal trial; instead it was a drug treatment court graduation ceremony. The speaker was one of five graduates honored and could not hold back his tears as he thanked each individual member of the drug court, in particular the court’s attorneys. The graduate’s story was somber and chilling: he began using drugs to help cope with his brother’s death. He described at length how the court’s attorneys did not view him as a criminal but instead as a human being and helped him reclaim his sobriety. Sobbing, he exclaimed, “You guys saved my life!” The experience of conducting a comparative summer study on drug courts strongly affirmed my own reasoning for wanting to attend law school.

The prospect of becoming an attorney never crossed my mind before March of my freshman year in high school. Seated in history class, I watched as the class bully progressed through his daily routine of tormenting the new student. The fact that the new student in our class possessed a severe form of autism did not deter the bully in the slightest regard; that day he etched on the chalkboard a grotesquely derogatory, homophobic poem that ridiculed everything from the new student’s voice to the way he dressed. Without saying a word, I walked up to the chalkboard and erased the poem. The few laughs circulating the room immediately subsided.

The bully and I were also in the same gym class. By the time the three class periods between history and gym had passed, the entire grade had become familiar with what had transpired earlier. Class was almost over, and I sat on bleachers, a stack of books in my hands, as I waited for the bell. The bully approached me, and insisted that, since I was such a “tough guy,” that I throw the first punch at him. When I declined, he immediately reared back and delivered a direct blow to my right eye. I’ll never forget the sound of my books hitting the wooden floor.

I spent a great portion of the next three weeks in the optometrist’s office. My right eye suffered permanent internal damage as a result of the punch, but, fortunately, I did not lose my vision. I was forced to wear an eye patch for the next month and, surprisingly, was ridiculed to a great extent. Within the first week of wearing my eye patch, I became familiar with seemingly every pirate/eye patch joke ever conceived. Concerning the bully, he received a mere two day school suspension and was not fazed in the least bit. My disdain was ineffable; clearly, I had done the right thing, but it seemed as if I were the one being punished.

Six long months later, I anxiously opened a sealed envelope from the Trumbull County Family Court. Per the bully’s plea of “true” to an assault charge, he was ordered to wear an electronic ankle monitor for 60 days. The bully originally contested the charge, but, after his first meeting with the county’s juvenile prosecutor, changed his plea. I was also present at that meeting and could not help but compare the actions of the prosecutor and my own. Just as I was there to stick up for the autistic student in history class, he was there to advocate for me. The bully offered an array of different justifications for his actions, but the prosecutor flawlessly discredited each. After a single meeting with the prosecutor, the bully only had one option.

I adamantly desire to study and one day practice law so that I can be that attorney who restores justice to a crime victim or whose efforts save a life. Though, on the surface, my own victimization may appear to have been a tragic happening, it brought forth the best epiphany I have ever experienced. Attorneys shape the lives of individuals and society as a whole in manners that cannot be paralleled by those outside the profession. My passion to be an attorney whose actions make this world a better place makes me the perfect candidate for law school.

thestillpoint
Posts: 147
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby thestillpoint » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:24 am

I think a lot of people on this board will tell you that your PS shouldn't be exclusively about events that happened in high school. While seems to have been formative for you, the adcomms aren't admitting the 14 year old you, so you need to tell them more about yourself now. I could see this being kept as maybe an intro paragraph, but then you should add in things that support your assertion about wanting to be a lawyer to help people-- have you tutored? worked with children? are you now a social worker? obviously it doesn't have to be any of those things exactly, but it can come off as naive and idealistic to say you want to essentially "save the world" as a lawyer, without being able to back it up. I'd suggest working in more recent accomplishments, whether they are academic / community service / leadership / etc, to make a more compelling argument for why you will succeed in law school and as a lawyer, while you can still incorporate the passion that this event has given you.

Good luck!

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

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:05 am

Well-written, sincere, interesting & effective. Legal writing should be an easy transition for you as logical progression & clarity of thought are of paramount importance.

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13916
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:13 am

It's like the first paragraph was pasted in from an entirely different essay. It doesn't connect to anything else and nothing is tied back to it in any way.

I also agree that you need to show that the event when you were 14, if it really was such a pivotal moment, continued to influence you as you grew older. The 14yo you is not applying to law school. The essay needs to show growth and experience since then.

Currently, your paragraphs are:

1. There was this great final moment at an internship. (What/when/why? No idea.)
2. I went to school with a bully when I was 14.
3. I got in a fight with said bully.
4. It fucked up my eye.
5. The bully actually got in legal trouble. (Isn't that pretty unusual in school bullying? How were you so lucky?)
6. Being a victim sucks. Ergo, I want to be a lawyer.

See how the first paragraph doesn't connect?
And you're 14 for paragraphs 2-5. Too much time spent on a long-ago event.

ETA: It was "surprising" that you were teased for wearing an eye patch? Is that a typo that was supposed to read "not surprisingly" or did you grow up on a different planet than the rest of us?

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

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:52 am

My view is different. The transition from your present day experience back to your high school experience is smooth & logical. Other readers seem to misunderstand the context of your opening paragraph. To me it is clear that the first & last paragraphs are written in the context of your current activities & current state of mind. This is a very well constructed essay, in my opinion.

User avatar
goldenflash19
Posts: 477
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:15 pm

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby goldenflash19 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:43 pm

Thank you all so much for the feedback! You guys raised a lot of great points.

@Rinkrat19- I was wondering the same thing about the intro as I was writing it. I originally started the statement out with a quote but wisely threw that idea out. My intent was to use the paragraph to introduce and highlight the theme that lawyers shape and save lives. Maybe I could make the connection stronger?

@rinkrat19 and stillpoint- I never really considered how much of the statement was devoted to something that happened when I was 14. I guess I got caught up so much in the freedom of essay that I underestimated the importance of current developments. I was a little surprised I was teased, in fact- I figured my peers wouldn't tease me about it since I did the right thing. Guess I was wrong- I'll definitely edit/remove that sentence.

@CanadianWolf- Thank you so much for the kind words! Writing has always been my forte. I just wish the LSAT was haha :/ I intended for the first and last paragraphs to reflect my current state of mind. Do you think adcoms would read it this way? I like the way I have it set up, too. Thanks again!

The 2 page limit did make it a little difficult to bridge the importance of the event to the current me. That event was just so important in my life, and I want to reflect that to adcoms. I'm excited that Boalt and UF allow me to write 4 pages- should make things a lot easier.

Do you guys think the statement would be more effective if I:

Immediately start out with event (1 page max). First sentence something along the line of: "The bully progressed through his daily ritual of tormenting the new student and approached the chalkboard..."

Followed by a transition to more current developments (community service, etc) and discussion on importance of lawyers and desire to help

Thank you so much for your time! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it!! Still open to all honest feedback!

thestillpoint
Posts: 147
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby thestillpoint » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:00 pm

I think it would be a good idea to start with the event, because that can also frame the idea that lawyers can have positive (and lasting influences) in people's lives. Plus, that event was clearly really meaningful to you, and it's also a pretty attention-grabbing story, so I think it's less disjointed and more effective to begin with this.

Then yes, it would make more sense to show how you have developed this desire, including with your community service and your summer study-- which sounds really interesting, I'd like to hear more about it (and I'm thinking adcomms would too). You are definitely a talented writer, so with some fleshing out and reorganizing, I think you have the makings of a compelling PS :)

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

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:04 pm

Since you asked, I'll repeat my opinion. Your PS is very well written & well constructed. Why mess with success ?

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: First Draft Feedback

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:31 pm

Yeah, its a good piece but the first paragraph didn't work as written. At first read, I thought the guy in the drug court was going to be the bully. Then I thought, well, maybe you just need to rework the transition. The paragraphs really do tie together in the larger context of lawyers supporting the needs of the vulnerable, (even when the vulnerable are the perpetrators.)

And, I like what you are trying to do by bringing the high school experience forward, but the weighting is off. You could condense this bully topic to two tight paragraphs and use it in support of the larger context which is the role of the attorney in these instances has led you to pursue the law.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.