Yet another draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:43 pm

Next revision. Really think it's coming together and I think I addressed a lot of the criticisms. Also I've been doing some heavy editing on word choice and grammar, so if you see anything let me know.



When you’re ten, your role models are firemen, professional athletes, and movie stars, and at that age I was no different. But when my brother was arrested for shoplifting when he was fifteen, the experience added lawyer to my list of heroes. He was facing juvenile hall, and with my mother on welfare, there was no way my family was going to be able to afford a good lawyer to help him with his case. My mother was desperate, though, and had already had one son end up in prison after trouble in his youth, so she sought out a local attorney to see if there was anything she could do to prevent another one of her sons from going down that path.

I wasn’t there for the meeting, and I don’t know exactly what she told him, but whatever it was it resonated because he agreed to take my brother’s case pro bono. Most of my brother’s day in court was a blur. There was a lot of legalese thrown around, something about illegal search and brutality, and some objections and overruleds, and in the end the judge dismissed the case. The image that stands out for me on that day was my brother hugging the lawyer, my mom in tears thanking him profusely, and the lawyer seeming almost embarrassed with the thanks he was receiving.

When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said lawyer without hesitation. I wanted to help people like someone helped my family. With that goal in mind, I was successful in school. I wasn’t the perfect student, but my natural ability allowed me to do well. My path wasn’t one without challenges, though. The town I grew up in was way back in the mountains and very poor. I wanted to be a lawyer, but in the end that was just crazy. People where I come from don’t become lawyers, they become carpenters or mechanics or maybe a manager at a local store. Lawyer? Not a chance. That type of thinking began to poison my mind, so while I was undoubtedly gifted and did well in school, I began to fear that my goals were out of reach, and the ceiling on what I could achieve would end up with me doing something far more mundane.

My brother, now a decorated soldier in the Army, wouldn’t let that mindset hold me back. He knew that being a lawyer was my dream since I was a child, and when he heard my uncertainty due to the circumstances we grew up in, he encouraged me in the way only an older brother can; he threatened to beat me up if I didn’t go to law school. While I didn’t take the threat of violence seriously, I did take what was behind it with all the gravity it deserved. My upbringing, while undeniably difficult, was not something that I could allow to slow me down.

While I had the finish line in sight, the path was still fraught with challenges. My family was poor, and I had to work two 30 hour a week jobs just to support myself while I was in school. I would find time to study when I could, whether while walking to work or on my breaks, but I never let my financial circumstances, or my lack of sleep for that matter, keep me from realizing my goal. My academic success provided me with the opportunity for a research fellowship at my school, which led to even less sleep, but also gave me an invaluable experience into the realities of academic research. More importantly, it also proved to me that I had the talent and ability to perform well in a competitive academic environment. It’s a good feeling to know that you have a goal. It’s an even better feeling when you know that you have a goal and you have the ability to achieve it.

When the resolve sets in to pursue your dream no matter what, everything after that becomes easy. Tasks in school that many found arduous I would tackle with relish, because I knew that every step of my journey was crucial to me becoming a lawyer. That ten year old kid, so hopeful, was now a twenty-eight year old man with a goal and the drive to succeed. That lawyer, that hero from my childhood, probably didn’t know when he took that case that he was changing two people’s lives. He probably thought he was just keeping a stupid kid from juvenile hall. What he actually did was keep two poor kids from the middle of nowhere from becoming trapped by their circumstances.
Last edited by NoodleyOne on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
annet
Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:19 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby annet » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:36 pm

I think you're really tightened your writing up which makes the whole thing much stronger. But I'm still not sure it's about YOU enough. The reader doesn't get to see you at all until the 4rd paragraph and none of it speaks to your strengths.

That said - I think paragraphs 5-7 are really solid for your final PS. I would tighten up the first section, pare it down to just enough to tell the story and get across your circumstances as a kid. Then add another paragraph towards the end that talks about your strengths, your drive, etc.. I loathed this part of writing mine so I forced myself to bold the attribute/strength I was communicating to the committee and made sure there was something every other sentence.

mmbowling
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:22 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby mmbowling » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:41 pm

I like the theme of the story. One thing that stood out to me in the last paragraph was the use of the word stupid twice. I don't think I really like the vibe that it gives off. Other than that the story is compelling.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:42 pm

Here's a thought, tell me how it works for the opening (which I wasn't crazy about to begin with):

When you’re ten, your role models are firemen, professional athletes, and movie stars. This was as true for me as everyone else. But when my fifteen year old brother was arrested, I added lawyer to that list of heroes. (narrative about what happened, blah blah blah). That work better?

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:44 pm

mmbowling wrote:I like the theme of the story. One thing that stood out to me in the last paragraph was the use of the word stupid twice. I don't think I really like the vibe that it gives off. Other than that the story is compelling.


Yeah. I like it in the first sentence... reading over it the second seems a bit dismissive of both me and my brother. I think I can tighten that up.

Okay, real talk time. Is this a good PS? Obviously there's still some work to do, but if you read this, do you think "Damn, I kind of want this kid at our law school. What's his GPA? Oh... shit, nevermind. Too bad my ninja!"

User avatar
LoveLife89
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:08 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby LoveLife89 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:56 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:I'm feeling I made a lot of progress, and I think I have a much better PS down. Tell me what you think, guys. I will not accept no for an answer.


My brother was 15 when he was arrested for shoplifting at a local convenience store in the small town we grew up in. He was a known trouble-maker around town, doing pranks and getting into small scale trouble, but this is the first time he had been charged with anything. When the officers arrested him, he got roughed up and ended up with a black eye.
So, this part can use some work. There is some redundancy with the word trouble, as you use it to describe your brother and then to say the type of activities that he engaged in. In the second sentence, there is a verb tense issue/conflict, whatever you'd like to describe it as. He WAS a troublemaker, but then you switch to present tense of this IS the first time... The verb tenses should all be in the same form, at least in the same sentence. The last sentence is confusing because I am not sure if he was roughed up by the office, or prior to the officer arriving. This needs to be made more clear.



“The kid is just bad news, like his brother,” the officer said to my mother as she cried about the treatment my brother had received. The officer was referring to my other older brother who had spent the majority of his teenage years in juvenile hall, and then almost all of his adult life in prison. I was just a little kid, and didn’t understand what was going on and why my brother was in handcuffs; but, I knew I didn’t (did not) like the way he was being treated.
Try to refrain from using contractions in formal writing. It is often seen as too colloquial.
He was going to end up before the judge, and considering his known penchant for trouble making, he was probably going to go to juvenile hall. My mother wanted to get a good lawyer, but my family was on welfare and simply didn’t (did not) have the money to afford one. She went to meet with one particular local lawyer anyway, just to see how much it would cost to keep another of her sons out of prison.


I wasn’t there for the meeting, and I don’t know exactly what she told him, but whatever it was it resonated, because he agreed to take my brother’s case pro bono. As a ten year old, I didn’t have a clue about what was going on, but I do remember my brother’s day in court. A lot of legalese was thrown around, and my brother’s lawyer spoke at length about illegal search and brutality. In the end, the judge ended up dismissing the case. The image that stands out for me on that day was my brother hugging the lawyer, my mom in tears, thanking him profusely, and the lawyer seeming almost embarrassed with the thanks he was receiving.
When you’re ten, your role models are firemen, professional athletes, and movie stars. I added a new one to the list. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said lawyer, because I wanted to help people like someone helped me. With that in mind, I was successful in school. I wasn’t the perfect student, but my natural ability allowed me to do well. My path wasn’t one without challenges, though. One of the drawbacks to growing up in a small town like the one I did is that, when you have an ambition but you’re not surrounded by anyone else with similar goals, you start thinking your own goals are unrealistic.
This is weird and should be fixed. I understand what you are saying, but I am sure you can find a better way to articulate this thought.
I wanted to be a lawyer, but in the end that was just crazy. People where I come from don’t become lawyers; they become carpenters or mechanics or maybe a manager at a local store. Lawyer? Not a chance. That type of thinking began to poison my mind, so while I was undoubtedly gifted and did well in school, I began to fear that my goals were out of reach, and the ceiling on what I could achieve would end up with me doing something far more mundane.
My brother wouldn’t let that mindset take over me, though. As we grew up, we became close. He knew that being a lawyer was my dream since I was a child, and when he heard my uncertainty due to the circumstances we grew up in, he encouraged me in the way only an older brother can; he threatened to beat me up if I didn’t go to law school. While I didn’t take the threat of violence seriously, I did take what was behind it with all the gravity it deserved. My upbringing, while undeniably difficult, was not something that I could allow to slow me down.
When the resolve sets in to pursue your dream no matter what, everything after that becomes easy. Tasks in school that many found arduous I would tackle with relish, because I knew that every step of my journey was crucial in achieving my goal. That ten year old kid, so hopeful, was now a twenty-eight year old man with a goal and the drive to succeed. That lawyer, that hero from my childhood, probably didn’t know when he took that case that he was changing two people’s lives. He probably thought he was just keeping a stupid kid from juvenile hall. What he actually did was keep two stupid kids from the middle of nowhere from becoming trapped by their circumstances.



So, as many others have mentioned, I think this paper concentrates too much on your brother and the story, without focusing on you and why you want to attend law school. My corrections in the first paragraph are just a microcosm of some of the other grammatical corrections that could be made throughout. I think I can see the angle that you are trying to take, but this needs to be fleshed out a bit more. You say that this instance is what led you to law, but it'd be nice to know what you did in college or post-college to solidify this experience. In other words, this might have been the thought, but something recent and more relevant needs to be mentioned. Because reading this, I think I know more about your town and your brother than I do of you.

User avatar
CardozoLaw09
Posts: 1745
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:58 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:00 pm

I thought the content of your first draft was better since that was more about you and your struggles and how you've come a long way since then. This is focused a little too much on your bro's struggles and how it indirectly affected you. I like how you've tightened it up a bit more with respect to the "why law" aspect but I think it would've been more potent if you had incorporated that with the story in your first PS.

User avatar
annet
Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:19 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby annet » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:02 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:Here's a thought, tell me how it works for the opening (which I wasn't crazy about to begin with):

When you’re ten, your role models are firemen, professional athletes, and movie stars. This was as true for me as everyone else. But when my fifteen year old brother was arrested, I added lawyer to that list of heroes. (narrative about what happened, blah blah blah). That work better?


Yeah, I think so. Then maybe 2-3 sentences fleshing the story out a little, then get into more of the nitty gritty about why you're awesome (forthcoming 180 aside). I think the tone and the way you tell the story is much better than where you started in the last draft - it gives them a sense that you had it hard as a kid without dwelling on it or making it seem like you've allowed that to define you.

User avatar
Richie Tenenbaum
Posts: 2162
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:17 am

Re: Yet another draft

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:07 pm

I remember some of your older versions, and I think this is a substantial improvement. I actually really enjoyed the opening, I thought the sentence about adding lawyer to your list was placed in a good spot.

Suggestions:
-While I really liked the intro, its length hurts since you need to talk about yourself too. Try to tighten things up and tell the story more concisely.
-Work more on your transition between that story and your story. Maybe flesh out some of your struggles and despair about having a "far-fetched dream"?

I thought the beginning and ending were both strong, but it's a bit disjointed in between.

ETA:
One other quick thing I noticed:
When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said lawyer, because I wanted to help people like someone helped me.my family.
Last edited by Richie Tenenbaum on Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Cobretti
Posts: 2560
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:45 am

Re: Yet another draft

Postby Cobretti » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:12 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
mmbowling wrote:I like the theme of the story. One thing that stood out to me in the last paragraph was the use of the word stupid twice. I don't think I really like the vibe that it gives off. Other than that the story is compelling.


Yeah. I like it in the first sentence... reading over it the second seems a bit dismissive of both me and my brother. I think I can tighten that up.

Okay, real talk time. Is this a good PS? Obviously there's still some work to do, but if you read this, do you think "Damn, I kind of want this kid at our law school. What's his GPA? Oh... shit, nevermind. Too bad my ninja!"


Alright, real talk. On a real "big picture" level, I think this statement is good but I don't think its good for a splitter such as yourself. I think you need to address what really made you get serious about law school since undergrad. I know you say your brother gave you "encouragement", but I don't know if that is really compelling that you are definitively dedicated to law school now.

Do you have anything from your work experience that shows a transition?

In general I think splitter PSes need to be more focused on events after undergrad, since you are trying to distance yourself from your grades.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:06 pm

I'm still in undergrad... Although my revision might have something. Editing OP.

User avatar
Cobretti
Posts: 2560
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:45 am

Re: Yet another draft

Postby Cobretti » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:14 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:I'm still in undergrad... Although my revision might have something. Editing OP.


Ah gotcha, was just assuming based on your age. If you're returning to school now and making up for a terrible GPA when you were younger, that could show all the improvement you need. Not saying make the whole PS about that, just saying add that as a concrete example of your growth and they may be able to look past your GPA without much thought.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:18 pm

mrizza wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:I'm still in undergrad... Although my revision might have something. Editing OP.


Ah gotcha, was just assuming based on your age. If you're returning to school now and making up for a terrible GPA when you were younger, that could show all the improvement you need. Not saying make the whole PS about that, just saying add that as a concrete example of your growth and they may be able to look past your GPA without much thought.


I don't think that fits into the narrative well, and that will be better suited for an addendum.

User avatar
Cobretti
Posts: 2560
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:45 am

Re: Yet another draft

Postby Cobretti » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:25 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:Next revision. Really think it's coming together and I think I addressed a lot of the criticisms. Also I've been doing some heavy editing on word choice and grammar, so if you see anything let me know.



When you’re ten, your role models are firemen, professional athletes, and movie stars, and at that age I was no different. But when my brother was arrested for shoplifting when he was fifteen, the experience added lawyer to my list of heroes. He was facing juvenile hall, and with my mother on welfare, there was no way my family was going to be able to afford a good lawyer to help him with his case. My mother was desperate, though, and had already had one son end up in prison after trouble in his youth, so she sought out a local attorney to see if there was anything she could do to prevent another one of her sons from going down that path.

I wasn’t there for the meeting, and I don’t know exactly what she told him, but whatever it was it resonated because he agreed to take my brother’s case pro bono. Most of my brother’s day in court was a blur. There was a lot of legalese thrown around, something about illegal search and brutality, and some objections and overruleds, and in the end the judge dismissed the case. The image that stands out for me on that day was my brother hugging the lawyer, my mom in tears thanking him profusely, and the lawyer seeming almost embarrassed with the thanks he was receiving.

When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said lawyer without hesitation. I wanted to help people like someone helped my family. With that goal in mind, I was successful in school. I wasn’t the perfect student, but my natural ability allowed me to do well. My path wasn’t one without challenges, though. The town I grew up in was way back in the mountains and very poor. I wanted to be a lawyer, but in the end that was just crazy.(This sounds a little too fatalistic, I'd probably try to word it in a way that says it was unlikely but you still had hope) People where I come from don’t become lawyers, they become carpenters or mechanics or maybe a manager at a local store. Lawyer? Not a chance. That type of thinking began to poison my mind, so while I was undoubtedly gifted and did well in school, I began to fear that my goals were out of reach, and the ceiling on what I could achieve would end up with me doing something far more mundane(This sentence sounds really awkward. You can probably just end it at "...my goals were out of reach.".

My brother, now a decorated soldier in the Army, wouldn’t let that mindset hold me back. He knew that being a lawyer was my dream since I was a child, and when he heard my uncertainty due to the circumstances we grew up in, he encouraged me in the way only an older brother can; he threatened to beat me up if I didn’t go to law school. While I didn’t take the threat of violence seriously, I did take what was behind it with all the gravity it deserved. My upbringing, while undeniably difficult, was not something that I could allow to slow me down.

While I had the finish line in sight, the path was still fraught with challenges. My family was poor, and I had to work two 30 hour a week jobs just to support myself while I was in school. I would find time to study when I could, whether while walking to work or on my breaks, but I never let my financial circumstances, or my lack of sleep for that matter, keep me from realizing my goal. My academic success provided me with the opportunity for a research fellowship at my school, which led to even less sleep, but also gave me an invaluable experience into the realities of academic research. More importantly, it also proved to me that I had the talent and ability to perform well in a competitive academic environment. It’s a good feeling to know that you have a goal. It’s an even better feeling when you know that you have a goal and you have the ability to achieve it. (This paragraph really brings the transformation together, nice. I think the last 2 sentences could be re-written to sound more natural though. Overall this addresses exactly what I was saying though, definitely a big improvement.)

When the resolve sets in to pursue your dream no matter what, everything after that becomes easy. Tasks in school that many found arduous, I would tackle with relish(Most people recommend writing in simple past tense, its more engaging and personal, up to you though.), because I knew that every step of my journey was crucial to me becoming a lawyer. That ten year old kid, so hopeful, was now a twenty-eight year old man with a goal and the drive to succeed. That lawyer, that hero from my childhood, probably didn’t know when he took that case that he was changing two people’s lives. He probably thought he was just keeping a stupid kid from juvenile hall. What he actually did was keep two poor kids from the middle of nowhere from becoming trapped by their circumstances.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:11 pm

More feedback anyone? Would love to know how close I am.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Yet another draft

Postby NoodleyOne » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:51 pm

Also, here's my edit of those last two sentences of the second to last paragraph (I agree, did sound awkward):

I had always had my goal of law school in mind as I went through my academic career, but receiving a competitive fellowship and then succeeding in it gave me the confidence of knowing that I had what it takes to stand out amongst my peers.




How does that sound?

User avatar
Cobretti
Posts: 2560
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:45 am

Re: Yet another draft

Postby Cobretti » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:07 am

NoodleyOne wrote:Also, here's my edit of those last two sentences of the second to last paragraph (I agree, did sound awkward):

I had always had my goal of law school in mind as I went through my academic career, but receiving a competitive fellowship and then succeeding in it gave me the confidence of knowing that I had what it takes to stand out amongst my peers.




How does that sound?


I'd drop the first part, I don't think it necessarily goes with the point of the second half. You're trying to say that after succeeding with your fellowship you started to gain the confidence you'd been lacking due to growing up in a small town, so I'd just stick to that. Just say something like "After succeeding in my highly competitive fellowship, I realized that I could excel at even the most prestigious law schools. This has motivated me... blah blah blah"




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.