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Is it ready for a T14 school? Please critique UPDATED

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:54 pm
by lawschooldood
I have revised my personal statement multiple times and finally feel comfortable enough to let the hounds of TLS grace me with their sharp but valuable advice.

Please critique this and let me know what changes I should make.

Version 2.0---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While mostly all ushered in the new millennium with promises of hope, new beginnings, and the enthusiasm of a newly crafted New Year’s resolution; I found myself crouched and on the floor, pressing my pre-pubescent ear tightly against the cold of the bathroom door, quietly deciphering the reasons for my mother’s muffled tears and sobbing. It was early January 2001 and my mother, my soon to be estranged brother, and I had just emigrated to the United States of America. At the time, I could not understand the cause of my mother’s discomfort, and it would take many years, vicious legal battles, the separation of my family, and a heartfelt appreciation of law in order for me to finally do so.

Upon arriving to the US, my mother sought shelter in the home of her sister—a green, humble, cozy apartment complex in the heart of Hollywood, FL. There were seven people living under one tiny roof, and I shared a small bedroom with my cousin and brother, but here was my first sweet taste of America. It’s also where I was taught my very first English words—“I don’t speak English”. After enrolling in school, I was immediately placed in bottom-tier ESOL classes. Fueled by an innate desire to communicate, I quickly learned the language and begged my mom to be transferred into regular classes. This request was met with skepticism from the school’s administration, which refused to believe that I could pick up the language in such a short time. Finally, through multiple interviews, an oral exam, a written exam, and the unwavering support of my mother, I was able to overcome their doubts and become “a regular kid”.

The challenges I encountered in 3rd grade followed me into 4th, when a teacher I will always be thankful for recommended me into the gifted program. In usual fashion, the administration balked at the idea of a newly arrived Mexican American student joining an accelerated program so quickly. In what would become the defining attributes of our relationship, and also my character, my mother and I worked tirelessly and persevered until I was admitted. At this point in time, I had been the first among my family to be placed out of ESOL, I was the only one to be promoted into the gifted program, and soon, my mother would become the only one among her sisters with the strength to file for divorce.

For all the times I had leaned on my mother, it was finally her turn to lean on me. A prudent, gentle woman lacking the tenacity and ruthlessness of her male oppressor, I felt a filial obligation to shield my mother from her own passive nature. Hands held, we dove head first into a legal battle that gave us our first victory in the procurement of a restraining order. Two hard fought years later, we celebrated success when the divorce was finalized. The intimate role I played in the dissolution of my parent’s marriage stunted my childhood, but it accelerated my growth and positioned me en route to a career in law. Although we struggled on our own, and our finances deteriorated since the separation, I will always be thankful for the legal infrastructure that liberated us. As a direct result of my experiences, and in combination with my own personal interests and aptitudes, I would cherish the opportunity to explore the fields of family and human rights law. Distinct and separate, but surely not independent, I believe a proper understanding of family and human rights law is imperative to the just application of both. With the notions of marriage and family so rapidly changing, I hope to include myself among those that will respond to and benefit from all the surrounding volatility.

There may be applicants with better grades, higher test scores, and a larger resume, but none with a comparable passion for law. Furthermore, few will match my excitement in overcoming the challenges of practicing in a field that is currently evolving in response to societal and cultural changes. By seeking admission into a school of law, I hope to protect the legal benefits I have experienced and secure them for future generations.

Re: Must be a good enough PS for T14 school. Thx for critique

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:50 am
by lawschooldood
Desperation bump.

Re: Must be a good enough PS for T14 school. Thx for critique

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:24 am
by elcee1987
In the first sentence, I don't know how I feel about "celebrated." I would put some more work into the opening to simplify and clarify what you're trying to say.

I would expand a bit more on what you plan to DO with law. It feels like you kind of threw that grateful-for-law-that-liberated-us part in at the last minute. I would make it a new paragraph, expand more, and then move into what area you want to practice. If you want to do corporate or tax law, that has nothing to do with your previous experiences and I'd probably go back to the drawing board a bit to figure out why I want to be a lawyer and how to share that. If you want to do immigration or family law as a result of your experiences, then really drive that home in the last paragraph or two.

I think your statement's weak points right now are the first and last paragraphs.

Also: Was it the school faculty, or administration? Faculty is the teachers, administration is the principals, superintendent, etc. Make sure you've got the right one, wading through red tape tends to be the administration. It also paints a more clear good-vs-bad picture.

Re: Must be a good enough PS for T14 school. Thx for critique

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:59 pm
by lawschooldood
To elcee1987: Thank you for highlighting the weaknesses in my PS.

I used "celebrated" ironically, as I was clearly doing anything but having fun. I will clear it up if it causes confusion.

I am not quite sure which type of law I wish to pursue, and unfortunately as you pointed out, it clearly shows in this essay. I will focus more on family and human rights law for the sake for adding cohesiveness and purpose to the final parts of the PS

You're also right in pointing out that it was the school's administration and not its faculty that stood in my way. Fixed.

Thanks for the suggestions, if anyone has more please share!

---OP has been updated to reflect new changes.

Re: Is it ready for a T14 school? Please critique UPDATED

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:19 pm
by jackmf419
Hey LawSchoolDood,

So I've been reading personal statements on this site for a while now looking for some type of inspiration, or just a writing style that would lend itself to the best presentation of my ideas and my story. this is also my first post, I created an account just to write a response to you. so here it goes.

I am likely applying to similar schools as you and, from what I can tell, come from a very similar background as you (I am a hispanic immigrant- recognized as a gifted student early in my education- abusive father ect..).

As a person who has likely experience similar struggles, I didn't really feel a connection here. Honestly, you made everything sound so easy. not that you have to make your readers cry or anything. but even in the place where I would expect emotion, the restraining order and divorce battle, it just seemed devoid of it. you placed more emphasis on why law then on anything that would make me really think twice about having had read this.

you took sometime to write about your immigration background and the early obstacles you overcame in school, but I would honestly put that in a diversity statement, and send it to every school in the T14. I think your personal statement jumps around way too much leaving a sense of disconnect.

Your writing is really good and it will definitely help you. I think that maybe focusing on one aspect of your statement, maybe the household dynamics that led to the divorce, how you handled that and how it has led to the person you are and the interest you have.

I like your writing, it is concise and exhibit a good mastery of the language. I would just don't like the structure and the limited time spent on each piece of what you are writing.

an aside, I am currently writing my Personal Statement, and would love to get your take on how mines is coming along. I would also not mind answering any follow up questions you may have in regards to my comments.

Re: Is it ready for a T14 school? Please critique UPDATED

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:21 am
by ns2675
Overall, I like it. Contrary to the poster above, I actually like your concise style. However, I would change the last paragraph. Specifically, I wouldn't compare myself to other applicants like you did. There may very well be a number of applicants with similar passion for law (and even similar stories). It seems much safer to focus on what you bring to the table, rather than what others might not.

Re: Is it ready for a T14 school? Please critique UPDATED

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:32 am
by lawschooldood
To jackmf419: Thanks for thoughts and the nice comments on my style. I PM'd you

To n2675: Thanks for saying you like my writing style. I will lighten the comparison the final paragraph and remove an absolute term like "none", which as you rightly suggest could be interpreted negatively.

I'm loving the helpfulness of each post, thanks TLS community.

Re: Is it ready for a T14 school? Please critique UPDATED

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:38 am
by elcee1987
I like the first paragraph a lot better with the update. You could even remove "quietly deciphering.." to just "listening to my mother's..."

One question to address that might help you tighten up that last paragraph: Why does your background make you a good candidate for law school?