Use draft or start over?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
abcedfg0987
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Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:02 pm

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Last edited by abcedfg0987 on Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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4LTsPointingNorth
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby 4LTsPointingNorth » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Not great, not terrible. With some heavy edits you could probably use much of this. Consider waiting until September and applying early in the application cycle for better opportunities next year.

If you really want to be a public defender, you need to add some more info in about service activities you've done, other things in the public interest you've pursued, and other compelling reasons why you intend to pursue this avenue of practice. Having watched a doc on Netflix and played a defense attorney in a couple middle school plays doesn't exactly scream compelling justification. I would also cut the sentence "I began to explore attending law school..." If you don't have reasons for wanting to be a public defender other than you now want to cure injustice after having witnessed it in a documentary, consider changing your personal statement topic to something that is more representative of how you've lived your life thus far.

The references to Kentucky and Lousiana make sense if you're from one and are applying to a law school in the other, but otherwise it just looks like you googled, "Shitty public defenders offices" and then tossed those states in to signal you'd done a bit of research.

You need to add a final paragraph tying it all together. Ending a personal statement with token references to a school and one or two of its highlights won't do you any favors.

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Thomas Hagan, ESQ.
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby Thomas Hagan, ESQ. » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:28 pm

hmmmm couple of thoughts:

1. It's really late in the cycle to be applying "in a couple of weeks." Worst case scenario, you can apply this cycle to see what you get but you can work on your PS over the summer and apply in September to drastically improve your admission chances.

2. So your PS message is moreorless "i watched Making a Murderer" and that's why I want to be a Public Defender? I agree with the above suggestion that you should discuss WHY you think you should be a public defender and how your past experiences brings you to that conclusion.

3. Your first part about growing up and always being the defense counsel in mock trials is kind of irrelevant. Yeah, it's a cute story and all but it doesn't do anything to answer why you want to be a lawyer. You just kind of said, "i was always the pretend defense lawyer growing up but I didn't think too much of it at the time."

If it helps, this is what the train of ideas progressed throughout your PS:

1. I was always the pretend defense lawyer growing up but didn't think too much of it at the time.
2. However, I recent saw Making a Murderer and saw how messed up the criminal justice system was, especially pertaining to public defenders.
3. And that's why I want to be a public defender.

Try working backwards and start identifying these questions:
1. Why do I, through my personal experiences, want to be a public defender?
2. How can my experiences, motivations, beliefs help me become a public defender?

cavalier1138
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:01 pm

Yeah, I would avoid making this all about one documentary you saw, because your application will be read alongside people who have actual experience with the system. And under no circumstances should you be applying this cycle.

abcedfg0987
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:04 am

4LTsPointingNorth wrote:You need to add a final paragraph tying it all together.


I know this is true, but I am having trouble with the conclusion and do not know where to begin.

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4LTsPointingNorth
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby 4LTsPointingNorth » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:11 am

abcedfg0987 wrote:
4LTsPointingNorth wrote:You need to add a final paragraph tying it all together.


I know this is true, but I am having trouble with the conclusion and do not know where to begin.


Begin with the advice you've received above. If you're just citing an interest in becoming a public defender because you're trying to offer a plausible justification for your interest in law school, then you need to scrap this entirely and find a new angle. On the other hand, if you have other concrete life experience related to wanting to be a public defender, you need to devote more space narratively to that and reduce the focus on middle school plays and a Netflix documentary.

But ultimately the biggest takeaway is that you still have nine months to figure this out. You shouldn't apply to law schools this cycle. By waiting until September, without changing anything else, you will markedly improve your chances of admission to schools and your chances of scholarship offers from those same schools. So feel free to PM me in August with an updated personal statement, and I'll be thrilled to give you a line by line edit then.

abcedfg0987
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:15 am

Thomas Hagan, ESQ. wrote: you can apply this cycle to see what you get
Yeah, that’s the plan. If I end up without a good outcome I’ll try again next year, but I am definitely 100% applying this cycle.


Thomas Hagan, ESQ. wrote:1. Why do I, through my personal experiences, want to be a public defender?
2. How can my experiences, motivations, beliefs help me become a public defender?


That is the problem. I just want to be a lawyer because I know it is something that would interest me and that I would be good at. This is partially because law-related classes were my favorites in undergrad. My ultimate ambition is to do work that serves a purpose and that makes a concrete difference in the world. I think the most efficient career path for this goal in law would be for me to become a public defender. That is the pretty much the beginning and end of my motivation.

The frustrating thing is that no “exciting life experience” has led me to this decision. That’s why I’m having trouble writing a personal statement. I’ve had plenty of hobbies and good times, but from the point of view of a personal statement my life has nothing more to offer than uninteresting cliché. I could write about growing up as a middle-class only child who has never overcome any adversity and done decently well in school. I could also write about delivering meaningless pizzas and wings to innumerable strangers. Neither of these seem like quality material, though.

I want to go to law school because I want something more out of life and I'm confident that I can succeed there academically, not because of some kind of event or set of circumstances that have given me clarity about my future.

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4LTsPointingNorth
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby 4LTsPointingNorth » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:22 am

abcedfg0987 wrote:
Thomas Hagan, ESQ. wrote: you can apply this cycle to see what you get
Yeah, that’s the plan. If I end up without a good outcome I’ll try again next year, but I am definitely 100% applying this cycle.


Thomas Hagan, ESQ. wrote:1. Why do I, through my personal experiences, want to be a public defender?
2. How can my experiences, motivations, beliefs help me become a public defender?


That is the problem. I just want to be a lawyer because I know it is something that would interest me and that I would be good at. This is partially because law-related classes were my favorites in undergrad. My ultimate ambition is to do work that serves a purpose and that makes a concrete difference in the world. I think the most efficient career path for this goal in law would be for me to become a public defender. That is the pretty much the beginning and end of my motivation.

The frustrating thing is that no “exciting life experience” has led me to this decision. That’s why I’m having trouble writing a personal statement. I’ve had plenty of hobbies and good times, but from the point of view of a personal statement my life has nothing more to offer than uninteresting cliché. I could write about growing up as a middle-class only child who has never overcome any adversity and done decently well in school. I could also write about delivering meaningless pizzas and wings to innumerable strangers. Neither of these seem like quality material, though.

I want to go to law school because I want something more out of life and I'm confident that I can succeed there academically, not because of some kind of event or set of circumstances that have given me clarity about my future.


FWIW, there's no set of life experiences that "qualify" you for law school. You just have to use what you've got in an authentic way. The reason we're cautioning you against the public defender angle is because, in your set of circumstances, it will almost certainly strike an admissions officer with years of public interest experience as insincere.

On the other hand, you can write a very sincere and compelling personal statement about delivering pizzas. You just have to be a little more creative about how you go about doing so.

cavalier1138
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:25 am

You can speak in generalized terms (like you just did) about your desire to use the law to help underprivileged/underserved communities. You just can't justify it by saying that you watched "Making a Murderer" and suddenly realized that injustice exists.

And again, unless you're not paying to submit applications, you should really not bother with this cycle. You'll be submitting too late, and it'll just be a waste of money.

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mjb447
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:10 am

4LTsPointingNorth wrote: If you're just citing an interest in becoming a public defender because you're trying to offer a plausible justification for your interest in law school, then you need to scrap this entirely and find a new angle. On the other hand, if you have other concrete life experience related to wanting to be a public defender, you need to devote more space narratively to that and reduce the focus on middle school plays and a Netflix documentary.

+1. Your PS doesn't necessarily have to answer "why law school?": it can just be a good idea if you've got a compelling reason. You might not, so you may need to talk about something else.

DrGlennRichie
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby DrGlennRichie » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:27 pm

Scrap it altogether. Really weak. You also start with glaring grammar error.

abcedfg0987
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:34 pm

DrGlennRichie wrote:Scrap it altogether. Really weak. You also start with glaring grammar error.


What grammar error?

DrGlennRichie
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby DrGlennRichie » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:09 pm

abcedfg0987 wrote:
DrGlennRichie wrote:Scrap it altogether. Really weak. You also start with glaring grammar error.


What grammar error?


Who was growing up in the first sentence?

emmbeegee
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby emmbeegee » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:33 am

For what it's worth, a dean I interviewed with last week specifically mentioned that Making a Murderer and The Night Of are "the new Jerry McGuire" in terms of being an overused and trite explanation for why an applicant wants to be a lawyer.

Remember that your PS doesn't have to be a "why law school" essay (unless some specific school requires it). If you don't have a clear and compelling story to tell about your road to a law degree, tell a different story.

abcedfg0987
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:10 pm

DrGlennRichie wrote:
abcedfg0987 wrote:
DrGlennRichie wrote:Scrap it altogether. Really weak. You also start with glaring grammar error.


What grammar error?


Who was growing up in the first sentence?


This might be a poor style choice, (doubtful) but it isn’t a grammatical error. I'm using an implied subject. This is a form of ellipsis. I think it sounds better when I omit "While I was" from the beginning of the sentence. When the subject is clear, it is sometimes unnecessary. This is the same reason you can write “thank you” or “thanks” instead of “I thank you”. This isn’t a newspaper report, so I don’t need to use absolutely formal and precise language. I’ll change the first “the” to “our”, though. That will make it a little bit less vague.

abcedfg0987
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby abcedfg0987 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:11 pm

emmbeegee wrote:For what it's worth, a dean I interviewed with last week specifically mentioned that Making a Murderer and The Night Of are "the new Jerry McGuire" in terms of being an overused and trite explanation for why an applicant wants to be a lawyer.

Remember that your PS doesn't have to be a "why law school" essay (unless some specific school requires it). If you don't have a clear and compelling story to tell about your road to a law degree, tell a different story.


Dammit, that is exactly the kind of thing I didn’t want to hear, haha. I seriously don’t have any interesting stories to tell, though,

If I can’t come up with something new soon, I might just submit a version of this and hope it isn’t quite bad enough to make a significant difference in my apps.

emmbeegee
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Re: Use draft or start over?

Postby emmbeegee » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:59 am

abcedfg0987 wrote:
emmbeegee wrote:For what it's worth, a dean I interviewed with last week specifically mentioned that Making a Murderer and The Night Of are "the new Jerry McGuire" in terms of being an overused and trite explanation for why an applicant wants to be a lawyer.

Remember that your PS doesn't have to be a "why law school" essay (unless some specific school requires it). If you don't have a clear and compelling story to tell about your road to a law degree, tell a different story.


Dammit, that is exactly the kind of thing I didn’t want to hear, haha. I seriously don’t have any interesting stories to tell, though,

If I can’t come up with something new soon, I might just submit a version of this and hope it isn’t quite bad enough to make a significant difference in my apps.


The childhood memory of playing the defender works, IMHO. It's personal, gives a glimpse into you as a person rather than just a set of numbers. Can you work with that intro and then expand the college classes/becoming more aware and dissolusioned, wanting to "play the defense attorney" for real people? You can easily bring it full circle without using Murderer.

Or use it. This was just one guy's opinion, not an official LSAC proclamation, right?

(Edited because teh spellings is hard)




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