Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:16 pm

Hey guys,

Below is a very rough draft of my personal statement. Please feel free to critique freely on any problems you may find. I absolutely appreciate every little bit of constructive advice. Thanks in advance!

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Certain events can never be adequately prepared for. December 14th, 2005 was one of those days. I sat in the bathroom sobbing uncontrollably. I had always known this day was going to eventually come; however, I could not know it would feel like such a sucker punch to the gut. It was the day of my grandfather’s passing.

My grandfather, Rogelio Bustamante, was an Ambassador to the United States of America, District Attorney of San Salvador, renowned corporate attorney in El Salvador, and the best grandfather one could ask for. Not only was he remarkably successful in his home country’s legal field, but he also served as a mentor, motivator, and guide for me during my childhood. My days spent with him consisted of the usual grandfather-grandson activities: buying toys, listening to him curse other drivers on the road, and laughing at his jokes. It was his stories regarding his legal cases and clients, though, which inspired me tremendously. Through the sharing of his stories and successes, he planted the seed that spawned my desire for a career as an attorney and potential politician.

On the day he died, my hope and drive to be an attorney seemed to perish with him. “What is the point of studying tirelessly and working until you’re on your deathbed (as was the case with my grandfather) when it all ends up so seemingly pointless,” my shocked and angst-ridden teenage mind pondered. Despite his insurmountable success and hard-work, even his fate had an inevitable end. Everything in life appeared absolutely futile.

With time to process the events of that day, talk about my grandfather’s passing with my family, and gain more life experiences, I realized how flawed my train of thought was. A couple months after my grandfather’s death, my mother convinced me to intern with her friend, Collette Putnam, a private investigator. I grudgingly agreed to give up my last summer before high school graduation to continue my learning about the legal field. As I arrived for my first day, I knew I had made the right choice as I suddenly felt my grandfather’s pride in my decision.

Although Mrs. Putnam was not an attorney, paralegal, or judge, she worked in a tri-level building with several firms in varying fields of law. She knew that I would benefit by working with her peers, who were all practicing attorneys. My experiences that summer rekindled my interest for a legal career. I began to see the actual daily processes of family, criminal, and civil attorneys. Of course, it was not nearly as glamorous and action-packed as a legal drama on television would portray, but it was still everything my grandfather had talked about and what I knew I wanted to do.

Two key things I saw and overheard during my internship incited my legal passion more than anything else: corruption and questionable practices. A family attorney told me, herself, that she sometimes drags out cases or makes unnecessary motions simply to garner more money from her clients. Additionally, some criminal attorneys admitted to donating generously to judicial campaigns in hopes of receiving biased treatment in court.

These practices not only angered me, but also drove me to want to set a new course for the legal field. The legal field should represent some of society’s most brilliant minds and upstanding individuals, not individuals who push ethical boundaries beyond their limits. While I realize that some might view fixing these apparently prominent practices as naïve or idealistic, I believe it is something worth pursuing.

As an attorney, I will serve as a model for those peers who, as I saw through my internship, employ morally and ethically incorrect practices. I will provide fair and balanced representation for my community, which is clearly being easily taken advantage of. My duty and promise will lie in only billing clients for necessary work, representing clients in front of a judge I have not tried to influence, and offering all clients equal time and interest even though some may not the most financially lucrative cases. By keeping to these values, I will encourage fellow attorneys to abandon faulty habits.

What started with my grandfather’s achievements has evolved into a deep-seated passion to help change the course of the sometimes problematic conventions of the legal community. Moreover, as I become more involved and interested in the political realm, I know that an education from your law school would provide priceless knowledge and a great platform for that territory. I know that my drive and passion will make me an upstanding and invaluable student of ______ University and will help me continue on in carrying out my grandfather’s admirable legacy while creating one of my own.


Although Mrs. Putnam was not an attorney, paralegal, or judge, she worked in a tri-level building with several firms of varying fields of law. She knew that I would gain the most benefit by working with her peers who were all practicing attorneys. My experiences during this summer rekindled my interest for a legal career. I began to see the actual daily processes of family, criminal, and civil attorneys. No, it was not nearly as glamorous and action-packed as a legal drama on television would portray, but it was still everything my grandfather had talked about and what I knew I wanted to do.

There were two key things I saw and overheard during my internship that incited my legal passion more than anything else: corruption and questionable practices. A family attorney told me, herself, that she sometimes drags out cases or makes unnecessary motions simply to garner more money from her clients. Additionally, some criminal attorneys admitted to donating generously to judicial campaigns in hopes of receiving biased treatment in court.

These practices not only angered me, but also drove me to want to set a new course for the legal field. The legal field should represent some of society’s most brilliant minds and upstanding individuals, not a group of individuals that push ethical boundaries beyond their limits. While I realize that fixing these apparently prominent practices may be viewed as naïve or idealistic, I believe it is something worth attempting. If I can convince just one other attorney to fix their ways of practice, or simply provide fair representation to clients myself, I will have succeeded as an attorney.

What started with my grandfather’s fantastic achievements has evolved into a deep-seated passion to help change the course of the sometimes problematic conventions of the legal community. Moreover, as I become more involved and interested in the political realm, I know that an education from your law school would provide priceless knowledge and a great platform into that territory. I know that my drive and passion will make me an upstanding and invaluable student of ______ University and help me continue on in carrying out my grandfather’s admirable legacy while creating one of my own.
Last edited by rcatmullnv on Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:50 pm

Made some edits. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:46 pm

And even more edits. Any critiques?

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lrslayer
Posts: 586
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:38 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby lrslayer » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:53 pm

I like the story about your grandfather but the part about changing corrupt practices didn't resonate well in my mind for some reason. I could be wrong but it sounds misplaced to me. Take that or leave it. Other than that, its well written and really expresses your desire. I think maybe just stay away from coming off as idealistic? maybe someone else can speak to this?

rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:01 pm

I absolutely get where you're coming from. My problem is, it is something I truly believe in. I find it troubling that our society kind of fosters this pessimism and hopelessness when it comes to corruption in our government or legal practices. I truthfully believe that we need/can change the system, and I am extremely passionate about it.

Perhaps I can say something like, "As the seed my grandfather planted grew, I found two key things that incited my legal passion more than anything else: corruption and questionable practices. This helps link my grandfather's story to the rest of the passage. What do you think?

Thanks for the comments!

omega918
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:07 pm

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby omega918 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:16 pm

I also think you should tread cautiously with fixing the system. While it is definitely admirable, it does come off as a bit idealistic, and even though you acknowledge that, it doesn't make it any better. I had an immediate gut reaction (not a good one) when you said that if you can change one person's behavior you will have succeeded as an attorney--I didn't even register that you said or if you could provide fair and balanced representation for your clients. It just seems immature that making one person practice more honestly will validate the life choice to become an attorney.

I would rather see where your passions lie/how you can help clients and be a model of serving the community around you that is so easily being taken advantage of. Rather than tell me that you want to fix the system, show me ways that you plan to do so through your own work, so that I can come to the conclusion myself that "Wow, this person is really passionate and driven, and I want him to start doing that here" (the old show don't tell adage).

Also, a little picky, but when talking about the activities you and your grandfather did, I would add another specific example as opposed to saying "and so on". When I read that, I felt like you couldn't think of anything else specific and so just threw it in. Show us the depth of your relationship, and how that has affected and shaped you as a man.

Overall I like where it is going, but would like to see you flush out some of the generalities and really show us how you plan to carry on your grandfather's legacy by creating your own.

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lrslayer
Posts: 586
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:38 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby lrslayer » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:23 pm

rcatmullnv wrote:I absolutely get where you're coming from. My problem is, it is something I truly believe in. I find it troubling that our society kind of fosters this pessimism and hopelessness when it comes to corruption in our government or legal practices. I truthfully believe that we need/can change the system, and I am extremely passionate about it.

Perhaps I can say something like, "As the seed my grandfather planted grew, I found two key things that incited my legal passion more than anything else: corruption and questionable practices. This helps link my grandfather's story to the rest of the passage. What do you think?

Thanks for the comments!

let me put it another way. if you were interviewing for a job, would you tell the interviewer about all the things you didn't like about the company and how you want the job in order to change those things? no, you wouldn't because 1) it comes off a bit pretentious and 2) that interviewer may very well be a present/former participant in said activities. I think it is easy as an outsider to see problems and idealistically want to change them but to someone who is really in it, you may look silly and naive. It doesn't really answer why you want to go to law school / become a lawyer. Pretend there was no corruption etc; why then, would you want to go to law school. Think about that and link it to your grandfather and i think you will have something great!

eta: scooped. above post captures my feelings exactly.

rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:10 pm

Ok, I definitely get it now. Thank you both for the feedback!

rcatmullnv
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:43 am

Re: Looking for some feedback on my personal statement

Postby rcatmullnv » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:57 pm

I updated the first post with some more adjustments. Hopefully my PS is looking pretty solid now. Thanks again for all the help!




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