UofChicago: essays that worked. why law not that important?

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UofChicago: essays that worked. why law not that important?

Postby nugnoy » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:41 am

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/alumni/maga ... irownwords

These are essays Chicago highlights as extraordinary, and I've noticed an interesting theme: "why law school" isn't addressed adequately/specifically for most of them.


Wang: says nothing about law school

Mahoney: Just says why a specific school ("UoC because it has the best combination...") and what I've written is relevant to law school (I will enter law school a much stronger person and student because of my experiences)

Riffe: what I've written is relevant: (...will continue to be as I enter the life of the law) and why law school (What intrigues me most about legal education is the opportunity to engage simultaneously in the two complementary processes the Harper inscription inspires in me—building a foundation of theories and descriptive models while enhancing my judgment with practice and patience)

Nolan: Why law school (My decision to pursue a career that fulfills my long-standing interest in law is the answer to that question.)

Rose: I'm ready for law school (I am now ready to take on this new challenge: the study and practice of law)

Osama Hamdy: whole essay is about injustice/equality etc. I mean the man got BA in legal studies.


Osama is definitely an exception - I mean the man got BA in legal studies. His essay relies on his circumstances (his ethnicity, being named Osama, and his earlier commitment to legal studies). I'd say people who need to be on this forum probably don't have these sets of circumstances, and hence Osama's essay's not relevant for most of us/this thread. I'm basically saying, if you're on tls forums looking for advice on personal statement, you probably didn't choose, independently and with good reason, to go to law school at an early age.

Nolan relates his essay to law school, but does so so subtly.

"My decision to pursue a career that fulfills my long-standing interest in law is the answer to that question." What does "that question" refer to? "it has been a question about whether or not I will try [to succeed]; a question about whether or not I can face my self-doubt and confront situations my instincts tell me to avoid."

So in one interpretation, Nolan implies:
1. Here's a question: Will I try to succeed in life?
2. This question is equal to: will I face challenges?
3. I answer, "I decide to go to law school."
4. This decision answers those two questions. Since this is an application essay, I imply the positive/good answer.
5. So, my answer implies that I will try to succeed and that I will face challenges.

6. necessarily implying that going to law school is relevant to Nolan's trying to succeed in life and his facing challenges.

In a more clear manner, Nolan says: I have decided to face my self-doubts and situations I want to avoid, and this decision leads me to attend law school.

I'm interested in what this statement doesn't say. It doesn't say anything about why law school is specifically important. Same holds for Wang, Mahoney, Riffe, and Rose. None of these essays specifically address "why law school?" Yes, they may have a sentence or so relating the essay to law school, but that's not specific at all. All these essays (minus Osama, which I ignore for this discussion based on stated grounds) could've been written for med school application, for example, by changing "legal" to "medical" at end.


My conclusion is that in these essays highlighted by UoChicago as "essays that worked," the reason for specifically applying to a law school is not relevant to why they "worked."


And if I were to extrapolate this conclusion to law school personal statements in general, I would make the bold and controversial claim that: even for top schools, the applicant's reason for why applying to a law school isn't necessary or even crucially relevant for the applicant's essay to be good ("work"). I don't make this claim. There are many reasons this extrapolation could be wrong:

1. The process of selecting what essays were good in hindsight is different from the process of selecting what essays are good during selection.
2. Even if 1 is false and these represent good application essays, this sample may not represent good essays in general.

But still, if it were true that "why law school" is a necessary question to answer for a good personal statement, these good essays should have addressed this question to some extent. After all, even though these essays may not represent all good essays, they do all have one trait in common: they're essays of accepted people.

So I ask, is the question "why law school" not as relevant for the general personal statement essay as some stress/an application to a law school theoretically/technically should be (theoretically/technically, an application to a law school should be exactly be about why law and why that school, similar to Osama's)?

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