- Posts: 1
- Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:05 pm
The first time somebody told me that I would make a good lawyer, I was eight years old, and it was not a compliment. It was a rainy summer evening on Cape Cod, and I found myself consumed by the desire to add another GI-Joe action figure to my already vast collection. I squeezed my father’s hand, and started to beg him, my gaze unwaveringly fixed at the store shelf. “I don’t think you need another toy,” my father replied. “You have these figurines all over your room, you have no idea how many you have, and they serve no purpose. I don’t mind buying you things, but I just don’t think you need this.” I could feel tears begin to well up, but I knew that my father, formerly a professional chess player in the Soviet Union, had little patience for tears and favored calm, determined logic.
“That’s not true”, I answered quietly, “I have 36 of them in my room right now, and they are only scattered around because I built a fort for them last night. You may think they have no purpose, but as a child, my job is to play, and I need toys for that. Also, after a long time, some of these action figures might become really valuable and someday, I can let my kids play with them.”
“You would make a good lawyer”, my father grumbled. Looking something between annoyed and impressed, he put the action figure into our shopping cart and walked with me to the checkout line.
Growing up with a stern father from a far more conservative culture, I have gotten used to fighting—logically and creatively—to get things that other children got easily. Going to the cinema required a detailed report of what could be intellectually gained from a particular film; a visit to a friend’s house was contingent upon evidence that the friend in question had something tangible to offer, some wisdom to impart. My mother likes to tell the GI-Joe story because it has become a microcosm for the way I am; talking and convincing are now as natural for me as eating and breathing, and the phrase “You would make a good lawyer” has become a universal response, the grudging alternative to a full surrender.
With family members, friends and girlfriends all ending arguments by telling me what a good lawyer I would make, it did not take long for me to start wondering: “Would I actually make a good lawyer?” I realized then that I did not know exactly what being a lawyer entailed. I was certainly familiar with Hollywood’s dual interpretation of the profession, with every attorney arguing heroically for a condemned innocent, or evilly and knowingly for a savage criminal, but I knew there had to be more. In this respect, my undergraduate coursework has enlightened me.
What pertinent education I have had has shown me that the real essence of legal advocacy is not simply a matching of wits, but an interpretation of laws. This may sound like a depressing realization, but it has led me to appreciate, at least somewhat, the wide array of disciplines to which a legal career can be tailored. After all, every aspect of our lives is governed by law, and these laws all require interpretation. The ubiquity of the legal profession has encouraged me to pursue what, according to many, has been my calling since the fateful GI-Joe day many years ago.
In truth, I cannot yet know the intricacies of what it means to be a lawyer, but I am very eager to find out, and receive the education required to do so. At the very least, after law school, the phrase “You would make a good lawyer” will no longer be a valid defense.
- Posts: 1
- Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:31 pm
Nontrad (class of 1999)
In: Pepperdine, Denver, Santa Clara, McGeorge
Out: USC, Hastings, Boalt, ND,
W/L: American, Temple, Loyola LA
Pending: Davis, UCLA, USD, BU
10,000 feet above the ground. 300 miles per hour. Off the coast of Florida.
“Break right, break right, radar triple-a eleven o’clock, roll out heading one eight zero!” I ordered the pilot. The plane responded, dipping, as the scenario continued.
“Radar triple-a eight o’clock, jink pilot!” I commanded, simulating deployment of chaff and flare for electronic counterattack.
“Flares away, flares away!” the loadmaster responded.
The plane banked sharply to the right, pitched nose down, as I continued to analyze the threat.
Uh oh, there it was again, that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was the start of vertigo, and my body began to rebel. My head slumped forward; I reached over to flick the switch: Oxygen 100%.
I sucked in cold dry gas through my mask, desperate to forcefully regulate my inner ear balance. But the queasiness worsened and I began to feel numbness in my extremities. I knew I was not going to recover on this flight.
As the Electronic Warfare Officer on the AC-130U Gunship, I was responsible for identifying and jamming enemy radar and infrared threats in our airspace, while commanding an appropriate exit strategy over the interphone. I had been in aviation training for nearly three years, continuously upgrading and graduating from advanced Air Force and Navy programs, and was nearing the finish line. “Only five more flights to go,” I reminded myself, “and all of this training will be completed.” Yet throughout my entire flying career, in propeller airplanes, Lear jets, and now the Gunship, I had had a sporadic but persistent problem with vertigo. In fact, it was to prove insurmountable: eventually, my inability to overcome motion sickness brought my aviation career to a close. At first I was overwhelmed that something as simple as airborne disorientation could end my plans of being a military aviator. I have come to realize, however, that it is not always the destination that is important; often life is about the journey.
My journeys have been both figurative and literal. East Indian in origin and born in Virginia, I spent my formative years in Brussels and London, surrounded by multicultural norms and a global perspective. While the experience of a foreign culture and landscape seemed alien and uncomfortable at first, I soon began to appreciate the new adventures I found in Belgium. I learned a new language, met people from dozens of different nations and various ethnicities, and began to see the world in a different way. The international atmosphere gave me the secure feeling of being included regardless of race, providing me with the fortitude necessary to assert my individuality throughout my life.
After my European upbringing, I returned to the United States for higher education where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in Communications and History, and recently a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, I took advantage of the multitude of opportunities available outside the classroom, including ROTC. As a first-generation American, no one in my family had been in the military, and I was determined to forge my own path. My experiences in Europe had given me the confidence to know that I could succeed in unfamiliar spheres, so I pursued a career as a military officer, a choice that forced me to surmount a number of obstacles throughout the journey.
In the midst of these successes, I have also met with adversity. My airsickness, while demoralizing, was a barrier I was determined to work around. I therefore shifted my plans and transferred my skills to become an aircraft maintenance officer. I expanded my potential for leadership and managerial skills and quickly adapted to my new career field, graduating at the top of my class. I am proud of the way I recovered from the disappointment of not becoming an aviator after so many years of training, and how I stepped out of my comfort zone to rebuild a fulfilling and meaningful career.
While I currently have the option to remain in the Air Force in good standing, I am ready for something more. Both my grandfathers were lawyers, and after having carved out my own niche with my military experience, I am now eager to follow in their footsteps. My resolve has grown from my aviation history, and the military has honed my analytical and professional speaking skills, giving me the qualities needed for success in the legal profession. I am interested in intellectual discourse, rational thought, and am prepared for an academic challenge. My Air Force career has equipped me for success in spite of travails, through discipline and a strong work ethic. I would be honored to join the intellectual community at your institution to grow and learn in different ways, and most importantly, to continue to be shaped and molded by the journey.
- Posts: 7
- Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 3:49 pm
In: UCLA (24k), USC, Texas (33k), Fordham, Temple (36k), Howard (60k)
WL: Duke, Cornell, Georgetown
Rej: UVa, Michigan, Boalt
Have not heard from: Stanford, Harvard, Penn
I never really paid much attention to the signs placed in front of the homeless and the less fortunate as I walked past them on the streets of New York. These were the thoughts running through my head as I considered what my own sign should read. Certainly, no one was going to read it. I had just spent the night in the ATM area of a desolate Citibank branch trying to get some sleep. I had no money, no phone and no hope of getting back to school in Boston. I think I came down with the worst case of writer’s block that morning as I tried to come up with a compelling message that would entice some level of compassion from a complete stranger. Having entertained the idea of a sign for a brief moment, I put the whole notion to rest, my pride simply would not allow for it. I used my gift for gab to convey my circumstances to the bus driver and garnered some sympathy towards my cause. I had to put my Discman up as collateral in order to get a seat on the next bus heading back to Boston which seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for a piece of my dignity as I avoided having to use a sign. The next four hours on that bus were filled with intense scrutiny and contemplation. I did not need my Discman after all. The biggest question I kept asking myself was ‘how did I get here?’
I was in my third year of undergraduate studies at Northeastern and I was barely able to make ends meet financially. Being the first member of my family to attend college was both a gift and a curse. I always excelled in the realm of academia and this was a great source of pride and joy for my parents. As a member of the schools Dean’s List and a number of different clubs and organizations, I gave my family something to cheer for. At the same time, being the first family member to attend college really called for financial resources that were beyond my parents’ modest income. Like a deep-sea diver venturing into an infinite ocean with inadequate supplies, I dove in headfirst. I knew that my acceptance into Northeastern was not something I could put aside because of money. My family shared the same sentiments and agreed that this was something that needed to happen. Completing my college education and attaining that degree was a must.
However, as each year passed it became increasingly difficult to maintain a financial foothold on my college education. No longer able to keep my head above water, I found myself completely submerged and gasping for air. By my third year, I was skipping meals or simply eating candy bars that I had shaken out of vending machines for dinner. I knew I could not last long. When I voiced my fears to a concerned listener on the other end of the phone, I thought a solution might have been reached. The plan was to go back home to NY and meet up with him. I agreed to serve as a runner, transporting drugs between a contact in New York and a contact in Boston. The money seemed justifiable and the risks seemed manageable. I was completely focused on the ends and not the means at this point. I used my last twenty dollars on a bus ticket and a dream and found myself spending the night on the floor of a Citibank branch. This cold and dirty floor, like the bed of a vast ocean, was the bottom.
Fortunately, no one showed up that night. I spent the whole night reflecting on how and why I was there to begin with. I could not believe I had even considered partaking in such activities just to generate some income. I would later find out that my real dad, whom I never met, suffered the same fate. My mom shared the story of how my father lived a life as a drug dealer only to be murdered while she was pregnant with me. It was at this point that the fire was lit inside of me and the thought of what I needed to do to make my college aspirations a reality became clearer. I realized I wanted to be a different person with clear and attainable goals for my academic and professional career. I transferred to a smaller college in New York where tuition was more affordable and I moved back home with my parents. I set my ego aside and worked full time as I put myself through school working forty-hour weeks by day and attending classes by night. No longer satisfied with my easily attainable but mediocre B’s and B+’s I studied diligently and completed my undergraduate degree with ‘A’s almost totally across the board. This afforded me a spot on a national honors society in recognition of my efforts.
There are two types of people in this world, those who take and those who make. Some people resign themselves to their fate and accept the hand which was dealt to them. That was me, nonchalant and absolutely content with any grade I received, apathetic about my lack of progress. As rough and as painful as a night in the cold and on the streets felt as it was occurring, I knew I only stood to learn from it in the long run. Now I am the protagonist in my own life instead of just being an idle spectator. My ambitions for law school have been cultivated by this vision of making things happen, not only for me but also for the sake of others. My younger sisters have both followed suite as they too have a roadmap drawn up to help them attain their college degrees. I have led by example, showing them that anything is truly possible if you want it bad enough and work hard for it. That whole experience has taught me a number of valuable lessons. I learned how to remain humble and to not let pride obscure my perception of what is important in life. I learned about resilience and about being steadfast in the face of adversity. I also became more tenacious as a result of that night. Now when I see something I want, I lock onto it like the jaws of a famished pit bull, not letting go until I devour and conquer what I set out to achieve. I know all of these qualities will help me excel in the study of law just as they have helped me arise triumphant in my turbulent undergraduate years as well as my professional career after College. This work ethic and newfound vision has transcended beyond my Bachelor’s degree and into the world of finance.
For the past year I have been working as an analyst with Morgan Stanley. My ability to make quick decisions and to think analytically is essential when dealing with a multitude of multi-million dollar trades. In order to work out various trade discrepancies I serve as a liaison between brokers, traders and various sales desks on the front end. This has allowed me to hone my communication skills. Getting my point across in a concise and comprehensible manner is crucial for the company’s financial goals. I know that these skills will help me to be a better law student and I’m excited at the prospect of sharing and learning with my future classmates and professors. Now when I look back at my undergraduate years and my professional career the question is no longer “how did I get here?” instead it is “where am I going?”
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- here's to hoping
- Posts: 2
- Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:03 pm
The 4th of July has different meaning for me than it does other people. While the majority of citizens in the United States consider it a day of independence, I believe few recognize what they received independence from. I consider it a day of independence from a bleak situation that I was born into.
I am from Poland Spring, Maine. It is a small town with one blinking light and about 500 kids in the regional high school that is there. Twenty percent of the students are on a free lunch program with many more on reduced lunch. There are very wealthy kids in the town and very poor kids in town. I was one of the poor kids.
Both my father and my older brother had served considerable prison time by the time they were 21. When my brother went to jail the gang he sold drugs for told him they were going to kill me because they thought he ratted them out. They came after me one day, a week after they had killed someone else who they thought ratted on them. I had to hide in the snow bank in shorts and sandals for a long time. I was paying for my brother’s mistakes. Neither my brother nor my father made it further than the 9th grade. My father and brother were both drug dealers and growing up I always had to worry when I brought my friends over after school if we would walk in on a drug deal or just my parents' friends all there doing drugs. I loathed drugs and all they stood for. To me they were the representation of all of my father’s other vices. He never worked the whole time I was growing up because he said that he just, “couldn’t have a boss telling him what to do.” He was extremely verbally and at times physically abusive to my mother and me. There was a hole in my window growing up from a pair of scissors that were thrown in one of their fights after my father hit my mother. Maine is too cold to have holes in the window, but my father didn’t feel like he needed to fix it, he had lived through worse when he was young, I needed to just not be baby. That was the reoccurring theme, I just needed to grow up and not be a baby.
During the end of my junior year in high school my mother left. She had had enough of my father. He had started drinking again and he was a lousy drunk. She came into my room one night, apologized for leaving me with him as she was crying, and she packed her bag and left. I felt extremely abandoned at the time, but I loved my mother enough to know that she needed to go, I was proud of her for making the decision.
After about three or four weeks of extreme drinking and abuse my father and I got into a fight. He is about 6’1” and much larger than me so I was clearly on the losing end. He came home drunk and told me that since there was no woman in the house I needed to do the “woman” chores and make him dinner. I flatly refused and he came after me. I realized then that I needed to leave to.
The next day I packed my stuff and left. I had no where to go. I just had all my stuff in the car and a knowledge that I wouldn’t last much longer if I didn’t escape the situation. I had started to do drugs to escape the pain of a crumbling life with my friends. I had been strong all the way up to that point and refused drugs or alcohol but I wasn’t strong anymore. My best friend, Sam, who was usually refusing drugs and alcohol with me growing up, told me that I could move in with him. His family belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said his mom would take anyone in.
Not only was Sam’s family the only Mormon family in town, but they were also the only black family in town. It was funny to hear all of the stereotypes of black people in our small, back woods town, and then actually live with them and see that every stereotype (except for eating grits) that people thought black people did, my family actually did. Sam’s family was extremely functional. His father worked very hard, made much more than the nine thousand dollars a year my family did, and provided for them, they lived clean lives, all of the things that my family lacked. I noticed a difference in their home and started to change my life.
My day of independence was the 4th of July. I had lived with Sam’s family for about a month now and little by little I found myself changing myself and becoming a better person. I had started meeting with the missionaries the week before at my request, to learn a little more about what they believed and I was finding myself agreeing with it whole heartedly. I wanted to live a good life, it was a burning desire for me, but I hadn’t the examples in life to know how to do it. They gave me the example. I spent the 4th of July passed out on Old Orchard Beach, drunk and high in the pouring rain, and realized that I had to change. I made a choice that night that I couldn’t go down the same path as my family. I had to blaze my own path.
I knew that Mormons did not drink or do drugs and I knew that the missionaries would ask me soon if I could commit to that. I didn’t think I would have the strength to say I could and mean it. Recognizing something had to give though I went to the meeting with them on July 5th. I had been praying for some help from God, to help me make something out of my life. They asked me to commit to living a better life and I accepted with real intent. I was amazed. I truly believed I would never do it again, and I haven’t. The 4th of July, 2000 was the last time that I ever did any sort of drug, tobacco, alcohol or any related thing. I had broken the chains that were binding my family and life.
I served a two year proselyting mission in Denver, Colorado for two years after my senior year of high school. It is during this time that I realized my potential. I always thought of myself as someone who wasn’t going to do great things. I barely graduated high school and didn’t think that college was in the cards for me. During my mission I was called to numerous leadership positions including zone leader. There were 11 of us out of the 185 missionaries. Most of the missionaries had come from great homes, were upper to middle class white kids who were all college bound. I realized then that if I could not only be one of their equals, but one of their leaders, I could probably do similar things in life. I could get an education. I decided when I finished my mission I would go to college.
For some reason Brigham Young University-Idaho took a chance on me. I probably had a 1.7 GPA at that point in my life and scored only a 1000 on the SAT but they took a chance. I did not disappoint. I ended up leaving the school with a 3.72 GPA while working 30 hours a week and driving down to Utah 3 hours each way every weekend to visit my fiancé. I exceeded their expectations.
I transferred to Brigham Young University. I was amazed at how much more difficult it was, especially when I had a wife and daughter and one on the way. I realized I really needed to develop some studying skills; I had none from high school. I worked hard, overcame my lack of fundamental knowledge that I should have got out of high school, and have become a solid student here also. I again exceeded expectations.
I will exceed expectations at your law school also. I will increase the diversity of the student body and will add to the experiences of those who attend. I am here largely because of others taking a chance on me and helping me escape the situation I was born into, and I believe that if given the opportunity I can do the same for other people. I believe that by practicing law I will have the ability to accomplish a great amount of good. I believe that Xcollege will help me accomplish all my goals.
- Posts: 2
- Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:59 am
Non-traditional: been out of undergrad 4 yrs., teacher for 3
In: Arizona State, Santa Clara ($$$), USD ($$$), UC Hastings ($)
Rejected: Boalt, Stanford (eventually)
Going to ASU
In my family, discussions are battles fought by the most literate where knowledge is your arsenal. The facts and figures in newspapers, magazines, and books are weapons in discussions that help to win your argument. Political, philosophical, and scientific discussions are battlegrounds won by reason and logic. No groundless opinions are allowed. Every statement must be supported, so the other side can dissect every aspect of your argument. It is a grand achievement to win an argument. It is also equally painful to be caught unprepared for a discussion. These battlegrounds not only existed at home but in the classroom and office as well. As a student, I wanted to learn more and to understand why, so that I could use that information in the next contest. As a teacher, I used my preparation in literary war games to ask hard questions and challenge my students. It is this love and passion for reading, writing, and debate that will continue to help me to succeed in my educational and professional life.
It is also this love of reading that can leave me completely astounded by simple realties. For example, I remember the first time it dawned on me that everyone did not read the assignments for school. I was in 7th grade and my teacher asked the class to review the reading from the night before in a short summary paragraph. I was diligently writing out my paragraph, when my friend asked me what it was about. I was shocked. She simply shrugged and remarked that she never did the homework. Although she and I received the same grade, I still believe I learned more than her. I learned the information by reading and discussing it over dinner or in the car. She, on the other hand, simply memorized the needed facts and moved on. This lesson was also pointedly clear in college. I wanted to learn the information because it was fascinating to me. I could share the newest factoid I learned with my friends, whether they wanted to know the information or not. Others only wanted to escape the class with a passing grade.
As the youngest in my family, I wanted to be treated like my older siblings. With each battle, I was tested to see if I had really learned anything or if I was still a “silly little girl”. I loved going to the local college’s library, to find books for homework or for fun. I remember feeling so mature and smart sitting at the big desks with papers and books spread out in front of me, just like I had seen my brothers and sisters do countless times before. I even remember wanting glasses to make me look smarter because, of course, all smart kids have glasses. At first, I had little understanding of what the material really was or how to process it. I knew there were weapons hidden there; I just had to figure out the key to using them. Eventually, I began to integrate what I found at the library, so I could find the weaknesses in their arguments. With every new thing I learned, I was more prepared and determined to stand my ground in a debate.
My teachers never had to encourage me to read or to talk. Most teachers found that I was an easy student to teach but I talked too much and had too many opinions. I was once told that I was not allowed to speak because other people take longer to think. Again, I was rather surprised because I was used to the fast paced battles and quick witted responses, with a lot of sarcasm thrown in, from my family. I found that the smartest teachers loved having me in class but the ones that were uncomfortable with their own knowledge often ignored me or just gave me more work to complete. This naturally led me to love writing. It took college to teach me that writing is where your debate can be carried on. There was never enough time in class to argue a point or present a new idea. While I cannot stop time to continue a debate, I can write my opinion. I realized that I cannot run out of time in my writing.
As a teacher, I used this passion to encourage and challenge my students. They enjoyed my “Random Fact of the Day” assignments and discussions. We would stage our own mini-battles and discuss what we were learning that day. As I had learned at home, I showed my students how to research their ideas and how to support their opinions. At the same time, I never wanted to be a teacher that was afraid of differing opinions or new ideas. Students were free to challenge any idea I presented and ask me to prove it. Every year, I would get several different challenges and we would have another demonstration on the wonder of science. I always knew I had won the battle, when their jaws hit the floor.
I still love to read and I will often avoid any other work I have in order to finish a good book. I also still love to debate with my family; even though, as the youngest in my family, I still could not possibly have any idea what I am talking about. I know that I am no longer a silly little girl but I still crave their respect garnered from winning a battle. The confidence and drive that those battles gave me helped and encouraged me to continue my education and realize that your arsenal of knowledge can always use a few more weapons.
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After reading Anna Ivey's section on personal statements and another shorter book devoted entirely to personal statements, I felt very knowledgeable about personal statements; I just had to write my own. I knew what I wanted to write about, but I tried to force another topic. With a lower LSAT score, I didn't want to sound cliche; I didn't want to write in the same genre as so many other students. But after a week of stalling, I realized I'd never write anything decent if I left out the "personal" part. So I didn't force the statement; I let it flow. I liked the result and, thankfully, so did the admissions departments.
I hope it helps:
It didn’t make sense that a hockey team from south of the Mason-Dixon line was even playing in the final round of a sport that involved ice. No tobacco to chew, no engines to rev, no cheerleaders to . . . cheer with. Explain again: why had a professional hockey team moved to Greensboro, North Carolina? Nobody envies the stuffy, soggy air of the Carolinas in the summertime. So during June, when the Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs, people actually started to pay attention to the world of hockey, one that relieved them from the damp heat.
My grandpa had taught me all I knew about hockey, so when Carolina scored the first goal in game two of the finals, I thought about calling him. Seconds later, the phone rang. As the thrill of the 1-0 lead kept me on edge, I answered the phone hurriedly. Grandma didn’t waste words and demanded to speak to my mom immediately. As I handed the phone off to Mom, I knew something was up. And then Mom told me. A stroke—my grandpa. It didn’t make any sense.
As I drove my mom and sister to Greenville Memorial Hospital, I remember pleading with God for more time with Grandpa. I thought about the school year that had just ended. That year, for the first time in my life, I had decided to study. Novel concept, right? Actually, yes. I grew up the son of two college professors. They were smart, so I figured I was smart, that I simply didn’t need to study. How’s that for an ego? But this year, I had studied, I had done well, and I thought I had finally reached the point where I could carry on a mature dialogue with Grandpa. Now I wasn’t sure I’d get the chance.
I spent the next five hours pacing the hallway outside the waiting room. I had plenty of time to think: Grandpa had survived the Hitler Youth program, wars in both Germany and Korea, fourteen surgeries to remove cancer, and decades as a dean at the “World’s Most Unusual University.” It didn’t make sense that one tiny clot, an accumulation of platelets too big to keep traveling the bloodstream, was about to do him in! But I would have gone crazy if I had kept asking why.
An hour before I stood by my grandpa’s hospital bed, held his hand, and said goodbye as he passed away, I had taken the elevator to the fourth floor—the pediatric ward. I had expected to be at the hospital for a long time, so I figured I’d get to know my way around. I’m sure I’d seen a dozen movies showcasing a dying child, movies that messaged hope, ability, opportunity, but until that afternoon, the harsh reality of sickness, of suffering, of living a poisoned life hadn’t hit me.
In the movies, people live. Even when they don’t live, they don’t die so quickly. These kids never had a chance and lived short, painful lives. After witnessing the wires, the tubes, the monitors, all attached to the small bodies with faces too young even for emotions, all I could think was that I was one lucky guy. My grandpa was one lucky guy.
Anyone who escapes from nearly starving to death in a French prison camp has a story to tell, but Grandpa rarely told his. He didn’t look for sympathy, but for ways to help others, and no one would look at his life and say it didn’t make sense. Grandpa taught me to fight through the confusion and not try to understand what couldn’t be explained. He had more reasons to give up than anyone I’ve ever known. I can’t even empathize with most of what he suffered through, but his example and passion for life infected me.
I realize my grandpa has given me opportunities he never had, and throughout college, I’ve made choices hoping my grandpa would have approved. He lived every day with a vivacity I envy, a passion that stretched from the philosopher’s corner at Vanderbilt, where he earned a PhD, to the hockey rink in Detroit, where he first lived after crossing the Atlantic. I try to live as he would have, absorbing as much knowledge as possible to reach my goals while sharing that same knowledge with others in order to help them reach theirs.
- Posts: 6
- Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:30 pm
Class rank: 3rd of ca. 300
Accepted: Penn, Cornell, Michigan, Chicago, Boalt, Lewis & Clark ($$$), Northeastern ($), U Washington
[http://www.lawschoolnumbers.com/display ... er=gkentch for information on my application cycle, in nauseating detail]
Thoughts: I am a white, middle-class American male; I could not, with a straight face, write about overcoming adversity, or at least hope for it to be particularly compelling if I did so. Instead, I focused primarily on my undergraduate study of classics, and sought to explain how that course of study prepared me, intellectually, for law school. I also attempted to connect this study, if briefly, to my post-graduate work for both a local law firm and an immigration services legal clinic. It seemed to work; at least, I was promptly, and pleasantly, surprised with acceptances to multiple schools where my LSAT was at or below the 25th percentile for admitted students. Sorry for how pompous that last sentence probably sounds.
The story of the Ancient Greek actor Hegelochus has long appealed to me. While playing the title character of Euripides' Orestes in 408 BCE, Hegelochus stepped forward to utter the line, "After the storm, I see 'tis calm again." He misspoke, however, and instead proclaimed, "After the storm, I see a weasel," instantly turning noble sentiments farcical. In translation, the slip is clearly egregious. In context, however, poor Hegelochus perhaps deserves our sympathy: In the original Greek, the difference between grandeur and comedy is the gap between galén, "calm," and galên, "weasel." The one has an acute accent on the eta; the other, a circumflex. The discrepancy would have been less pronounced than the contrast between long and short vowels in spoken English.
The story says something about the Ancient Greeks, who would mock this miscue for decades, but also something about the field that studies them: It is impossible to study classical languages without developing a meticulous eye for detail. When a change of accent can alter a word's meaning, there is little choice but to remain scrupulously attentive to the words in front of one. While precision is useful in any field of study, classics seems notable for its ability to pillory an individual for a mistaken pitch accent, and to demand that same level of disciplined attention from its practitioners. To put it mildly, I emerged from Reed College a very close reader.
That said, classics was so intellectually empowering because it fostered that exactitude alongside a broader, more macroscopic perspective. If one is in a translation class, one must realize that théas and theás, say, are completely different words, meaning "goddesses" and "sights," respectively, before translating either. If one would like to discuss the larger passage, meanwhile, it would be helpful not only to recognize the word as théas, but also to have some understanding of the role of the divine in this context. After five years of daily considerations of this sort, I developed a keen eye for detail and a nuanced approach to interpretation, beginning with the most literal ("what does this word translate as?") but encompassing the more analytic and conceptual ("what does it mean here, and why?"). Taken together, it constituted excellent practice for performing close textual analysis, whether of Greek literature or of federal statutes.
I gained five years' such practice, rather than four, because of a desire to augment my classics major with an effective English minor. The fields' combined import was apparent in my senior thesis, on the literary relationship between comedy and tragedy, and in other papers melding strict philological rigor with literary theory. Other courses exposed me to additional aspects of ancient society, with study of the Greek justice system and the development of Roman law giving me a basis from which to approach much subsequent Western legal history. Farther afield, meanwhile, my extracurricular pursuits also expanded my perspective. Whether serving as the one-man editing staff for the weekly school newspaper, digging latrines in rural Nicaragua, or completing a 2,000-mile solo bike ride from my front door in Anchorage to Inuvik, Canada, to see the Arctic Ocean, I am pleased to have seen more than just the inside of the library while at Reed.
The attention to detail has endured, however, and I have been pleased to see how useful my humanities background really is in a legal environment. First in [a small Portland law firm, where I worked for approximately a year], then at [a local immigration services legal clinic, where I volunteered], I have been repeatedly struck that a close familiarity with the text is equally necessary within the legal setting. The Code of Federal Regulations can be opaque at times, and I soon learned that it was hard to go wrong by determining precisely what it said regarding an instant case. I will, I am sure, learn more complex theories of legal practice and interpretation -- for the time being, I have learned that simply confirming the facts and the law is a very good place to begin one's analysis.
In a recent case, for example, the simple act of fact-checking likely allowed a naturalization-seeker to remain in status in this country, as I caught a discrepancy between the charges the USCIS mistakenly cited in a denial letter and the charge to which the foreign national had actually pled. The lack of intent among the elements of the latter meant that it was not a crime of moral turpitude, and that our client could still claim good moral character and proceed with her application. The experience was sobering -- when the government is involved, a clerical error can wrongly deny someone status -- yet also a compelling appeal for law school: If I could have such an effect with only an eye for detail, what could I achieve with a full legal education?
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Yes, that's me - classics-studying, weasel-loving, gkentch from LSN. Hope my PS can prove helpful to someone down the line. I mean, I don't know if it's the PS or Reed College that did it, but I do feel that I got into more places than my raw numbers would suggest, so I like to think that I did something right.HEY!! It's you! You're gkentch!
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Home for me is a small, sturdy town in West River South Dakota—whose conflation with the comparatively gentrified and green farmland east of the Missouri River is to be made only at the risk of rough correction by residents of both bank sides. My mother, however, draws her roots from Omaha, Nebraska, a location that earned its place on my personal map as the site of my school holidays. Although separated by a length of exactly six hours seated in the right-hand backseat of the family car, it is in the overlap of these two places I have found two of my most important resources, curiosity and determination, with which I confront obstacles and opportunities.
When in Omaha, I would often explore the childhood bedrooms of my mother’s eight siblings. These old rooms with their shelves and closets filled by books became for me miniature, delightfully idiosyncratic libraries. Tucked away from the cheerful din of the waves of kith and kin washing through my grandmother’s doorway, I pilfered these goldmines and in doing so discovered the vista of my mind’s eye —a landscape that would powerfully influence my intellectual world to come. Through the course of countless Thanksgivings and winter breaks, I gobbled down stretches of Nancy Drew adventures (including every mystery solved by that titian haired sleuth before 1979). Eventually I passed from Nancy Drew to de Quincy and Dickens.
I brought my fascination with literature home as a hobby to Winner, where people seemed to be most seriously interested in reclaiming that 1996 state football championship and by if it would rain enough for the sunflowers to get ahead of the weeds. Although I never did get a very tight grasp on football’s finer points, the capacity for persistence that I gained while growing up in Winner formed the foundation on which I later laid academic pursuits. Of what I have accomplished in my areas of study, very little can be credited to miraculous flair or native instinct. The bulk of my academic personality may be defined by “try”—the word people in rodeo stands use when they refer to the rider who is jumping over the arena fence, trampled hat in hand after a particularly valiant, if unsuccessful ride. The word is, of course, just another way (ungrammatical at that) to refer to passion and hardihood. Still, the noun form of “try” has been in my lexicon since childhood, and it is thanks to the special circumstances of my modern-day rural upbringing in the Midwest that I developed my sense of steady perseverance. The many ranching and farming friends and family who daily confront both natural obstacles and, increasingly, upheavals in the very structure of the agricultural way of life have shown me the worth of working, and working hard.
Shortly after my eighteenth birthday, another signal six-hour drive brought me to Nebraska’s small capital city, where I enrolled in the state’s flagship university. A short distance from the scene of my childhood holidays, I now had the resources of the region’s largest university at hand. No longer confined to the book collections of my aunts’ younger days and the even less complete collection found in the old local library, I learned to abide by an old maxim. Rather than pull books off shelves according to the talent of their cover artists or slavishly follow titian-haired sleuths across multiple authors and decades, I have learned to pursue rational trains of inquiry. I anticipate with pleasure the further developments of my intellectual capabilities that the study of law will bring.
This essay has a powerful regional voice and local color that is brilliant and wonderful. She writes with such comic charm of her towns, that the piece is irresistibly pleasant to read. From the description of her hometown as “sturdy” in the first sentence to the comic suspense about whether the sunflowers will “get ahead of the weeds,” the author shows she is an extremely talented, and highly-trained, creative writer. It might be hard for the untrained eye to notice the subtleties that make this essay a work of art, but they are there, and because of this, the author releases herself from some of the conventions of the law school personal essay. She’s therefore free to let her regionalism seem to get ahead of her ambitions, when all the while she is showing off her rhetorical prowess. This author uses doublespeak to both present herself as an innocent from South Dakota, while underneath she turns a keen and comic eye on the places of her youth and the idiosyncrasies of the residents, including her own family. She is effectively winking at admissions committee members at top law schools on the coasts, and giving them a delightful Willa Cather-like release from the tedium of law school personal statements. This candidate has a personality and intelligence that comes through loud and clear in her writing.
The applicant does not tell us anything about her accomplishments in college. She should keep the hilarious paragraph on the rodeo, but if there is enough space, she should give the reader another chapter of her personal narrative about what happens when she gets to college, with new characters and new comic, shrewd observations. Perhaps there was one creative writing professor who took her under his or her wing. The author could write about a shared comic and nurturing exchange between them. This would suggest where and how she developed her substantial creative writing skills. And without being too obvious, this would encourage the admissions committee members who were reading fast, woe betide them, to take another look.
Personal Statement #2
As I walked into Professor Deatherage’s office my heart was racing. Scott Deatherage was the Coach of the Decade for the 1990s and had won two more National Debate Tournament championships by 2003. He had taken me under his wing when I arrived, wide-eyed in Chicago. Four years later, after the best tournament of my life, I was going to tell the man who believed in this small town Texan that my debate career had come to an end. What would he say?
That summer I had spent countless late nights reading everything about global agricultural policy and had produced a policy proposal that was selected by almost every team on our squad to defend during tournaments that year. In my freshman year I had not known where to start on my first research project, but now entering my senior year I had produced a 700-page file made up of newspaper, book, and law review articles and congressional testimony on every aspect of agricultural subsidy policy.
During the season, my partner and I had gone toe-to-toe with the best teams in the nation. Northwestern debate had brought me from a small town orator to an analytical strategist. As I moved through my senior year, I realized that I had learned an amazing amount about myself through debate; however, the time had come to think about the big picture. Our coaches taught us that in a debate round, if one attempts to win every point of contention, then he or she will be spread too thin and lose the entire argument. In the larger picture of my academic career, I needed to choose between the activity I loved and getting the most of the academic opportunities available to me. My application to write an honors thesis in the English department had recently been accepted. The research and critical reading skills that I had honed over the past four years were now to be turned to novels and theoretical essays. If I decided to do both debate and my thesis, then I would succeed at neither. As Professor Deatherage told us again and again, “you must choose, because if you go for everything you will win nothing.”
Working on my honors thesis illuminated how valuable debate was to my intellectual development. I read each paper as I had each article for debate. I had been drilled in argument structure, discriminating between critical and unimportant details and summarizing the central theses of what I read. With the guidance of my advisor, Professor Brian Edwards, I did go on to write a thesis of which I am very proud. The outstanding instruction at Northwestern University exposed me to new worlds of knowledge, and debate had gave me the tools necessary to develop my own critical lens to take full advantage of that knowledge throughout my life.
Since college I have moved to the Bay Area with my wife as she pursues her doctorate. I have used these years to explore my interests to determine my future career goals. As I researched numerous fields I took an inventory of my skills and interests. The skills I listed were those that drew me into debate in the first place: public speaking, critical reading, argument analysis, persuasion, and research. I will be able to best use these skills in the legal field.
Currently I work for a company that specializes in producing electronic, educational toys. This has opened my eyes to the complex challenges facing companies dependent on proprietary technologies and content that, for financial reasons, must manufacture products in nations without lengthy traditions of copyright and patent protections. I think Stanford’s Science, Technology, and Intellectual Property Law Program would be an excellent fit for my personal interests and skills. The close ties with companies in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area facing these challenges daily makes Stanford the ideal location for me to pursue my legal studies.
In his office Professor Deatherage warmly listened to what I had decided. I will never forget the elation I felt when he expressed his pride in watching me mature into the debater and person I had become. Being from a small town in Texas himself, he understood what it meant for me to have come as far as I had, and that I was ready to face another challenge.
Personal Statement #2 Commentary
The essay is energetic, and it applauds debate skills, both of which will make the admissions committee sit up and take notice. It begins with suspense and fulfills the promise of the resolution at the end of the essay. The essay teaches a lesson to everyone who reads it, which is not to overextend oneself, but to choose goals wisely and see each one through to the best of one’s abilities. This candidate has an excellent ethos, in which he demonstrates strength of will and pride in his accomplishments. His rhetoric also suggests he, like the professor whose background he shares, will grow into a master of his field and an inspiring supporter of others. This is an excellent essay.
A few minor adjustments will make this essay stand out as exceptional. In the first paragraph, the applicant should mention at which college Professor Deatherage coached. This will allow the applicant to get across that he was debating with the best college debaters in the country. He should integrate the paragraph on soul-searching after college with the paragraph about his job at the toy company. He should also discuss what he did at the toy company, and why he chose this job. Telling why he chose this job will underscore the claim that he carefully chooses each goal and fulfills it to his full potential before moving on. For example, he should state what skills he expected to acquire or improve from this job (such as negotiation, public speaking, patent law, or whatever skill it was that he wanted to develop). He should then state that he did improve those skills, and that he is ready to move on. He should give more specific examples about what he achieved on the Northwestern debate team. For example, did the team compete nationally, and what number were they ranked in the nation? Furthermore, was his debate league the highest level for debate teams in the country, before actual professional debates in the courtroom and policy offices? This information will help the admissions committee put the applicant’s accomplishments into perspective by giving evidence that he is one of the best debaters in the country. The applicant should also make sure Professor Deatherage writes him a recommendation letter because the admissions committee will want this to substantiate what the applicant claims about his debate skills, and will enjoy reading about the narrative from another perspective.
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GPA 3.4, Biochemistry Ivy League
Accepted: Georgetown, Fordham, NY Law +$, Brooklyn, Hoftstra +$, Temple +$, Drexel +$, Quinnipiac +$, Georgia State, FSU, Miami +$,
Rejected: George Washington
Curious by nature or by choice? Surely a question a biologist would ask, but regardless of the underlying causes, curious aptly describes me. While my resume demonstrates my long and accomplished interests in science, particularly biomedical research, I have long held interests in other areas, for example history. My voracious appetite for reading was first whet by a book on the Revolutionary War in the first grade. In high school, I became fascinated by the Civil War, reading all of Bruce Catton's tomes and speculating on how the North might have lost and its implications (probably a victory deferred to a later conflict). Whether it be macro or micro economics, middle eastern history, third world development or domestic politics, my curious nature (or is it nurture?) drives me to read, research and retain on a wide set of topics.
Thus armed, I have used this information to support another aspect of my personality, my competitive nature. Athletically, I am an avid soccer player and continue to play in an over 30 league. Intellectually, I tend towards debate with wide ranging expertise. I pride myself on being logical, basing my arguments on facts or direct experience. I always remain objective and take criticism well: I realize that good discussions are not personal, and since my points are neither ideologically nor belief based, challenges are simply a questions of fact. Indeed, when faced with such situations, such challenges spur a fury of research as I seek out the historical context or relevant statistics. I enjoy revisiting the discussion later with my friends to discuss my findings and putting it within the context of their knowledge. Though apparently rare in others based on my experience, I have no compunction conceding, given that any errors are those of facts, not belief.
As a scientist, I enjoyed those projects most on which I collaborated and that pushed the boundaries of my expertise. Under such conditions, I found that I produced my more innovative solutions. In a recent project, I led an effort at xxx xxx University which ultimately involved physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians as well as biologists. My ability to quickly grasp the important concepts and restrictions of each expert's approach allowed me to coordinate and mediate the project. The multiple publications and invited book chapter I authored attest to the collaboration's success. My self confidence and the courage to step outside of my comfort zone, not only led to the opportunity but also generated its success. As a collaborator, my strength has been my ability to quickly learn other systems, identify the obstacles and then coordinate the resolution.
One asks why I am considering a change now? I believe that the simplest explanation is my task oriented nature and the realization that scientific research is more a road than a destination. As a reader, putting down a book before its completion is an effort, and in a similar manner, I seek an opportunity for comparable closure in my work. Therefore, I am seeking a career where I can apply my experience and scientific skills and be consistently challenged to learn new disciplines as found in intellectual property law. Related to the tasks of a practicing lawyer, I enjoyed the responsibility of developing the proposal for a new graduate program and its subsequent approval by xxx. Following its approval in record time, I directed and taught the new required graduate level course specified by our new curriculum. Meeting the bureaucratic and legal requirements and making a difference was rewarding. In addition, I hope to expand on my international interests, perhaps doing patent work in my wife's home in Japan, or in Africa where I both served in the Peace Corps and traveled extensively. Might I be of assistance in protecting and developing undiscovered genetic resources? I believe that as an intellectual property attorney, I can fully apply my knowledge, experience and curiosity to maximize the impact of ideas.
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My stats are above in my first post in this thread.
To intentionally restrict available services and opportunities along lines of race or poverty violates the standards of equality our country has established to protect the rights of its people. By failing to demand comprehensive systems of public transportation in our cities, we passively allow others to create a society divided in just such a way.
A population that lacks universal access to widespread, affordable public transportation is often a population that lacks equality in access to available services and opportunities. As citizens who travel by public transportation are limited to the areas of the city that can be reached by the available routes, a limited public transportation route can create the potential for as much segregation as would a complete lack of public transportation. For example, employers wishing to limit the financial bracket of their job applicants can locate their offices in an area unreachable by the available public transportation routes.
In a city like Memphis, in which the lines of wealth and poverty often divide the races of black and white, a limited system of public transportation can create a vehicle through which the wealthy, white population can sequester itself from the poorer, non-white populations of the city. In such a city, citizens seeking equality must demand the pursuit of a comprehensive, affordable system of public transportation.
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Well, they didn't take me, but at least I sort of enjoyed writing it.Question 7, Write an essay of not more than 250 words about a subject of your choice.
Late in Book 10 of the Republic, Socrates tells Glaucon the story of the true runner. While discussing the long-term fortunes of just men, Socrates contrasts them with "clever but unjust people" (Rep. 613b), whom he likens to runners racing away too fast on the "out" leg of the Greeks' out-and-back course: Though they start out strongly, they fade by the end, arriving at the finish "laughable and uncrowned" (613c). The true runners, by contrast, running steadily throughout, by their consistent pace overcome any initial disadvantage to finish as victors. It is to these runners that Socrates likens just men, reassuring Glaucon that, eventually, they will enjoy their deserts.
By Book 10, Glaucon likely knows better than to argue with Socrates. Even if he wished to, however, he would be hard pressed to dispute the point. On the one hand, the metaphor neatly accords with the conception of justice established in the work to date. On the other hand, it is simply good running advice. What Plato had seen firsthand, even within the diaulos race of under 400 meters, only becomes more valid over longer distances: It is both psychologically and physiologically easier to start slow and then speed up than to persist in a too-fast pace. Choosing the latter strategy can doom one to finishing at a pained walk, earlier expectations of fast times completely shattered. As a runner who has reaped the fruits of both approaches, I find the passage a painfully evocative argument for the just life.
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This sentence comes across as fake. What did you get your degree in?I had an epiphany. The real value of a college degree is not in what it can do for me, but in what it allows me to do for others.
Your statement is okay. A little safe maybe. Kinda cliche. The story about your grandfather is very interesting but unless you choose to elaborate on exactly how those particular events inspired you, you may want to just leave it out entirely. Are you planning on doing something related to public interest? Either way, adcoms probably get tons of "I want to help society PSs" so if you go this route, try to be as convincing as possible.
Don't elaborate on your work experience if all you are going to do is regurgitate your resume.
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I kinda figured that the story about my grandfather would be the cliche one, but I have no idea because I don't read thousands of these every year. I could write an entire PS on him if I wanted to and could talk about how it inspired me. He actually died before I was born, but would be a good story because he was a successful lawyer before he went to war but lost his job and his life from alcohol because of the war. I've kind of always thought that it was my job to pick up where he left off. I just don't know how it would come across to an adcomm who is reading about my grandfather's war stories. I don't want to make it sound like I'm riding his actions into lawschool.
Also, I was a Criminal Justice major and I believe that I either want to work for the FBI or prosecute terrorists. Had a minor in Arab Studies.
I only asked about work-related stuff because that's what a bunch of the online apps ask for. I don't understand it much, to be honest, because they already have all of that info.
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In what way? What did it drive you to do? What did you used to think? How did it alter that? What are your goals now as a result of that epiphany. How exactly does law school fit into those goals?The Dean's statement really woke me up.
I think you need to try to answer at least a few of those questions in your PS in order for it to be convincing. But, this is only my opinion. Others may disagree.
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Not specifically, but most say something to the effect of "Tell us how your experiences in life, etc, will better help you to be a competitive law student" and I read some in here that get lauded and I see it as something completely different.They specifically ask for you to address your WE in your PS?
Ugh, I don't know, writing this fucking sucks. Websites say to write about your life, some admissions people say to write about what you will do with a law degree, and others use fluff stories. I have absolutely no idea what to write about and it's killing me.
Please note that that statement is not done. It's only the first 3 paragraphs and the next two were going to meld everything together. I just wasn't sure if it was covering too many subjects and if I should just pick one and perhaps spend the entire statement talking about how my grandfather is an inspiration. Or, if I have to, to do something else completely different.In what way? What did it drive you to do? What did you used to think? How did it alter that? What are your goals now as a result of that epiphany. How exactly does law school fit into those goals?
I think you need to try to answer at least a few of those questions in your PS in order for it to be convincing. But, this is only my opinion. Others may disagree.
As personally meaningful as this might be, the adcoms need to see that you are going to LS for YOU, and only you.I've kind of always thought that it was my job to pick up where he left off. I just don't know how it would come across to an adcomm who is reading about my grandfather's war stories. I don't want to make it sound like I'm riding his actions into lawschool.
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Well, I think you would have to post something written for us to evaluate. I don't really see any connection between these things based on your summary.I want to do something with the idea of being an outsider, like how regardless of the activities I was in, the cheerleading team i was on, the choir i sang in, i knew i wasn't quite like everyone else. Then, when i went to Greece on November 17 and witnessed the terror group, N17, protesting America, I realized that all i had felt for the previous 19 years was right, then show how the revelation of this led me into law.
Seriously? What are you waiting for?
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