PS critique, happy to swap

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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PS critique, happy to swap

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:48 pm

Hi all. 3.5/169 shooting for UVA (best regional school for me). Happy to swap as well if you want (just PM me).

At the age of six, I immigrated to the U.S. with my parents. Although I studied English before our arrival, nothing could have prepared me for the cultural and political differences I would face here. I had a new set of behaviors to learn: No bowing, not taking my shoes off inside, and making firm eye contact with others. A new culture to absorb: A crash course in 90’s cartoons, enthusiastically cheering on the Eagles, and watching the Simpsons. But when I decided to volunteer with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition this year, I was reminded not only of the exciting parts of becoming an immigrant, but also to the hardships that my parents and I faced during the immigration process when I met with Carlos. Carlos had come from El Salvador legally as a teen, but he’d gotten in trouble with the law a few times. After he was released from jail, he wanted to stay in the US because he’d reformed, planned on getting a degree, and wanted to take care of his siblings. The more he talked about his experiences in the immigration system, the more I remembered the long lines at the office as I waited to have a photo taken, my father pacing the apartment as he waited, worried about the status of his work visa, then later our green cards. We both remembered the fear, the uncertainty, and worst of all, the endless waiting. Carlos was like me – he just wanted to stay in the place he now called home. This was not only an opportunity to help those who were suffering through the immigration system, it was an experience that piqued my interest in immigration law.

Because of the legal and economic challenges my family faced to immigrate here, the visit woke in me a desire to make the way easier for others, and realizing this might be best accomplished through the law, I decided to continue volunteering at the CAIR Coalition. There, alongside attorneys, I visited immigrant detainees in jail to tell them about their rights and their options for fighting deportation and the immigration court. But while telling them this, I also listened to their stories. As Carlos spoke in Spanish, the stories he told were colorful, unhindered in this environment. He spoke passionately about the difficulties he’d faced in supporting his brothers here. When he told me that he found it hard to get steady work, it reminded me of my father looking for a job, any job, despite being college-educated, because work was what gave us legal status in America. Carlos and my father told me the same story in Spanish and in Korean: they both wanted the same chance as any immigrant to become citizens, to gain legal recognition for a quality which they had already internalized – being American.

My encounters with the issue of immigration didn’t stop there. While collecting and analyzing data on labor disputes at the National Archives as an Economics Research Assistant, which involved looking at old labor union cases, I found that the legal issues of immigration and labor relations were intertwined. Sorting through these cases, I continued to run into cases where workers who went on strike were subsequently sent back to their home country when they couldn’t find a job here. My research not only asked me to read these cases, but to figure out the decision, based on the documentation available: briefs, charges, letters to the NLRB, appeals. The letters enclosed, the depositions, and the statements, all put a human face to people who were long gone, on matters that I had thought impersonal. But wanting to obtain as much hands on courtroom exposure as permissible in my college career, I also successfully tried out for the top team in my school’s Mock Trial team for two years. There, I argued cases in front of judges and lawyers about bribery and discrimination in the workplace.

After having seen the impact the law can have on improving the lives of immigrants, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the law. Drawing from my firsthand experience in working with immigrants, combined with my academic exposure to case analysis, and my experiences with the Mock Trial team, I believe that UVA’s Immigration Law program offers a former immigrant, now an American, a chance to help others in that position.

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Re: PS critique, happy to swap

Postby arroznueve » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:55 pm

Be careful about two things:

(1) Remember you are writing about yourself, not someone else. You do a pretty good job of keeping this focused on how your experiences with others impacted you, but just keep that in mind when revising to make sure there are no points where the reader is thinking only about Carlos, and not about you. Restated, every time you are talking about someone else, the reader should still be thinking primarily about you.

(2) Confidentiality is a big deal in the legal profession. I would caution you against applying to law schools with a personal statement that discloses information that could be confidential (or would have been confidential in a client-lawyer relationship, even though that was not what you and Carlos had). Using someone's name, revealing their past legal problems, and sharing other details of their story is risky. I understand what you're trying to do; in fact, I like what you're trying to do. One recommendation I could make is aggregation. "At the CAIR Coalition, I heard stories about [various things you want to mention]." It detaches specific stories from specific clients by providing less detailed indicators of themes in what you encountered.

Good luck!

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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: PS critique, happy to swap

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:41 pm

1) I'll try to adjust slightly, that comment reflects what some of my friends have stated.

2) I'll try to hit a good balance of being specific, but not too specific (no names, soften specificity of details/group people's stories together, etc). I thought the usage of a first name only would be sufficient, but that's an good point.

Thanks so much for the review!

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