Feel free to be as brutal or flattering as you'd like. Here 'tis:
Perhaps all times seem, to those living through them, that they are historically decisive. Perhaps the present hoists some burden onto all generations, one that in hindsight is less evident. I suppose to some extent this must be true. But it seems undeniable that these times are decisive, even crucial. Technology can further entrench power structures, or, as we have seen in numerous countries around the world, destabilize them. History, fueled by technology, has the means to accelerate, and we are at a time when lasting and significant societal shifts seem determined.
Since the 2008 crisis, a number of weaknesses in our financial system have been laid painfully bare. I’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street protests with great interest, as many have. Before them, the Tea Party captured the attention of the country, and while these two movements are miles apart demographically and ideologically, there is tremendous common ground here. Both are indicative of a societal discontent that is widely spread and deeply felt. People are scared for what the future holds, and we’ve already seen a generational regression: young adults now are, already, facing a lower standard of living than their parents had.
Like many, I have watched these movements unfold with rapt attention. I have tried to look critically at the causes of this widespread dissatisfaction. I have felt sympathetic to the very similar predicaments that these very dissimilar groups face. From this, I have arrived at a rather pointed conclusion, one that I feel is both urgent and under-appreciated.
We, as a nation, have opportunities to reform ourselves into a more just society. To this there are many obstacles, and at the root of these obstacles is a systemic failure. Politics have decayed into polemics, leaving the centrist public withdrawn, and a dangerous vacuum in their place. The loudest, most extreme voices are the ones most amplified. People have become disillusioned of the greatness of American democracy; there is a feeling that the game is rigged.
Congress’s approval rating hovers around twelve percent. You’d be hard pressed to find anything, politically, aside from Congress’s inadequacy, about which almost nine out of ten Americans can agree on. There are reasons for this; reasons why wave after wave of politicians run on a platform of change, as a “Washington outsider,” only to be elected and soon come to embody the very system they wanted to change, most of them, I believe, in earnest.
I can see no problem in America more fundamental than the soft corruption that is inherent in the elections of those who govern us. Major campaign finance reform is necessary to restore voter confidence and heal our very sick democracy. In order to better understand the nature of the problem, I intend to focus my legal studies in this field and hopefully work in some meaningful way to bring about changes in our current system. Endless campaigns leave our representatives distracted from their duties and beholden to unintended powers.
The inadequacy of our response to the financial crisis is just one reminder of this. But regardless of our ideology, or what special interest money we might resent the most, chances are we have come to see political decisions as based not just on the votes, but on campaign contributions. It was not intended to be so.
I am applying to XXX Law School now because I no longer see my life, the way I have lived it, as morally sustainable. I have the intellect, creativity, and communication skills necessary to be helpful on a larger scale, and I feel an imperative to do so. I have always tried to utilize my modest sphere of influence to better things around me; I am hoping law school will extend that sphere, and at the same time refine my perspectives. It seems the clearest route, and the best tool, with which I can position myself to foster lasting change. I believe working in law, and focusing on campaign finance, will afford me a long and satisfying career.
My conviction in this, that I should make my career in law, is redoubled from the experiences of a recent jury service. I completed, in September, serving on a six-week civil trial, from which I received valuable lessons in civil procedure, calculation of damages, and, most importantly, the jury process. I saw some skillful attorneys in action, and was very impressed with the demeanor, the precision, of the judge. I could envision myself excelling in such an arena. Moreover, it was deeply satisfying to sit down with such a diverse group of my peers and, after three days of sometimes-heated deliberation, arrive at what we all considered justice. I have strong criticisms of our criminal justice system, but seeing the inner machinations of the jury process in this civil case was inspiring. Being so intimately involved in this trial while preparing to enter the legal profession was serendipitous, and has brought further clarity to my direction and goals.
I believe that I am an excellent candidate for admission to XXX Law School. I have the intellectual strengths and focus required to thrive in my studies and beyond them. I pride myself on thinking independently, rejecting dogma, and constantly reassessing my beliefs. I have a talent for cutting through extraneous language, and for breaking down seemingly complicated issues into their core components. I can communicate effectively with, and relate to, people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. For these reasons I believe I will be a particularly effective advocate.
I have not always known I wanted to be a lawyer. And my career path has not been one that typically precedes law school. But I am heartfelt in my convictions, and confident in my abilities to achieve success in their pursuit. I come to you now, hopeful that you can see in me the potential that I am in this effort trying to manifest, and acutely aware of the benefits that your acceptance would grant me. Thank you for your consideration.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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