Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Personal Statements, Resumes, and Letters of Recommendation => Topic started by: The Brian on June 30, 2010, 10:34:52 PM

Title: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on June 30, 2010, 10:34:52 PM


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Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: mac n cheese on July 01, 2010, 03:07:07 AM
Its good! I enjoyed reading it. If it were my work, I'd re-write the opening paragraph so that it has a sense of direction. Plus, it has way too many commas.  I'd also scratch the first sentence in the closing paragraph. Other than that, its cool.

Best Wishes
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: john4040 on July 01, 2010, 04:13:23 PM
It's very well written, however, I'm not sure I like the theme.  It seems as though you are referring to yourself as just another ordinary person.  I would submit to you that most people are shaped by the small influences around them rather than a single defining moment, and that nothing in your personal statement suggests that your development in life was anything out of the ordinary.  For example, your story rings similar to the following statements:  "As a child, I spoke my first word.  After I spoke that first word, my mother praised me.  Her praise influenced me to speak more.  I can now speak extraordinarily well because of her praise."  There's really nothing extraordinary about that -- it's just natural development.

You need to think long and hard about what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd.  Why do you want to go to law school?  From what I can gather in your proposed statement, law school would be just another "'little' thing[] in life" that you could use to "move on to the next modest-but-defining moment."  No law school wants someone that like that.  Law schools want winners (i.e., extraordinary students with grand aspirations).
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on July 01, 2010, 04:46:18 PM
It's very well written, however, I'm not sure I like the theme.  It seems as though you are referring to yourself as just another ordinary person.  I would submit to you that most people are shaped by the small influences around them rather than a single defining moment, and that nothing in your personal statement suggests that your development in life was anything out of the ordinary.  For example, your story rings similar to the following statements:  "As a child, I spoke my first word.  After I spoke that first word, my mother praised me.  Her praise influenced me to speak more.  I can now speak extraordinarily well because of her praise."  There's really nothing extraordinary about that -- it's just natural development.

You need to think long and hard about what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd.  Why do you want to go to law school?  From what I can gather in your proposed statement, law school would be just another "'little' thing[] in life" that you could use to "move on to the next modest-but-defining moment."  No law school wants someone that like that.  Law schools want winners (i.e., extraordinary students with grand aspirations).
thanks for the input. i thought long and hard about what you said when i first wrote it in fact, and i decided in writing the statement the way i did, i wanted to speak about my natural progression, my writing ability, and a few specific things that have shaped me. i wanted to show myself as what i am: a normal guy that's had certain circumstances develop certain skills that make me ideal for law school. i took into account that it made me sound a bit ordinary (self-admittedly) but the "bigger things" in the last statement was supposed to be law school, not the "next modest moment".

also, i don't know what quite makes a "winner" in the way you mean it? what is a winner? am i supposed to talk about awards, a grander scale, or how i want to be the best lawyer there ever was?  i don't know i quite agree with grand aspirations being a plus; no one wants a dreamer. perhaps i'm a realist.

i'll keep your feedback in mind though when i look to edit it. thanks again.

Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on July 01, 2010, 04:54:16 PM
Its good! I enjoyed reading it. If it were my work, I'd re-write the opening paragraph so that it has a sense of direction. Plus, it has way too many commas.  I'd also scratch the first sentence in the closing paragraph. Other than that, its cool.

Best Wishes
thanks. i kinda threw the opening paragraph without a clear bridge between the rest of the statement; i'll probably rework it a bit.
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: john4040 on July 01, 2010, 05:05:03 PM
also, i don't know what quite makes a "winner" in the way you mean it? what is a winner? am i supposed to talk about awards, a grander scale, or how i want to be the best lawyer there ever was?  i don't know i quite agree with grand aspirations being a plus; no one wants a dreamer. perhaps i'm a realist.


There is no one way to go about it.  You need a compelling reason why they should select you - which might include a number of things (naturally progressing in life not being one of them).  Tell them why you MUST go to law school, tell them that you have some sort of special talent to offer them, tell them that you plan to do x or y with your law degree, tell them why they should select you over Joe Blow.  Just don't tell them that you plan on being mediocre.

To give you some help, think about some good traits that define you as a person.  Can you point to one particular instance in your life - a particular thing that you've done / something that few people would do - that would prove your assertion that you possess those traits?
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on July 01, 2010, 05:52:56 PM
also, i don't know what quite makes a "winner" in the way you mean it? what is a winner? am i supposed to talk about awards, a grander scale, or how i want to be the best lawyer there ever was?  i don't know i quite agree with grand aspirations being a plus; no one wants a dreamer. perhaps i'm a realist.


There is no one way to go about it.  You need a compelling reason why they should select you - which might include a number of things (naturally progressing in life not being one of them).  Tell them why you MUST go to law school, tell them that you have some sort of special talent to offer them, tell them that you plan to do x or y with your law degree, tell them why they should select you over Joe Blow.  Just don't tell them that you plan on being mediocre.

I'll give you an example. On my app, I talked about how I was taking my last college exam and how I didn't need the grade, but sat there on a Saturday morning and was the last damn person (besides the TA) to walk out of that room.  It's things like that which define me as a person - I'm hard working, focused, and determined.  I'm not okay with being mediocre.  I'm not a normal person.  I want to be the best and am willing to sacrifice for it.
i think the thing that you might be missing is that my statement is about my natural progression, but that isn't the main point. the main point is that through the two specific instances i chose within that progression, you see the skills that appeal to law schools: writing ability, hard work, and persistence. perhaps it might be a bit too subtle; you have to read for example that being on the phone for 3 hours = persistence/hard work.  also, my paper is meant to be relative to the world; when i say commonplace i mean it because i'm sure little things like these happen everywhere. it's what i took out of it and how i applied these normal things that made special.

it seems to me that your instance of being the last to leave during your last college test is pretty commonplace in its own right, but it draws a parallel to some of my examples in that it shows something about you and who you are. perhaps if i stress this point more, it would be clearer that my focus in the paper is not only my progression, but that my progression reveals the talents/traits that make me a compelling choice for a law school.

thanks again, a refocusing of the statement is in order.


 
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: john4040 on July 01, 2010, 06:19:10 PM

it seems to me that your instance of being the last to leave during your last college test is pretty commonplace in its own right

Not really.  I seriously don't know anyone that (1) already had the highest grade in the class, (2) was willing to study for and (3) spend a Saturday morning taking (4) their last college examination.

Nice try though.  You'll get in everywhere you apply!!1!11!!!
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on July 01, 2010, 06:44:52 PM

it seems to me that your instance of being the last to leave during your last college test is pretty commonplace in its own right

Not really.  I seriously don't know anyone that (1) already had the highest grade in the class, (2) was willing to study for and (3) spend a Saturday morning taking (4) their last college examination.

Nice try though.  You'll get in everywhere you apply!!1!11!!!

"nice try though?" haha, what? am i missing something here? your input has helped me refocus my statement, but that last post came off ridiculously juvenile. did i hurt your feelings when i said being the last person to leave a test while  also studying for it when you were already overachieving is commonplace?

my bad, then.
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: john4040 on July 01, 2010, 07:05:23 PM
"nice try though?" haha, what? am i missing something here? your input has helped me refocus my statement, but that last post came off ridiculously juvenile. did i hurt your feelings when i said being the last person to leave a test while  also studying for it when you were already overachieving is commonplace?

my bad, then.

You'll have to excuse me, I'm not having a wonderful day and I'm growing a bit impatient.  I believe you need to make your statement more powerful.  I've offered all of the advice that I can now. Take it as you will.
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: The Brian on July 01, 2010, 07:11:43 PM
"nice try though?" haha, what? am i missing something here? your input has helped me refocus my statement, but that last post came off ridiculously juvenile. did i hurt your feelings when i said being the last person to leave a test while  also studying for it when you were already overachieving is commonplace?

my bad, then.

You'll have to excuse me, I'm not having a wonderful day and I'm growing a bit impatient.  I believe you need to make your statement more powerful.  I've offered all of the advice that I can now. Take it as you will.
don't worry about. i've definitely put your input to use.
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: john4040 on July 01, 2010, 07:22:28 PM
don't worry about. i've definitely put your input to use.

Good luck.  Your personal statement does have the potential to make an enourmous impact if you're in the grey area (waitlisted).  I managed to sneak into a great school although my LSAT was probably the lowest there.   I attribute my success in admissions to my personal statement. You have the writing ability to push out a great statement, no doubt.  Get it done.
Title: Re: Just finished a draft of my PS; care to critique it?
Post by: grrider477 on July 06, 2010, 02:12:50 AM
Since my birth I have had no single defining moment, no tragedy, epiphany, or periods of absolute elation or depression. I have learned, loved, succeeded and failed, but my experiences and life lessons have been more commonplace than Hollywood. I am, by my approximation, a product of everyday life, shaped slowly but surely by people, events, and circumstances that, to most others, seem rather ordinary.

In eighth grade, I wrote an essay on Jack London’s novel, Call of the Wild, that subsequently helped alter the direction of my career aspirations. The paper was succinctly graded by my teacher Ms. Bonner; it had an “A” with a circle around it, short comments and underlines within the paper’s margin, and a laconic message on the last page: “Can I keep?” It did not take long for me to take this early success and build upon it. It was not at this moment that I first realized I enjoyed writing; I had known that for years prior, ever since I provided the blurbs for the comics my best friend and I co-produced. Rather, I realized that I could be a thoroughly successful writer, at both a personal and academic level. I began to log regular entries into a personal journal to develop my written voice. I have since broadened myself by writing poetry, blog entries, and even early screenwriting, while continuing to excel at academic research papers and essays. To credit all my interests and successes in writing to a single eighth grade essay would be short sighted, as there have been many other positive influences throughout my life, but it was a catalyst; it was the type of event in memory that oddly changed my own perceptions about my abilities and who I could be. It is often surprising what a little reinforcement can do; an admittedly commonplace, but undeniably defining moment brought upon a major development in my life. Ms. Bonner, and the paper itself, fostered a change in interest and academic focus that indirectly strengthened my ability to succeed in the professional world.

As was the case in my youth, it has been the little things that have continued to define me. During the summer of 2009, I interned at a small local law firm, doing clerical and administrative work, and legal research. It was a learning experience, one punctuated, oddly enough, by a brown paper napkin. One afternoon, the interns had been tasked to find out what outstanding tax fees two companies owed in order to revive each corporation. Phoning the California Tax Board and Secretary of State's Office was not a very difficult task, but it was one that my fellow interns avoided because it meant going out of a comfort zone and also being put on hold for something like an eternity. I ended up making three calls that day that lasted close to three hours in total. I negotiated for the necessary documents to be faxed, along with handwritten calculations, provided by the kind fellows at the tax board, whom I had asked to estimate the total cost for revival. It took a bit of prodding, but the estimations of hard numbers were made and finally sent over. The next day, upon checking my tray in the office, I noticed a brown paper napkin had been left there. On the napkin was a written note, a few lines of messy-yet-legible writing, which stated the faxed information was far more comprehensive than expected, and that my effort and persistence had been appreciated. It was not a chest-bumping, crowd arousing sequence, but it was one that instilled quiet confidence that said something along the lines of: "Yeah, you have potential." Much like Ms. Bonner's short and profound request, an abbreviated message made all the difference between the everyday and something entirely more memorable.

Perhaps my life has progressed sans an encompassing defining moment, but it has not been short on smaller, yet just-as-meaningful ones. It has been this accumulation of the "little" things in life that has propelled me to pursue a career in law, while also providing me the confidence to move on to the next modest-but-defining moment, or perhaps, newer, and decidedly bigger things.

any thoughts are appreciated.


Me too has the same doubt

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