2nd draft, looking for criticism

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2nd draft, looking for criticism

Postby Tariffs » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:46 pm

Thanks in advance!
Three months ago I was working at a cramped desk in the library of a law firm ten miles from my hometown in northern New Jersey. The room was no larger than 1,000 square feet and enclosed on all sides by volume upon volume of law reports, save two glass doors on opposite ends of the room for entry and exit. Most days, my only company in that overly air conditioned, confined space was an over-worked and over-stressed rising 2L at Rutgers. Periodic visits from my boss’ secretary dropping off financial statements, e-mail exchanges, and interrogatories for me to take notes on would break the silence, along with phone calls every few hours from my boss asking me about my progress on briefing several cases or to meet with him in his office.

I hadn’t expected this sort of isolation when I had first realized my interest in family law, nor had I been prepared for how petty the litigants, disputes, and issues could be; it became immediately apparent why another attorney at the firm had asked me on my first day if I enjoyed other peoples’ misery and despair. My optimism towards the field had quickly waned within the first two weeks. Listening to my boss counsel nosy, middle-age women through their ex-husband’s online dating habits and reading e-mail exchanges between former spouses more ferocious than the Civil War lose what little glamour they have to begin with when they become an everyday occurrence.

It wasn’t as though I was completely unaware of the bitterness and hatred a matrimonial law attorney dealt with; I received more than enough warning while researching and subsequently interviewing for the position. Rather, it seemed that the cases which sparked my interest a year earlier were complete outliers and that all my enthusiasm had been premature: there were no distraught fathers seeking more time to bond with the children they lost in a custody dispute, nor were there women desperately trying to escape the grip of an abusive husband for the sake of the safety of themselves and their kids. Listening to the stories of people living through and fighting these battles a year earlier while working my shift on the White House’s phone line is what originally compelled my interest in family law, but the reality of the field had seemingly crushed it.

Halfway through my summer at the firm, the silence of the library was shattered when my office phone erupted into its’ dull, repeated jingle. My boss was on the other end, and asked me to meet him in his office to discuss an upcoming custody hearing he would be attending for a case which had begun a few years before I set foot in the firm’s doors. Following my boss’ client’s divorce from his wife, she initially received physical custody of their two children while they both shared legal custody. However, after an incident in which the son had threatened to commit suicide if he continued to live with his mom, the police were called and the Division of Youth and Family Services stepped in to determine what the best living situation would be for the sake of the kids. During these proceedings, the mom was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, so the ruling on the parent’s custody was changed such that my boss’ client would retain sole physical and legal custody of the kids until his ex-wife could demonstrate that she was psychologically stable. Ever since, she has taken her former husband to court at every opportunity in an attempt to regain custody of her kids despite her emotional instability.

Utilizing my research and written skills, attention to detail, and ability to study, identify, and apply prior case law, I was able to effectively assist my boss in his preparation of a defense for his client’s retention of sole physical and legal custody of his two children, which he subsequently won. However, the experience made me realize my true interest in family law lies where it intersects public interest work: the satisfaction I gained from working on the case stemmed from my having a direct impact on my boss’ client’s son and his desire to live in a stable environment. Helping kids through turbulent legal proceedings in order to help them find such a stable environment is what drives my desire to attend X Law School and to eventually do legal work for foster care and adoption agencies, and I know that my talents and prior experiences studying, applying, and working on legal cases will allow me to succeed in law school and in my future career in this field.

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Re: 2nd draft, looking for criticism

Postby axel.foley » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:36 pm

Disclaimer: I'm a 0L

I thought this was a great PS. Very well-written and a compelling story. I really like that you talk about how your own conceptions of family law were challenged and you realized it's very different from the stereotype -- and this didn't dissuade you from it.

The only thing I would change would be to end your narrative earlier and add 1/2 paragraphs really expounding on what you wrote at the end. I'm referring to the part that starts "However, the experience made..." This, in my opinion, should be the true heart of your essay, and what I should walk away with. Add detail to it. Show not tell why helping kids drives this desire in you. The lead in narrative is great, just write more about how your summer experiences impacted you. Once you do that, I think you will have a very strong PS.

edit: The 1,000 square feet thing is a little odd -- perhaps say something like no smaller than a bedroom? Not sure. Just hard to quickly conceptualize what 1,000 sq ft is so it would be more effective if you compare it to something instantly familiar to a reader.

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