My original personal statement

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Meowaka

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My original personal statement

Postby Meowaka » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:16 pm

Please let me know what you think of this essay:

I have always loved big ideas, finding meaning in every aspect of my life, and making sense of the world around me. From a young age, my mother instilled in me a sense of fair judgment and discerning, but also encouraged me to engage with every idea. After my parent’s divorce, we moved to a small town where I met some people with narrower perspectives. My intuition led me to seek knowledge instead of just accepting the status quo. My passion for philosophy began the moment my teacher gave our class a brief summary of Utopia by Sir Thomas More. Although this book was not curriculum, I felt compelled to read and understand the entire work. Utopia ignited my passion for knowledge. I immediately began looking into ways other thinkers had tried to argue for utopian societies, which quickly led me to the works of Marx and Plato. Reading and thinking about those philosophers’ ideas made me thirst for more knowledge and a way to test those ideas.

I left my small hometown in Texas to pursue the study of wisdom, philosophy, at the University of Arizona. In my second year I took a course titled, "The Philosophy of Freedom," which completely revolutionized the way I thought about notions of freedom and free will. This was my first encounter with ideas of the social contract, opposing ideas of freedom, and application of philosophy as a response to oppression. This was also the first time where the professor used the Socratic method to teach my class. I was deeply affected by theories of the social contract and found myself challenged to find and develop logically sound arguments for accepting one idea of freedom over another. A world of ideas I never knew existed had been opened up to me. I was hooked, and I thirsted for more courses that would not only challenge my ways of reasoning, but would cause me to deeply examine my worldview.

This quest to challenge my thoughts and perspectives led me to continue my philosophy education at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, which had a reputation for excellence in the field of analytic philosophy. I soon found myself learning new ways to apply philosophy to my everyday life. The focus on physical, linguistic, ethical, and scientific problems, rather than grand ideas and theories, both challenged and excited me. Upon graduation, I was offered a position in a post-graduate degree program at Victoria in philosophy. I regularly engaged with Masters and PhD students, who taught me new and different ways of examining my own thoughts. Much of my extracurricular time was spent with friends from the weekly post-graduate seminars, staying up until morning discussing the ethics of a particular matter, our respective theses, or arguing about the logical consequences of accepting one theory over another. Our discussions on political and social issues challenged all my assumptions and cultural perspectives. I did not realize it at the time, but we were applying Socratic method amongst ourselves.

In the middle of my Honors Degree, I attended the Australasian Philosophy Conference. Here I was first introduced to the connection between analytic philosophy and practicing law. I attended several talks that focused on the freedoms we value in our democracy through practicing law. Having loved concepts of freedom from my time at Arizona, I felt reconnected to the philosophical ideas I first fell in love with, but this time I was seeing them through the eyes of a pragmatist. I felt that I had finally found my calling. I knew that I could make an impact and practically apply my skills through law. Although I loved New Zealand, I knew that if I wanted to attend law school with the intent to practice, I would need to return to the United States to do so. I planned to find work at a law firm to learn more about the profession so I could make an informed decision about applying to law school. I was excited to accept a position in Denver, Colorado, and have been fortunate to see how analytic reasoning is used in practice. My work with the law firm has shown me that although the practice of law can be hard work, I am more excited than ever to follow my passion.

In May 2013, my personal ambitions were put on hold for my family. My father suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke, leaving him unconscious for months. During this time, I was the family member designated to handle his affairs because of my discerning nature. Unfortunately, my dad had not made a living will, and I faced substantial difficulties in handling his affairs. I felt so helpless. This period also helped strengthen my resolve to use the skills I have developed to help others through complicated legal situations and to face those challenges with pragmatism.

It is because I have embraced challenges in my life with a thirst for knowledge, rational discernment, and determination that I know law is right for me. Each experience and decision I have made has culminated in my decision to apply to your school. I know that I have the skills and tenacity to thrive at your institution, and in my eventual legal career.

Meowaka

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby Meowaka » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:39 pm

That bad, huh? :) It's probably pretty average. But if I'm going to try to apply again next cycle, I'll need to punch this bad boy up a bit. Is there something that I should emphasize more than other things? I was told that focusing on analytic philosophy would be good because it means I have "skills" they don't have to teach me. The bit about my dad would be longer (as it was a really shitty time in our lives, and I hired an attorney to help me with these issues, who said that I think the right way in terms of law and what needs to be done...) but I need to keep the page limit.

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MtnGinger

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby MtnGinger » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:45 pm

From this I can tell that you have had some amazing experiences and are very driven. Despite this your essay doesn't truly delve into those aspect. Yes I know you have your own passion and through this you have decided law is the way to go, but remember so has almost very other applicant. Just emphasizing the activities that make you sound good (international study and holding a law job) doesn't stand out. I would suggest keeping the passion but truly showing it by emphasizing a very specific event or thing that has truly shaped not just your decision for law school but also your life.

03152016

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby 03152016 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:12 am

You write that you want to make an impact through practicing law. In what way? What areas of law are interesting to you? What causes?

What other takeaways do you have from your law firm job? You write that you've seen analytic reasoning used in practice -- how? You write that your current work excites you -- in what way?

The statement would be more effective if you were more specific. Show, don't tell. Although philosophy and law intersect, remember to keep focus on the latter. I don't come away from your PS feeling like I understand your motives in attending law school; it seems more fitting for a philosophy program.

Interesting stuff, you're a thoughtful writer. Keep working at it! :D

Meowaka

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby Meowaka » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:31 am

MtnGinger wrote:From this I can tell that you have had some amazing experiences and are very driven. Despite this your essay doesn't truly delve into those aspect. Yes I know you have your own passion and through this you have decided law is the way to go, but remember so has almost very other applicant. Just emphasizing the activities that make you sound good (international study and holding a law job) doesn't stand out. I would suggest keeping the passion but truly showing it by emphasizing a very specific event or thing that has truly shaped not just your decision for law school but also your life.

The problem is that there are several reasons "why" are mainly to do with things that I didn't think sounded particularly great. Basically, I love the social contract. Having a law degree means that I would be an active participant in that contract if I work hard enough and find the right avenue. But, I didn't want to tell them what my goals were because I have a lot of ideas, and I didn't want to make up my mind about what I wanted to be in terms of a future in law until I got there and was able to see how it all works for myself.

I was encouraged to do law by several people, my husband's cousins, who worked for biglaw, said that with my background I'd make an excellent lawyer. My friends told me that they could really see me thriving in some form of law because of the way I am able to argue. Lawyers I've talked to to ask for advice about the field have said that it seems like a good choice for me. I'll be honest, I'm in it for the money, but who isn't? I'm in it because I am sick of being in a place where I feel my brain cells dying, and even moving up in the admin world would not satisfy me as much as actually looking at dry texts with puzzles to solve and laws to research and figuring out the best way to move forward with a problem. The idea of practicing law just thrills the crap out of me.

I also wanted schools with a focus on international law, with either a great dual degree program (and almost completely been talked out of that one....) or a great LLM program, so that I could have the chance to participate in international business transactions, and/or something else. I'm not aware of all the avenues possible for what I want - I'd like to be able to practice law in the U.S., but I also would like to have the chance to participate in law elsewhere if I am able. I just want to experience the world in a job that I know I would love doing. No, international relations and more social sciences isn't for me. I've been thre and done that for now. Now I want a career.

Does that help clear anything up? Would any of that be even close to relevant for a personal statement?

Meowaka

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby Meowaka » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:33 am

Max324 wrote:You write that you want to make an impact through practicing law. In what way? What areas of law are interesting to you? What causes?
Areas that interest me: international business law (M&A sounds just fantastic... it's a rare opportunity, granted, but it's so interesting to me), international law (for studying, I am unsure what career options would be available to me then, but I do know a lot of schools offer UN related programs, that sounds amazing!), constitutional law, wills and trusts (Odd, but it seemed like a nice idea if I find that I want nothing more than to work in a small firm and help people in that direction. I think I'd be good at it. After all the things that happened with my dad last year, I know a bit about what happens there.), IP (because it sounds interesting and there'd be a lot of research involved.). Causes? I'm interested in consolidating different ways of seeing the world through law and making sense of it. I'd like to be someone who works in solving legal discrepencies on a more global stage than just in the U.S. (Consumer finance does nothing for me.) So, shit, I'm not sure which avenue would be best for me, and I have interest in many different types of laws. Career and causes? That becomes a little more ambiguous.

What other takeaways do you have from your law firm job? You write that you've seen analytic reasoning used in practice -- how? You write that your current work excites you -- in what way?
I've overheard depositions and seen almost every document that comes through this place. The facts of one wording of one case can dictate the entire way that the judge determines the outcome of a particular matter. Or even out of court settlements. It's a careful and practiced science of analytic reasoning and understanding the "rules" of the facts in question. It's also a ton of paperwork that can be tedious, but in terms of settlements and trials, it seems that most want to come to a reasoned agreement based in law, rather than a slinging shitfest of hyperbole and emotion (the law you see on TV).

The statement would be more effective if you were more specific. Show, don't tell. Although philosophy and law intersect, remember to keep focus on the latter. I don't come away from your PS feeling like I understand your motives in attending law school; it seems more fitting for a philosophy program.

Interesting stuff, you're a thoughtful writer. Keep working at it! :D

The way I see it, is the way I've written it. I believe law is an applied and real-world way to "do" philosophy. I'd be doing what I love, based on what I already know how to do. But with law behind me, I may actually have the ability to do something meaningful with the analytic skills I have.

NYC-WVU

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby NYC-WVU » Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:00 pm

The first half is much stronger than the second half, which is problematic, because the second half is about law school and the first half is about philosophy. I particularly think the part about your father doesn't fit very well with the rest. (The point doesn't come through that clearly, either, i.e., that your experience made you appreciate the impact of law even more???) You could switch to make the part about your father the focus, but I'm not sure it actually is your focus. I actually like your statement that you see law as a practical application of philosophy, and that is why you love it.

The biggest part I am struggling with, actually, is that many of your comments are nearly as good as your essay, which indicates that your essay could be so much better.

Lastly, the part about New Zealand sounds a little like: you were a decent student and thought going to school in NZ would be sweet, so you figure'd you'd kick it in the southern hemisphere for a while and continue studying philosphy. If that's pretty accurate, I think that's fine. But if you were a serious philosophy scholar and you went to NZ because the program you went to is at the forefront of philosophy acedemia, I think you need to be a little more braggy.

Meowaka

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Re: My original personal statement

Postby Meowaka » Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:15 pm

NYC-WVU wrote:The first half is much stronger than the second half, which is problematic, because the second half is about law school and the first half is about philosophy. I particularly think the part about your father doesn't fit very well with the rest. (The point doesn't come through that clearly, either, i.e., that your experience made you appreciate the impact of law even more???) You could switch to make the part about your father the focus, but I'm not sure it actually is your focus. I actually like your statement that you see law as a practical application of philosophy, and that is why you love it.

That's a problem I found too. I wanted to mention my dad because it meant that I dealt with a lot of legal matters before, that I had dealt with ethical dilemmas: at several points early on, we were confronted with the fact that he may have to remain bed-ridden forever, strokes are unpredictable. I also felt that it was relevant because I really was the only person capable of dealing with it, and so I did, while working, while studying for my LSAT, while applying for law school for months at a time. It didn't really get better until January, and even though the legal part was over by then, I wasn't "over it." I was conflicted about putting it in because it really has affected my life and been a struggle in ethics, as well as legal matters concerning his stroke, but at the same time, I wasn't exactly doing the lawyering. If I had had another page to work with, I think I could have made that point better. I think it was just another big push for me in the "do law" direction because 1) I may have actually had some resources to help me with that whole problem, 2) I realized that I shouldn't hold back because life is too short, 3) I talked extensively with the attorney I hired during this process, and at every turn, he said that I am thinking like a lawyer in terms of how to deal with the situation. (boost)

The biggest part I am struggling with, actually, is that many of your comments are nearly as good as your essay, which indicates that your essay could be so much better.

Lastly, the part about New Zealand sounds a little like: you were a decent student and thought going to school in NZ would be sweet, so you figure'd you'd kick it in the southern hemisphere for a while and continue studying philosphy. If that's pretty accurate, I think that's fine. But if you were a serious philosophy scholar and you went to NZ because the program you went to is at the forefront of philosophy acedemia, I think you need to be a little more braggy.
That's the sad part about New Zealand... I went there because it really had fantastic and unique programs. I went there, in all seriousness, because the program rocked and I thought I'd have a better chance at one-on one time with professors rather than dragging myself through the highly competitive U.S. academic field. I really did want to expand my worldview, as well. BUT, being in NZ, people are timid about being proud of themselves. (Tall poppy syndrome.) After four years there, you acclimate. The arrogant Texan just didn't fit in, so I changed… and so, while I still have confidence in my abilities, the tendency to really sell myself is lower than it was. So, no, it's not the best thing I could have written, but I didn't want to be overly arrogant either, because I haven't been a perfect student.

Then, of course, there was also that first abusive relationship which took me a long time to get over, and that happened in New Zealand. That's not relevant for what I want from law, so I decided not to throw a pity party and accept that my post graduate work wasn't as fantastic as it could have been.



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