Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Personal Statements, Resumes, and Letters of Recommendation => Topic started by: dylan4201 on September 12, 2004, 07:23:10 PM

Title: Brother's Death
Post by: dylan4201 on September 12, 2004, 07:23:10 PM
I'm curious what people think about this as a ps topic. Tragically, last year, my eighteen year old brother passed away in an unexpected accident. It was during my senior year of college. While I obviously took time off to deal with this loss, it was also very important to my family and I that I graduate that spring. I was faced with an enormous ammount of catching up to do, and a professor who was difficult in dealing with my situation. Through an enormous ammount of hard work and countless hours in the library, I was able to graduate.

Was wondering if this would be a meaningful ps topic by showing my ability to focus and achieve a goal in the face of tremendous adversity? Is it relevent to a law school personal statement? It will certainly not be a typical ps...(I want to go to law school because..)...which I wonder may be a bad thing? Also, while I certainly don't want to somehow "cheapen" the experience that I went through, by using it as a means to acceptance in law school, it is impossible to deny the profound impact that it had on me.

Any advice/suggestions is greatly appreciated.

Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: TheDecline on September 12, 2004, 08:11:52 PM
First off, that is a terrible situation and I hope that you and your family are doing ok.

I am in a somewhat similar situation to you and I think it is a very difficult topic to write about.  It is very hard to balance the point you want to get across and not be "cheap" as you call it.  Some people are probably going to tell you not to write about this and that it will come across as a "sob story."  I think you can dig a little deeper and discuss more that how it affected your being able to graduate.  You can talk about the affect that he had on you and how it changed you, not just how you overcame this tragedy and graduated.
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: swifty on September 12, 2004, 08:34:52 PM
Don't do it.  I am sympathetic to your story, because I lost my sister
when she was 37, and she had two kids 5 and 2 when she died.  It's tough man, don't
go there. 
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: dylan4201 on September 12, 2004, 08:36:26 PM
Thank you for your kind words. We are doing as well as we possibly can.

I think that is a reservation of mine, not wanting it to sound like a "sob story." Is it acceptable for a personal statement to be just that...a "personal" statement about the person I have become, and how my experiences have transformed that, which may not include the answer to questions like why I want to go to law school. I think it is something that I am comfortable enought to write about and to share with people, but at the same time, I want it to be effective in representing who I am....and why I am a strong candidate for law school. Does that make any sense?
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: dylan4201 on September 12, 2004, 08:37:37 PM
Just wondering...why do you think not to write about it? Sob story? Poor me mentality?
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: swifty on September 12, 2004, 09:11:59 PM
This is just someone who you do not even know, so take this for what it's worth.

You went through a terrible experience.  But you are not the only one.  I would use
it if your GPA sucks, but then that should be addressed in an addendum.  Loss of life
is far too common to adcomms.  They see this all the time.  While you (and I) think this is a terrible thing to happen, we cannot really write objectively about it, we are tainted by our personal feelings, and that is hard to ignore when writing a PS.  Personally I like unique PS's.  BUT THAT IS JUST ME.  If you can come up with something that does involve why you want to go to law school, (not to become a lawyer, remember what the focus is)
then maybe you can throw in a few lines about your sister, but don't make the whole thing about her death.  Too often, people will be concerned with the death of a sibling, and not be able to read what you are trying to say, which is showing them who you are, and what you are all about.  In essence, you want the PS to talk about you, and only you.  Using the sister's death will make you possibly stray from the focus, and also the reader.  I AM NO EXPERT.  Ask anyone.  They will tell you.  You may very well write an excellent PS with your sister's death, it's just very hard to make you sound unique to others.  My real advice is to listen to all replies, then decide.
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: TheDecline on September 13, 2004, 03:57:03 AM
Dylan- if you don't mind sharing your email address I'll send you something that might be able to help you.
Title: Re: Brother's Death
Post by: Bruner on September 13, 2004, 06:55:01 AM
k...a little input.  My mother passed away when i was nine.  I am now 27.  I have had plenty of time to deal with the situation and reflect on how it has shaped my life.  I believe your brother's death is a sad and delicate issue.  I am not telling you it would be bad to write about.  I am just saying a law school application may not be the best place to begin.  And listen, you quite possibly could have had counseling, etc. and really come to grips with the issue.  I am just saying it is really early in the grieving process.  Although writing about it could help, I feel a PS statement shouldn't be the place to start. 

I began my PS with a short concise sentence stating "my mother passed away from a malignant brain tumor when I was nine."
I then moved onto achievements, etc. in my life.  I put one line in the paper about my mother.  If u really want to add something, definately make it only a few sentences.  More than that and the Adcom might begin to think your not ready to handle the stress of law school b/c your loss is so recent.

Hoped I helped a little.  If not, sorry..If I can help, throw me a line.