Feedback for personal statement topic?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
Posts: 316128
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:30 pm

I've been struggling with my PS for months and never thought to post. Thanks for bringing me here, grey day.

Quick background info: Graduated ASU in 2013, double major (psych/criminal justice). Took prelaw courses in college but didn't commit to law school because of the money. Worked tech support for Apple for 2 years before getting my paralegal certificate and starting work in BigLaw. So, here I am; finally ready to commit.

I'm going to throw out the gist of what the essay is about. Obviously this isn't the exact organization or anything, but please let me know if this sounds at all feasible or if it's totally stupid. Thank you!

1) Personal growth/maturation/drawing parallels between problem solving in a legal capacity and a technical one.
Talk about how my favorite part of working for Apple was approaching unique issues and finding new ways to solve them (looking at a problem from different angles/using my resources/developing new resources and training material for others). I also had to deal *a lot* with emotional customers and had to learn the art of persuasion and patience when people wouldn't take "no" for an answer--so build a little on my communicative/interpersonal skills from there.

Then mention how I eventually realized that I'd let my dream of becoming a lawyer fall to the wayside(?) and how I was focusing my energy on solving problems--but not the right ones. I was an avid proponent of criminal justice/sentencing reform in college, especially with regards to access to mental healthcare. These were the types of issues I wanted to work on. I bit the bullet, quit my job, have spent a year and a half in BigLaw, volunteered for indigent capital defense attorneys, and am focused and determined to succeed in law school.

-Why am I writing this? I want to show that the choice to attend law school has been well thought-out. I had this dream of being a lawyer all throughout college and it took two years of being in the "real world" (work force/no school) to really push me out of my comfort zone and help me realize my potential. I'm trying to show that these issues are ones that are important to me and always have been. Also trying to work in some real-life examples of skills I have that would help me in law school.

Sorry, I don't know how this got so long. By the way, I am very aware of the reality of 'social justice' lawyers and am not pigeonholing myself to strictly criminal law. I enjoy the busy commercial litigation practice group I work with now, and I also view product liability as a sort of 'social justice' in its own right (from a plaintiff/consumer perspective of course, ha!). I liked this topic because (to me) it's logical and straightforward. My other ones all seem cheesy or like a sob story.

Thanks for reading this if you got all the way here :)

User avatar
Law2020hopeful

New
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:36 pm

Re: Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby Law2020hopeful » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:10 pm

So, my thing about the personal statement is that it's supposed to help the adcomm get to know you better. Because of this, I tend to advise people to stay away from topics that will be covered in other areas of the application.

That said, I don't really think the best use of your personal statement is rehashing the skills you learned from your job. I get wanting to emphasize your communication and interpersonal skills, but honestly the adcomm will know that you have good interpersonal skills because of your time with Apple and because of the nature of your job (you worked with customers).

It also sounds like your PS is not very organized and there isn't really a through line or a hook. Honestly, I'm not saying this to be mean or discouraging in any way. I want you to have the best PS you can, and there's a lot of really interesting ideas and components in what you've outlined, but it lacks focus.

My best advice is to 1) steer away from your skills and 2) pick one trait or one moment of your life and write about that- let them see how one moment of action or inaction/decision/hobby/event impacted you. You can use the last paragraph or so to talk about how it all relates to your desire to go to law school, but truly the "This is Why I Want To Go To Law School" and "Why I Will Be A Great Lawyer" essays are cliche. It's truly better to pick something you're passionate about or something (one thing/moment) that impacted you and how it impacted you on a personal level.

I noticed you wrote about an interest in making mental healthcare more widely available. That's laudable. Why are you interested in that? Did you have an experience with it in your personal life? Are you or someone close to you affected by that issue? You don't have to answer me, but that could be something to write about. That could be your entire essay (how the unavailability of mental healthcare personally impacted you or a loved one).

Hopefully this makes sense.

FWIW, I'm an editor if you want me to read any drafts.

wafflefriesyo

New
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:05 pm

Re: Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby wafflefriesyo » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:08 pm

Law2020hopeful wrote:So, my thing about the personal statement is that it's supposed to help the adcomm get to know you better. Because of this, I tend to advise people to stay away from topics that will be covered in other areas of the application.

That said, I don't really think the best use of your personal statement is rehashing the skills you learned from your job. I get wanting to emphasize your communication and interpersonal skills, but honestly the adcomm will know that you have good interpersonal skills because of your time with Apple and because of the nature of your job (you worked with customers).

It also sounds like your PS is not very organized and there isn't really a through line or a hook. Honestly, I'm not saying this to be mean or discouraging in any way. I want you to have the best PS you can, and there's a lot of really interesting ideas and components in what you've outlined, but it lacks focus.

My best advice is to 1) steer away from your skills and 2) pick one trait or one moment of your life and write about that- let them see how one moment of action or inaction/decision/hobby/event impacted you. You can use the last paragraph or so to talk about how it all relates to your desire to go to law school, but truly the "This is Why I Want To Go To Law School" and "Why I Will Be A Great Lawyer" essays are cliche. It's truly better to pick something you're passionate about or something (one thing/moment) that impacted you and how it impacted you on a personal level.

I noticed you wrote about an interest in making mental healthcare more widely available. That's laudable. Why are you interested in that? Did you have an experience with it in your personal life? Are you or someone close to you affected by that issue? You don't have to answer me, but that could be something to write about. That could be your entire essay (how the unavailability of mental healthcare personally impacted you or a loved one).

Hopefully this makes sense.

FWIW, I'm an editor if you want me to read any drafts.



That makes a lot of sense, actually. Thanks for all the helpful feedback! I have a lot to say about the mental health question you raised, so I apologize in the advance for the crazy long response. You don't have to reply, but you asked so here it goes:

I suffered from undiagnosed/untreated depression from age 10 to 23 (two years ago). It was pretty severe and I have countless stories about it from all phases of my life. When I finally decided to get help, I had the most kick ass health insurance money can buy. But I quickly learned that finding a psychiatrist that accepts healthcare is next to impossible. It basically turned into a week-long ordeal; every day that passed without any success threw me deeper into despair. I mean, like, answering the phone at work and not being able to talk for more than 1 minute before my voice cracked and I was straight up crying and had to transfer the customer. I kept calling doctors that I'd find online (already a super shitty way to choose someone you're supposed to confide in) but half of them didn't accept new patients or straight up didn't answer. I was using all of the usual websites (zocdoc, healthgrades) and my provider directory for United Healthcare and legit STRUGGLED to find someone to take me. I'm really savvy, too.. so I was dumbfounded at how difficult it was.

Anyway - found a lady. The initial appointment was $650. Every month I had to come back for 30 minutes for "medication management" which was $150 each time. I paid, because I was fortunate enough to have a well-paying job and could afford it. But throughout that hellish week, all I could think was: what about the people who don't even HAVE insurance and are economically disadvantaged? The whole process made me feel so hopeless and frustrated, I thought, "if someone out there is having suicidal thoughts, and they're going through this same thing I am right now, this is not okay."

Work got so bad that I actually took FMLA intermittent leave for major depressive disorder. My doctor said I could miss up two days a week if my depression was too bad to work. So I did. And I realized that nobody should be taking medical leave for depression at age 23 and something was seriously wrong. So basically all of that led to me snapping one day and enrolling in paralegal school and quitting my job and taking a HUGE pay cut to work in the legal field. But I'm happier than I've ever been now. Also, my boyfriend started having awful anxiety attacks last month so I called my doctor up. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get help because we don't have $650 laying around.. that's been pretty hard. These are standard rates for where we live, too.

My first PS was about a lot of that stuff ^ but I didn't want adcomms to see it and think I'm weak or unable to cope with adversity. I didn't want them to say, "If she thinks customer service is hard she'll never survive being a lawyer" so I moved on to other topics. But I truly just needed to be on medication; I legitimately think that decision changed my life. I didn't want to come across as whiny, either.

But making mental health services more widely available to EVERYONE is really what I care most about; I learned a lot about the lack of services available to inmates and I'm passionate about that as well. I just don't have a personal story along those lines.

User avatar
Law2020hopeful

New
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:36 pm

Re: Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby Law2020hopeful » Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:05 pm

wafflefriesyo wrote:Also, my boyfriend started having awful anxiety attacks last month so I called my doctor up. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get help because we don't have $650 laying around.. that's been pretty hard. These are standard rates for where we live, too.

My first PS was about a lot of that stuff ^ but I didn't want adcomms to see it and think I'm weak or unable to cope with adversity. I didn't want them to say, "If she thinks customer service is hard she'll never survive being a lawyer" so I moved on to other topics. But I truly just needed to be on medication; I legitimately think that decision changed my life. I didn't want to come across as whiny, either.

But making mental health services more widely available to EVERYONE is really what I care most about; I learned a lot about the lack of services available to inmates and I'm passionate about that as well. I just don't have a personal story along those lines.


I will say that I agree that going into a lot of detail about your struggle may not be the best course of action because you don't want them to think you can't handle law school or being a lawyer (this is coming from someone who has a lot of experience with mental health issues with myself, friends, and family.

Ok, I digress. What if you used your boyfriend's struggle to find help? He couldn't find help and so he didn't get it. That's a story worth telling and it definitely doesn't paint you as someone who can't hack law school. Just a thought. I think if you can find a way to relate wanting to make mental healthcare affordable and widely available to you personally then it's a great topic for a PS and I think your bf's story is a good way to tell your story about wanting to achieve that.

User avatar
sweets91

Silver
Posts: 763
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:22 am

Re: Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby sweets91 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:10 pm

OP, I disagree with the above poster. I think your original idea is fine

wafflefriesyo

New
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:05 pm

Re: Feedback for personal statement topic?

Postby wafflefriesyo » Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:19 pm

Law2020hopeful wrote:
wafflefriesyo wrote:Also, my boyfriend started having awful anxiety attacks last month so I called my doctor up. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get help because we don't have $650 laying around.. that's been pretty hard. These are standard rates for where we live, too.

My first PS was about a lot of that stuff ^ but I didn't want adcomms to see it and think I'm weak or unable to cope with adversity. I didn't want them to say, "If she thinks customer service is hard she'll never survive being a lawyer" so I moved on to other topics. But I truly just needed to be on medication; I legitimately think that decision changed my life. I didn't want to come across as whiny, either.

But making mental health services more widely available to EVERYONE is really what I care most about; I learned a lot about the lack of services available to inmates and I'm passionate about that as well. I just don't have a personal story along those lines.


I will say that I agree that going into a lot of detail about your struggle may not be the best course of action because you don't want them to think you can't handle law school or being a lawyer (this is coming from someone who has a lot of experience with mental health issues with myself, friends, and family.

Ok, I digress. What if you used your boyfriend's struggle to find help? He couldn't find help and so he didn't get it. That's a story worth telling and it definitely doesn't paint you as someone who can't hack law school. Just a thought. I think if you can find a way to relate wanting to make mental healthcare affordable and widely available to you personally then it's a great topic for a PS and I think your bf's story is a good way to tell your story about wanting to achieve that.


Very helpful. Thank you again!



Return to ‚ÄúLaw School Personal Statements‚Ä?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.