Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

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London_LA
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Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:46 am

I need to edit it and rewrite sections, but would appreciate your thoughts on content and the line I'm taking with this. Basically, I have written really shitty PSs to date, and am keen to get a sense whether you think this is viable or not.


When I was younger, I woke up every Saturday morning for five years at 7:00am to attend Chapel as part of our school routine. Later on at university, I elected to tutor high-school students on Saturday mornings instead of during week nights. Since then, however, only two things have been able to rouse me early on a weekend: good surf and political protests. On Saturday, 4th of February, 2017, I wiped the sleep out of my eye and walked out of the door. After living in London for more than a decade, I’d learned to read the weather. The sky was a particularly unpromising shade of gray – today would be no day at the beach.

I had turned back inside to retrieve my raincoat when the thought crossed my mind: “Bring your passport, just in case.” Sometimes I have an intuitive thought that comes with baggage that needs to be unpacked in order to make clearer sense of the idea. The conclusion may be there, but the rationale for the conclusion is still being formulated, as if my conscious mind is playing catch up with its unconscious self. Just in case...what, exactly? I was mulling it over as I ran up the steps to my bedroom, opened my backpack, and separated my American passport from the U.K. one. I flicked the British passport back into my bag, and was holding the U.S. one in my hands when the thought completed itself: “Bring your American passport, just in case you want to burn it.”

The underground in London is a loud and bumpy ride, but I find it a surprisingly good place to think. I started with the negatives of the proposed course of action. Potential costs could come in the form of time, money, and reputation, as well as legal repercussions. I used the wifi at one of the station stops to look up whether there were any relevant statutes. Destruction of Government Property (18 U.S.C. § 1361) seemed to be applicable, but I figured I was outside of U.S. jurisdiction, and the U.K. did not have any laws preventing destruction of a passport of another nationality. I also considered the divisive nature of the action, and how it could potentially be used for propaganda, before deciding this negative was outweighed by the positive optics the action would have with certain audiences. Ironically, my third greatest concern was how such an action could be perceived by an Admissions officer, if for whatever reason it ever came to light. Naivety, recklessness, and imprudence would no doubt be the potential charges, even if I did not get myself arrested.

It started raining when I got to the U.S. Embassy, where the protest against Trump’s travel ban was scheduled to begin. Pressure had been growing on Trump since his inauguration, with resistance mounting against the ban from the stages of Hollywood, to the courtrooms of Hawaii. There were only several hundred people at the Embassy when I first arrived, but by the time the march reached Downing Street later that day, it was 100,000 strong. Clearly, a lot of people thought as I did, namely that the ban was on travel in name, but on Muslims in practice; that the intent of the law, if not its lettering, offended the First Amendment and Equal Protections Clause of the Constitution; that there was no serious national security rationale to justify the policy; and that the policy would further alienate Muslims and the world from an America exercising a unilaterally aggressive and unapologetically misguided foreign policy. In this context, I thought the image of an American burning their passport in opposition to the travel ban would convey to Muslims a message of solidarity, so that they knew there were Americans who would fight with them, rather than against them.

I love my country and the rights it has enshrined in the Constitution, and so did not take the decision to destroy a highly symbolic document lightly. My hands were shaking and I was emotional, but I composed myself somewhat in the few minutes that passed before someone else noticed what was happening. Shortly thereafter, I was faced with a wall of cameras, and after a couple more minutes of letting the flame do its work, I dropped the passport, declined an interview (what was left to say?), and made a quick exit from the scene. I immediately felt physically sick with nervousness and tried to walk it off for a couple hours in a nearby park. The next day, I saw that a video of the event had made the news and gone viral, enraging Trump supporters, but prompting a universally positive response from Muslims. My mother, however, was not best pleased when she heard.

I tell this story to illustrate a simple point: I have the will to fight. In fact, there is nothing I relish more in the world than a good fight, figuratively speaking. I remember watching Juan Martinez prosecute Jodi Arias for murder, and as Mr. Martinez’s voice raised to a crescendo in his cross-examination of Arias, so too my heart began to race. It was as if I were right there in the courtroom with him, cheering each verbal blow as if the argumentation were my own. It was pure intellectual combat, and I was quickly hooked on the idea of exercising the same fervour in the pursuit of justice at trial one day. My family has often advised me to apply to law school in the U.K., where they are born and bred, and where fees are much less, but I tell them that America is where the fight is, and that is where I am headed.

In addition to will, I have worked for four years to pay for law school myself, to avoid relying any further on unearned benefits from my family or the taxpayer. I possess the necessary means and conviction, and can only hope for the opportunity to hone my skills through legal study. I view the law as the most effective training one can receive in the fight to advance justice for all, and I am keen to learn anything that will make me more effective in promoting this end.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:09 am

It's risky. I have a viscerally negative reaction to the idea/image of you burning your passport. I don't know if adcomms will share
It or if they'll look past that. Otherwise I think it's fairly well done, though I'd probably leave off the stuff at the end about making enough to pay your way - that's not supposed to matter for admissions and I wouldn't make that part of your argument for yourself.

cavalier1138
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:17 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Otherwise I think it's fairly well done, though I'd probably leave off the stuff at the end about making enough to pay your way - that's not supposed to matter for admissions and I wouldn't make that part of your argument for yourself.


I second this.

I actually had much more negative reaction to that last paragraph. It reads as an insult to every student who doesn't have $300,000 under their mattress, and it especially reads as an insult to anyone who wants to go into public service and rely on LRAP/PSLF to help pay their debt off. The adcomms don't care how you're funding your education, and you come across as a dick by pointing it out.

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UVA2B
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby UVA2B » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:38 am

Agree with both Nony and Cav on this, it's way too risky and could definitely paint you in a negative light. There is a sizable portion of the population that will have the same visceral reaction to burning a passport in protest of something you see as wrong, because generally disavowing your citizenship in this country, even symbolically, tends to draw very personal emotions. And even if the particular ADCOM may tell themselves to ignore their own feelings on the matter, they might question your judgment in using that anecdote to demonstrate something about yourself. Not all will, but you run the risk. When contrasted with the positives it shows about you, the downside outweighs the risk.

And yeah, don't tell an ADCOM you're rich or whatever the situation may be. It actually paints the preceding anecdote a little bit like an entitled protestor, in that you're pointing to your sense of moral right and wrong in protesting the travel ban, then doubling down with, "thankfully I won't have debt or rely on the federal government to cover my claim of some moral high ground."

I also found the connection to the Jodi Arias trial a bit odd when contrasted with the rest of your PS. I understand you want to demonstrate a passion for the profession by using a tangible point where you felt a connection with the profession, but using something that was essentially tabloid fodder made me react like, "come on..." You and everyone else watched that trial because it was a media spectacle. Even if it's true you felt a connection with her attorney's arguments, it comes off pretty superficially.

Your writing is solid and it's not as horrible as my critique may make you feel, but there are some pretty important decisions you need to make on the substance of your PS, because structurally you're relying on some pretty risky anecdotes.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:11 am

You guys seriously don't think it's worth mentioning that I've saved $250k in 4 years of employment in order to finance law school instead of just taking the money from my parents? I mean, is it worth mentioning if I can phrase it differently? I feel like that is a pretty significant achievement that shows a) long-term interest in and commitment to law school, (b) that I'm not relying on unearned benefits from my parents, and c) that I am giving up a highly profitable career to go into public service (because I truly want to do it). Maybe I perceive this as unreasonably important for personal reasons...

The Jodi Arias bit is in there because it was one of the first trials I watched fully, as in I watched every minute while at university. It was in the old personal statement, so can understand that it doesn't flow naturally, but I do want to make reference to becoming a prosecutor (as that's what I want to do) and it was watching Juan Martinez that had that influence on me (and that's the truth). I didn't even realise the trial was a media spectacle until after it was over and I mentioned it to someone IRL who knew about it. I thought it was just me and my bud watching an obscure murder trial in Arizona after classes with 1,000 other regulars on youtube. Any tips on how to make this come across as more authentic?

As for the content itself, I understand it's risky, but this is in the context of me having a shit GPA 2.6 and a 178 LSAT. I figure this PS is going to hit hard or miss hard. As I'm not dead-set on getting into any school in particular, and am applying to quite a few, I think it's a worthwhile gamble to take as it may put me over the edge at a reach school, but I should have a safety net with Hawaii, Hastings, some Tier 3s etc. Does this strategy sound reasonable?

Lastly, judging by the responses to that video, the split is 30/70 favourable/unfavourable on the action. That 30% though is super positive. I don't think many people are going to draw the conclusion that I'm renouncing US citizenship, because a) that's not how you renounce your citizenship, and b) I state specifically that I love my country in the PS.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:19 am

Oh snap, I just realised Juan is in your profile pic haha

cavalier1138
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:21 am

London_LA wrote:You guys seriously don't think it's worth mentioning that I've saved $250k in 4 years of employment in order to finance law school instead of just taking the money from my parents? I mean, is it worth mentioning if I can phrase it differently? I feel like that is a pretty significant achievement that shows a) long-term interest in and commitment to law school, (b) that I'm not relying on unearned benefits from my parents, and c) that I am giving up a highly profitable career to go into public service (because I truly want to do it). Maybe I perceive this as unreasonably important for personal reasons...


Yes, I seriously think it makes you sound terrible. It's an achievement, but it's completely irrelevant to law school admissions.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:30 am

Okay, then here is the closing paragraph reworked for Arias and the savings, to follow directly after the 5th. Better?

I tell this story to illustrate a simple point: I have the will to fight. In fact, there is nothing I relish more in the world than a good fight, figuratively speaking. I remember watching every minute of Juan Martinez prosecute Jodi Arias for murder. Before all the media fanfare around the case started, my friend and I would race back from classes to watch recordings of the three hours of trial that had happened the day prior. After months of patient build-up, Mr. Martinez’s voice raised to a crescendo in his cross-examination of Arias, causing my heart to race. It was as if I were right there in the courtroom with him, cheering each verbal blow as if the argumentation were my own. It was pure intellectual combat, and I was quickly hooked on the idea of exercising the same fervour in the pursuit of justice at trial one day. I view the law as the most effective training one can receive in the fight to advance justice for all, and I am keen to learn anything that will make me more effective in promoting this end. My family has long advised me to apply to law school in the U.K., where they are born and bred, and where fees are much less, but I tell them that America is where the fight is, and that is where I am headed.

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UVA2B
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby UVA2B » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:55 am

London_LA wrote:Oh snap, I just realised Juan is in your profile pic haha


Not Juan. A different famous attorney.

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UVA2B
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby UVA2B » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:57 am

London_LA wrote:Okay, then here is the closing paragraph reworked for Arias and the savings, to follow directly after the 5th. Better?

I tell this story to illustrate a simple point: I have the will to fight. In fact, there is nothing I relish more in the world than a good fight, figuratively speaking. I remember watching every minute of Juan Martinez prosecute Jodi Arias for murder. Before all the media fanfare around the case started, my friend and I would race back from classes to watch recordings of the three hours of trial that had happened the day prior. After months of patient build-up, Mr. Martinez’s voice raised to a crescendo in his cross-examination of Arias, causing my heart to race. It was as if I were right there in the courtroom with him, cheering each verbal blow as if the argumentation were my own. It was pure intellectual combat, and I was quickly hooked on the idea of exercising the same fervour in the pursuit of justice at trial one day. I view the law as the most effective training one can receive in the fight to advance justice for all, and I am keen to learn anything that will make me more effective in promoting this end. My family has long advised me to apply to law school in the U.K., where they are born and bred, and where fees are much less, but I tell them that America is where the fight is, and that is where I am headed.


This is better. I still don't love the use of the Jodi Arias trial, but if it was that important/impactful on you, keep it and run with it.

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zkyggi
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby zkyggi » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:03 am

Is there anything in your resume to show you have a committment to fighting injustice? If not, you should really consider another topic. You run the risk of seeming impulsive rather than genuine, since the travel ban protests were all over the news.

Other than that, I echo everything else said.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:45 am

Ah yes, the Avery lawyer...they aren't that similar looking now that I think about it.

As for the CV, I did a summer when I was 16 working for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at Santa Barbara Superior Court, basically keeping kids out of the judicial system for minor drug and alcohol offences. When I was 17 I worked for the Liberal Democrats, a progressive political party in the U.K. When I was at university, I tutored for the Upward Bound Program trying to get kids into college for the first time. I also did 8 months at a Cancer Research UK charity shop after graduating. My two theses were "Expanding Moral Foundations Theory" and "The Ethics and Economics of Land Value Taxation", which are both closely related to social justice, although there's nothing on the CV to explain that apart from the titles. I also have published writings that are closely tied to social justice issues...I should probably include that on the CV. I am a little worried that my current line of employment is financially related and nothing to do with social justice, but the track record is there, the intention to use a law degree for good rather than money is authentic. I can't sweat it too much otherwise I won't be accurately representing myself.

This was the first major international travel pan protest...basically the one that started a lot of others outside of the US. The courts actually struck down the travel ban about an hour after I did all of this...it was early days after the inauguration. Is this worth highlighting so it doesn't seem like a copy-cat move or something?
Last edited by London_LA on Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:47 am

I also watched all of Zimmerman and Anthony, but those are equally famous cases...and prosecution wasn't exactly inspiring. It's cliche af but Martinez is honestly the first time I realised not just law, but prosecution.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:20 pm

Giving up a lucrative career to go to law school should be clear from your resume, and not taking money from your parents - well, there are lots of applicants who don't have the option of just taking money from their parents. Talking about your parents' money as unearned benefits does sound kind of bad when lots of people would be thrilled to have that problem. Turning down family money doesn't actually make you more dedicated than someone who doesn't.

Really, what you suggest with the money thing is that someone who has been able to save up money is more deserving of getting into law school than someone who hasn't been able to or has taken money from their parents. I realize that's probably not that you mean but it's how that comes across. I understand that you want to highlight your dedication but if so just talk about that directly. (Honestly, applying to law school shows your dedication.)

cavalier1138
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:52 pm

London_LA wrote:I also watched all of Zimmerman and Anthony, but those are equally famous cases...and prosecution wasn't exactly inspiring. It's cliche af but Martinez is honestly the first time I realised not just law, but prosecution.


This is actually more of an issue for me than the "controversy" of your main topic with this one. Wanting to be a prosecutor is so discordant with what you did, and I wouldn't highlight that in a PS.

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:57 pm

Actually you're right it should be clear from the CV. To be fair, I am a better applicant because I have worked for four years instead of taking family money, compared to someone who had the family option and took it. I wasn't drawing a comparison with people who don't have that option, although better to drop it altogether I think.

I don't think there's any inherent contradiction in being a prosecutor and burning a passport. After all, it was not illegal. I want to be a prosecutor and Martinez is part of the reason why. All else being equal (excluding consideration of perceived conflicts and cliche), do I include this part in the PS to better reflect why I want to go to law school, or should I leave it out?

cavalier1138
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:07 pm

London_LA wrote:I don't think there's any inherent contradiction in being a prosecutor and burning a passport. After all, it was not illegal. I want to be a prosecutor and Martinez is part of the reason why. All else being equal (excluding consideration of perceived conflicts and cliche), do I include this part in the PS to better reflect why I want to go to law school, or should I leave it out?


I understand that you don't think there's an inherent contradiction, but trust me, there is. I think you're fine leaving it out, because even as is, it wasn't clear that prosecution was your lifelong dream. I got the impression you wanted to do impact litigation.

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mjb447
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby mjb447 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:13 pm

UVA2B wrote:
London_LA wrote:Oh snap, I just realised Juan is in your profile pic haha


Not Juan. A different famous attorney.

[+] Spoiler
Image

London_LA
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby London_LA » Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:47 am

Okay, thanks for feedback, much appreciated.

And for rule 34 I guess. <3

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mjb447
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Re: Second Draft of PS – Criticism Appreciated

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:54 am

London_LA wrote:Okay, thanks for feedback, much appreciated.

And for rule 34 I guess. <3

:wink:




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