Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
User avatar
littlelibertine
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 9:25 am

Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby littlelibertine » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:14 pm

x
Last edited by littlelibertine on Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
icechicken
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:09 pm

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby icechicken » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:00 pm

It sounds to me like you're genuinely interested in criminal justice reform but quickly burned out of the kind of work that criminal law requires. I honestly got the sense from this story that you would be, at best, wasting your time in law school and should instead either pursue a MPP or just go straight into the kind of work you want to do. That's probably a bad message to send.

Serving as de facto paralegal for [redacted for the long term] hadn’t seen in years.


This passage is especially concerning for that reason. I'm not saying you were wrong to do what you did, but public defenders (or whatever it is you want to be) have to deal with much worse and are expected to vigorously defend their clients anyway. Your narrative here would be amazing if the payoff was "therefore I want to be a public defender" but you shoot yourself in the foot by implying you're not cut out to be a public defender at the same time. What exactly do you plan to do with your JD?


Comparatively-minor nitpicks:
- 30 isn't that old
- I think you're misusing the word "touchstone"
Last edited by icechicken on Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 28067
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:06 pm

Eh, I think saying that at 30 you’re older than most applicants is fair.

I also think that the ability to compartmentalize is also really important for sticking around in criminal defense, so I didn’t have the same takeaway as the person above me, fwiw.

User avatar
littlelibertine
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 9:25 am

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby littlelibertine » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:37 pm

icechicken wrote:It sounds to me like you're genuinely interested in criminal justice reform but quickly burned out of the kind of work that criminal law requires. I honestly got the sense from this story that you would be, at best, wasting your time in law school and should instead either pursue a MPP or just go straight into the kind of work you want to do. That's probably a bad message to send.

Serving as de facto paralegal for Matt’s case eventually took a toll on me. I was constantly exhausted and stressed from late nights of work on his case and planning my wedding to my now-husband, Adam. I worried about Matt. I cried daily. Adam was supportive, but as time went on and Matt’s case grew in complexity, he wisely suggested it was time for me to stop taking on so much. I couldn’t abandon Matt, I told him. How could I respect myself if I didn’t do all I could to aid my friend? All the same, I was deeply relieved for myself as well as my friend when Matt was accorded parole much earlier than any of us had anticipated.

I drove out to the farm see him the afternoon of his release, my husband’s words echoing in my head. As we walked together past the paddocks and through the cleft where the creek had once run, I could see in him the weariness I’d come to expect from his voice on the phone. As I explained to him why under the circumstances I could no longer volunteer to help him with any further legal proceedings, his eyes filled with a softness and regret I hadn’t seen in years.


This passage is especially concerning for that reason. I'm not saying you were wrong to do what you did, but public defenders (or whatever it is you want to be) have to deal with much worse and are expected to vigorously defend their clients anyway. Your narrative here would be amazing if the payoff was "therefore I want to be a public defender" but you shoot yourself in the foot by implying you're not cut out to be a public defender at the same time. What exactly do you plan to do with your JD?


Comparatively-minor nitpicks:
- 30 isn't that old
- I think you're misusing the word "touchstone"


I AM misusing touchstone. Thank you. Now, to figure out what word I ACTUALLY want there.

I might delete the paragraph about meeting with Matt and also cut down on my woe is me crap in the paragraph before, so I just move in to talking about working with incarcerees . . . let's see how that ends up.

User avatar
littlelibertine
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 9:25 am

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby littlelibertine » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:39 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Eh, I think saying that at 30 you’re older than most applicants is fair.

I also think that the ability to compartmentalize is also really important for sticking around in criminal defense, so I didn’t have the same takeaway as the person above me, fwiw.


Thanks, Nony. <3

I first considered applying to law schools when I was 23. I can safely say that, if I'd applied at that time, I would not have been nearly as prepared as I am now for the kinds of emotional stressors inherent in the work. 30 isn't old in the traditional sense, but it's made sufficient difference that I'll be a much better lawyer attending school now than I could have been at 23.

User avatar
littlelibertine
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 9:25 am

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby littlelibertine » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:55 pm

Another draft, with love:

Matt’s voice on the phone was haggard in a way I didn’t recognize: he sounded tired, and there was a hardness in his tone I hadn’t heard before from my childhood best friend. Four times the jail’s automated system cut in to remind us that our fifteen minutes were almost up. With each reminder, he asked if he could call me back. With each, I told him, “Dude, of course.”

Like many young men incarcerated for drug offenses, Matt was indigent at the time of his arrest. When it became clear that he wasn't getting credit for time served after his arrest but prior to his conviction, Matt was unable to draft and submit a pleading that would ensure he received credit for that time served.

I was twenty-seven and on top of my world; I thought I could save my friend. I volunteered my time to assist Matt and became the linchpin for Matt’s family, his parole officer, and Matt himself during the four months of his incarceration. I threw myself into the work: fielding calls, drafting pleadings, and getting a crash course in criminal defense from Matt’s public defender, who oversaw my efforts insofar as she had time.

Matt’s case was my first exposure to criminal law, and I was fascinated and frustrated by turns. Like many Americans whose lives haven't been personally affected by the criminal justice system, the plight of incarcerees came as a shock. My friend and others like him struggle to gain the adequate legal representation constitutionally guaranteed to them. Public defenders in North Carolina, as in most states, are overworked and thin on the ground, and their involvement with an offender’s case ends with conviction. Any appellate proceedings or other further legal proceedings are up to the inmate to provide (with the exception of Death Row inmates). Most have neither the resources to finance their own representation nor access to the education and information necessary to represent themselves. Incarcerees housed in our county jails don’t have access to law libraries; even at federal prisons, law libraries are outdated and accessible only sporadically. Very few attorneys provide pro bono services post-conviction. I found myself considering how I might as an attorney assist incarcerees with their legal dilemmas.

Serving as de facto paralegal for Matt’s case eventually took a toll on me. I was constantly exhausted and stressed from late nights of work on his case after my full-time job and planning my wedding to my now-husband, Adam. Adam was supportive, but as time went on and Matt’s case grew in complexity, he wisely suggested it was time for me to stop taking on so much. I couldn’t abandon Matt, I told him. How could I respect myself if I didn’t do all I could to aid my friend? All the same, I was deeply relieved for myself as well as my friend when Matt was accorded parole much earlier than any of us had anticipated.

I learned something vital about preserving my own well-being while helping with Matt’s case. I’ve use that knowledge in my work with offenders.
After Matt’s case, I wanted to continue working to better the predicament of incarcerees. I began volunteering with Hidden Voices, a non-profit in Hillsborough, North Carolina. I write grants and assist incarcerees in authoring stirring monologues about their experiences in the criminal justice system and in prison. It’s work that speaks to me, but this time, I’ve learned to keep a measure of necessary emotional distance. Hearing their stories, helping to craft them into narrative and humanize them to a country that largely demonizes its incarcerees, gives me incredible joy.

With every story, I'm faced again with the struggles of indigent offenders in the criminal justice system. I want to assist them as a legal representative. My primary motivation in seeking my J.D. is criminal justice reform and public defense. The work I intend to do is difficult. It’s work that can overburden the kind souls who do it if they aren’t careful to maintain separation and balance. At thirty, I’m older than most applicants, and with my age comes the weight of my experiences and maturity. I’ve learned to walk that precarious line between helping others and caring for myself.

I'm not here to save anyone, not in the way I once thought I should. But I am here to help.

lsataddict242
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:30 pm

Re: Second draft of PS - hoping to convey why I'm invested in criminal justice reform.

Postby lsataddict242 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:18 pm

I think you can just rephrase the part about your fatigue and stress to highlight your strength instead of removing it altogether.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.