Is this too personal? Too political?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Brown8714
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:25 pm

Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby Brown8714 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:39 pm

Thanks for everyone's feedback!
Last edited by Brown8714 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:18 pm, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
dextermorgan
Posts: 1138
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:37 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby dextermorgan » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:46 pm

The only thing this made me think was "why didn't his co-workers tell Eric to go to the union?"

It seems much more about Eric than you, and it comes off as you playing lawyer (which law schools don't like).

User avatar
gguuueessttt
Posts: 473
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:18 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby gguuueessttt » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:49 pm

dextermorgan wrote:The only thing this made me think was "why didn't his co-workers tell Eric to go to the union?"

It seems much more about Eric than you, and it comes off as you playing lawyer (which law schools don't like).


I agree. I think the parts about your childhood and how it affected you are good and have potential, but the part about Eric and the ending where you 'play lawyer' don't read very well. Try to focus more on the meat of the story, which is how your unfortunate childhood shaped you into a stronger person.

User avatar
CO2016YEAH
Posts: 578
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:42 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby CO2016YEAH » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:23 am

To start out, I think it is a solid PS. When I started the second paragraph it seemed like you had started a new PS altogether, but you tied the story together after that. My PS is a bit of a stick-up-for-myself-and-others kind of story too (but to a much lesser extent), so I'm hoping that the "the law schools don't like playing lawyer" bit is not entirely true or that a little of this won't cause them to write us off. You've shown that you are interested in rights, law, and justice, and willing to do some research, which I think go in your favor.

You did prove yourself to be a squeaky wheel in the workplace; managers have difficulty dealing with unions and typically don't care for employees making their job more difficult. Of course, there were huge implications tied to your report and the situation, which probably didn't bode well of you with your boss and this may cause some readers to perceive you as a trouble maker. I think this puts you on potentially shaky ground. I also thing the statement "therefore having a traditional African American hairstyle was unacceptable" could be questionable to some readers, as I'm not sure corn rows are necessarily a traditional African American hairstyle (although they might be) and why they would be inappropriate. If the question is one of a professional presentation then perhaps a mullet or mohawk would be equally inappropriate; although, you did make it clear later on that there were other issues.

I think it is a very well written, albeit risky, personal statement. Your ability to tell the story and tie the two themes together are in your favor. My guess is that the nature of the story could cause either a favorable reaction or have you tossed in the "no" pile straight away. However, the writing and the story were captivating enough that it wasn't a chore to read.


It's a tough call on this one. You've got a solid piece of prose. In the end it might cause you to be perceived as a troublemaker and keep you out of places that might not be a "fit" for you anyway, while maybe indicating you are a standup justice advocate type that could be highly desirable to other readers. It would be a shame to toss something that is well written and you have obviously put a lot of time and though into, but I'd go with something a little safer. If you are already getting mixed reactions and are uncertain about the message it conveys and the reception it will yield you may be better off going with something else. Sometimes, in my opinion, the necessity to heavily consider whether an action is appropriate is an indication that it isn't, generally speaking.

Indeed, you may have crossed a line by taking up the cause, as there are union reps and attorneys that do this, if Eric chose to pursue those channels. So this is probably an extreme of "playing lawyer" which could cause a raised eyebrow by an adcom. I think the advice to draw on the other aspect is good, and would sell it as an overcoming adversity and desire to do good for others story without the potentially eyebrow-raising elements.

Good luck! Btw, what happened with Eric and are you still employed? PM me if you want. :)

Brown8714
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:25 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby Brown8714 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:31 am

Thanks to those above, especially CO2016YEAH with your indepth and thoughtful response.
A few things:

1. I guess I need to mention that Eric did go to the union but they decided not to help him. It is true that there are attorneys and unions that "handle" these type of things, but these attorneys work for their client, either the corporation or the union - they do not work for Eric. Therefore, if Eric's interests aren't aligned with those of either the corporation or the Union, then he has no one to advocate for his interests, save a fellow coworker who decided to stand up.

2. Can someone explain why "playing lawyer" would look bad to adcoms? (specifically in my case) Does it not show a display of the essential qualities that an attorney ought to possess?

Thanks again for all the help!

User avatar
dextermorgan
Posts: 1138
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:37 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:39 pm

Brown8714 wrote:2. Can someone explain why "playing lawyer" would look bad to adcoms? (specifically in my case) Does it not show a display of the essential qualities that an attorney ought to possess?

This is going to sound harsh, but: Because you are not a lawyer, and you don't really know what a lawyer does. It's basically like saying "I want to go to law school because I like to argue." You compiled a six page report about Title VII, without knowledge of the basics of legal research or the intricacies of employment discrimination law. Your report probably could have been ripped to shreds in five minutes by a second year law student. Law schools want students who have an open mind, know they don't know anything, and are willing to learn. That is not the feeling I get from your story.

You also spend the entire PS talking about labor and employment law, and then suddenly say "I want to study criminal and domestic violence law." Those are vastly different fields. Don't worry about stating a preference for a certain kind of law in the PS.

I think there are some great parts of the story. You really show how you were shaped by your past, but you don't show how this incident made you want to be a lawyer.
Last edited by dextermorgan on Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
CO2016YEAH
Posts: 578
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:42 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby CO2016YEAH » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:46 pm

Hey Brown,

Throwing in there that union reps and union lawyers were of no aid may strengthen it.

As for the "playing lawyer" bit, I think it could be frowned upon as we are not yet lawyers. I suppose this could come across as over-confidence, etc. Also, there were clearly strong implications there and there may have been other reasons he didn't get the promotion. I suppose the logic could be that acting as a lawyer when you are not trained as one could have severe implications, and could therefore be perceived as lacking judgment. Please note that I'm not saying what you did was not the right thing to do and is not comendable (if even risky in terms of ramifications for all involved); I'm just trying to look at this from all angles.

Sticking your neck out there can be risky, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You did it at your job and maybe you should do it again. Rosa Parks was surely perceived as a "troublemaker" when she wouldn't give up her seat, as likely was James Meredith when he demanded to be afforded equal admissions consideration to the University of Mississipi.

Like I said, I might go with something a little less potentially "eyebrow raising." But that doesn't mean you should. It is, after all, a personal statement. It seems like it exemplifies personal traits that you value, and it is a reflection of who you are. You could always just go with it and see what happens! You were obviously comfortable with the level of risk involved with what you did at work; maybe you are comfortable with the potential risk now too.

I havn't decided my vote for you yet. Maybe I just won't. I kind of want you to go with it as I'm curious to see where you get in. :)

cynthiad
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:16 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:58 pm

.
Last edited by cynthiad on Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13914
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:06 pm

I can't believe no one has mentioned that this is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the hell too long. 5 pages is pretty long even for Boalt, the only school that doesn't really care about length, and it's downright excessive for most schools. Cut it in half.

Brown8714
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:25 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby Brown8714 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:41 pm

Thanks to all who have read/ critiqued.

1) I do agree that the transition is a bit jarring between the first and second paragraph, but it was meant to be somewhat abrupt. Do you have any ideas how to smooth it out?

2) The length is actually 2 pages, not 5. I did use 11 point Garamond font . . .

3) The fact that I was indeed union steward at the time of the meeting was not important ... As I state, I wanted to make the point that one need not have a special title, be it steward or attorney, to stand up and do what's right - to exercise your rights.
Last edited by Brown8714 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
dingbat
Posts: 4976
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby dingbat » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:44 pm

Brown8714 wrote:Thanks to all who have read/ critiqued.

1) I do agree that the transition is a bit jarring between the first and second paragraph, but it was meant to be somewhat abrupt. Do you have any ideas how to smooth it out?

2) The length is actually 2 pages, not 5. I did use 11 point Garamond font . . .

you should use standard fonts and sizes.

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13914
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:52 pm

Brown8714 wrote:Thanks to all who have read/ critiqued.

1) I do agree that the transition is a bit jarring between the first and second paragraph, but it was meant to be somewhat abrupt. Do you have any ideas how to smooth it out?

2) The length is actually 2 pages, not 5. I did use 11 point Garamond font . . .

3) The fact that I was indeed union steward at the time of the meeting was not important ... As I state, I wanted to make the point that one need not have a special title, be it steward or attorney, to stand up and do what's right - to exercise your rights.
Double-space it, sparky. Always double-space.

It's almost 5 full pages at 12-pt TNR, which some schools require.

11-pt Garamond gets it down to a bit under 4. Still too long.

Brown8714
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:25 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby Brown8714 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:06 pm

"Electronically attach a personal statement of no more than two pages (no less than 10 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins.)"

- IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law LSAC application

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13914
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:18 pm

Brown8714 wrote:"Electronically attach a personal statement of no more than two pages (no less than 10 point font, single spaced, 1 inch margins.)"

- IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law LSAC application

That is, literally, the ONLY time I have seen that specified. Other schools will not be expecting single-spaced essays. Double-spaced is STANDARD in academia and applications. Go ask in the 'Ask TLS' thread in the Lounge and you'll get the same answer.

cynthiad
Posts: 163
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:16 pm

Re: Is this too personal? Too political?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:50 pm

Brown8714 wrote:Thanks to all who have read/ critiqued.

1) I do agree that the transition is a bit jarring between the first and second paragraph, but it was meant to be somewhat abrupt. Do you have any ideas how to smooth it out?

2) The length is actually 2 pages, not 5. I did use 11 point Garamond font . . .

3) The fact that I was indeed union steward at the time of the meeting was not important ... As I state, I wanted to make the point that one need not have a special title, be it steward or attorney, to stand up and do what's right - to exercise your rights.


1) Don't start the second paragraph "in media res" with a description of the scene. Start with a phrase that places the scene in time, like "X years ago..." or "When I was ten years old..." or "I remembered when I was a child and..."

2) Use Times New Roman 12 point. If you have to play with the font to make it the right length, it's too long.

3) The point is you weren't exercising your rights, you were standing up for someone else's. You had official authority from the union to do so, so you weren't doing anything wrong. However, if you hadn't had that authority, and had just stepped in to help this colleague on your own accord, that could be seen as "white knighting." I'm not saying that's what you did, obviously since you were the union steward you were picked as the representative for this matter, but if you hadn't been the steward then your actions might be seen as more questionable.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.