When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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clementinetalkie
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When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby clementinetalkie » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:04 pm

When did you guys start writing your personal statements? I 'm not applying to law school till this fall, but I'm so excited to get started! It might be too early, but I wanted to gauge you guy's responses. I also have to write a diversity statement, but nonetheless, how long did it take you to write your personal statement? When did you start?

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floatie
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby floatie » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:46 pm

I started in July. I'd say it took me a solid 2 months to get a PS that I was happy with, and even after that I continued to revise it and get feedback from others.

dinizdeoliveira
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby dinizdeoliveira » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:05 pm

If it makes you feel better, I too plan on applying in the fall and have begun to draft my personal statement this week. No time like the present, I guess.

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Bob loblaw law blog
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby Bob loblaw law blog » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:40 pm

After the June LSAT. Took about 2 weeks to hammer it out. If you haven't taken the LSAT yet I think your time is better spent studying. Even if you have honestly I would stress very little about your PS. It can really only hurt you in most cases so just make sure it's error free and uncontroversial (unless you actually DO have a good story that fits well into a law school PS, then by all means use it and spend a ton of time making it better. )

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180pedia
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby 180pedia » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:03 pm

IMO, a good PS is introspective. It takes far more time to conceive of a great PS than to hammer out the specific language, IMO.

Start early... jot something down... even if it's a paragraph and not necessarily directly related to LS necessarily. Don't get too set on one topic yet (may not apply to everyone.)

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bitter_melon
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby bitter_melon » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:30 am

It took me roughly a month to figure out what I wanted to write about. After that, it took me about an hour to hammer out a first draft. That night I scrapped what I'd done (but knew that I was on the right path) and spent probably about forty minutes writing another one. I set it aside and did some edits the next day, and the day after that I sent in my first applications.

I agree with the notion that, if you're confident in your writing abilities and you come up with something that really comes from the heart, hammering out the language might not take that long. For me, the hardest part was cycling between topics before I had an "aha" moment and picked something completely true to my heart. After that, it was easy.

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clementinetalkie
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby clementinetalkie » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:28 am

dinizdeoliveira wrote:If it makes you feel better, I too plan on applying in the fall and have begun to draft my personal statement this week. No time like the present, I guess.

That definitely does make me feel better! Good to know there are others that are super early too!

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clementinetalkie
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby clementinetalkie » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:33 am

Bob loblaw law blog wrote:After the June LSAT. Took about 2 weeks to hammer it out. If you haven't taken the LSAT yet I think your time is better spent studying. Even if you have honestly I would stress very little about your PS. It can really only hurt you in most cases so just make sure it's error free and uncontroversial (unless you actually DO have a good story that fits well into a law school PS, then by all means use it and spend a ton of time making it better. )

You're probs right. I won't spend too much time on it. LSAT takes precedence.

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Dreadhead168
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby Dreadhead168 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:52 am

180pedia wrote:IMO, a good PS is introspective. It takes far more time to conceive of a great PS than to hammer out the specific language, IMO.

Start early... jot something down... even if it's a paragraph and not necessarily directly related to LS necessarily. Don't get too set on one topic yet (may not apply to everyone.)


Seconding this point. While you ultimately may not spend that much time writing and editing your personal statement, nailing down the right topic is something that just takes passive time.

I started thinking about my PS in late Spring (April or May) and initially wrote down an idea that I thought I was going to stick with. For a few months I just let it sat, turning back to it every few weeks to think about whether it was a good idea or not, fine tuning a few things here or there and jotting down ideas as they sprang up. But at a certain point I just realized that my idea wasn't going to work, and eventually I completely overhauled it in September. Once that final idea was set, it took about another month of revisions and sending drafts to other people before it was ready. But it was those few months of simply letting it sit that really made me comfortable with my topic.

Given the huge investment that law school is, don't give yourself the chance to have regrets about not doing your best on the application (or at least the parts of your application that are still within your control). I guarantee that somebody who starts thinking about their PS as early as possible will be have a more coherent (and personal) topic and narrative than somebody else from a similar background who started thinking about it later and closer to when applications are due. Most applicants are still young enough that they are going through major ideological changes in the months that they work on their applications. That might be because they are finishing their last year of college, they just started their first professional job, or have moved to a new location recently. New ideas form daily, and it takes time and a lot of introspection to realize which of those ideas are truly important to your self-identity.

Also, it should be noted that while most of the PS prompts for the T-14 schools are very similar, some emphasize focus on certain areas over others. Northwestern highly values work-experience. Likewise, the admission deans at Berkeley have stressed that they prefer applicants to fully use the four pages that they are allowed to write in. Many of the schools only allow two-pages and certain font size limits, and some schools (like Michigan) don't have limit requirements but have stated in various forums outside of the application itself that they prefer their personal statements to be at a certain limit. I initially geared my PS towards Berkeley's preferences, but realized that I couldn't condense the topic I chose to write about into two pages. So I wound up writing a different PS that fit more cleanly in two pages for the other schools that didn't allow four page PS. If you have a dream school in mind, I recommend doing your research to find out what they really like in a PS and work your way from there. It will take time to do said research, so get the jump as early as possible.

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180pedia
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby 180pedia » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:41 pm

Dreadhead168 wrote:
180pedia wrote:IMO, a good PS is introspective. It takes far more time to conceive of a great PS than to hammer out the specific language, IMO.

Start early... jot something down... even if it's a paragraph and not necessarily directly related to LS necessarily. Don't get too set on one topic yet (may not apply to everyone.)


Seconding this point. While you ultimately may not spend that much time writing and editing your personal statement, nailing down the right topic is something that just takes passive time.


Thank you for quoting my terrible diction for prosperity. :lol:

On my end, I'll detail my process since I didn't mention it much in my first post. Personally, I believe that I had a fairly strong and compelling personal statement because I was able to build a narrative. I'm in the process of seeing whether Adcomms agree.

Step 1 [4.0 months]) I spent the better portion of six or eight months thinking about my statement. I had an initial rough draft that was a bit too depressing, but it sort of hit on areas I wanted. During this time, I would try my best to write anything that came to mind down without regard for whether it could be turned into a full statement or not. After a while, I started to really hone in on points.

Step 2 [0.5 months]) Try to pick the points you want to come up with actual full statements or key components - introduction, body, conclusion.

Step 3 [1.5 months]) Write full statements and try to rewrite previous statements from memory. IMO, there is a benefit to rewriting a statement from memory - you may come up with a better and more logical flow, stronger and more convincing language, etc.

Step 4 [1-2 months]) Nitpicky editing.

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Dreadhead168
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby Dreadhead168 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:50 pm

180pedia wrote:Thank you for quoting my terrible diction for prosperity. :lol:


Eh, brevity is the soul of wit. You got the point across :lol:

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Thomas Hagan, ESQ.
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby Thomas Hagan, ESQ. » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:04 pm

I'm not sure how you can be "too early" to start writing your PS...haha i mean it's not like the LSAT where you burn out.

Anyway I started writing it maybe in March, and started applying in November! Made multiple drafts!

jag13
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby jag13 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:24 am

Started May/June before my cycle, finished it first week of August. (2-page version and longer version) Probably went through 17+ drafts. Starting early can never be a hindrance.

20170322
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby 20170322 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:35 am

Tbh start to finish in like a week. Once you know what you're writing, it's easy to get the words on paper.

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The_Pluviophile
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Re: When Did You Start Writing Your PS?

Postby The_Pluviophile » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:35 pm

clementinetalkie wrote:When did you guys start writing your personal statements? I 'm not applying to law school till this fall, but I'm so excited to get started! It might be too early, but I wanted to gauge you guy's responses. I also have to write a diversity statement, but nonetheless, how long did it take you to write your personal statement? When did you start?


I thought I had several ideas months in advance and had been advised by a Professor I'm close with to start on it early, so I wrote a draft late in the spring before I applied. It was crappy and I got bogged down doing more important (read: fun) things for the rest of the summer and into Fall semester (I was abroad during app season) so it fell by the wayside. I finally started trying to seriously work on it mid-November in the hopes of having my apps out by Thanksgiving. I don't say this to scare you, and my experience may have not have been normal, but I wrote about ten different drafts in the following two or three weeks. I kept changing topics because none of them felt good enough and I got progressively more frustrated as thanksgiving came and went.

Eventually I wrote about a topic I'd considered but which had originally felt too cheesy. I ended up blending it with another draft on a more serious topic, and I think it worked out great in the end. I've gotten good feedback on it from outside sources, and I haven't been rejected anywhere, so I can only assume it did the trick :lol: . I ended up getting apps out the second week of December, which isn't terrible, but it would have been nice to start getting decisions sooner.

My advice, therefore, is: do start early (the more stressed you are about getting it done to get apps out, the harder it's going to be), don't get too attached to a topic, don't be afraid to write lots of drafts (including on different topics), and take criticism seriously but don't get discouraged. Also, write about something you can be sincere about, even if it doesn't seem like the most amazing thing anyone has ever done. I got a bit dragged down at the beginning trying to write about what I thought was objectively my "best" accomplishment rather than something that actually meant a lot to me.

If you're interested, I'd be happy to send my PS your way. I'd give a teaser on what its framework is, but I think it's unique enough to out me. Good luck with your applications next year!




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