Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
Duramax80
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:34 pm

Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

Postby Duramax80 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:38 pm

Looking down at my map, I calculated that I had four miles left to go, and in the rough terrain of the Appalachian Mountains, this would be no easy feat. I folded my map, slid it back into my shirt pocket, picked up my sixty-pound pack and proceeded to continue my journey. Further down the trail, the straps on my pack began digging into my shoulders, causing the tips of my fingers to lose circulation and go numb. With approximately two miles left to go, the sun sank down behind the mountain peaks, leaving me with a dim twilight masked by the overgrown trees. It was at this time that I decided to push myself beyond my preconceived limits in order to arrive at the campsite before the vast blackness of night surrounded me. I quickened my pace and fought through the burning I felt in my shoulders and legs, as the end of my trek grew near. I would not stop until I had achieved my goal, but it seemed almost as if gravity was fighting my every step. After an exhausting battle, I blazed into the campsite drenched in sweat, legs quivering, and shoulders screaming in pain. I ate my dinner that night seated next to a warm fire with a sense of satisfaction and triumph in my accomplishment, and slept soundly listening to a gentle stream glide over the moss covered rocks nearby.

Looking back, the time I spent as an undergraduate was a strenuous journey, as the weight on my back sometimes felt as if it was too heavy to bear. I have been struggling with social anxiety for the majority of my undergraduate career, caused by a lack of direction and confidence in my schoolwork and my personal life. I felt as if the world was passing me by, almost like I looking outward while drowning in the sea of my own insecurities. Each day was filled with intense and debilitating anxiety, often manifesting physical symptoms like panic attacks, ulcers, and insomnia. There were certain times where I would avoid public situations at all costs, even skipping classes that included mandatory attendance policies, and therefore receiving failing grades. Needless to say, my undergraduate performance suffered immensely, which only worsened my own insecurities and feelings of helplessness. I entertained the notion that I would never be rid of my anxiety, but enrolling into a Criminal Law and Procedure class changed me for the better.

After the first week of class, I felt that I had finally found my place, something that I had previously thought to be nonexistent. The course and the concepts it included were demanding, yet I was able to understand them in their entirety. The structure of the class included the analysis of interesting subject material and open classroom debate, fueled with personal experience and insight provided by the professor, a practicing attorney. Before, if I had been in such a class that emphasized the Socratic method and extensive in class discussion, I would have immediately shied away from it. However, the passion I felt for this material helped me gain control of my anxiety and reshape it into motivation, determination and confidence. I had found my drive and motivation that I had been lacking, ignited by a sincere interest in all aspects of law, and I knew from that point on that this was the field I wanted to be a part of. Overtime, I developed a strong relationship with my professor, who, after several conversations, further encouraged me to go into the legal profession. I worked constantly on legal analysis, synthesis, and hypothetical situations to such an extent that I was often sought out to assist other students in their preparation, comprehension, and overall understanding of the course material. I took pride in my studies, and as my undergraduate career progressed, I tuned my ferocity and drive that I had unlocked in my legal classes to other aspects of my personal, and especially, my academic life. My anxiety had been replaced with motivation through a strong interest and sense of calling in law, and the anxiety I carried on my back was completely gone. As I had finally defeated my anxiety, scholarly life became incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. This transformation was so significant that in my final year as an undergraduate, I earned my place on the Dean’s List Honor Roll by maintaining a grade point average above 3.5.

After graduating from XXXXX, I ventured out into the professional world in hopes of expanding my knowledge and interest in law even further. I volunteered for an unpaid internship position at the XXXXX, a local law firm that specializes in several areas including business law, family law, divorce, bankruptcy, immigration and DUI. The wide range of legal areas the firm specialized in afforded me the opportunity to observe and personally interact within several different disciplines and groups of people, reaffirming that my anxiety was truly defeated. The interactions I had with clients, opposing counsel members, courtroom personnel, and judges greatly enhanced my understanding of the legal practice as well as my desire to become an attorney. I quickly took hold of any opportunity to assist in legal research, client meetings and even court trials along with a vast array of administrative duties typically assigned to internship positions. Each attorney at the firm took individual time with me to explain the intricacies of practicing law and the skills required in such a profession. Through working with them, I honed my ability to look at an issue and potential outcomes from all sides, and I also refined my techniques of approaching each situation objectively. Also, interacting with people from several different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, nationalities, and religions significantly increased my communicational skills, enhancing my strength in relating to people of different demographics. My interaction with such a multitude of different people significantly expanded my worldview and enhanced my appreciation and respect for other cultures, while simultaneously building a strong foundation of legal understanding and commitment. My experiences working for the attorneys at Coleman Legal Group fueled my passion and understanding of law, and more importantly, gave me a clear goal of the life I want to lead.

The time I spent working at XXXXX literally opened my eyes to the multitude of complexities faced on a daily basis by attorneys, clients, and members of the judicial system. The most important lesson I took from my time spent during my internship was a respect for the difficulties faced by attorneys in cases that involved emotionally charged matters. Specifically, I can remember answering a telephone call of a prospective client who, in tears, had told me that her spouse was physically abusive and she quickly needed a divorce. I immediately took down her information and an alternative method of contact, knowing the potential dangers that could arise if her spouse discovered she was seeking legal action. As the conversation concluded, I encouraged her to come into the office for a consultation with our legal team, reassuring her of the assistance she so desperately needed. As she was leaving the office after her consultation, I distinctly remember XXXXX, the senior attorney and my chief mentor, looking her in the eyes and saying, “don’t worry, we can help you.” My heart swelled with pride in knowing that I had been a part of the instrument that would grant her freedom. Even though I did not have a direct impact on that particular case, I felt honored to simply be associated with those who did. It was on that day that I fully realized, with no doubt in my mind, the calling I felt in my undergraduate law classes was justified.

I have been traversing mountains my whole life, constantly weighed down by the ever-present pack on my back. For me, the weight I once carried is definitively in the past, and I have transformed as a person and reshaped my anxiety into passion and motivation. The original foundation of my undergraduate career was riddled with anxiety, creating holes I struggled to fill. However, as I continued on my journey, I found the key to my improvement in law, unlocking the potential I had previously shied away from and abandoned. Through conquering my anxiety, I conquered myself, and transformed a dispassionate and hesitant young man into a determined young adult, ready to excel through the challenges ahead. I am now mentally and emotionally ready to summit the next mountain in front of me, which I hope is law school.

User avatar
Duramax80
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:34 pm

Re: Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

Postby Duramax80 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:45 pm

Can someone please throw me some input? I have a 2.68 GPA and a 159 LSAT, so Im really relying on a good PS to help me get accepted into school. I have read Ann Levine's book and scoured the forum looking for style and substance pointers, and I feel like my PS is solid. Is there anywhere I need to elaborate/cut-back on? I aimed this PS to be of an "overcoming obstacle" type, with a secondary focus on the skills I developed to be a good law student.

Have I proved myself worthy?

User avatar
Mce252
Posts: 940
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

Postby Mce252 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:57 pm

It seems like it might be a little long for a personal statement at a lot of schools. I think it's clear and pretty good writing. However, I'm not sure I personally believe that an undergraduate law class was the single thing that allowed you to overcome anxiety which you describe as rather paralyzing.

A paralyzing fear of other people that caused you to avoid classrooms seems to throw up a red flag that would require a lot more explanation than just that you were inspired by the law. My suggestion would be to tone down the anxiety handicap and focus more on how your interest in the subject drove you to excel in your studies.

I understand that you want to have a good story about how you have overcome challenges. But you don't want to do it in a way that makes it seem like your personality is not fit for a career publicly advocating for others.

geauxsaints
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:52 am

Re: Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

Postby geauxsaints » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:15 pm

I agree with above poster. Way too long. At Times New Roman 12 pt double spaced, it is 5 pages long. You need to reduce this PS by almost half. The first paragraph and the last paragraph aren't necessary in my opinion. I agree with the above poster that the "paralyzing fear" throws up a red flag. However, the anxiety issue is a major aspect of your statement, but just maybe needs to be toned down a bit. Remember, you will address your GPA in an academic addendum which you should ask the adcomm to notice your upward trend in grades. You can even address anxiety in that addendum.

If you can whittle this statement down, possibly by removing the first and last paragraphs and focusing on your classroom and professional experiences, you have a solid statement in my opinion.

You may even consider beginning your statement with the third paragraph and going from there.

aj1724
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:42 pm

Re: Please critique my PS rough draft, am I off to a good start?

Postby aj1724 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:25 am

I think this is a solid start. I would definitely edit it down though - I figure you (or anyone else) has about 2 pages before adcomms lose interest. I understand where you're going w/the hiking, but it's kind of unnecessary here unless you used some of the traits you have developed from hiking to help you grow academically. Also, I agree with the previous posters that you should probably tone down the anxiety a little bit; I don't doubt how hard it was to overcome, I just honestly think that your story about the law class is better. Finally, I think you would be well served to focus a little more on how the class changed you and how those experiences helped you develop academically and overcome your anxiety. Be specific and really explain what you felt.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.