First draft of PS 5/14

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zdamico
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First draft of PS 5/14

Postby zdamico » Mon May 14, 2012 10:55 pm

If anyone and everyone could please critique this personal statement, I want it to be outstanding.



Less than a year ago, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was always interested in law school; I attended a few workshops, took a class on law school and the legal profession, and had even signed up to take the Law School Admissions Test. I was going to be a lawyer. But why? What kind of lawyer would I be? Would I be happy? I did not have the answers to these questions, and frankly, was not overly enthused about the idea of becoming a lawyer. As students, we always hear about these light bulb moments. We are told to find within ourselves what we are truly passionate about. Once we do that, we will know exactly what we are meant to do in our lives. When this had not happened to me, I resigned myself to the idea that this was all just a dream, and that law school is what made sense for me, so that is what I would do.

In October of 2011, I went on a Villanova Habitat for Humanity break trip for the same misguided reasons I planned to go to law school. Some of my friends had gone on one, I was looking for something new, and it seemed to me like the next logical step. Then I spent a week in Winston-Salem, North Carolina building houses for those who were in less fortunate situations than me. Solidarity, service, poverty, living simply, community. These are not emotions, but I felt them during that week in North Carolina. More than anything, however, I felt happiness and kindness like I never had before. Upon my return, I immediately applied to lead a group of 20 students on a Habitat for Humanity trip over Spring break. I finally found something that sparked that fire within me, that elicited the feeling that the activity or idea had become indistinguishable from myself. This past Spring I spent the week leading a group to Lake Charles, Louisiana to help rebuild from the hurricane damage of seven years ago, and that ‘something’ became my obsession.

I know I cannot describe in a few sentences the effect that Harry Lee Louviere and his two daughters have had on me, but I will try. While in Lake Charles, a local, non-denominational Christian church generously offered us housing for the week. We arrived on Saturday, and the next day attended the church service with the community. The congregation welcomed us with hugs, songs, and sincere thank yous to each one of us for the work we planned on doing. That night, Harry, a member of the church and the community, cooked a big dinner of Gumbo, a popular Louisiana dish, serving the entire congregation plus us. He sat and spoke with us, sharing his life story with 20 complete strangers, trusting us with his toughest times. Two more nights that week, Harry came back and cooked us dinner. On Thursday evening, he returned with his daughters, Carsen and Camryn, both in high school. The 23 of us chatted, danced, ate, and shared our lives with each other until the early hours of the morning. The three returned to do the same thing the following night, our final night in Louisiana. The Louviere family lives in a local mobile home park, just the three of them, after having their home wiped out by Hurricane Rita. Despite everything they have suffered from, they are the three happiest people I have ever met. They don’t care about money, or about possessions, or most of the other things I cared about. Harry, Camryn, and Carsen care about others. That’s why the next morning, at 5:30am, the family drove 45 minutes to bring us 4 dozen donuts for our drive to the airport. That’s why the two girls, and even Harry, began to cry when we had to leave, after having just met us a week earlier. I knew I wanted to help people like this, people who deserved all the help in the world, but did not get any of it.

These experiences with Habitat for Humanity showed me what mattered most, but it was another amazing opportunity that pointed to the career that would ultimately be right for me. Through a course I took my junior year, I volunteered to work on the case of Marco Maldonado. The state of Pennsylvania sentenced Marco to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the crime of murder. Marco had discussed with our professor the dearth of evidence which implicated him, as well as the misconduct by officers involved in his arrest. Several months of research later, along with two classmates of mine, I had tracked down witnesses, uncovered proven misconduct from officers involved in the case, and located potential representation for Marco’s appeals. I am not sure whether Marco is innocent or not, but he deserves a fair trial to decide that issue. It was not an easy process, but at the end, it became obvious that my desire to help those who cannot help themselves, those who deserve so much help, was the driving factor in my success on his case. I finally had direction in life, and I finally knew who I was, thanks to the Louviere Family and Marco Maldonado. These people had lost almost everything in life, yet still remained positive and kind, and I got a chance to help them as best as I could. With a law degree, I will be able to help people like them more than I could ever have imagined a year ago.

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laxbrah420
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Re: First draft of PS 5/14

Postby laxbrah420 » Mon May 14, 2012 11:15 pm

0L with way worse grades and LSAT here.

Linguistically, the only thing I can offer is that you should drop the explanation of what gumbo (lowercase g) is. It's awkward and everyone knows what it is. "They cooked us Chowder, a popular New England dish..."

Content wise, I'm not the biggest fan but I think it's a solid start.

You took the LSAT, still didn't know what you wanted to do with your life, signed up for habitat 7 months ago, and found that you like helping people, especially those who are selfless? It just seems a bit forced. You can talk about Habitat without admitting to being lost/confused earlier. The epiphany/maturation theme is popular and can be powerful, but I don't think yours is powerful enough to risk talking about how recently you didn't know if you should go to law school. Even more forced is the last paragraph which doesn't really match the tone or message of the the rest of what you wrote.

I'm also a bit confused. It's May 2012 now. You went on a habitat retreat in October 2011, so presumably the start of your senior year. Your junior year you found out this bro in jail...and what? You just chilled for a year (or at least a semester) until you found a family that was happy despite their hurricane damage and then you wanted to work real hard? I don't really get the point of that last pp.

You have a big GPA and crushed the LSAT...why not use the last PP to talk about your skills/abilities that youve honed over the last few years that will augment your new found passion for helping good people?

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zdamico
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Re: First draft of PS 5/14

Postby zdamico » Tue May 15, 2012 12:00 am

laxbrah420 wrote:0L with way worse grades and LSAT here.

Linguistically, the only thing I can offer is that you should drop the explanation of what gumbo (lowercase g) is. It's awkward and everyone knows what it is. "They cooked us Chowder, a popular New England dish..."

Content wise, I'm not the biggest fan but I think it's a solid start.

You took the LSAT, still didn't know what you wanted to do with your life, signed up for habitat 7 months ago, and found that you like helping people, especially those who are selfless? It just seems a bit forced. You can talk about Habitat without admitting to being lost/confused earlier. The epiphany/maturation theme is popular and can be powerful, but I don't think yours is powerful enough to risk talking about how recently you didn't know if you should go to law school. Even more forced is the last paragraph which doesn't really match the tone or message of the the rest of what you wrote.

I'm also a bit confused. It's May 2012 now. You went on a habitat retreat in October 2011, so presumably the start of your senior year. Your junior year you found out this bro in jail...and what? You just chilled for a year (or at least a semester) until you found a family that was happy despite their hurricane damage and then you wanted to work real hard? I don't really get the point of that last pp.

You have a big GPA and crushed the LSAT...why not use the last PP to talk about your skills/abilities that youve honed over the last few years that will augment your new found passion for helping good people?



I just finished my junior year, so this all happened this year. That's why the last paragraph I thought was important, highlighting why I realized law was the right route.

Thank you though! That's probably a really great point about explaining that I didn't know what I wanted to do a year ago, I suppose it is unnecessary. More time can be spent writing about the stuff that actually does matter.

Do you have any other suggestions now that I cleared up the timeline?

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kwais
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Re: First draft of PS 5/14

Postby kwais » Tue May 15, 2012 12:15 am

its a little underwhelming. The jump to the last paragraph is confusing. The poor-people-with-nothing-taught-me-what-is-important-in-life theme is dangerously cliche. However, I think you have a good story telling ability and are clearly literate. This is all that will be required with your stats.

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cutecarmel
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Re: First draft of PS 5/14

Postby cutecarmel » Wed May 30, 2012 6:32 pm

1. I would leave out the part of you always wanting to be a lawyer, but having no reason why. You could probably do without the first 2 paragraphs.

2. Don't include names, especially first and last names.

3. The bit on working with Habitat was nice, but I would focus on how it may have changed you or inspired you to practice law instead of giving a day-by-day description of what happened...gumbo and doughnuts are wonderfully delightful, but not quite PS worthy. :D

4. I was really lost with that jump from Habitat to the Marcos dude. I kept reading back to find out where he came from and it took me a while to realize that he just popped out of nowhere. I wouldn't mention both of these events unless you can smoothly connect one to the other. The Marcos dude is probably more relevant to law school.

5. Your conclusion is lacking. It kind of comes off as "oh yea, I was supposed to be talking about law school"

In general, you should come up with a theme and keep focused on that theme. Talk more about yourself and how you can contribute to a strong and unique law school community. What have your experiences taught you and how can they make you a successful student and attorney.




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