I'm hoping to submit asap. Mainly t20 schools. 3.6/167 Non-URM. Any critique or notes welcome. Especially if you can help point out cliches and alternatives.
Memories of my childhood are clouded with cigarette smoke and stomach pangs, littered with stacks of unpaid bills and empty whiskey bottles. My mom and I lived in a crowded two-bedroom trailer with rotating roommates when I was lucky, live in boyfriends when I wasn’t. Her addictions and undiagnosed mental health issues meant none of them ever stayed around for long, but I never really minded. During one particularly long spell, I remember walking home from school in the dead of winter, wind blowing and snow swirling in dizzying patterns, puffy pink mittens making my hands clumsy as I struggled to turn the key in the front door. When I finally pushed my way inside anticipating the rush of warm air, I was met with only cold and darkness. No lights, no heat, no power. I sat for as long as I could, bundled up in blankets and sweatshirts, swapping out my wet mittens for layers of dry socks, but when my teeth started chattering again I knew I couldn’t wait. I ran from trailer to trailer leaping up shaky metal stairs, pounding on flimsy doors until finally, someone answered. The old man who at the door didn’t say much but was quick to call the power company. After a bit of yelling, he said I could go home, and off I went, back to the piles of clutter, this time bathed in warm light. The next time the power went out I didn’t have to go to the neighbors, instead, I called the power company myself. That day I learned that when you have a problem you have to do something if you want it to change.
From time to time I’ve reflected back on that experience. I’ve thought about how smart I was to go to the neighbors, how brave I was knocking on strangers doors and how quickly I learned to call the power company myself. As I’ve grown older and realized how impoverished my family really was, I’ve credited myself with overcoming obstacle after obstacle. It wasn’t until recently I realized how much help I’ve really had along the way. Without the support of neighbors, teachers, and friends, I would still be in that trailer park waiting for someone else to pay the electric bill.
My pathway out of poverty was paved with report cards no one would ever read, awards no one would ever celebrate and a lot of hard work. But as hard as I’ve worked to overcome my upbringing I know that there are plenty of people who have not been as fortunate. I’ve seen the wreckage of a system that sets people up to fail. After college, I went on to serve in AmeriCorps VISTA, a program that touted a goal of ending poverty- lofty at best and delusional at it’s worst. Most of my days were spent in an old desk salvaged from a dusty corner of the basement listening as family after family recounted stories of the tragedy that put them over the edge. Facing evictions, medical bills and wage garnishment their paths to success were covered in the rubble of one misfortune or another. I referred many of my clients to legal aid, but with long waitlists and strict income limits, most of the people I worked with were stuck in the awkward balance of being too poor to afford private legal support, but not quite poor enough to qualify for public aid. For many of the families I worked with, this was the end of our relationship, without a legal education there was nothing more I could do.
My experiences, while not unique, have primed me to advocate for clients with compassion and understanding. I know that the difference between the “haves” and “have-nots” is nothing more than opportunity and I am committed to working in the public service sphere to increase access to affordable and reliable legal services to help others create their own pathways.
X is one of only a handful of schools truly dedicated to public service and I was thrilled to see the opportunities within the X Program. Looking to the future, the various opportunities working with the X and such an experienced group of faculty only amplify my excitement to be applying to X Law. I know that my background will bring a unique perspective to X and makes me distinctly qualified for this opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you soon and pursuing my legal education with X.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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