Is this PS too military-heavy?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Post Reply

Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:28 pm

Is this PS too military-heavy?

Post by thatscoutpl » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:36 pm

Ok, so I'm applying for the Army's FLEP program. Basically, I'm an active duty Army officer trying to get the Army to send me to law school in order to become a JAG officer. Anyways, I'd like some thoughts on this personal statement, because I'm not sure if it comes across too militaristic.

Most applicants to law school come from a similar educational background and have similar goals. The vast majority are recent college graduates with degrees that relate to the study of law. Most have never worked at a high-level position or led large workgroups. Most are trying to get into the best law school they can, get hired at a large law firm, and make a lot of money. I come from a different background, have different experience, and have different goals than these applicants. My motivation for applying to your school is a desire to continue my service as an active-duty Army officer. I intend to earn the opportunity to serve as a Judge Advocate General’s Corps Officer and provide legal services to soldiers, commanders, and their family members.

The first stirrings of my desire to participate in our criminal justice system are probably very similar to many other applicants. I grew up watching Atticus Finch, Juror # 8, and Jack McCoy do their parts to fight for justice for the wronged, for the rights of the accused, and for the principles that underpin the system. I developed an intense admiration for the justice system, where facts and reason are the golden standard. I can still remember the awe and respect I felt while listening to Atticus say “Our courts have their faults as does any human institution, but in this country, our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts, all men are created equal” in To Kill a Mockingbird.

I knew I wanted to be a part of this great system, and I knew that earning a degree in criminal justice was a good first step to take. I was, however, struggling to see how I was going to be able to afford a college education. I grew up with a single mother, and did not have the financial means to attend college without saddling myself with a massive amount of student debt. In order to finance my education, I turned to the Army ROTC program. At first, I intended on using the Army as a means to an end; that end being a college education. The Army was an institution that I respected and wanted to be a part of, but I had every intention of using it to pay for school and then serving the minimum amount possible to pay back the government for my education. My plan was to commission as an officer in the Army Reserves and avoid the rigorous demands that active-duty service requires.

The Army ROTC program turned out to be much more demanding than I expected; it also turned out to be the most rewarding and compelling program I had ever been a part of. Right away, I realized that I had underestimated the level of commitment required to successfully participate in the ROTC program and commission as an officer. Grueling early morning physical fitness sessions, Thursday afternoons spent leading other cadets on training missions in the woods, and weeks of field training at Army posts were the norm. The Army sent me to Korea and Lithuania as a cadet to broaden my cultural understanding and to teach me more about Army operations. I went to class and learned about deterrence theory, stare decisis, and the Kansas City preventive patrol experiment. After class, I went to squad meetings where we went over the best ways to lay an ambush, the ideal position for a machine gun to suppress an objective, and how to identify improvised explosive devices. It was a unique experience. I found that I loved the comradery and the structure of military life; more and more, I felt that I should forego my plans to do the bare minimum reserve service and instead commission into the active-duty Army.

As my passion for soldiering grew, so did my passion for law. One of the required classes for my criminal justice major was ‘Criminal Law and Procedure.’ I was extremely engaged in my studies in relation to this class, and I looked forward to lectures. I loved the reasoned arguments, the application of logic, and the interpretation of precedent. The class instilled in me a deep reverence for and understanding of the fundamental rights that are protected by the criminal justice system. I loved the subject, and I signed up for ‘Law of Corrections and Prison Rights’ for the next year. Both classes were taught by Professor Dane Miller, a wonderful man who has a gift for education. He is an attorney that graduated from Saint Louis University Law School, and had many years of experience as a lawyer before deciding to apply his talents to educating others. He instilled in me a strong desire to attend law school. He advised me that he thought going straight from my undergraduate studies into law school would be the right move for me to make. This desire to become a lawyer, coupled with my newfound love for the Army, led to a decision point; I had to decide whether to attend law school and serve in the reserves, or commission in the active-duty Army and lead soldiers for a living.

After much deliberation, I decided to serve as an active-duty Army officer. During my studies, I had developed a deep reverence for the rights that our system of government affords the people. I made the decision that the best way to do my part to protect those rights was to serve as a combat-arms officer in the Army. I chose the Armor branch, and prepared to join the fighting force as soon as I graduated from college. I asked my grandfather to exchange my first salute, a ceremony in which a new officer receives his first salute from an enlisted man.

My grandfather, David Turner, was a corporal in the Army during the Second World War. He was a father figure to me while I was growing up, and I saw him as an example to look up to. Even after completing his obligation to the Army, he continued a life dedicated to others. He gave his time and effort to the Boy Scouts, the church, and senior citizen’s organizations in Saint Louis. I am deeply motivated by a desire to follow his example and lead a life of selfless service. This desire to emulate his character was a major contributing factor to my decision to join ROTC and become an Army Officer. My grandfather and I exchanged my first salute on May 08 2015, and three weeks later he died with me by his side. On the day he died, I made a commitment to continue a life of service to this country that he loved so much.

The commitment to service that I made that day molded me into the man I am today. I have found my calling in Army Officership, and I have learned that leading soldiers is a profoundly rewarding experience. I have since graduated Ranger School, Airborne, Air Assault, and Reconnaissance schools, and have led a platoon on a deployment to Kosovo to stop smuggling operations near Serbia. I remain committed to military service, and intend to remain in the Army as an officer.

As rewarding as platoon and company leadership have been, I have maintained an ever-present desire to pursue a career in the field of law. I couldn’t help feeling that I was missing out on what could be an extremely gratifying career as an attorney. I feel that the JAG corps is the perfect way for me to continue my military career while pursuing my interest in the field of law.

I am applying to INSERT SCHOOL HERE in hopes of achieving my goal of becoming an attorney so that I can continue serving our country as a JAG officer. I have the work ethic, the job experience, and the drive to stand out; I believe that I will be an asset to your program. Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to attending your law school.


Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:10 am

Re: Is this PS too military-heavy?

Post by globalview2 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:57 pm

Also applying for Army FLEP. I wouldn't say this is too military but I think you could certainly clean it up. i.e. the first stirrings of my desire is not the best phrase to state your motivation. Also the professor you mention, "a wonderful man with a gift for education" has no place in your personal statement IMO. You can mention the professor but the statement is about how great he is.
I think you have a good start but need to refine heavily. Also, again my opinion, but I think saying the piece about to kill a mocking bird is too cliché and does not help you stand out in any meaningful way.


Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:46 pm

Re: Is this PS too military-heavy?

Post by VictoriaLS_19 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:02 pm

Most applicants to law school come from a similar educational background and have similar goals. The vast majority are recent college graduates with degrees that relate to the study of law. Most have never worked at a high-level position or led large workgroups. Most are trying to get into the best law school they can, get hired at a large law firm, and make a lot of money.
I agree that it is not too militaristic and it absolutely makes sense to focus on your military experience for the PS.

My main critique would be on this intro. I would take about this whole part about what "most" applicants are like. Whether or not these assumptions are accurate (and I don't think all of them are), I think it would be better to go directly into talking about how you are unique and describing your experiences. Or, you could try starting with a specific anecdote from your time in the military. Your statement should show that you are not a traditional applicant without you having to state this explicitly.

Best of luck!

Post Reply

Return to “Law School Personal Statements”