Personal Statement Review

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
jdmerritt14

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Personal Statement Review

Postby jdmerritt14 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:52 pm

Here is a draft of the personal statement that I plan on sending to LSAC. I have had a couple people read through it, and plan to have a couple more read through it as well. Please be blunt, If it sucks, then tell me it sucks. I really appreciate anyone who is willing to look at it.

With graduation looming and my focus inwardly set on my own bubble this past semester, I was not looking to devote much energy to making the most of my time. Sitting in my “Law and Public Services” class, the professor mentioned that the required public service hours for his class could be achieved by working at his law firm, Greater Waco Legal Services. As I was looking for any opportunity to build my resume for law school and this allowed me to bypass finding an organization to fulfill this obligation on my own, I jumped at it. We agreed that I would work at the front desk four hours a week, which would be split into two days a week for two hours each day. Going into this job, I had no idea what to expect, and, to my surprise, it completely changed my outlook as to what a lawyer could, and should, be.

Greater Waco Legal Services has only been operating since 2016; it is a small firm and had never had interns prior to my internship. Walking in on my first day, they admitted that I was going to be their “trial run” with interns. During the training process, they introduced me to things such as their database, scheduling software, and the way they handle phone calls. As I completed my first day, they gave me a fifty-page introductory binder to study that night. I felt overwhelmed and wondered if I could handle the job. Getting home that night, I spent hours studying how to use the database and how to approach client interaction, both on the phone and in person.

Two days later, after getting out of class, I headed to the firm. The office has established a laidback atmosphere, with long sleeve button-ups and jeans being the appropriate attire and a first-name basis being the norm. It was clear that they sought to create an atmosphere that made their clients comfortable. Within the first hour of my second day, I answered seven phone calls, greeted three people who came through the front door, and scheduled five meetings. I felt stretched and out of my comfort zone. Each situation was so unique that it was difficult to follow the general rules of how to best approach each one. The calls were from prospective clients in desperate need of legal counsel for issues ranging from divorce to real estate, to child custody, and to even possible deportation. That is to say, the people calling were not individuals simply looking for assistance with minor financial disputes or business transactions; they were people needing help with things that were greatly affecting, and in many cases destroying, their lives.

Greater Waco Legal Services is a law firm that was created to offer low-cost legal representation to the low-income population of the city of Waco. It is a small firm, employing only three attorneys and a few part-time or temporary staff. It was founded by Mr. McKeever, a man who felt called to leave youth ministry in order to intentionally serve his community as an attorney. As a man with degrees from the University of Princeton Seminary and Vanderbilt University Law School, he could have had his choice of law firms with better pay. However, he purposefully created an office to provide legal assistance to low-income people who felt as though they had no other choice and only sought to get legal representation when they felt it absolutely necessary. Simply stated, these attorneys have committed their professional lives to serving others in need within their community.

Over time, my roles increased to bookkeeping and scheduling legal clinics. Two months after beginning to work there, the law firm decided to change their database, which required that I learn how the new database worked and that I transfer two years’ worth of data relating to clients and the firm’s accounting record from their old database to the new one. The law firm also held a monthly legal clinic in which they offered people of the community legal advice bringing in other participating lawyers from the surrounding area and students from the Baylor Law School. My role was to schedule those seeking counsel for time slots, prepare necessary paperwork for the event, and help the clinic to run smoothly. The stories and issues that people brought to the clinic were truly heartbreaking, with a prevalent feeling of hopelessness and desperation of assistance. Many were illegal immigrants fearing deportation and what would happen to their children born in the United States. Others spoke of being in dysfunctional and unhealthy marriages, while others were single parents trying to take care of children without any assistance from their ex-spouses. Through these trying situations, they found hope in speaking with the participating attorneys. It amazed me to see how much of a difference an attorney can make in another person’s life if he or she is willing to provide services to those who really need it.

When the semester ended, I was asked to give a presentation about my internship with Greater Waco Legal Services and how it affected my outlook on the legal profession. I began by speaking about how much it taught me about client interaction, legal databases, bookkeeping, and scheduling. I continued by sharing about what I appreciated most: the incredible need of the low-income community for legal representation concerning life-altering issues. I expressed appreciation for the professionals of Greater Waco Legal Service allowing me to sit in and observe them as they interacted with their clients. I was given the opportunity to see firsthand how much these professionals cared for their clients and the significant difference they make in people’s lives. As previously stated, these clients are not businesses but instead are real people with problems greatly affecting their lives. The attorneys of Greater Waco Legal Services are people who do not see their clients as tools for wealth but as individuals they can serve and help. Working there showed me that a lawyer should be a public servant; one who works more for the benefit of the community than selfish motivation.

JAGbound

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Re: Personal Statement Review

Postby JAGbound » Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:30 pm

Blunt assessment: Try drafting another personal statement that has little/nothing to do with your experience with the firm, I would not turn this in.

My takeaway from your personal statement was little to nothing about you as a person or why exactly you want to attend law school. Also, I would be wary of statements proclaiming you did something just to beef up your law school packet. I would seriously consider starting over completely. It's fine to talk about your experience at the firm, but it should be one aspect of your statement. I never got a sense of who you were as a person and if you would be a good fit for X law school. Also, at times (the whole time) I felt like I was reading a paper on the history and inner workings of the firm.

One positive, it wasn't terribly written. Best of luck OP.

Just my 0.02

Clacknesing

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Re: Personal Statement Review

Postby Clacknesing » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:57 am

Hey, this is exactly what i was looking for! Dear author, thank you for this information in this thread!

Biggiesloths

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Re: Personal Statement Review

Postby Biggiesloths » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:49 pm

Hi Clacknesing,

A paralegal/legal assistant here. First of all, I agree with the previous poster. My first reaction to this was, "is this an advertisement for this law firm?" My second thought was, "is this an entry in someone's internship diary?" Okay, I think you get the point. Make it more personal, not about the firm.

Second, as a paralegal/legal assistant, most of the stuff you described.... is exactly what it sounds like.... just stuff. I didn't really read anything about what you DID. Answer 7 phone calls in one hour? Read through one binder a night? I don't want to sound harsh, but if the admissions officer who reads this personal statement was an attorney, they would probably think to themselves, "wow this kid is going to be in for a tough surprise." There is a TON of work that lawyers have to do, so when you're describing your tasks in this way, you run the danger of comparing yourself to other people who may it 5x worse than you.

But I really did love some of your insight, such as how you felt when you were faced with real clients and real problems for the first time. It showed that you are really sensitive to the real life issues people face. Maybe focus on a single task that you did there. Did you help an attorney write a legal brief? Did you help an attorney do some legal research that ended up in a big win? Did you sit down and comfort a client? What did you do that made you proud? What did you do that made you feel accomplished? What did you do that made yourself realize that practicing law is the right path for you?

Your PS sounds like a written advertisement or an essay. Scrap it. Sit down, talk with a friend. The way you talk to your friend about your experience at the firm is how you want to sound in your PS.

Hope that helps!



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