Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:14 am

Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

Postby Jack86 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:58 am

This is a rough draft and needs considerable editing and I'm not sure if the topic is even appropriate. That being said, please don't spare my feelings and tear it apart! Thank you!

We all face challenges. While they can often appear insurmountable and unjust in the moment; I have come to realize that facing and overcoming the challenges in our lives ultimately define our character. (I know this sounds odd, I thought it was defines, my friend corrected me)

“No matter what I do, you’re not going to be happy” the surgeon told me. He paused before continuing, “When you look in the mirror, you’re not going to like what you see.”

Two weeks earlier, I had awoke in an apartment fire that left third degree burns covering twenty percent of my body, mostly on my neck and face. The burns were too severe for the skin to heal and required multiple skin graft surgeries; the aesthetic results of which the surgeon was certain would leave me unhappy.

Everything in life is relative, and unbeknownst to the surgeon, in a case of eerily tragic irony, my ex-girlfriend and good friend had passed away in a house fire earlier that year. She had been asleep when the fire started, and because she never woke up, she passed away from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. In this sense, although it may be hard to comprehend for some, I came to view the fire as a type of blessing. If I hadn’t literally been awoken from the pain of the burns, I too may have likely never woken up. Instead I did wake up, and in doing so I was given a second chance.

During my twenty-two days in the ICU Burn Unit, and for several months after, I was practically bedridden, able to walk only a few feet each day. The recovery process was painstakingly slow and agonizing, and I found solace in keeping myself occupied. It was during this time that I reflected on what I was going to do with my second chance once I was fully healed. Having never been fond of asking for help, this experience was humbling and changed my worldview completely. I could no longer ignore the interconnectedness and interdependence that characterizes life, as now I was unable to do almost anything on my own, and relied on the expertise of doctors, and benevolence of family and friends. It was during this time that I decided that I wanted to use my second chance to help people, using the law as a catalyst. While in the hospital and for months afterwards while I was recovering, I spent countless days and nights researching intricacies and progress of civil liberty cases, most often lawsuits filed by the ACLU. I have always had an analytical outlook and immensely enjoy finding the inconsistencies in stories, logic, explanations and arguments. This, combined with my desire to help others and my passion for defending our civil liberties, is what will help me to succeed in law school and as an attorney.

As an undergraduate I was very interested in civil liberties, with a focus on their dilution in the past two decades and especially in the aftermath of the terror attacks of 9/11. I had enjoyed researching, and writing papers on various aspects of civil liberties, most notably on the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, data mining, and the then most recent installation of body scanners at airports, which conducted virtual strip searches (through the use of radiation), without probable cause, and whose long term health effects had not, and still have not to this day, been determined.

(I don’t know if I should just delete this. Don’t really know how to tie it in with the rest of the paper)
"While writing my senior thesis, I analyzed the causes, effects, and politics of global plastic pollution, and I realized that the only catalyst for substantial change was law. By using the law to hold moneyed interests accountable for their actions, advocates have been able to reduce environmentally-detrimental practices, most notably the off shore dumping of garbage and toxic waste."

Throughout my life I have routinely witnessed the disappointing shortcomings of our legal system. A system where outcomes are influenced more by money and resources than justice; a system that is so often perceived as corrupt, that lawyers are more commonly perceived as crooks than seekers of justice; a system where our police more often instill apprehension than a sense of safety. I have witnessed both Republicans and Democrats dilute and erode our civil liberties, and created a culture where dissent has become akin to treason, and where conformity to the status quo as opposed to innovation is what is to be aspired for.

I am not sure if I want to practice criminal defense, environmental law, international law regarding human rights, entertainment law, or perhaps another profession outside of the legal field entirely, however I am certain that a law degree will expand my breadth and depth of knowledge, and consequently my effectiveness in whatever field I so choose.

From the moment that surgeon assured me that I would never be happy when I looked into a mirror, it became my goal to prove him wrong. Although I will obviously never have the same appearance that I had before the fire, when I look in the mirror today, I see a man with more direction and confidence - someone who has dealt with the tragedies of death, and in doing so has learned to appreciate the value of life. I see a man who, with the help of others, has faced and overcome what he once deemed to be insurmountable obstacles, and in doing so has developed a desire to help others. Despite the man in the mirror having considerable scars and missing half an ear, I’m well on my way to proving that surgeon wrong.

potted plant
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Re: Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

Postby potted plant » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:15 am

Overall, I think this is a good topic and I think that all the pieces are well written. Mostly, you need to work on your transitions and keeping the essay flowing together as it's a bit choppy right now.

1. Before you talk about looking up ACLU cases in the hospital, I'd give the back story about your interest in civil liberties. So I'd switch the order around to be like this: i. With my second chance I wanted to help people, ii. I've always been interested in civil liberties/backstory about your interests here, iii. With all my time in the hospital I found myself looking up ACLU cases/really thinking about pursuing a career in law.

2. To fit in the bit about your thesis I'd say something to the effect of: I had considered a career in law before. When working on my senior thesis I did . . . and decided that law was the only solution . . .

3. Talking about witnessing the failings of the legal system seems a little off point, since you never bring it around to anything positive or relevant to you and you're being very general. It doesn't relate to the rest of your narrative. I think it would fit in nicely if you just add something about how this influenced your decision to pursue law in some way. And if it didn't influence you in any way, I would get rid of it.

4. Your paragraph talking about your career plans seems a little too uncertain. It's certainly true that many people going to law school don't have a specific legal career in mind, but I don't think you want to say it so clearly as you are here. Also, it weakens all of the very specific interests that you list earlier. Don't be dishonest, just don't be quite this broad. And, I'd recommend against saying you're not sure you want to actually practice law.

Overall I like it. You're writing style is clear and pretty natural, which is good. Also, I disagree with your friend. I think it should be "defines" in your first paragraph, but if they have some sort of actual grammar explanation to back up why it should be define feel free to ignore me on that one.

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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:14 am

Re: Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

Postby Jack86 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:58 am

Thank you so much for your response, you're definitely right about the order, I was really struggling with that and as you pointed out it was taking away from the flow and made it sound disjointed. Im excited to incorporate your edits into the paper in the AM as it's getting late here now. Thank you again, and I truly appreciate the help!

PS:(I think it's defines too, she just went to a much better school than I so I took her word for it, but I'm definitely going to double check when I wake up) Goodnight!

Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:14 am

Re: Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

Postby Jack86 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:02 am

Actually too excited & grateful for the edits to go to sleep so I'm going to do it now!

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Re: Need Help on my Personal Statement! Please tear it apart!

Postby b123 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:34 am

I agree with the order-switching.

Great statement though!

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