Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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SunDevil14

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Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:54 pm

I've heard the advice that it is important to differentiate yourself in your personal statement. All things being equal, is it better to have a provocative narrative than a lofty/idealistic "I want to be a lawyer because of xyz" personal statement?

I have a lot of great and meaningful stories that would be enjoyable reads, but I am concerned that they may raise red flags. Although the lofty/idealistic "I want to be a lawyers because of xyz," might not be as enjoyable to read, I am sure it wont raise red flags.

I do not think I am alone when it comes to this type of thinking.

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Barack O'Drama

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby Barack O'Drama » Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:36 pm

I've been told if your numbers are above median it is safer to go the provocative router, whereas if you are below median it might be better to stick with the safer route.


Part of me agrees, but then I think to myself, it might be the most important to differentiate yourself when below median...
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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby Babe-Loblaw » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:21 am

I'm pretty sure I'm quoting a judge on Iron Chef when I say if you're going to break from convention, you have to do it really well to succeed. So if your PS deals with a risky subject but still paints you as a mature, intelligent person with real world experience and impact on your community, AND it's a solid piece of writing, I would say go for it. Just be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into perfecting it as a piece of writing as well as a targeted statement to the adcomms.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby zeglo » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:27 am

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby ponderingmeerkat » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:20 am

zeglo wrote:How about neither? Do something fascinating but safe.


I'm going to echo this. Not sure why one has to be exclusive of the other. Hemingway wrote a great american novel about an old man fishing.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:02 am

ponderingmeerkat wrote:
zeglo wrote:How about neither? Do something fascinating but safe.


I'm going to echo this. Not sure why one has to be exclusive of the other. Hemingway wrote a great american novel about an old man fishing.


I do not only mean red flags in the subject matter department but also that the statement may be too far off the track. Fascinating and safe seems like an oxymoron. Then again, perhaps I am not easily fascinated.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby zeglo » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:59 am

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby Dcc617 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:01 am

SunDevil14 wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:
zeglo wrote:How about neither? Do something fascinating but safe.


I'm going to echo this. Not sure why one has to be exclusive of the other. Hemingway wrote a great american novel about an old man fishing.


I do not only mean red flags in the subject matter department but also that the statement may be too far off the track. Fascinating and safe seems like an oxymoron. Then again, perhaps I am not easily fascinated.


Don't do a poem or screenplay if that's what you're asking.

Don't do anything that makes you look bad. Don't write something completely irrelevant. Don't submit anything crazy. Your goal in a personal statement is to show the admins something important about yourself that doesn't come through elsewhere. It's a big bonus if you can tie that back to law school.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby Margaret99 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:09 am

What if it is just about one incident that changed the way you look at life and encourage you to take up law? Does it have to be work related?

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:17 am

zeglo wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
ponderingmeerkat wrote:
zeglo wrote:How about neither? Do something fascinating but safe.


I'm going to echo this. Not sure why one has to be exclusive of the other. Hemingway wrote a great american novel about an old man fishing.


I do not only mean red flags in the subject matter department but also that the statement may be too far off the track. Fascinating and safe seems like an oxymoron. Then again, perhaps I am not easily fascinated.


I disagree. I wrote mine about a long-time hobby that is relatively rare. It was interesting but not at all risky. And if you think something is too far off from law, then alter it so it is closer.

Get your PS done, and apply.


I presume that you related the hobby to law and or the desire to study law.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:35 am

Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby zeglo » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:41 am

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby tskela » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:08 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:44 pm

tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:12 pm

I don't think that's right - I think people are even more concerned now with standing up to bullies. The story isn't about you being a bully, right? As long as you can make clear you don't believe violence is actually a solution in the adult world, I think standing up to bullies is a pretty evergreen value. My bigger concern would be that it's a kind of naive reason for wanting to be a lawyer, in that there are lots of ways to stand up for people and fighting someone in the schoolground isn't actually analogous to what a lawyer does (but I'm also super cranky about that kind of thing and it would depend on if you could tie it to other things in your life showing that this was a consistent interest of yours and how you came to believe that law was the best way to express that).

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby tskela » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:58 pm

SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.


As the poster above said, this is a naive reason to want to go to law school. I'd say the vast majority of jobs requiring a law degree do not involve "standing up for people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves." A clear cut reason is "I've worked at a a small real estate law practice for several years and know that I want to become a closing attorney."

Also, don't write a personal statement about something that happened in high school.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:30 pm

tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.


As the poster above said, this is a naive reason to want to go to law school. I'd say the vast majority of jobs requiring a law degree do not involve "standing up for people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves." A clear cut reason is "I've worked at a a small real estate law practice for several years and know that I want to become a closing attorney."

Also, don't write a personal statement about something that happened in high school.


The vast majority of jobs requiring a medical a degree do not involves performing plastic surgery, but nonetheless certain people may have a passion for that subset of medical practice. Unless I am missing something, the clear cut reason is namely that you have a year's worth of experience in a related work. I am really not following you on this one..?

In all seriousness what is a the Time Restriction on personal statements? Describing the person you are/character traits you possess at age X seems to neglect how you acquired those traits in the first place or why they were so important.

I guess I am thinking about this all wrong.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:30 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I don't think that's right - I think people are even more concerned now with standing up to bullies. The story isn't about you being a bully, right? As long as you can make clear you don't believe violence is actually a solution in the adult world, I think standing up to bullies is a pretty evergreen value. My bigger concern would be that it's a kind of naive reason for wanting to be a lawyer, in that there are lots of ways to stand up for people and fighting someone in the schoolground isn't actually analogous to what a lawyer does (but I'm also super cranky about that kind of thing and it would depend on if you could tie it to other things in your life showing that this was a consistent interest of yours and how you came to believe that law was the best way to express that).


The few lawyers I talked thought standing up for people that otherwise could not was a great reason to go into law, and that being a lawyer would enable me to pursue that passion. Then again these people went to law school a long time ago and respectively practice certain subsets of law. Well, you guys have persuaded me at this point that I have no real convincing reason to be a lawyer. I am more confused than ever what to write about now :?

I suppose the one thing that comes to mind at present is all the bullshit and crap that I had to deal with while doing door to door sales enabled me to be quite effective in phone banking and door to door canvassing during the 2012 presidential election.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby landshoes » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:47 pm

No do not write your PS about how you beat someone up (even if they deserved it). Red flags everywhere.

Your PS should be, at a baseline, completely non-offensive. It should generate absolutely no concerns in the admissions staff. Get that done and sent. If you don't have anything amazing, you don't have anything amazing. That's just how it is. You're not going to become a totally different person with a weird and relevant and safe hobby in the next three weeks.

Wanting to stand up for other people is okay, if a bit cliched. But you can surely find an example that doesn't include physical violence, yes?

"I like to advocate for others and enjoy working with people. I have always had these interests, but my time as a political canvaser allowed me to realize that making a strong argument for something is interesting to me. I would like to carry that interest in argumentation into the written context, as I also enjoy writing, as demonstrated by my time as an English major." etc. etc. etc.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:56 pm

landshoes wrote:No do not write your PS about how you beat someone up (even if they deserved it). Red flags everywhere.

Your PS should be, at a baseline, completely non-offensive. It should generate absolutely no concerns in the admissions staff. Get that done and sent. If you don't have anything amazing, you don't have anything amazing. That's just how it is. You're not going to become a totally different person with a weird and relevant and safe hobby in the next three weeks.

Wanting to stand up for other people is okay, if a bit cliched. But you can surely find an example that doesn't include physical violence, yes?

"I like to advocate for others and enjoy working with people. I have always had these interests, but my time as a political canvaser allowed me to realize that making a strong argument for something is interesting to me. I would like to carry that interest in argumentation into the written context, as I also enjoy writing, as demonstrated by my time as an English major." etc. etc. etc.


I hear you, I think I am just going to go the safe route and let the numbers speak for themselves. I have read several personal statements that have been considered "good" or "stood out," and in my opinion most of the seem mundane and bland. So, I must be missing the point. Therefore, I do not think I should be "unique" or "insightful" and shoot myself in the foot when my numbers would have otherwise carried me.

I have still have time to write the personal statement. I take the test in December and will not get the results until January. I am going to apply as soon as I get the result, which leaves me roughly a month to write the personal statement(s).

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby tskela » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:59 pm

SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.


As the poster above said, this is a naive reason to want to go to law school. I'd say the vast majority of jobs requiring a law degree do not involve "standing up for people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves." A clear cut reason is "I've worked at a a small real estate law practice for several years and know that I want to become a closing attorney."

Also, don't write a personal statement about something that happened in high school.


The vast majority of jobs requiring a medical a degree do not involves performing plastic surgery, but nonetheless certain people may have a passion for that subset of medical practice. Unless I am missing something, the clear cut reason is namely that you have a year's worth of experience in a related work. I am really not following you on this one..?

In all seriousness what is a the Time Restriction on personal statements? Describing the person you are/character traits you possess at age X seems to neglect how you acquired those traits in the first place or why they were so important.

I guess I am thinking about this all wrong.


I'm saying a legit reason is having experience with what a certain job entails and knowing that that's what you want to do. Do you know what kind of law will allow you to stand up for people who can't defend themselves? What does the day-to-day of that job look like? Have you ever experienced it? If not, your reasoning is cloudy at best. Which is the case for like 80% of law school applicants, I'm sure. It's not a bad thing. Write something that makes a statement about who you are and will cause admissions officers to go "oh hey, I like this person." Also, I've heard it's more about your writing than about the content. Sound thoughtful and introspective and write well.

My personal statement includes background about my childhood but the main narrative event occurred in college. I think the central plot point of your PS should have happened more recently than high school.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:23 am

tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.


As the poster above said, this is a naive reason to want to go to law school. I'd say the vast majority of jobs requiring a law degree do not involve "standing up for people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves." A clear cut reason is "I've worked at a a small real estate law practice for several years and know that I want to become a closing attorney."

Also, don't write a personal statement about something that happened in high school.


The vast majority of jobs requiring a medical a degree do not involves performing plastic surgery, but nonetheless certain people may have a passion for that subset of medical practice. Unless I am missing something, the clear cut reason is namely that you have a year's worth of experience in a related work. I am really not following you on this one..?

In all seriousness what is a the Time Restriction on personal statements? Describing the person you are/character traits you possess at age X seems to neglect how you acquired those traits in the first place or why they were so important.

I guess I am thinking about this all wrong.


I'm saying a legit reason is having experience with what a certain job entails and knowing that that's what you want to do. Do you know what kind of law will allow you to stand up for people who can't defend themselves? What does the day-to-day of that job look like? Have you ever experienced it? If not, your reasoning is cloudy at best. Which is the case for like 80% of law school applicants, I'm sure. It's not a bad thing. Write something that makes a statement about who you are and will cause admissions officers to go "oh hey, I like this person." Also, I've heard it's more about your writing than about the content. Sound thoughtful and introspective and write well.

My personal statement includes background about my childhood but the main narrative event occurred in college. I think the central plot point of your PS should have happened more recently than high school.


The answer to the first 3 questions is actually yes. A fair amount of my family are lawyers, and naturally have quite a few family friends that are lawyers. They were the one's that commented that the passion to stand up for people was the type of thing that the career would enable me to do, and the same passion was a good motivator to pursue the career. Thier respective fields are criminal defense and personal injury lawyers. I do part time work for my father's law firm, and thus know what the day-to-day looks likes, and have a degree of experience. Perhaps this is the reason for my confusion, since I want to distance myself from the notion that I want to be lawyer because my family does, though any any explanation of factors you mentioned would be latent with family references in my case.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby tskela » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:17 pm

SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
SunDevil14 wrote:
tskela wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Keep in mind there is nothing that says your PS has to explain why you want to be a lawyer.


This.

In Anna Ivey's book about law school admissions, she says most people don't really have a clear idea of why they want to be lawyers, and it's better to just write something personal than to try to twist yourself into a pretzel to make the statement tie back to "why law."


Well I have a clear cut reason why I want to be a lawyer. Specifically, I want to stand up/defend people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves. I have a great narrative of my times in high-school. In short, there was an older gang-banger type kid that would mercilessly pick on others. Although he never targeted me, I did not like what he was doing and decided stand up when he would not let up on another kid that was pinned to the floor and had given up. In the end, I bested him in a physical altercation and he stopped picking on people. There are more interesting details but that is the gist of it.

Although it is a great David vs. Goliath type story, I am concerned that it may raise red flags considering all hype surrounding bullying in today's Personal Computer Culture. For better or worse, the old adage of standing up to bullies has gone out of vogue.


As the poster above said, this is a naive reason to want to go to law school. I'd say the vast majority of jobs requiring a law degree do not involve "standing up for people that cannot otherwise fight for themselves." A clear cut reason is "I've worked at a a small real estate law practice for several years and know that I want to become a closing attorney."

Also, don't write a personal statement about something that happened in high school.


The vast majority of jobs requiring a medical a degree do not involves performing plastic surgery, but nonetheless certain people may have a passion for that subset of medical practice. Unless I am missing something, the clear cut reason is namely that you have a year's worth of experience in a related work. I am really not following you on this one..?

In all seriousness what is a the Time Restriction on personal statements? Describing the person you are/character traits you possess at age X seems to neglect how you acquired those traits in the first place or why they were so important.

I guess I am thinking about this all wrong.


I'm saying a legit reason is having experience with what a certain job entails and knowing that that's what you want to do. Do you know what kind of law will allow you to stand up for people who can't defend themselves? What does the day-to-day of that job look like? Have you ever experienced it? If not, your reasoning is cloudy at best. Which is the case for like 80% of law school applicants, I'm sure. It's not a bad thing. Write something that makes a statement about who you are and will cause admissions officers to go "oh hey, I like this person." Also, I've heard it's more about your writing than about the content. Sound thoughtful and introspective and write well.

My personal statement includes background about my childhood but the main narrative event occurred in college. I think the central plot point of your PS should have happened more recently than high school.


The answer to the first 3 questions is actually yes. A fair amount of my family are lawyers, and naturally have quite a few family friends that are lawyers. They were the one's that commented that the passion to stand up for people was the type of thing that the career would enable me to do, and the same passion was a good motivator to pursue the career. Thier respective fields are criminal defense and personal injury lawyers. I do part time work for my father's law firm, and thus know what the day-to-day looks likes, and have a degree of experience. Perhaps this is the reason for my confusion, since I want to distance myself from the notion that I want to be lawyer because my family does, though any any explanation of factors you mentioned would be latent with family references in my case.


In this case, it would make sense to focus your PS on Why Law?

If I were you, I would spend VERY little time on the bully narrative and the majority on your relevant experience.

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby SunDevil14 » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:44 pm

Yeah, probably reading too much stuff on the Internet about differentiating yourself through a unique narrative

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Re: Provocative Vs Safe Personal Statements

Postby landshoes » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:17 pm

This is kinda old, I know, but nothing wrong with having your "why law" essay include discussion of your family if it your family gives you substantive, solid, persuasive reasons for knowing what you're getting into and being interested in it.

BAD: "My dad's a lawyer so I always thought I should be a lawyer, although I know nothing about what he does every day besides a vague "helping people" kind of thing"

GOOD: "In my two years of work at my father's practice, I have seen that he has substantial client contact. He also has frequent opportunities to advocate on behalf of his clients, both orally and in writing. Having to discuss legal concepts and relay information to these different audiences continually challenges him intellectually, which is something I want in a career. I have also seen the positive effect my father's work has on his clients. Clients are always thanking him for helping them through one of the toughest times of their life, and sending him notes telling us what his work meant to them. Being able to see the positive impact I have on others' lives through my work is important to me."

Write it a little better than that and, you know, make it honest and based on your experiences, but you get the drift.



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