First Draft - Personal Statement - Feedback Please!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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First Draft - Personal Statement - Feedback Please!

Postby sbaron » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:04 pm


I am a first time, regular applicant. I am applying to a number of schools in Canada. I am fairly new to the process of writing personal statements. I would appreciate any feedback! Thank you!

To the Admissions Committee:

I am seeking entry as a First Year Regular Applicant into the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. I have chosen to apply to UBC’s Faculty of Law for a number of reasons. Obviously, UBC’s reputation has to be considered. I will live and work in a major metropolitan city that is internationally reputable. The opportunity for me to make a difference in the world would be multiplied in Vancouver. With regard to academic matters, I have developed an explicit research interest in the development of international criminal and humanitarian law. Studying alongside professors such as Professor Benjamin Perrin would be constructive as my interests parallel the topics of his publications. In addition, the University of British Columbia collaborates with the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy. The work of the partner institute in the areas of international criminal justice and humanitarian law interests me greatly.
My academic and professional experiences reflect my diligence, work ethic and purpose. I have been involved in the not-for-profit sector for the last two years substantiating my commitment to social justice. A legal education would provide me with the tools to continue promoting human welfare in a professional capacity. Legal students strive to define justice and see that it is served.
As a political scientist, I am interested in how our society conceives justice. Law assigns moral guidelines on behavior and influences social conduct. The rule of law prescribes framework of societies, norms and mores. My undergraduate studies stimulated my yearning for this knowledge. The two most illuminating courses in this regard were Politics of the European Union and Political Philosophy. Politics of the European Union focused on the complicated process of creating laws within a supranational entity like the European Union. These courses introduced me to constitutional law and the challenge of harmonizing standards among twenty-seven member states. This practical introduction to law was supplemented by my Political Philosophy course, which provided a foundation for understanding justice. In this course I studied contemporary political philosophers who wrote about justice, like Martha Nussbaum, Robert Nozick and John Rawls. I learned a great deal in this course and came to the realization that I am passionate about justice. These courses allowed me to gain the requisite skills that will allow me to flourish as a legal student.
Additionally, I spent half a year on exchange in France, studying European politics at the Catholic University of Lille. My strong academic record in France demonstrates my ability to function at an exceptional level in a diverse learning environment. My time abroad has created an acute awareness and appreciation of cultural differences.
During the final two years of my undergraduate studies I received the Jason Lang scholarship in recognition of exceptional academic achievement.
I have been employed in the not-for-profit sector over the past two years, advocating for those who are socially marginalized. Employment with United Way provided context for my political science studies while allowing me to develop skills relevant to a legal career.
While at United Way, I coordinated the fundraising campaign for over thirty-five different workplaces within the community of Edmonton. This role involved organizing, training and mentoring campaign volunteers. While working in this capacity I acquired a knowledge of of the issues in my community and took responsibility to educate myself on the solutions. The most relevant skill I developed was my oratory skills, which I accepted as a personal challenge. While fundraising I conducted five speaking engagements weekly to audiences of varying size. Most importantly, I contributed to the organization’s fundraising total of $21.5 million to help those in need in the community of Edmonton. A legal career would allow me to continue these endeavors in a professional capacity.
I am fully aware that increasing my knowledge will shape my beliefs and passions.
It is with this belief I am applying to the Faculty of Law with an open mind. Completing a Juris Doctor will facilitate lifelong learning and allow me to continue my humanitarian efforts with new ideas and strategies to benefit the field.
My experiences are emblematic of my passion and commitment to success. My upbringing, values, education, professional experience and personal conviction make a strong case for my candidacy into the Faculty of Law. I ask that you give an opportunity to prove my worth at your university.

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Re: First Draft - Personal Statement - Feedback Please!

Postby rinkrat19 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:54 am

This reads as a cross between a cover letter, a Why X essay, and a resume dump. It is NOT a personal statement. (Notice the word "PERSONAL.")

Do not address the adcomms who will be reading the essay. It is not a letter. Do not announce that you are applying to their school. They have very likely already gathered that from the fact that they are literally holding your application in their hand.

Your essay is supposed to tell the adcomms something about you as a person. Most people use a story or two from their lives to illustrate something, like a certain personality trait or quality they have (which would presumably translate to success at law school or in law), a hardship overcome, or the source of their inspiration for pursuing law.

I would suggest reading the TLS guide to writing a PS (linked in the above post) and reading some other people's essays to get a better idea of what they're supposed to be like. There are some REALLY GOOD essays scattered about this site.

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Re: First Draft - Personal Statement - Feedback Please!

Postby jnordlander » Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:56 pm

Ya this is not what you want. I would refrain from making many "I want to practice law because of my committment to justice" statements. It is generic and doesn't really say anything. Adcoms read that shit all of the time. It is ok to go that route, but you must be specific. For example, if your interested in the environment and have a record of working in the field. You can write about wanting to attend law school to do environmental law, but you have to be concrete about it. Explain how becoming a lawyer would actually facilitate you doing that type of work. Stay away from platitudes.

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