Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

Post by avvvv » Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:20 pm

Hi Everyone,

I'm a Master's student who is applying to law school to pursue a career as a public defender. For context, I worked for two years before starting my MA.

For my personal statement, I am planning to explain how my post-undergrad work experience, which was fairly unique, inspired me to pursue PI law. I also want to show how my academic interests shaped my perspective on my work experience and furthered my desire to pursue a career in law. Can I cite a concept from academic paper or two in my personal statement, or is that a faux pas?


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Re: Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:49 am

I wouldn't. It's meant to be a personal statement, not an opinion essay.

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Re: Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

Post by Pneumonia » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:10 am

I wouldn't put this in a personal statement. It might be possible to do well, but it would be outside the norm and might fall flat. You might consider drafting a short statement of academic interest or something like that. Most schools will allow you to upload random "anything else you want to tell us?" essays. If you go that route, you should keep it to a single page.


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Re: Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

Post by nixy » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:11 am

I disagree. Some people have more intellectual/academic interests for pursuing law, and I think it's fine to talk about academic concepts if they genuinely influenced you. I think there's risk of sounding like you're trying too hard, and/or over-academicizing what is many respects a very practical, vocational degree. But you mentioned wanting to be a public defender, and there's definitely a school of thought among PDs that draws heavily on critical race studies and similar scholarship, so I think it certainly can be done. You would just want to avoid turning it into an academic argument rather than an expression of your own beliefs about the law.


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Re: Personal Statement: Academic Citations?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:40 am

The proper place to mention your academic research and writing is your resume, any part of the application that specifically asks about it, or any "anything else?" section like Pneumonia mentioned. You don't need to double-tag it in your PS as well. That said, if you can do it briefly and (like nixy said) without coming off as a try-hard, it probably won't *hurt* the PS. My opinion is that you can put the paragraph or so of real estate in your PS to better use.

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