1st draft PS, please critique

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Anonymous User
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1st draft PS, please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:10 pm

Hi TLS, this is a first draft, as you'll note I plan on adding specific features of xx law schools that I am applying to at the bottom. Feel free to be very harsh:


After just one month of training to be—and working as—a paralegal for workers’ compensation defense attorneys, I found myself sitting across from the managing partner First Name Gaston, a scowl on his face. “Just be honest Name, are you bored? We both know you’re too smart for this job, but nonetheless, I need to know if you’re bored.” I took a moment to carefully consider Gaston’s question, and decide how to best characterize what was clearly a manifestation of some subconscious feelings I was having about my position.

By this point, I was no stranger to employment. I had a seamless string of different jobs, starting from when I was 13 years old, until this very moment. As I thought back on one adolescent job to the next, I can’t say that a single one utilized the full extent of my social or intellectual faculties; yet, not once was I confronted about, or had I ever considered that I was bored. I began to realize that I didn’t mean boredom in the common sense, of a slow morning at the chiropractors’ office, or a night devoid of college debauchery while patrolling campus with the UCPD. Rather, I had never felt a preoccupying lack of fulfillment with any of these previous positions of employment.

The distinction became clear; I always had a strong sense that each one of my past jobs was temporary. That they were a means to the ultimate ends of paying the cost of living during school, and to build the personal grit necessary to manage my time among competing priorities. However, I was now faced with a full-time position in my field of interest, working with a community of people who considered this the peak of their careers. The thought was sobering. I had instinctively been assessing the extent to which my capabilities were being exercised or challenged: Was my intellectual curiosity being fed by editing word documents; were the analytic skills that I honed in philosophical discourse during school being maintained by coordinating attorneys’ calendars; and was my deep seated need to see a tangible, positive effect from my work being satisfied by cataloging extensive trial exhibits?

The honest answer was no. I did not have an uplifting epiphany that one might write as “oh look, I have rationalized how these rote tasks were actually teaching me valuable lessons and established the building blocks upon which my talents truly exist.” The answer, to all my questions, was no.

Then why was it that as I looked across at Gaston’s imposing figure, I was able to genuinely emphasize that I was, in fact, not bored? It’s because I was not yet excellent. I made mistakes, my stack of outgoing mail was still half the size of the more seasoned paralegals, and my list of questions was incomprehensibly larger than my list of answers in this field. I let Gaston know that I could not possibly feel bored while in the face of this lack of mastery.

He looked at me, unconvinced, “but you can see it, can’t you; the end of the road, the point at which mastery won’t be enough?” Somehow his words managed to strike at the core of my previous reflections. Maybe not today, but it would not be long before I could no longer truthfully declare my continued interest as a paralegal—and this coming only one month into the position.

Two months later I again sat across the table from Gaston, under the disorienting lights of the deposition room, and again he began his questions. This time, however, it was an interview, an interview for the position of hearing representative. This new position offered a complete over-haul of job duties, including analytic management of an independent case-load, direct communication with clients, complete autonomy over the preparation of complex legal writing, and unsupervised court appearances and litigation experience.

For the last year, I have been fortunate enough to have worked as a hearing representative, gaining fulfilling experience in workers’ compensation law. Although I cannot in good-conscience declare even a modest level of mastery in this new position, I can see it again, the end of the road, the point at which mastery won’t be enough. I find myself aching to know why certain laws exist as they do, and not just how I can apply them to a given fact pattern. My ears perk every time I have the opportunity to discuss the socioeconomic ramifications of new legislation or a new binding decision from the court. However, this time the feeling is much less sobering. It may sound at first juvenile or simple, but my feelings have given me insight into some of my core-values. What I before interpreted as a sensation of impending and unavoidable boredom, I now see as a passion for growth. The aspects of my job that I at first believed to be limitations have shown me what I need in order to feel fulfilled in my future.

XXX Law School offers a unique niche for prospective students like me who are not satisfied with a one dimensional view of the law. "Specific nature of curriculum" offers the ____ needed to satisfy my desire to not only solve a problem, but to understand it. Rather than teaching us to exist within a system and abide by the rules, "specific nature of curriculum" provides the tools to analyze why the system exists as it does and to change the rules to better align with our deepest moral convictions. I look forward to doing more than excel in your program, I am eager to thrive in it.

Anonymous User
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Re: 1st draft PS, please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:22 pm

I have separately written a diversity statement, which has unintentionally turned into a PS of sorts. How does TLS think I should utilize these two products for the best cycle in T-14.



I think an interesting thing occurs when a person grows up alongside some form of adversity. It appears as though a choice is given: To accept your place in life, adapt to it, and perpetuate the feelings and ideation that you were raised with; or to strive for mobility, embrace change, and formulate a personal outlook on your surroundings borne of thinking critically about the presuppositions that constitute your belief system. What is most interesting, perhaps, is that this choice appears subconscious, because otherwise who would ever knowingly pursue the former path over the latter.

The above description is the best characterization I can manage of the way that I felt growing up. I had all the marks of a person starting a leg behind in the race of life: My father was brought over as a child from Mexico illegally, and later became a full citizen; my parents had declared bankruptcy when I was about 10 years old; my co-workers at my first job at a pizzeria had a communal jar of narcotics in the back-room to stay perpetually high at work; and I watched my best friend in middle school get physically abused by his older brother who ended up in juvenile detention, and now prison. These scenarios are in no way uncommon for the town I grew up in, and are certainly not exhaustive of the experiences from my childhood. Yet, there was the gravity that seemed to draw me toward the type of change and critical thinking that I previously mentioned was imperceptible to me. Although I had a small number of peers who appeared to have the same gravitation, we were the incredible outliers at my school.

I cannot confidently say what the statistics were, but anecdotally speaking, about only 30 out of our 500 seniors in high school appeared to gain acceptance to a 4-year university. Even then, the highest ranking school that our valedictorian gained acceptance to was UCLA.

But again, I have to emphasize that this all seemed to occur with very little conscious thought. This has led to a strange feeling during the sort of retrospection necessary for law school admissions essays. Because my path to university and eventually employment felt oddly pre-ordained, I lack a feeling of entitlement that seems so commonly ascribed to those with an underprivileged background. Perhaps another way to characterize it is that it often seems as though somebody in my position is supposed to feel that they deserve a leg up, or to follow the race-of-life analogy used earlier, that they ought to be allowed to end the race earlier than those who began earlier. But, I never feel cheated. So as I apply to law school, I consider what it is that makes my background valuable to any given law school, and not what it leads me to deserve.

Although I believe there to be an immense list of attributes that diversity can bring to an institution, there is one in particular that best appeals to my nature. Being exposed to the circumstances that I have, and coming of age around the individuals that I have, has given me a powerful sense of where I belong. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I need to be surrounded by individuals who share my desire for intellectual rigor, because I know what it is like to be surrounded by those who not only do not share it, but who look down on it. I know for certain that I belong in a community that challenges my held beliefs through critical thought, because I know the frustration of having my beliefs challenged through dogma alone. Most importantly, I know that social justice is something worth fighting for, because I understand that what appears to be a choice for some, is instead an imperceptible force of bad moral luck that only a few of us were fortunate enough to have escaped.

rstahl
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Re: 1st draft PS, please critique

Postby rstahl » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:48 pm

Last sentence needs some rewording, but I thought the draft was very well done, honestly. I tend to rip apart essays, but nothing really jumped out at me. If I did a more in depth read, perhaps I could dig deeper and be more of help, but I read at my computer all day and this is my lunch so........

If possible, try rewording the part about fulfillment in the particular paralegal tasks. I am about 10 feet from our paralegal presently, and he might feel a bit dejected reading how trivial his tasks come across to you. Just a thought.

Anonymous User
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Re: 1st draft PS, please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:07 pm

rstahl wrote:Last sentence needs some rewording, but I thought the draft was very well done, honestly. I tend to rip apart essays, but nothing really jumped out at me. If I did a more in depth read, perhaps I could dig deeper and be more of help, but I read at my computer all day and this is my lunch so........

If possible, try rewording the part about fulfillment in the particular paralegal tasks. I am about 10 feet from our paralegal presently, and he might feel a bit dejected reading how trivial his tasks come across to you. Just a thought.



I'll take a look at the language and see if I can reword it without losing the desired effect. It's just unfortunate though, because it was terribly clerical and rote, and I am not sure how else to communicate that it thoroughly bored me and showed me why I wanted more. I really don't mean to insult those who are in the profession. The line between honesty and arrogance is a thin one it seems.

Thank you for the reassurance. It is perhaps the only response better than constructive criticism haha (when prefaced with your typical tendencies).

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scoobysnax
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Re: 1st draft PS, please critique

Postby scoobysnax » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:51 pm

There are some sentences that come across as kind of arrogant, which can rub the reader the wrong way.

Example: "As I thought back on one adolescent job to the next, I can’t say that a single one utilized the full extent of my social or intellectual faculties"
While that may be true, most teenagers are working as waiters, receptionists, etc., and I doubt there are many people that have actually had an adolescent job that has utilized the full extent of their social/intellectual abilities.

Second essay: "Even then, the highest ranking school that our valedictorian gained acceptance to was UCLA."
I'm not really sure what this sentence/paragraphs is supposed to do. It seems like you're trying to say you didn't go to a good high school, but UCLA is regarded as an excellent school- saying it was the highest ranked school your valedictorian got into is not really proving that point.

Also, I wouldn't generalize so much in the first paragraph of the second essay. Just say it's your opinion. As someone who may or may not qualify for your definition of growing up alongside adversity, I don't agree with the choices you listed, and it put me off right off the bat.

Anonymous User
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Re: 1st draft PS, please critique

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:25 pm

scoobysnax wrote:There are some sentences that come across as kind of arrogant, which can rub the reader the wrong way.

Example: "As I thought back on one adolescent job to the next, I can’t say that a single one utilized the full extent of my social or intellectual faculties"
While that may be true, most teenagers are working as waiters, receptionists, etc., and I doubt there are many people that have actually had an adolescent job that has utilized the full extent of their social/intellectual abilities.

Second essay: "Even then, the highest ranking school that our valedictorian gained acceptance to was UCLA."
I'm not really sure what this sentence/paragraphs is supposed to do. It seems like you're trying to say you didn't go to a good high school, but UCLA is regarded as an excellent school- saying it was the highest ranked school your valedictorian got into is not really proving that point.

Also, I wouldn't generalize so much in the first paragraph of the second essay. Just say it's your opinion. As someone who may or may not qualify for your definition of growing up alongside adversity, I don't agree with the choices you listed, and it put me off right off the bat.


Thanks! The areas you identified make me cringe when isolated like that. Especially the bit about UCLA, I will make sure that receives a full rewording. You were right that my desired effect was to display the limited reach of even my school's best students. We had no attendees in the ivy league, Stanford, or even Berkeley. Not to say UCLA isn't excellent.

I appreciate the feedback and will absolutely frame the areas more effectively.




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