Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
hill1334
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:31 pm

Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby hill1334 » Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:25 pm

I am waiting for some feedback from two additional people and will try to tighten it up a bit, but the below personal statement is close to final, and I will likely start submitting apps within the next two days. Definitely would like some last feedback. Thanks!

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” —Viktor Frankl, Austrian Psychologist
***
In making many of my life decisions, from the mundane to the most vital, my foremost consideration has typically been the maximization of my personal freedom—my freedom from financial burdens, my freedom from pain and hardships, and my freedom to determine the course of my life. While responsibilities are often portrayed as burdens that are antithetical to true freedom, my efforts to maximize my freedom have rarely compelled me to actively limit my responsibilities. Rather, by looking at the big picture and focusing on maximizing my freedom over the long-term, I have been motivated to take my studies seriously, to compete in the classroom and on the sports field, and to heartily pursue a wide variety of additional activities aimed at enhancing my future prospects. In high school, I was a diligent student and captain of three varsity sports teams; in college, I played varsity soccer and club rugby, in addition to working as a student supervisor at my college’s ITS help desk. It is clear that throughout my academic career, I certainly did not shirk responsibility. In fact, I think it is fair to say that I took on and almost always fulfilled a good deal of extra responsibilities. Nevertheless, I would not say that responsibility, in and of itself, was something that I sought out. I valued my responsibilities only instrumentally, in so far as they served to further my goals, particularly the goal of maximizing my freedom. However, this mindset has begun to change. My experience at [NYC Big Law Firm] (“the Firm”) over the last year and a half has been transformative. My work has shown me the true relationship between freedom and responsibility and, in doing so, has demonstrated the value of a life “lived in terms of responsibleness.” This understanding was a driving force behind my ultimate decision to apply to law school.

As a legal assistant at the Firm, I have had the opportunity to recognize and take real responsibility for my work. It is this newfound responsibility that has made my time at the Firm the most purposeful and meaningful of my life. While my day-to-day tasks range from the relatively substantive to the purely administrative in nature, I have learned the importance of contextualizing each and every assignment, even the most menial, within the bigger picture. In many cases, I can choose to fulfill the requirements of my job simply by going through the motions; however, actually taking the time to consider and understand the tangible benefits that my work provides to clients allows me to take on a level of accountability that was absent from my time in undergrad and past employment. That, as I have quickly come to learn, working in “Big Law” inevitably entails a significant restriction on my day-to-day freedom has only made it clearer to me that it is this sense of accountability I feel towards our clients, not any conception of increased freedom, that has made my experience in law so distinctly rewarding.

While many occupational fields allow one to serve clients, my time at the Firm has further demonstrated that the practice of law, and the attorney-client relationship in particular, entails a specific and elevated level of accountability, and thus, responsibility. This view has been borne out in my experience working with four attorneys to provide pro bono representation for a Pakistani Christian man seeking asylum in the United States and, as an outgrowth, his wife, who remains in Pakistan. Although I do not represent our client in any official legal capacity, I have--as has been commented on by attorneys on the team--been very active on the case and frequently assigned tasks typically reserved for junior associates. As such, this case has provided me with a unique opportunity to gain insight into the responsibility the attorney-client relationship entails at both the legal and interpersonal level. From the legal perspective, I have assisted the attorneys draft motions and prepare applications on behalf of our client; all of this work has been instrumental in moving our asylum application forward and bringing our client and his wife closer to safety. On a more interpersonal level, I have participated in conference calls and meetings in which we explained to our client the legal obstacles he faces in gaining asylum for himself, and in extricating his wife from Pakistan. Throughout all this work, I witnessed, and felt myself, an incredible sense of compassion towards our client and an intense pressure to provide quality service, sentiments evidenced not only by the number of hours we have put into the case, but also by the passion the team has regularly demonstrated as we debate how best to proceed.

Experiencing these powerful emotions has forced me to carefully consider the value of our legal representation of our client and why this particular attorney-client relationship entails such a high level of accountability. In representing our client, we are assisting him in avoiding persecution and violence in his home country, reuniting him with his wife, and providing him with the freedom and understanding of his own legal responsibilities that will allow him to pursue responsibility in his own life, and find his own meaning. While this is undeniably an extreme case, I believe it does get at the core aim of legal representation, namely to eliminate barriers to clients’ freedom and help them understand their legal responsibilities. Given the importance I have come to place on understanding and taking responsibility, and the role I believe freedom plays in cultivating such an understanding, engaging in legal representation, and thus helping others identify the responsibilities in their own life, seems to be one of the greatest responsibilities I can personally assume.

Freedom provides individuals with the opportunity to determine the structure and course of their own lives, and it is therefore essential to a functional society and rightly cherished. However, freedom, in and of itself, does not provide the daily sense of purpose that ultimately leads to meaning. Rather, as I have discovered during my time at the firm, freedom is of greatest value when used to search for and cultivate a sense of responsibility, the source of meaning in my life. I want to ensure my freedom is used purposefully. Becoming an attorney, and engaging in legal representation, will allow me to best achieve this goal. Whether assisting in the representation of a government entity, a large financial institution, or an individual, the experiences I have had in law have demonstrated to me that the act of representing others is one of the most powerful ways one can live their life “in terms of responsibleness.”

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swampman
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:48 pm

Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby swampman » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:18 pm

To be blunt:
-It's way too long, two pages double spaced is good guide for every school and for some a hard limit.
-The "freedom" theme made little to no sense in relation to your experiences, and even when it did make sense it didn't add much to the narrative.
-It doesn't tell me much about you that I couldn't learn from your resume.

If I were you I would rewrite it focusing exclusively on the pro bono case, and probably get rid of the freedom theme.
That said, it's written in generally coherent English and if your numbers are good probably won't hurt you. It won't help though.

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RCSOB657
Posts: 2269
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:50 am

Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby RCSOB657 » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:31 pm

Get rid of the quote...seriously.

1) It isn't needed in your paper and only ties tangentially with your topic.
2) Every adcom I have read or listened to over the last year said the same thing. NO QUOTES, especially if it isn't actually related to your following paper.


p.s. For what it's worth most of your first paragraph can easily be chopped without affecting rest of paper. I agree with above. Your second paragraph should be where you start. Talk about your experience with your firm helping you grow work wise. If you want to relate that case fine, but the rest of your paper screams wanting to be a lawyer to help folks.

p.s.s. You may or may not agree with me, I certainly do not have your objective score credentials. Good luck.

hill1334
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:31 pm

Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby hill1334 » Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:30 pm

Thank you for the feedback. I will definitely cut it down some and will consider removing the quote. I'll also consider your more substantive criticisms.

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Gefuehlsecht
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Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby Gefuehlsecht » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:46 am

What happened to the Statue of Responsibility?

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RCSOB657
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Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby RCSOB657 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:52 am

Hey, alternatively you can keep in the part about most of your life being about your freedom; if you think this case actually changed that belief allowing you to see him/client as a person with his own wants/needs. Not sure if that is actually what happened, but it is a possibility that rises to the surface when scanning your paper.

hill1334
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:31 pm

Re: Critique Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (PS)

Postby hill1334 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:04 am

Gefuehlsecht wrote:What happened to the Statue of Responsibility?


We may get it someday soon! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Responsibility




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