Logic and the Applications

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SgtL
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Logic and the Applications

Postby SgtL » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:45 pm

I know it should be second nature, but I'm just curious how strictly applications (applicable to portions written by the applicant) are evaluated for improper argumentation techniques, flaws.. i.e.. Is every argument in your personal statement for example evaluated for validity?... if you were to have any. just something that crossed my mind, I know its a weird question. Wanted to see if anyone had the same thought.

bhan87
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby bhan87 » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:55 pm

SgtL wrote:I know it should be second nature, but I'm just curious how strictly applications (applicable to portions written by the applicant) are evaluated for improper argumentation techniques, flaws.. i.e.. Is every argument in your personal statement for example evaluated for validity?... if you were to have any. just something that crossed my mind, I know its a weird question. Wanted to see if anyone had the same thought.


No it isn't. Most personal statements are full of exaggerations and hyperbole for dramatic effect. Also, adcomms will not spend more than 2 minutes at most reading each personal statement (think that they have to read THOUSANDS of these). The impression they will get will mainly depend on how unique your story is and what type of emotional impact it has on them.

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PDaddy
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby PDaddy » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:03 pm

I trhink it depends on the school. It has been said before that, in many ways, the law school applicant is preparing a "case"; that case happens to be an argument for why he/she should be granted admission and a scholarship(s). This makes perfect sense to me.

(1) Think of your "fact-based" application as your "declaration" in support of your motion. You should also think of your Letters of Recommendation as declarations (by witnesses) in support of your motion. The only difference is that they are not completely fact-based and contain observations and opinion. (2) Think of your personal statement as your "main document" or "motion". (3) Think of any addenda as "replies" in support of your motion - only submitted in advance of defendant's [the school's] "responses/objections". The adcom is the defendant, the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury. You therefore must anticipate their arguments against your admission when constructing your motion and addenda.

(4) Think of your transcript and resume as supplemental attachments to your declaration in support of your motion.

(5) Think of your acceptance of a waitlist seat, your LOCI, and/or your request for reconsideration as a "motion(s) for reconsideration" or "motion to vacate the judgment" against you. This approach could be very helpful.

Misrepresentations in your motion can result in a default judgment and "sanctions", as they would in a real case.

There's always the chance for "directed virdict" or "summary judgment", meaning the judge (i.e., adcom) decides that there are no "issues of material fact". This occurs if your grades or LSAT are far too low (a 2.8/135 at Harvard comes to mind) to present enough evidence by which a jury (i.e., adcom) could possibly decide in your favor. Just to be sure, the judge should look at all of the record, but isn't required to.

And because you are applying before lawyers and former law students, it only makes sense to attribute the highest stakes to your application, and resulting procedure, as you can.

But how your arguments are viewed depends on the judges' and juries' own personal politics and views, as they would at different schools determining your admission or lack thereof.

Yes, it works like that.
Last edited by PDaddy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:33 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PDaddy
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby PDaddy » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:10 pm

bhan87 wrote:
No it isn't. Most personal statements are full of exaggerations and hyperbole for dramatic effect. Also, adcomms will not spend more than 2 minutes at most reading each personal statement (think that they have to read THOUSANDS of these). The impression they will get will mainly depend on how unique your story is and what type of emotional impact it has on them.


This is untrue, at least at the good law schools. They will scrutinize even more as you go up the law school food chain because, as you go higher and higher in ranking (for example), the typical applicant tends to be more formidable. That dictates that, ironically, your application may be scrutinized even more by the top-10 schools than at lower-ranked schools trying to move up the ladder.

Yale, for example, gets the creme of the crop applications by self-selection. And even if someone with slightly lesser credentials applies, Yale will scrutinize the application more carefully to see if there is a reason to admit. Top schools are more likely to look beyond the numbers because they already get the numbers. That's not a concern for them.

This doesn't mean that every rich white dude with very average numbers should apply only to the T14; what it does mean is that an exceptional application always has the potential tpo hit the mark at a top school. The adcoms there know this, so they read them carefully.

This is true even at top-30 schools.

As I stated above, the rule has limits. A 2.8/135 applying to Harvard Law gets no love. But they will still read those essays for sure, if for no other reason than to get a good laugh...or cry...

Another reason to read the essays is to sniff out the liars. If something doesn't pass the smell test, the adcoms don't want to waste a seat on an applicant.
Last edited by PDaddy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SgtL
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby SgtL » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:13 pm

wow. thanks for the responses, and the breakdown. Is it similar to the writing sample in that respect then? If so, then would I want to address weaknesses in my "motion", and subsequently downplay or nullify them? I've heard conflicting views on this, and I know this isn't the "How to Write a Personal Statement" forum, just curious.

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PDaddy
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby PDaddy » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:14 pm

SgtL wrote:wow. thanks for the responses, and the breakdown. Is it similar to the writing sample in that respect then? If so, then would I want to address weaknesses in my "motion", and subsequently downplay or nullify them? I've heard conflicting views on this, and I know this isn't the "How to Write a Personal Statement" forum, just curious.



Read the Berkeley dean's advice on this. I got the quote about preparing a case from him.

And you want each component of the case, your briefs evidence, declarations, etc to be as perfect as possible.

The writing sample can get you over the hump if you are a borderliine admit. Do your absolute best on it. Would you submit a motion to a judge and leave anything to chance if your client's freedom depended on it? What if missions of dollars or child custody were at stake? Then why be lax in approaching the writing sample. It might be like a motion for reconsideration in that most are shot down as being unworthy of consideration (in litigation, they are "disfavored"), but some schools do read them and give significant weight to them if warranted. Once in awhile, they can be game-changers. Why waste an popportunity to impress when a good one just might get you admitted. Make good arguments all of the time. As in Glen Gary...Always Be Closing...

BTW. I have a parallel showing why the application is like a sales call, as well.

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SgtL
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby SgtL » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:04 pm

PDaddy wrote:
SgtL wrote:wow. thanks for the responses, and the breakdown. Is it similar to the writing sample in that respect then? If so, then would I want to address weaknesses in my "motion", and subsequently downplay or nullify them? I've heard conflicting views on this, and I know this isn't the "How to Write a Personal Statement" forum, just curious.



Read the Berkeley dean's advice on this. I got the quote about preparing a case from him.

And you want each component of the case, your briefs evidence, declarations, etc to be as perfect as possible.

The writing sample can get you over the hump if you are a borderliine admit. Do your absolute best on it. Would you submit a motion to a judge and leave anything to chance if your client's freedom depended on it? What if missions of dollars or child custody were at stake? Then why be lax in approaching the writing sample. It might be like a motion for reconsideration in that most are shot down as being unworthy of consideration (in litigation, they are "disfavored"), but some schools do read them and give significant weight to them if warranted. Once in awhile, they can be game-changers. Why waste an popportunity to impress when a good one just might get you admitted. Make good arguments all of the time. As in Glen Gary...Always Be Closing...

BTW. I have a parallel showing why the application is like a sales call, as well.


I was a bit vague, I meant should my personal statement parallel the idea behind a writing sample, where you acknowledge the weaknesses in your choice, but downplay them ad see how they can (or have) been overcome. great advice and will do on the read. i did telemarketing through hs, maybe it will come natural. haha.

bhan87
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby bhan87 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:56 am

PDaddy wrote:
bhan87 wrote:
No it isn't. Most personal statements are full of exaggerations and hyperbole for dramatic effect. Also, adcomms will not spend more than 2 minutes at most reading each personal statement (think that they have to read THOUSANDS of these). The impression they will get will mainly depend on how unique your story is and what type of emotional impact it has on them.


This is untrue, at least at the good law schools. They will scrutinize even more as you go up the law school food chain because, as you go higher and higher in ranking (for example), the typical applicant tends to be more formidable. That dictates that, ironically, your application may be scrutinized even more by the top-10 schools than at lower-ranked schools trying to move up the ladder.

Yale, for example, gets the creme of the crop applications by self-selection. And even if someone with slightly lesser credentials applies, Yale will scrutinize the application more carefully to see if there is a reason to admit. Top schools are more likely to look beyond the numbers because they already get the numbers. That's not a concern for them.

This doesn't mean that every rich white dude with very average numbers should apply only to the T14; what it does mean is that an exceptional application always has the potential tpo hit the mark at a top school. The adcoms there know this, so they read them carefully.

This is true even at top-30 schools.

As I stated above, the rule has limits. A 2.8/135 applying to Harvard Law gets no love. But they will still read those essays for sure, if for no other reason than to get a good laugh...or cry...

Another reason to read the essays is to sniff out the liars. If something doesn't pass the smell test, the adcoms don't want to waste a seat on an applicant.


We're talking about LOGICAL VALIDITY here, specifically in the LSAT sense as noted by the OP. Some techniques frequently used in even the best PS's that are LOGICAL FALLACIES are:

1. Appeals to emotions (stories about overcoming hardship used as examples of overall ability)
2. Appeals to authority (any sort of quotation)
3. Drawing conclusions by analogy (one situation in your life parallels how you'll succeed in law school)

Don't think of your PS as a test of logical form. Almost assuredly it'll come out formulaic and rigid. The greatest pieces of prose that have big impacts on adcomms often include some elements of logical fallacies, but that's because the dramatic effect is increased.

Here's an example of a great PS that utilizes not strictly logical form (from TLS's personal statement guide, a very useful source that you should read btw):

The increased design responsibility and unbounded architectural creativity that comes with working for a start-up is unparalleled. (hyperbole, and thus the conclusion is stronger than the premises) However, the necessity of side-stepping patented intellectual property belonging to our competitor, which covered all aspects of our design, from manufacturing to testing, placed a heavy burden on the design team. This danger was extremely real, as a similar start-up had collapsed following an infringement lawsuit related to unauthorized reproduction of a bit stream.(strict LSAT logic would make you scream that just because two companies share one characteristic, they don't necessarily share another) As the designer of three different components, I examined our competition’s sixteen patents related to the memory aspect of the device. It was immensely satisfying to study, absorb, and then circumvent patent claims as I designed a conceptually similar but un-patented version of three memory blocks.

I am interested in serving as general counsel for a corporation focused on advanced semiconductor technology. My diverse work experience and master’s degree provide a perfect foundation to tackle the issues faced by a general counsel.(hyperbole, conclusions stronger than the premises) I am drawn to the challenges I will find at the intersection of intellectual property, product liability, and corporate law. At this juncture in my life, I seek more challenge and personal growth in a field that calls on my written skills, attention to detail, and love of technology. My background in nano-technology will bring a unique perspective to the NYU classroom and will make me extremely marketable upon graduation.(technically a correlation / causation fallacy) By pursuing a law degree, I intend to enter a profession that aligns with the interests and aptitudes I have discovered and developed through real work experience. It is through deep personal reflection that I have decided that law is the natural extension of my training, personality, and talents.


From: http://www.top-law-schools.com/chapter8.html

Read the full guide here: http://www.top-law-schools.com/guide-to ... ments.html

OP would be best be advised to NOT approach this like a logic test. You are writing to make an impression in adcomms that will not spend more than a few minutes reading your PS (anyone who says otherwise really doesn't comprehend the magnitude of applications each adcomm member must read). For example, Columbia receives over 8000 applications each year. Say for the sake of argument, 5 separate people are going to evaluate the applications (this is overly generous btw, in some cases such as Berkeley one person evaluates nearly 2/3 of the applications by themself). That's at minimum 1600 personal statements per person. If they spent 5 minutes on each, that's nearly 120 hours of reading per person. Berkeley receives over 7000 applications each year. Dean Tom has stated clearly in an interview with TLS he reads around 2/3 of the applications HIMSELF. That's around 4700 personal statements to read, and at 5 minutes per statement, that's nearly 400 hours of reading.

It's flat out inaccurate to think that your personal statement will be scrutinized to the degree your post indicates. Yes, a glaring spelling error or grammar mistake WILL hurt you significantly. But, they are not going to call you out with LSAT-level logical analysis.

And one final note, my post is not to say that your PS is not important. It's quite the opposite, it's pretty damn important. But your personal statement has a very short timeframe to sell itself, so you really need to find something that will impact the adcomm quickly.

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PDaddy
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby PDaddy » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:25 am

No, your PS is not purely a test of use of logic. However, if you can display at least some dexterity with the use of logic, it bodes well for you. That was MY point. Take it as far as you can go without compromising the quality of your application. Again, this is how real life litigation works as well. You will make some appeals top emotion - however small - when writing to a judge that he should sanction the defense for discovery abuses that have prejudiced plaintiffs' case, for example, or when relating to a court the devastating financial losses suffered by a wrongly evicted family.

Though not a requirement, the integration of logic into a personal statement can be a well-appreciated exploit, and here's why:

1) Ethos: Appeals to credibility, leadership, etc.

2) Pathos: Appeals to emotion

3) Mythos: Use of symbols/symbolisms, motifs, analogies, and syllogisms

4) Logos: The use of logic, or appeals thereto

Average writers use one effective degree, while good writers use two or three. Only the best writers can effectively employ all four of these in their storytelling. Don't get me wrong, a great writer with a great story can employ just one of the above and be effective. However, the richest most engaging stories - the ones that keep the reader's eyes glued to the page from beginning to end - use all four.

This is what I meant by take it as far as you can go. Use of Logic in isn't necessary, but the personal statement presents an opportunity to show what you can do. Why not try to have some real fun and show off your skills just a little bit? For $100 bucks, we deserve that opportunity.

bhan87
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Re: Logic and the Applications

Postby bhan87 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:38 am

PDaddy wrote:No, your PS is not purely a test of use of logic. However, if you can display at least some dexterity with the use of logic, it bodes well for you. That was MY point. Take it as far as you can go without compromising the quality of your application. Again, this is how real life litigation works as well. You will make some appeals top emotion - however small - when writing to a judge that he should sanction the defense for discovery abuses that have prejudiced plaintiffs' case, for example, or when relating to a court the devastating financial losses suffered by a wrongly evicted family.

Though not a requirement, the integration of logic into a personal statement can be a well-appreciated exploit, and here's why:

1) Ethos: Appeals to credibility, leadership, etc.

2) Pathos: Appeals to emotion

3) Mythos: Use of symbols/symbolisms, motifs, analogies, and syllogisms

4) Logos: The use of logic, or appeals thereto

Average writers use one effective degree, while good writers use two or three. Only the best writers can effectively employ all four of these in their storytelling. Don't get me wrong, a great writer with a great story can employ just one of the above and be effective. However, the richest most engaging stories - the ones that keep the reader's eyes glued to the page from beginning to end - use all four.

This is what I meant by take it as far as you can go. Use of Logic in isn't necessary, but the personal statement presents an opportunity to show what you can do. Why not try to have some real fun and show off your skills just a little bit? For $100 bucks, we deserve that opportunity.


And thus, I answered "no" to the OP's question. Adcomms will not scrutinize every argument in your PS for logical validity. The way you phrased your original post made it sound like one small logical fallacy will lead to a rejection. Quite the contrary, employing other techniques (some that violate strict rules of logic) is precisely what you need to be doing, a point that we apparently agree on.




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