How about this one? Forum

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Signal3

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How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 11:28 pm

I was ten years old. I walked down the hidden staircase. I opened the door and turned to see my mother and uncle toasting champagne glasses in the morning in a large room with a pink carpet. My uncle had just won the governor state primary, and I felt something I've never quite felt again and perhaps have been chasing ever since. Success.

Seven years later and I was in a different state, away from extended family, and back to being an only child with a single mother again. My group of friends had several runins with the cops. On one evening I got in a minor car wreck and a state trooper pulled up. I remember him walking up to me saying, "Mr. Signal3!"

I then explained to him that I observed the other car's tire tracks curving towards the intersection where the accident occurred, and that maybe he was speeding. He promptly told me that he calculated the distance and estimated that the car was not speeding. Later after the other party left, he walked up to me and asked, "So do you still want to be a lawyer?" He remembered me from a single occasion a year prior, telling him I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. I think he recognized that I had potential and merit, and that is why he remembered.

Five years later I was in Iraq, visiting an Iraqi Police station with my commanding major. Although I was assigned to the tactical operations center on base, he personally requested me to attend his diplomatic meetings with him that day. During a meeting with the Iraqi police chief, he paused and asked me, "So Signal3, what do you think of all this?" I can't say I had a good answer, but I felt honored to be included, and I think he also saw something in me, just like the state trooper. I never got a chance to thank him, until a year after I left the military. I saw him a thousand miles away at the airport. I finally had the opportunity to express my gratitude, and I worded it to him as I worded it to you, his response being "No shittt," with a tone I believe meant, "Wow, this is a small world, and sometimes amazing things happen."

Another ten years went by and I was working in a state prison, delivering property to an inmate who just assaulted another inmate with a knife. He was listed as an "Enforcer" for the security threat group Latin Kings. I remember staring into his eyes about twenty minutes after the incident, and him looking back with eyes I had never seen on anyone before. Eyes of rage. Only it was not a normal type of rage. It was the type of rage you see in someone who was likely abused as a child, went to prison and then for the first time in his life, found something similar to family. It was very sad. I was still very new, so out of corteous habit I nodded to him, and for some reason he completely relaxed, let out a deep breath, nodded back and looked down with humility. I can't say for certain why. Perhaps he was just afraid officers would give him a hard time. Maybe it was because Latin Kings have a code to treat officers with respect unlike any of the other groups. Or maybe because in some twisted way, he thought I supported his actions. Either way, I got to see a part of life working in a prison that I dare say most people never get to experience, and with my social psychological education, it helped me understand people, and will help me understand future clients at a deeper level as well.

I recently spoke to an individual at jury duty for about three hours on all sorts of intellectual topics. We eventually got around to the stock market, financial advising, and then eventually into my future law practice. I mentioned family law, and he pivoted to an aspect of estate planning and then mentioned that "his guys" are business brokers and close an average of 12 deals a year, often averaging a million dollar salary, without a law degree.

Now I don't know how true any of that is, or if he was trying to recruit me, but I do know one thing; I wasn't interested at all. I've learned a lot about myself over the years and there are four things I am not willing to sacrifice for money, in relation to a career: 1) A pathway to ownership, 2) Working in the center of a crowd, 3) The ability to significantly affect the quality of people's lives, and 4) Affecting positive change at a micro and macro level.

My plan is to work as a public defender for three years, join a criminal defense and family law practice for two years, and then start both my own solo practice as well as a nonprofit which will help offenders stay out of trouble and families stay together.

I want to achieve or even surpass the success of my family before me, but do so in a way that fulfills my individuality. This will allow me to engage wisely and passionately in a sustainable manner that can continue to build into a masterpiece that I will, and consider it a duty to do so, contribute to society.

I recognize that life circumstances can change at any time, and that honorable and lofty goals may not always pan out. I also know what I want and know I am fully capable of achieving them. The only thing that could change that may be falling in love and starting a family, but even then, I view the world with the same amount of love I would have for my own child, and whether I have children or adopt, I want to be a role model of how to succeed in life in a way that benefits others as much as it benefits ourselves.

Signal3

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Re: How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 11:30 pm

If it possible to edit the name out of the fourth paragraph that would be helpful. I don't see anyway to.

Signal3

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Re: How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 11:57 pm

Ty for quick response mods! Much appreciated

nixy

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Re: How about this one?

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 13, 2022 12:22 am

You continue to tell good stories but I’m still not sure what links them. What do these stories have to do with each other and/or going to law school? Why have you picked these 5 or 6 anecdotes to share?

I think the timeline you list for your future work plans is a little too specific - there’s no need to specify two years at each place and it sounds kind of arbitrary.

The last 2 paragraphs are kind of vague. What does it actually mean to engage wisely and passionately in a sustainable manner to build a masterpiece? do you want to be a lawyer or an artist? And I wouldn’t talk about the possible impact of falling in love/having kids - it just undermines the goals you’ve spent the rest of the essay establishing. You don’t have to talk about *everything* in your life.

Signal3

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Re: How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 1:23 am

nixy wrote:
Tue Sep 13, 2022 12:22 am
You continue to tell good stories but I’m still not sure what links them. What do these stories have to do with each other and/or going to law school? Why have you picked these 5 or 6 anecdotes to share?

I think the timeline you list for your future work plans is a little too specific - there’s no need to specify two years at each place and it sounds kind of arbitrary.

The last 2 paragraphs are kind of vague. What does it actually mean to engage wisely and passionately in a sustainable manner to build a masterpiece? do you want to be a lawyer or an artist? And I wouldn’t talk about the possible impact of falling in love/having kids - it just undermines the goals you’ve spent the rest of the essay establishing. You don’t have to talk about *everything* in your life.
Thanks for feedback.
I'll cut out the kids part. I keep trying to explain the worst case scenario, but I need to keep reminding myself to just focus on the positive in the personal statement, lol.

As far as the lawyer or artist thing, I was hoping people would think that everything in we do is an artform and should be treated as such, but I suppose that maybe a bit abstract I guess.

Okay as far as still not clarifying why I'm writing these stories. I thought I was so I'll just list them:

Mentioning family- i said later on that I'm trying to match the level of success my family had. I left out the implication that this relates to ambition and working hard. Do you think I would need to actually say that wanting to match my family's success means I have ambition and want to work hard? I was really hoping that would be implied. The more times I have to pause the story to say that stuff I feel like it really takes away from the flow of the story. Maybe that's where I'm wrong.

Mentioning the trooper- I said he saw something in me, which I was hoping would imply that I have merit. This was also a way of me introducing a trend of wanting to be a lawyer for 20 years, which was a blessing of a life event in relation to this essay, haha.

Mentioning the army- I really wanted to talk about a madhi militia member challenging me to an arm wrestling match, but couldn't tie it in, so I stuck with the trend of authority figures seeing merit in me. I also tossed in the gratitude portion, which I thought would be pretty compassionate.

Mentioning the Correctional stuff- I was hoping this would tie into my resume, the psychology background, and then I did say that that event helped me understand people at a deeper level including my future clients. I thought that was what you were saying I should do.

I suppose the 2 years for work plans was a bit arbitrary. You didn't mention the non profit so I suppose that is a good sign on that at least.

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barre777

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Re: How about this one?

Post by barre777 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 5:51 am

"...several encounters with the police, who insisted I had a behavior problem. Personally I thought I only had a police problem." That's from Keith Richards.

nixy

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Re: How about this one?

Post by nixy » Tue Sep 13, 2022 8:15 am

I suspect one thing that’s going on here is that you’re treating this a little like writing fiction rather than explaining yourself to adcomms, hence concern about interrupting the flow of the story. This isn’t a novel where you’re going to interrupt the plot. Your reader needs to know why you’re telling them these stories. Keep in mind that adcomms are going to be reading a LOT of these and may be skimming fairly quickly - you don't want to have to make them work too hard to figure out your meaning.

I think one easy fix would be to address the significance of each anecdote at its close rather than coming back to all four of them together at the end, especially since they’re not intended to convey the same message. 

Re each one - your uncle winning the primary seems more about something someone else has done than about you. Okay, you wanted to surpass this success - but how are you defining success here? Did he go on to win the governorship? Did he succeed because of qualities he had (personal character) or things that he did (work ethic)? Because to be cynical, he could just as easily won because he was the only [party] candidate in a district dominated by [other party incumbent], or because he was able to parlay connections to an old-school political machine, or some other not especially great reason. Did you see this success because he made a lot of people believe in him or because your parents were toasting him and they never celebrated anything you did? As it stands, the message here could be that you learned that success would get you attention and praise, but I'm not sure that's what you want to reader to take away.

Re the trooper - the theme of others seeing merit/potential in you still seems to be more about other people than about you yourself bc it’s not clear why they see those things in you. Why does a trooper asking if you still want to be a lawyer show that he saw merit and potential in you? At the moment, the anecdote literally says, “I hung out with screw ups, I got into a wreck and met a cop I’d encountered before, I told him something I thought about the accident and he told me I was wrong, he asked if I still wanted to be a lawyer because I told him that once.” First, I'd  follow chronology and describe telling him you wanted to be a lawyer, then come back to him remembering at the later encounter. But also, why does this show he saw potential in you? Why was he not saying “get a load of this yahoo who still thinks he can be a lawyer?” To be clear, I’m not saying that was his reaction, just that it could be from how you’ve described it. Is your point that your observation about the accident/speeding, though factually wrong, still impressed him for reason X, and he thought you *should* be a lawyer because you'd be a good one? If so, that's not at all clear from the statement "do you still want to be a lawyer?" I know people often err on the side of telling, not showing, but what you’re showing isn’t clear here. 

- sort of similar with your commanding major. What about this incident shows he saw potential in you and what are you grateful to him for? It sounds like he picked you at random and asked for your input and you had none. What did this incident teach you that you had any reason to be grateful to him for it? What makes this day an amazing thing? I really had no idea why you were grateful to him - what about those diplomatic meetings was significant to you? Or the reason he picked you? How did this impact your life in a way that deserves gratitude? Something like, "from that day on, my goal was to [whatever]," or "that day I learned [something]"? A conclusion the reader could reach is, "this author is grateful for the simple fact that an important person paid him attention at no cost to himself," but I don't think that's what you want to convey.

- the Latin Kings enforcer story works much better, although I’d like to see a little more between “here’s this one guy” and “I saw a lot of life that most don’t.” Was this guy typical? Did he teach you about the reasons why a lot of people are in prison and how to interact with someone in that situation, or was he somehow unique? What exactly did you take away from this for your psychological education - a lesson about why people are the way they are, how circumstances affect people's actions, how to interact with difficult characters, how not to be intimidated?

- re jury duty guy, why is this story in there? How do you get from his kind of job to “these are the four things I want in a career”? Even something as simple as “if he was recruiting me, I realized that while most people would jump at this job, I didn’t want it because it didn’t meet the criteria most important to me [discuss your 4 things]. It sounds like the story is supposed to show an aha moment for you, except then you say you’ve learned these 4 things over the years. It feels like it should either be, "here's this encounter I had, and it helped me realize that [4 things]," or, "there are 4 things I want for a career [describe]. One encounter I had that illustrates my goals/confirmed these beliefs is [jury guy and his job]." The former is certainly more interesting. Perhaps more importantly, the end of that paragraph screams out for some kind of “and this is why I want to go to law school, because it can offer me work that meets these 4 criteria” statement. (Though I’m not certain about working in a crowd and how that fits. Do you just mean in court, with an audience?)

I do think the everything we do is art point is a bit unnecessarily abstract and over the top. If that is how you genuinely think, don't let me stop you, but it sounds like rhetoric more than substance. I also don't know how the path you want to follow fulfills your individuality more than your uncle's path did - do you just mean that you want the same level of success but based on your own strengths/weaknesses/interests?

And yeah, don't address the worst-case scenario. Keep the essay positive. It's a marketing document, not a bid for a contract where you have to show how you'd address every negative contingency.

Signal3

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Re: How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 1:33 pm

nixy wrote:
Tue Sep 13, 2022 8:15 am
Thank you! You've given me a ton... to work with here. I'll print out your comments and take them to work, and then be back with a new draft soon!

JustLurking47

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Re: How about this one?

Post by JustLurking47 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 2:38 pm

After skimming a few of these, here’s my thought - instead of writing another draft, start with a “conclusion” (mine, many years ago, was “I am a person of unwavering integrity”), create an outline (a roadmap that guides the reader to your conclusion), flesh out your outline (tell one unique story or maybe two) and then refine your product. I think you’ll end up with a much more cohesive statement. The goal is not to tell your life story, or to convince the reader that you’ll be a great or dedicated lawyer, it is to leave a positive impression and demonstrate that you’ll be a good addition to a law school class (and it never hurts to leave the reader wanting more).

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Signal3

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Re: How about this one?

Post by Signal3 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 2:59 pm

JustLurking47 wrote:
Tue Sep 13, 2022 2:38 pm
After skimming a few of these, here’s my thought - instead of writing another draft, start with a “conclusion” (mine, many years ago, was “I am a person of unwavering integrity”), create an outline (a roadmap that guides the reader to your conclusion), flesh out your outline (tell one unique story or maybe two) and then refine your product. I think you’ll end up with a much more cohesive statement. The goal is not to tell your life story, or to convince the reader that you’ll be a great or dedicated lawyer, it is to leave a positive impression and demonstrate that you’ll be a good addition to a law school class (and it never hurts to leave the reader wanting more).
Thank you. I will do the outline and try out just a couple stories. Question- do you really think they care more about how you will be in class than as a lawyer? I was thinking they were more concerned with having noteable alumni and concerned with their employment numbers, but I suppose you could be right. If that is the case, that would be a significant change needed in my approach.

JustLurking47

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Re: How about this one?

Post by JustLurking47 » Tue Sep 13, 2022 3:24 pm

Don’t misunderstand - by “good addition to a law school class” I don’t mean “good in class”. Use your statement to show that you will bring a unique perspective to law school, and this perspective motivates you to serve others. It’s ok to use your statement to demonstrate that you will be a great lawyer, but don’t use space listing your accolades (you’ll submit a resume too) or detailing your career goals.

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