Looking for advice on personal statement direction

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:44 pm

Hi all,
I wonder if some of you can give me advice on my personal statement. I'm trying to decide between two completely different directions, and I'm stuck in a rut of writing one, deleting it, and then trying the other one, and so on.
I've read the whole book on personal statements, and it gives great advice. Two of the things that really stuck out to me were the ideas that a PS needs to a) show law schools why you'd be a good admit, and b) really show them who you are.

So, some background: I'm a Super Splitter (sub 3.0 gpa, 170+ lsat) trying to squeeze my way into a top 14.

Here is what I'm deciding between:

Should I go in a direction that's as focused as possible, but might be a little more general? One idea for a PS was to pull some of my ostensibly disparate background into a cohesive narrative on why I want to go to law school and how it fits into my future. For example, I have an architecture degree, some related work experience, some construction work experience, and some clearly unnecessary business/real estate/landscaping courses on my resume. I bet I could pull it all into a reasonably believable PS on how I want to do real estate law. Some pros of this are that it makes my somewhat scattered background seem more cohesive, it explains why law school is the right move for me right now, it plays up my background, etc. I can use my work experience to show responsibility, to show interest in a field, etc. At this point, I truly do want to do real estate law, the only reason I'm suggesting that this approach is a little disingenuous is that, at the time I did an architecture degree, did all that work experience, etc, I wasn't thinking at all about law school. It just so happens that some of my experiences fit, and they definitely contributed at least a little, but it's not like I was in love with real estate law ten years ago when I was in college.
The only con is that it's such a generic topic, it doesn't really get to the heart of who I am.

On the other hand, I could really get down and let the adcoms know who I am. For example, I LOVE music, i spend a lot of my time playing any instrument I can get my hands on.... but not in a way that is really helpful for law schools. I'm not excellent at any instrument, I don't play professionally, I don't take lessons. I can't really point to this as "look at my dedication and focus" since I don't have any tangible proof of that. Sure, I have dedication and focus, but those aren't necessary for playing instruments. I can't point to any recordings I've done or concerts I've played or anything, so I'd basically be "telling" them how much focus/dedication I have and not "showing" them. I mostly just practice alone in my house, so why would any adcom believe me when I talk about how this applies to law school? But I think that this shows a lot more about who I am: even if I were to excel in real estate law, most people who know me would probably think of my love of music before my love of real estate law when asked to describe me.

Of course, these are both just examples and have been tweaked quite a bit. The question I'm going for here is, what is more important as a splitter? Convincing adcoms that law schools fits into your life perfectly and that you'll be a good student, or letting adcoms see who you are and convincing them you'd be a good admit in how you would add to the quality of student life, and making them feel like they know you? I've seen both used well (like in the book, some people talk about how they've managed huge teams or brokered million dollar deals, which show desirable traits like leadership, and some talk about being a stay-at-home dad or coming out, neither of which really apply to success in law school but give the reader a glimpse into one's personality), but I don't know what's best as a splitter.

Should I try to convince them that, despite how I look on paper, I can succeed in law school because I have work experience and have a solid reason for going and my whole background has been working towards getting me to law school? Or do I just say, screw it, my academic past isn't impressing anyone, let's see how personal we can get on this personal statement and really write about something i'm passionate about or that has influenced my life, even if it doesn't directly relate to law school?

Any and all advice would be really helpful and appreciated.
Thank you!

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mandyjay11
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Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby mandyjay11 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:50 pm

tl;dr. But just write out your options and post them. You will get a better response that way.

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John Winger
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Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby John Winger » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:52 pm

Interested to see the TLS consensus here. I am in a similar boat as you but my W/E is in law practice.

I think if your trying to crack the T-14 a school like NU is worthy with your work experience so I would try to encorporate that into your statement. 0L here though so I'm sure there are some better opinions than mine. Best of luck.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:20 pm

hmmm... yeah, that's a LOT longer than it felt while I was writing it :)


Options:

1. "This is how law school fits into my career plan"--i.e. "my background is in real estate, I want to do RE law"
Pros: Shows WHY one is serious about law school
Cons: Doesn't show what makes an applicant unique, could theoretically figure all this out from resume


2. "This is what make me a unique person/applicant"--i.e. "I love music and play 10,000 instruments at an amateur level"
Pros: Shows who you really are and shows how you can add to the diversity of the class
Cons: Doesn't "show" WHY you will succeed in law school


Which is best for a splitter? To play up your background? Or minimize your background?

Thank you!

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:24 pm

Option 1 is miles better, and the fact that you amateurishly tinker with instruments will not "add to the diversity" of the law school class, nor do the adcoms care.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:31 pm

I see.

So, then, why do people continue to write statements on cooking, being a stay at home dad, hiking, etc? Mike Spivey just posted a PS about rock climbing that people seemed to like, many of these are just people doing what they love, with no real relevance to law school, and making it clear that they are amateurs at their chosen activity.

I understand why it might be correct to say that "option X is miles better" given one's (my) circumstance, but i'm a bit thrown by the claim that adcoms don't care about people playing instruments or doing something related at an amateur level.
Isn't it the case that for some applicants in other positions than myself, it would really depend on how the statement was written? If not, why do these statements continue to be successful?

Not trying to attack, just wondering about a statement that seems to go against what I've observed.

Thanks!

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Magical Trevor
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Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby Magical Trevor » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:44 pm

With regard to the rock climbing PS, it's about more than a mere amateur level interest. Writing about hobbies only works when it's tied to something with impact. Try cracking out a quick rough draft.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:04 pm

^ yea, that's what I was thinking, too. It's strange to dismiss an entire topic offhand as it really depends on how it's written... if it can be about more than just the 'hobby', it can be a good ps, in my mind.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Looking for advice on personal statement direction

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:14 pm

sure but from the way you're describing it you haven't "accomplished" something on the instruments - you don't play in a band or perform, you didn't study, you don't practice formally, you just enjoy messing around with it. Which is awesome, I just don't see what it's supposed to tell a law adcom about you as a candidate for a professional degree in law and a potential future lawyer. I mean, you could try writing it -- maybe something will come out of it. Maybe once you get your thoughts down there will be something there. But watch out for special snowflake syndrome -- law schools aren't going to admit you just because you're you.




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