First Draft - Advice and Critique Needed and Appreciated

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
griff2011
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:51 pm

First Draft - Advice and Critique Needed and Appreciated

Postby griff2011 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:55 pm

My father has taught me a multitude of valuable lessons during my life, but one will always stand out among the rest. I still vividly remember the day he “taught” me how to swim by throwing me into the deep end of a friend’s pool. It’s not that I had never been in a pool before, but I had always confined myself to the shallow end where I took comfort in knowing the bottom was only a few feet below. After I managed to make it to the edge and crawl out, I asked him why he would such a thing. I’m sure it wasn’t truly as cliché as I’ve come to remember it, but now, in my mind, his response sounds something like: “Son, sometimes in life, you’re put into situations where you either sink or swim.” I didn’t really understand what he meant by it at the time and, for a long time, I went without being put in another such situation. For much of my life I’ve gotten by relatively unchallenged. That is not to say that I was lazy or that I don’t challenge myself. Rather, it simply means that I know how to work hard, push myself, and properly prepare for any challenge I may face. I study for all my tests for hours, write and rewrite my essays weeks before they were due, practice and lift weights during the offseason for rugby.
However, almost a year ago today, I found myself again feeling like a little boy about to splash into deep water. I had been working as a case analyst for the Department of Justice’s International Prisoner Transfer Unit for roughly three months when my boss, the deputy chief of the unit, told me that the Turkish Foreign Minister of Justice would be arriving that week for a meeting to discuss some sensitive cases, one of which was assigned to me. I had been to similar meetings before and while there were occasionally cases assigned to me that would be discussed, the conversations were always solely between an attorney reviewer and the justice minister. The day of the meeting arrived and as always, I reviewed the case to refresh my memory, before heading up to the conference room. The meeting was, at first, like any other, polite discussion through the Turkish delegate’s interpreter about an applicant’s eligibility, neither side expressing much of an opinion either way. The next case file in the stack was being introduced when I noticed a sudden peak in the Turkish delegate’s interest. I quickly realized that this case was clearly the underlying reason for his visit, as it was later revealed that the applicant’s family was politically connected in Turkey. After the basics of the case were reviewed, the Turkish interpreter stated that the Justice Minister wanted a more detailed explanation of why the prisoner’s transfer application was denied. My boss reviews the cases before all meeting, but nobody knows the intricate details of each case better than the case analyst, which in this case, happened to me. My boss turned and asked me to elaborate on how I arrived at the denial. Splash. It was time for me to sink or swim.
It’s certainly not that I was unprepared, but that I was a twenty-year-old amongst a room of attorneys and foreign diplomats tasked with explaining why I had decided that a man could not spend the next twenty years of his life in his home country. However, during my first two weeks at the Department of Justice, I learned every word of the international treaties that govern prisoner transfer. While reviewing that case, I remembered that our bilateral treaty with Turkey was unique in that it allows the receiving country to covert the prisoner’s U.S. sentence into their own after transfer. The sentence disparity between U.S. and Turkish law in this particular prisoner’s case was reason enough to deny his transfer application, and I was justified in that decision. I calmly and confidently explained the justification for my decision to the Turkish Justice Minister and while he certainly was not pleased, he couldn’t argue with my reasoning. Law school has always been a dream of mine, yet for the longest time, that’s what it remained: a dream. I’ve always known I was capable, but after that meeting I realized I was ready. I had learned to swim and was ready to take a dive into the deep end.

HRomanus
Posts: 1307
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:45 pm

Re: First Draft - Advice and Critique Needed and Appreciated

Postby HRomanus » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:35 pm

My father has taught me a multitude of valuable lessons during my life, but one will always stand out among the rest. I still vividly remember the day he “taught” me how to swim by throwing me into the deep end of a friend’s pool. It’s not that I had never been in a pool before, but I had always confined myself to the shallow end where I took comfort in knowing the bottom was only a few feet below. After I managed to make it to the edge and crawl out, I asked him why he would such a thing. I’m sure it wasn’t truly as cliché as I’ve come to remember it, but now, in my mind, his response sounds something like: “Son, sometimes in life, you’re put into situations where you either sink or swim.” I didn’t really understand what he meant by it at the time and, for a long time, I went without being put in another such situation. For much of my life I’ve gotten by relatively unchallenged. That is not to say that I was lazy or that I don’t challenge myself. Rather, it simply means that I know how to work hard, push myself, and properly prepare for any challenge I may face. I study for all my tests for hours, write and rewrite my essays weeks before they were due, practice and lift weights during the offseason for rugby.


None of this is relevant, interesting, or flattering. Cut it.

However, during my first two weeks at the Department of Justice, I learned every word of the international treaties that govern prisoner transfer.


Are you Mike Ross?

I remembered that our bilateral treaty with Turkey was unique in that it allows the receiving country to covert the prisoner’s U.S. sentence into their own after transfer. The sentence disparity between U.S. and Turkish law in this particular prisoner’s case was reason enough to deny his transfer application, and I was justified in that decision.


If you're trying to impress the adcomms with legaleses, they don't care.

Law school has always been a dream of mine, yet for the longest time, that’s what it remained: a dream. I’ve always known I was capable, but after that meeting I realized I was ready. I had learned to swim and was ready to take a dive into the deep end.


Why is it your dream? Was it your dream at three years old?

Why does this show you are ready? There are thousands of people doing similar jobs to yours, but they aren't going to law school. If this is your thesis, it is very weak. Your story is interesting, but you are too blunt with it and your language makes it sound exaggerated. E.g. " I found myself again feeling like a little boy about to splash into deep water." and " I was a twenty-year-old amongst a room of attorneys and foreign diplomats tasked with explaining why I had decided that a man could not spend the next twenty years of his life in his home country."

The narrative has potential, but be more subtle in your telling of it.

mach9zero
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:02 pm

Re: First Draft - Advice and Critique Needed and Appreciated

Postby mach9zero » Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:37 am

I can start positive with this one, I like your experience. Not the being thrown in the pool one, that's a terrible metaphor and needs to be taken out entirely. But your experience working with the DOJ. Your experiences there are unique to yourself, so you should share those. But do not gloat about yourself, saying you "learned every word." You didn't, you don't, and with only being there three months, you should still be learning. But what you should do, is take from those experiences working at the DOJ and expand on them.




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