Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Nationals27
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:01 am

Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby Nationals27 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:20 am

Any feedback on my personal statement (below) would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

As I nervously anticipated the first serious interview of my life, the self-interview I was conducting in my head was interrupted by a fellow student across the room. “Oh, you are applying for one of those poverty internships? Yeah, I think volunteering at a legal aid society or whatever is pretty worthless in the eyes of employers”. I forced a grin in response (even though he did not appear to be making a joke), and decided to ignore his input.

My interview must have gone okay because, fortunately, I secured a legal internship at the X Legal Aid Society in X – my first choice. I learned a considerable amount regarding the law during my internship. However, my most valuable educational moments did not come from learning specifics about the law, but rather from the relationship I formed with a particular client.

This particular client’s name was X, and he was a retired veteran living in Section 8 housing. He came to legal aid for help because his Section 8 housing management was attempting to evict him for repeatedly disturbing the peace. X was eccentric and paranoid, and would frequently complain to management about his neighbors for allegedly violating one minor tenant rule or another; he would even call the cops on a fairly regular basis.

Doris, my supervising attorney, did not really want to take X's case. She did not think we had much of a defense and she had worked with X before and did not want to deal with his craziness. While I certainly did agree that our defense was shaky, I nonetheless urged Doris to take the case. I argued that this was X's home and that he had nowhere else to go. I insisted that legal aid was really his only option, and that we had a responsibility to protect and assist him. My pleadings had no effect, until I finally realized what I had to do: I had to offer to deal with X on a day-to-day basis. I told Doris I would receive his phone calls and meet with him when he had random problems and complaints, or when she did not have the time or patience to speak with him. Essentially, I offered to manage X's craziness. And boy, did I not realize what I was in store for.

Over the span of a month, X called me most days (sometimes multiple times a day) about an assortment of problems he wanted to discuss. I also had to meet with him at least a couple times a week. While I did compile and organize a binder with all of X's formal complaints to the housing management (yes, this filled a thick 3-ring binder), and I would occasionally perform random, unrelated tasks for X (for example, I had to write a request for specialty pillows), my main duty was a simple one: listen to X.

These interactions with Rich were oftentimes extremely frustrating. No matter how many times I explained that he needed to change his behavior - that complaining to housing management (or calling the cops) only exacerbated the problem - he never listened. But, after hearing X attempt to defend his actions over the course of a few weeks, one thing became abundantly clear to me: his behavior as a tenant and neighbor was indefensible.

The week before X's hearing, I expressed to Doris that X had no chance if we defended him by attempting to rationalize his behavior as a tenant. I insisted that in order to win, we needed to appeal to the judge’s emotion by telling the truth: that X is a kind, well-intentioned man who has no other options. Basically, the same argument I used to convince Doris to defend X in the first place.

Doris then reminded me that the emotional appeal I used did not actually work on her. And to that I responded, “Well, I just hope the Judge has a bigger heart than you do Doris”.

When the day of the case finally came, Doris did defend X using an emotional appeal, and it was my emotional appeal. And it worked. We won the case, and X was able to stay in his home. I was sitting right behind Doris and X in the court room, and when the decision was made, X turned back to me – with tears in his eyes – and thanked me.

A few days later, I had to make a presentation at the closing conference for all the poverty interns regarding my experiences interning at the legal aid society, and it made me consider the comment that my fellow classmate made to me while I was waiting for my interview. I came to the realization that his point was irrelevant; whether employers found my internship at a legal aid society worthwhile did not matter, but helping X keep his home did.

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CorkBoard
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Re: Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby CorkBoard » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:20 am

This is a cool story, but it's not really about you at all.

Nationals27
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:01 am

Re: Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby Nationals27 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:46 pm

CorkBoard wrote:This is a cool story, but it's not really about you at all.


Yeah, I thought that might be a problem. My hope was that the story would implicitly say certain things about me, and that my personality would come through in the writing style.

Do you think I need to completely change my topic, or if I work myself into the story a little more, I can keep this same topic?

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CorkBoard
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Re: Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby CorkBoard » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:26 pm

Nationals27 wrote:
CorkBoard wrote:This is a cool story, but it's not really about you at all.


Yeah, I thought that might be a problem. My hope was that the story would implicitly say certain things about me, and that my personality would come through in the writing style.

Do you think I need to completely change my topic, or if I work myself into the story a little more, I can keep this same topic?

You could probably keep this topic, but I definitely think YOU need to be the focus (what you did specifically, etc). There are some PS examples where the subject matter is another person, but I think they are really difficult to pull off.

canarykb
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:56 am

Re: Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby canarykb » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:18 pm

I like it a lot, and I personally think it has enough of "YOU" in it. I do think it needs a stronger conclusion. It's there where you can inject more of what you learned/how this changed you in a compelling way so that the adcomms are left with a solid note about you.

Also, the "I proved to that dumb kid that he was dumb about my internship" isn't that compelling of a way to end, or start your story. It's pretty obvious that he is an idiot and/or an ass so learning that he was wrong should not be presented as a point of tension in your narrative or the final lesson learned. I would remove this bit entirely. I would just start right in with where you worked and when you first met the client.

I also think a point you can hit home harder is the tension with your boss. Were you nervous to stand up to her? Did she say anything about why she went with your emotional appeal in court? I think this is the part where you really stand out as good lawyer material. Work it.

Da1andOnlyPharo
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:13 am

Re: Personal Statement Draft - Please Critique

Postby Da1andOnlyPharo » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:19 am

I do like what you have so far -- going off Ken's list, you managed to demonstrate at least some Intellectual excellence by putting together a fluid narrative, you had a tangible impact on others, real world experience and took initiative.

I think it could be better, though I'm not exactly sure how. How long is this in a word processor? I think maybe you could cut out some of the details and make it more concise.




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