Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Macjeeves
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:24 pm

Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby Macjeeves » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:08 pm

I need help whittling this Personal Statement down to around 700 words, or to meet a two-page, double space limit. I may have to cut something substantive out, and I am wondering what could be cut while maintaining the cohesion and flow of the piece. Any hints/help would be greatly appreciated. I have been thinking about cutting out the final two paragraphs and integrating them into a 'Why X' statement where available. Thanks Law School pros!



Through my work and academic experiences, I have come to understand the need for competent and compassionate legal representation for under-served populations. I also believe I have a role to play in providing it. My interest in law can be most directly attributed to a constitutional law course I took as an undergraduate student, coupled with my subsequent work with the Washington State Attorney General's Office, where I saw how laws that protect consumers and citizens are only as strong as the resources that are devoted to their enforcement. I am pursuing a law degree to strengthen my skills and expand my experiences so that I can work to defend the public interest in the American legal system.

As an undergraduate student at [redacted], I enrolled in a graduate-level First Amendment Constitutional law course to supplement my business coursework. I was immediately – and unexpectedly – struck by how it mirrored my academic interests and interest in public service. Our instructor, Professor [redacted], brought a unique perspective to the course material. Due to his experience in the 1970's as legal counsel for César Chávez, a prominent labor movement leader at the time, he offered an authentic and comprehensive approach to my understanding of one of our most fundamental constitutional protections. I was fascinated by the delicate balancing required by the courts to keep the law current while maintaining the integrity of the law's original intent. I was particularly interested in the need to adapt speech protections for disenfranchised or vulnerable populations in the constantly shifting world of digital communications. Because of his ability to effectively channel my enthusiasm for social justice and my prior work in non-profits, Professor [redacted] was a major inspiration for my pursuit of a law degree.

[Redacted]'s unusual educational framework and my academic focus on business and entrepreneurship also helped to foster my interest in public interest law. Small class sizes and multiple-term courses allowed me to develop close relationships with my professors and peers, along with a strong spirit of discourse and dialogue among my fellow students, significantly enhanced the value of my education. Through my academic pursuits, I helped to start an international non-profit organization, promoted minority-owned business interests in my hometown of [redacted], and tailored my coursework to focus on education reform, medical insurance policy, and the global communications industry. These opportunities provided a window into a diverse range of legal applications, and allowed me to narrow my interest in law to providing legal aid assistance in the not-for-profit sector.

In the year following graduation, I interned with the [redacted] State Attorney General's office. My work as a Complaint Analyst for the Consumer Protection Division placed me front and center as the public face of our office. Officially, my duties centered on providing dispute mediation for consumers and business; however, as the division had the only publicly listed number in the Attorney General's Office, we doubled as a switchboard for a plethora of government agencies. Working with a team of coordinators, we were able to quickly process and troubleshoot a wide range of complex problems, and ensure that Washington residents were able to find the resources they required, either through our office or elsewhere.

While I was proud to assist those who sought help from the Attorney General’s Office, the limitations of the office became apparent over time. The heavy call volume, on issues ranging from ill-advised mortgages and personal loans to bankruptcies and home foreclosures, required that we be as pointed and efficient as possible when advising callers about the function of our office and the services we were authorized to provide. In many of the cases that fell outside of our jurisdiction, I was required to instruct them to seek private legal advice or representation. It was an unsettling revelation for me that such a critical body of knowledge – consumer protection – was relegated to so few, and virtually inaccessible to the average person. But through this work, I was heartened to discover the strong network of legal and advocacy clinics throughout [redacted] State. My communication with these organizations offered a distinctive perspective into the world of not-for-profit legal aid services. My accomplishments at the Attorney General's Office, as well as my exposure to the various agencies we interacted with regularly, affirmed my desire to work in public interest law, and provided me with further inspiration to seek out an institution that could foster my growth in this area.

A law degree from Boston University School of Law will give me the rigorous academic foundation I need to succeed. Boston University's broad offerings in international and comparative law will allow me to gain experience with international public interest organizations, specifically through Boston University's renowned Study Abroad programs. I will also actively seek a position with the Boston University Public Interest Law Journal. In turn, I believe my unique academic background, breadth of experience, and commitment to the public interest will enrich the courses, externships, and pro bono work to which I will contribute.

After completing the degree, I would like to take advantage of my duel Irish-American citizenship to gain practical experience abroad, and continue my education in the field, after which I would return to the United States to acquire a position as a lawyer, legal counsel or consultant for a non-profit legal aid or international development organization. A quality education in Public Interest Law will enable me to utilize my knowledge, experience and passion to offer aid to those in need, on both a local and global scale. With a degree from Boston University, I will be well positioned to achieve this goal.

Trig9793
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:35 pm

Re: Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby Trig9793 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:33 pm

Since you didn't provide the original word count, I have no idea how much you need cut down, but here are some general tips. And yes, I cannot believe that I just took the time to write all this, but I tutor grad students in their grant apps, and I rather like editing papers... what can I say? :)

- 2nd sentence of 3rd paragraph completely unnecessary: the theme of your statement is your passion for public interest law, the size of your classes is irrelevant.
- In the 2nd paragraph, lose the discussion on the "delicate balance of law." It is unnecessary for the theme of your paper, and frankly, an over-used phrase. The personal statement is not used to see how well you already analyze laws, that is what law school is for. Instead, they want to know what kind of person/student you really are. It comes off like you are trying too hard.
- No need to define who Cesar Chavez is, everyone knows who he is already (at least everyone that will be reading this) and it is unnecessary
- The last 2 paragraphs are where you can cut a TON. The discussion on why BU is the right law school for you is actually fine, but after that you falter. Any well-recognized law school will have a public interest law journal, it is not unique or special to BU and does not clarify why you really want to go to BU. In this sentence, and in the whole last paragraph, you begin to promise the things you WILL do with your degree rather than highlighting the things you HAVE done. This is a mistake, and the conclusion is much weaker than it could be. Admissions officers do not care about your promises of all the amazing things you plan on doing. Anyone can make big promises, and realistically, goals and plans can change during the course of law school. The question you are currently answering in your conclusion is "what will BU do for me?" It doesn't make you sound smart, special, unique etc. You should end by highlighting what you will contribute to the school immediately and directly, not your large future plans.
- On a grammatical note, you used the wrong form of "duel." It should be "dual." Also, you are missing commas in a number of places. Don't ever start a sentence with "but," it signifies a fragment. Change it to "yet."

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cutecarmel
Posts: 599
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:39 pm

Re: Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby cutecarmel » Wed May 30, 2012 5:51 pm

Your PS comes off as an extension of your resume.

1. The information about your professor isn't necessary, nor is the information about your course size and whatnot, so like the other poster said, you can get rid of the 2nd and 3rd paragraph.
If anything, I would focus on your work with the Attorney General's office because that led you to want to work in law.

2.You should probably talk more about yourself. You talk a lot about what you did, but not much about who you are and what you can contribute to that law school

3. Your paragraphs on why you want to attend Boston Law stand out to me as very generalized. I could place a lot of names in the place of Boston and it would work just fine. I think that would be evident to those that are reading it, so if you want to include "Why X?" in your PS, do your research and give more specific information (I think most schools have Study Abroad programs and public interest journal). Name a specific program, clinics, courses, concentrations, etc. I think more specific information sound more sincere.

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minnbills
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Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby minnbills » Wed May 30, 2012 5:57 pm

Macjeeves wrote:I need help whittling this Personal Statement down to around 700 words, or to meet a two-page, double space limit. I may have to cut something substantive out, and I am wondering what could be cut while maintaining the cohesion and flow of the piece. Any hints/help would be greatly appreciated. I have been thinking about cutting out the final two paragraphs and integrating them into a 'Why X' statement where available. Thanks Law School pros!



Through my work and academic experiences, I have come to understand the need for competent and compassionate legal representation for under-served populations. I also believe I have a role to play in providing it (rephrase). My interest in law can be most directly attributed to a constitutional law course I took as an undergraduate student, coupled with my subsequent work with for the Washington State Attorney General's Office, where I saw how laws that protect consumers and citizens are only as strong as the resources that are devoted to their enforcement (rephrase, there's just too much here.) I am pursuing a law degree to strengthen my skills and expand my experiences so that I can work to defend the public interest in the American legal system.



I think you can achieve your goal by just being more thrifty with your word choice.

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rinkrat19
Posts: 13915
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed May 30, 2012 6:04 pm

2nd and 3rd paragraphs are boring and sound more appropriate for a course description in a class catalog than an essay that's supposed to tell me who YOU are as a PERSON.

Through my academic pursuits, I helped to start an international non-profit organization, promoted minority-owned business interests in my hometown of [redacted]
I'd write an essay on one of these topics, or possibly a situation or event during your time in the AG's office that you can use to illustrate some qualities in yourself that make you unique and/or a good candidate for law school.

It's not quite a point-by-point resume dump, but it's uncomfortably close to one. Needs more personality and more detail and fewer vague generalities about your classes and jobs.

Bilqis
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 8:43 pm

Re: Need help cutting down a Personal Statement!

Postby Bilqis » Wed May 30, 2012 6:24 pm

You are quite impersonal, they need to "feel" you. They need to know who "you" are. More about your past. More about your feelings. More about specific experiences that sculpted you.

Elicit their pathos and let them bond with your "spirit" as it flows out of the PS. Be memorable.




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