First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreciated

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natural_law

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First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreciated

Postby natural_law » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:30 pm

There are books everywhere, hundreds of them, maybe even thousands. All around the room, dozens of messy piles sprout from the floor like crooked skyscrapers. "Take whatever looks interesting," my uncle offers. I begin looking.

Ten minutes later, after wading through volume after tedious-looking volume of political economy, I come across a thick red book with black binding. No title is on the cover; no indication of who the author is either. I open the unpretentious book, and read the first line of the editor's preface, "Those that first pick up this book are likely to share some concern about the problem of poverty; those who finish it may also find some cause for hope." That will do, I think to myself. Keen to make a rapid exit from my familial responsibilities before my uncle embarks on yet another sermon, I quickly thank him and leave, taking but the one book with me. Little did I know it then, but my decision to pick up that nondescript red book, "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George, would give me my life's purpose.

I want to study law for various reasons, primarily though because our reality is created by turning ideas into policy through law. I am also certain that the study of law will be a pleasure in itself, albeit an exacting one. Moreover, ever since I watched Juan Martinez bring the unspoken truth out of Jodi Arias under cross-examination, I have wanted to become a prosecutor. My life, however, is not dedicated to the idea of studying the law, or even becoming a prosecutor – it is dedicated to an idea, to one policy in particular, namely the implementation of a land value tax (LVT). The idea is more important and interesting than it sounds, if the reader will indulge me a moment to expand on it. In essence, a LVT will realize the Jeffersonian ideal that nature and natural resources belong in usufruct to the living. That is to say, it will eliminate private ownership in land and replace it with common ownership between all People. The economic and ecological benefits of a LVT are both numerous and enormous, and I fully believe taxing land value is a central reform necessary to creating a just economy, and in turn a just society.

I had finally found something of significance – something that greatly advanced the good – that was worth dedicating myself to completely. And dedicate myself completely I did, writing a 35,000 word thesis on the economics and ethics of LVT for my undergraduate degree that cost me my social life and my grades in my final semester, and nearly my degree itself as I struggled to juggle a five class course load and a second thesis in psychology. What does not break you, though, makes you stronger (if not your law school application), and it was by sticking to the ethical principles behind taxing land values that I found myself where I am today. The core principle of LVT is that unearned benefits, such as the ones that accrue to landowners in the form of higher land values, which in fact were created by the community and paid for by the taxpayer, are unjust. Recognizing that I have had more than my fair share of unearned benefits in life, and that it would not be right for me to rely on more to pay for law school, I found a job in which I could advance rapidly and got to work. I will have worked for three years by the time I start L1 if my application is successful, and I will be able to cover the full cost of law school on the back of this work alone.

Legal training will be invaluable to advancing a LVT either through legislation or litigation, and furthermore, a legal education will help me to continue to develop the raw skills – critical thinking and analysis, argumentation and persuasion, institutional understanding and Constitutional knowledge – needed to see a LVT passed into law. I am committed in principle and practice to land value taxation, and I will demonstrate the same level of commitment to law school – all I can ask from you is the chance to prove it.

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guynourmin

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Postby guynourmin » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:12 pm

natural_law wrote:There are books everywhere, hundreds of them, maybe even thousands. All around the room, dozens of messy piles sprout from the floor like crooked skyscrapers. "Take whatever looks interesting," my uncle offers. I begin looking.

Ten minutes later, after wading through volume after tedious-looking volume of political economy, I come across a thick red book with black binding. No title is on the cover; no indication of who the author is either. I open the unpretentious book, and read the first line of the editor's preface, "Those that first pick up this book are likely to share some concern about the problem of poverty; those who finish it may also find some cause for hope." That will do, I think to myself. Keen to make a rapid exit from my familial responsibilities before my uncle embarks on yet another sermon -- we have no idea why you are in this room, what your uncle is sermoning about, what familial responsibilities you are escaping. Nothing. It's disorienting to a reader. It's okay to try and shock initially (although most recommend against it) but eventually you want a reader to understand what is happening. --, I quickly thank him and leave, taking but the one book with me. Little did I know it then, but my decision to pick up that nondescript red book, "Progress and Poverty" by Henry George, would give me my life's purpose. -- So now we're still disoriented, but we can at least discern why: you want to tell us about a book. To reiterate: it is still far too-jarring an opening for something as pedestrian as being draw to a book and that book having a significant impact on your life. It kind of reminds me of when we read this short orange book in American Philosophy. Unassuming, short, and a friendly read, it completely changed my life. Absolutely no reason for such an introduction to be so dramatic - or take up so much space! - in a personal statement. Maybe it it was going to show off how skilled you were as a writer, but this doesn't do that either. --

I want to study law for various reasons, primarily though because our reality is created by turning ideas into policy through law. I am also certain that the study of law will be a pleasure in itself, albeit an exacting one. Moreover, ever since I watched Juan Martinez bring the unspoken truth out of Jodi Arias under cross-examination, I have wanted to become a prosecutor. My life, however, is not dedicated to the idea of studying the law, or even becoming a prosecutor – it is dedicated to an idea, to one policy in particular, namely the implementation of a land value tax (LVT) -- Even if this is really why you're applying to law school, I don't think you're going to have luck with it as a PS topic. Every single person on every single admissions committee in the country will have the same reaction we are: law school isn't the right move for policy work; has this person done any research? I 100% believe stating you are going to school to influence policy has the potential to hurt your application. --. The idea is more important and interesting than it sounds, if the reader will indulge me a moment to expand on it. In essence, a LVT will realize the Jeffersonian ideal that nature and natural resources belong in usufruct to the living. That is to say, it will eliminate private ownership in land and replace it with common ownership between all People. The economic and ecological benefits of a LVT are both numerous and enormous, and I fully believe taxing land value is a central reform necessary to creating a just economy, and in turn a just society.

I had finally found something of significance – something that greatly advanced the good – that was worth dedicating myself to completely. And dedicate myself completely I did, writing a 35,000 word thesis on the economics and ethics of LVT for my undergraduate degree that cost me my social life and my grades in my final semester, and nearly my degree itself as I struggled to juggle a five class course load and a second thesis in psychology. What does not break you, though, makes you stronger (if not your law school application), and it was by sticking to the ethical principles behind taxing land values that I found myself where I am today. The core principle of LVT is that unearned benefits, such as the ones that accrue to landowners in the form of higher land values, which in fact were created by the community and paid for by the taxpayer, are unjust. Recognizing that I have had more than my fair share of unearned benefits in life, and that it would not be right for me to rely on more to pay for law school, I found a job in which I could advance rapidly and got to work. I will have worked for three years by the time I start L1 if my application is successful, and I will be able to cover the full cost of law school on the back of this work alone.

Legal training will be invaluable to advancing a LVT either through legislation or litigation, and furthermore, a legal education will help me to continue to develop the raw skills – critical thinking and analysis, argumentation and persuasion, institutional understanding and Constitutional knowledge – needed to see a LVT passed into law. I am committed in principle and practice to land value taxation, and I will demonstrate the same level of commitment to law school – all I can ask from you is the chance to prove it.


I really don't think this is the right look for a PS. Write about something cool you did at work or something. Even if you are 100% dedicated to this unfounded idea of becoming a lawyer to influence policy, don't tell an adcom that. Seriously.

natural_law

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby natural_law » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:25 pm

I could write about some the trades I do at work and relate it to why that makes me a good candidate.

This is the reason though that I'm going to law school, and it is deeply personal relationship I have to the policy, and I do think it is different. I am a massive splitter, and maybe something like the above is better to attract attention than a generic, this-is-how-I-persuade-people-and-manage-clients type of PS.

I am thinking I only need one reader to go for it, so I am not too upset with taking a contrarian approach and closing down a few schools to get a hit at one.

That said I could write about wanting to become a prosecutor or something. I have a lot of trust in this idea though, and I think if I rely on LVT, the right thing will work out for me.

There seems to be a consensus that you shouldn't be applying to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer for the rest of your life. There are a whole bunch of reasons I want to go to law school that I can't get into in the PS without coming across like a dick. How bad is it really to go for the policy angle? Are we talking every potential reader might throw it out ipso facto? Or are we talking 8/10, 9/10, etc.?

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Bob loblaw law blog

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Postby Bob loblaw law blog » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:49 pm

natural_law wrote:I could write about some the trades I do at work and relate it to why that makes me a good candidate.

This is the reason though that I'm going to law school, and it is deeply personal relationship I have to the policy, and I do think it is different. I am a massive splitter, and maybe something like the above is better to attract attention than a generic, this-is-how-I-persuade-people-and-manage-clients type of PS.

I am thinking I only need one reader to go for it, so I am not too upset with taking a contrarian approach and closing down a few schools to get a hit at one.

That said I could write about wanting to become a prosecutor or something. I have a lot of trust in this idea though, and I think if I rely on LVT, the right thing will work out for me.

There seems to be a consensus that you shouldn't be applying to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer for the rest of your life. There are a whole bunch of reasons I want to go to law school that I can't get into in the PS without coming across like a dick. How bad is it really to go for the policy angle? Are we talking every potential reader might throw it out ipso facto? Or are we talking 8/10, 9/10, etc.?


The most dangerous phrase in law school admissions. Few are those who are truly "different" and from reading this I don't find you to be particularly so either.

You're intelligent and extremely dedicated to this idea, that's what I got from this PS. That's not bad thing, but it doesn't make me think you want to go to law school, or that you will do well in law school. Frankly it kinda makes me think you should go into work at a policy think tank or try your hand on a campaign rather than go to law school. People do end up doing policy out of law school, but they are few and usually went to schools that almost no splitters get into (even in those schools they are a tiny minority of graduates).

Talking about policy or politics in a PS isn't a bad idea per se ( I did it, it's worked out so far), but this really isn't the way to go about it. You need to somehow connect it to law or desire to be a lawyer. Just connecting this policy to your desire to help those in need, perhaps via public interest work, would be a good start. Yes I realize the policy you mentioned has grander ambitions, but I hope you realize it is politically controversial and may be a serious detriment to your app in the wrong hands (a passion for trying to uplift people, on the other hand, would be hard for even those who dislike LVT to ding you for).

Lastly, drop the bit about the thesis and how hard you worked on it. We all worked hard, that's why we're here. It may come off as boosting about putting in similar amounts of work as other applicants, which isn't a great look. If you need to explain the grades, write an addendum. I WOULD definitely get the professor who supervised you writing it to write a letter of rec and i would put it on your resume, this should be a strong part of your app but the PS isn't the place for it. It's taking up space you could use to convince them of "why law" and that you're a good person who will make X law a better place to be academically, socially, or in some other way.

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Postby natural_law » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:55 pm

Thanks for feedback.

Clearly I need to emphasise why law school much more heavily and possibly save LVT for Yale, not that I have a chance in hell of getting in there with my GPA.

I tried to keep the policy specifics vague to avoid controversy, but I guess that's a hard sell to a system that is set up to protect real property, including ownership of land.

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:12 pm

natural_law wrote:I tried to keep the policy specifics vague to avoid controversy, but I guess that's a hard sell to a system that is set up to protect real property, including ownership of land.


How are you still thinking that this is the issue after two whole threads on the subject?

Law professors/adcomms don't care if you flat out believe in the abolition of private property. The problem is that you are trying to talk about your interest in policy in a law school application. How many people have to tell you that law school isn't for a career in policy before you stop believing that you know better than everyone who has already been through this process?

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Postby echonov » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:10 pm

In terms of the PS: I'm not a big fan of the narrative present, and I think it feels particularly jarring here. That may be personal preference, though. There are a few syntax errors and bits of awkward phrasing, especially in the first few paragraphs -- it reads a little like you're trying really hard to make your writing sound "smart." I think going for clean and coherent is probably the best angle for a PS. The transition between p2 and p3 isn't particularly smooth; I think it probably feels like it flows to you, because you know where you're going with it, but to a new reader, there's no immediate link between the two paragraphs. Also, you bring up wanting to be a prosecutor, and then immediately drop it. Either make it a substantive element or don't bring it up.

I'm going to be totally honest: right now, your impassioned focus on LVT still seems more appropriate for a policy piece than a personal statement. Your goal isn't to convince the adcom that you're right about LVT, or that you're a zealot about the policy -- it's to convince them that you're a good fit for law school in general and their school in particular. Also, your comment about LVT "advancing the good" and therefore being something you can "dedicate yourself to completely" rings a little hollow, since what you ended up doing was writing a paper. As great as research papers are, they hardly change the world. I would also echo Bob loblaw law blog and avoid bringing up your grades/how hard you worked on your thesis. Lots of applicants will have completed theses, and especially if your GPA isn't a strong point, it's probably not worth bringing up here. I also would leave out the element about working to afford law school. There are a couple of reasons for this (one being that, for better or worse, it doesn't read as terribly compelling to talk about working hard to afford law school on a 6-figure salary), but the biggest is that it reads as somewhat distasteful to talk about scholarships, etc., as "unearned benefits." As a personal example, you better bet I'm applying and hoping for merit aid at LS, and if I get it, I certainly won't consider it unearned. (You can take my PS-specific advice with a grain of salt; I worked as an editor for several years, so that aspect should be solid, but I'm a 0L.)

One other editing point -- it should almost certainly be "an LVT," not "a LVT." Perhaps there's some difference for UK standards (I wouldn't know), but APA and Chicago both call for "an."

Regarding the other stuff, I just want to reiterate: most people aren't saying no one should go to LS unless they want to be a lawyer forever and ever amen. Mostly, what I see is advice not to go to LS if 1) you don't want to be a lawyer period, or 2) there are better, easier, and less debt-filled ways to accomplish your goals. For you, I see the latter. I think an adcom would see it as well in the PS you have written. I'm not saying every reader will automatically throw out your PS, but no one here could possibly answer your question about what % would or wouldn't. All we can say is that the best advice would be to write a PS that is unlikely to get dismissed out of hand by a lot of them.

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Postby natural_law » Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:22 am

I wanted to rely on LVT for reasons that are not exactly rational, without going into further detail.

Clearly I am rethinking that approach.

I don't think cavalier has ever written a post that wasn't snarky af.

Thank you for the actual criticism echo.

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Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:21 am

natural_law wrote:I wanted to rely on LVT for reasons that are not exactly rational, without going into further detail.

Clearly I am rethinking that approach.

I don't think cavalier has ever written a post that wasn't snarky af.

Thank you for the actual criticism echo.


I can always drop the sarcasm...

Your PS topic is a non-starter, and your tone is unforgivably arrogant, especially for someone who is going to be trying to overcome a low GPA. Your interactions with others on this forum have consistently shown that you are thoroughly convinced of your own innate brilliance, which tells me that this isn't something you are able to control yet.

Get this through your skull: you are not the first person to think of this issue. You aren't even in the first hundred thousand people to think about it. Your thoughts on it are not so brilliant that an adcomm will fail to look over your college grades. This isn't a bold and unique topic; it's a bad one. And as always, law school is not the place to go if you want to focus on policy.

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guynourmin

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Postby guynourmin » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:27 am

natural_law wrote:
I don't think cavalier has ever written a post that wasn't snarky af.

Thank you for the actual criticism echo.

Snark or not, you're getting fair and honest feedback from them. If you chose to ignore it because they offended you, then you do so to your own detriment.

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Postby 34iplaw » Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:33 am

So, as a big picture thing... I think you could go forward with this topic, but I'd prefer you to basically chop the second paragraph and basically use the finding the book + third paragraph to jump into your unearned benefits or something. Granted, that could be disjointed. I just really think this personal statement is lacking much insight about you. I'd also recommend to write more simple and concise sentences. There are definite grammar/punctuation issues - some are definitely incorrect, and many others just feel wrong even if they are technically correct. I think some of your phrasing also comes across as unnecessarily pretentious... even if from some Harvard UG Fulbright Scholar 15 year old or [url='thid kid']http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-cornell-12-year-old-freshman-20160902-snap-story.html[/url]

Totally minor compared to the other feedback and focused on style/writing...

I like narrative based introductions, but yours is a bit too long, IMO.

I really dislike the 'That will do, I think to myself.'

I also intensely dislike 'The idea is more important and interesting than it sounds, if the reader will indulge me a moment to expand on it.' This sentence comes off as extremely pretentious, but, at the same time, it also manages to diminish the importance of the idea. It's important - why qualify it. The reader should know its importance without some kind of weird flag.

I don't see the need for double prepositional phrasing 'ten minutes, after...' just do 'after...' the ten minutes really just makes it less significant and less impactful. Spending ten minutes looking through books isn't really sufficient time to 'wade through volume after tedious volume.'

I would never use the phrasing, 'I want to study law for various reasons'... just say the reasons... it's especially odd to say various reasons and then basically just talk about one reason in great depth.

'I had finally found something of significance' -> 'I finally found something of significance' {This phrase I actually like} but 'something that greatly advanced the good' seems off. I assume this is in reference to the public good? I am not familiar with the idea 'the good.'

'And dedicate myself completely I did' is another phrasing that comes off as unnecessarily pretentious, IMO.

'juggle a five class course load' - I'd leave this out. Isn't four-five classes a normal course load? It was at least a normal course load at my UG (which is also a T14 law school) so I assume it's probably pretty normal at most undergrads/those with top law programs... either way, I don't think anyone reads five class course load as particularly demanding. I'm not saying it's easy, and I'm not trying to belittle. I'm just being honest that it will read weird (IMO) to refer to it as you have.

Your grammar / punctuation also seems off.

'The economic and ecological benefits of a LVT are both numerous and enormous, and I fully believe taxing land value is a central reform necessary to creating a just economy, and in turn a just society.'

should probably be

'The economic and ecological benefits of a LVT are both numerous and enormous, and I fully believe taxing land value is a central reform necessary to creating a just economy and, in turn, a just society.'

This seems pretty off to me as well...

'My life, however, is not dedicated to the idea of studying the law, or even becoming a prosecutor – it is dedicated to an idea, to one policy in particular, namely the implementation of a land value tax (LVT).'

'What does not break you, though, makes you stronger (if not your law school application)' ... I generally hate platitudes, but it's kind of cute what you did here... I actually like it...whether it's great for a PS or not, I dunno.

Generally, I really dislike acronyms, but it would make sense here given how many times you use LVT. If you do significant revisions where LVT becomes a smaller part of your statement, you should likely just type out Land Value Tax even if it's used three or four times. You can use some pronouns as well to cut down on the use.

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby echonov » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:54 am

natural_law wrote:I wanted to rely on LVT for reasons that are not exactly rational, without going into further detail.

Clearly I am rethinking that approach.

I don't think cavalier has ever written a post that wasn't snarky af.

Thank you for the actual criticism echo.


You're welcome for the advice, but FWIW, I think you're doing yourself a disservice by not taking some of the other commenters seriously. At the end of the day, it's no skin off their nose if you do or don't succeed. I sincerely doubt there's some kind of ulterior motive in their commenting -- they're offering you genuine perspective based on their experiences, and snark or not, it's worth listening when multiple people are giving you the same advice.

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby lymenheimer » Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:41 am

There is a way to may this topic work...i do not know that way, but this is not it. You come off v intolerable and "enlightened" in essentially breaking the fourth wall, and i don't mean that as a compliment. Your strategy is also whack. Combined with your previous post, you want to go T6, but you're fine if this PS only hits for 1/10. The problem is, you don't know which 1 it will hit for (hint: likely none), and even if it hits for one member, applications are often reviewed by more than one individual depending on the school, so that other person might not like it. You use unnecessary words that attempt to come off smart but just sound awful. I'd change the topic for every school, but if you can write something more tolerable, then this topic could work.

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby 34iplaw » Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:17 pm

lymenheimer wrote:I have the best avatar ever.


That you do Ruby Rhod.

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Re: First attempt was crap, hopefully this one doesn't make me sound like an unbearable ass. Feedback would be v appreci

Postby lymenheimer » Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:39 pm

34iplaw wrote:
lymenheimer wrote:I have the best avatar ever.


That you do Ruby Rhod.

:lol:



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