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Messages - jtp09

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GPA is about 3.3, taking the LSAT in february.

Here is my first draft of my personal statement. I feel that I started it off well, but the second part trails off a bit. I gladly welcome and appreciate any criticism!!!
_____________________________ _____________________________

The dimly lit interrogation room, or “booth,” as we called it, sat empty in front of me. A piece of two-way mirror separated me from the room, and looking into it I couldn’t help but think that the recently captured, Afghan insurgent-turned-detainee I was scheduled to interview couldn’t possibly be as nervous as I was. A door opened up, and in stepped a guard wearing a standard issue U.S. Army uniform. The guard performed a cursory examination of the room, looking for anything not secured to the floor that could possibly be used as a weapon. I was glad for this small courtesy, as I had requested that the detainee be led in without handcuffs and to remain so throughout the interview. Though this was to be my first real interrogation in an actual war zone, I remembered my training well. Past instructors insisted that developing rapport was of paramount importance when trying to illicit information from someone who has been taught since birth not to trust you and has made a career out of trying to maim, blow up, shoot, and kill you. The first step in establishing this rapport was to treat the detainee as an equal, which is hard to do if he is in handcuffs. I’ll never forget the feeling I had moments before opening the door and politely introducing myself to the detainee in the detainee’s native language. A whirlwind of thoughts rushed through my mind. Did I belong here? Did this guy know something that could influence the battlefield? Could he have information that could save American lives? Did he even understand what I said? If he had any of the doubts I did, his face surely didn’t show it. Two years of intelligence and Arabic language training – countless hours conducting mock interrogations and spending months in the Middle East studying various dialects - had led to this, and now it was up to me to perform.
When I think about facing challenges, defeating self-doubt, and performing under pressure, few instances paint a better picture in my mind than the scenario described above. I think about the butterflies in my stomach, about the fear of disappointing those who believed in my ability enough to even give me a chance to gain valuable, time sensitive intelligence from a detainee fresh off the battlefield. Looking back, separated by 12 months of experience conducting nearly one-thousand interrogations in Afghanistan and 4 years working for various intelligence agencies helping to solve sensitive national security problems, I can confidently say that I have risen above and conquered any self doubt and challenges I’ve faced. Now, I am embarking on a new, certainly different but equally challenging, endeavor.
Law school is something I hadn’t considered until leaving the Army in 2012. To be honest, prior to joining the military in 2008, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. My undergraduate record prior to joining the military reflects this indecision. I was “attending” school, but wasn’t dedicated. Looking back now, I realize it was because I didn’t have goal in sight. I looked at school as something I was supposed to be doing, but didn’t know why.  Joining the Army gave me a sense of purpose. I was lucky in that my chosen specialty, intelligence, was one that I enjoyed immediately. I liked the sense of structure, the strict guidelines in which to operate, the challenge, and the emphasis placed on the ability to work hard, think independently, and view issues from different perspectives. I later realized that many of these skills are also relevant in the field of law.
A good lawyer, in my opinion, must be inquisitive. He or she must look below the surface for details not readily apparent. They must be effective, persuasive negotiators with the ability to analyze clearly and write and converse efficiently. During my time as an intelligence collector and analyst, I have come to the realization that I was born with many of these skills. It took the unique circumstances which I’ve encountered to help me recognize and develop these skills. Persuading countless detainees that it was in their best interest to cooperate with their sworn enemy provided me with an ability to empathize with others, to gain trust, and to look at issues through the eyes of someone on the opposite side. After several months in theatre, I was chosen above my peers to augment a Special Forces task force. For the remaining nine months in Afghanistan, I would question the most wanted and notorious high value detainees. Some were younger than I, teenagers who had been brainwashed into committing acts of terrorism; others were older, cold and calculating leaders of various insurgent and international terrorist groups harboring extreme hatred towards me and everything I stood for. My performance and level of success in that environment give me confidence in my ability to succeed in the field of law.
I plan on continuing my career in civil service. I intend to stay connected in some way to the intelligence community, with the ultimate goal of working as an attorney for the Department of State.  I began looking at applying to law schools in my area. In order to maintain my current security clearance, it will be necessary for me to continue working while pursuing my law degree. Doing so requires me to attend a law school in the Baltimore region, close to home and work, that offers a part time evening program. More importantly, I wanted to attend a prestigious, well-known school that would give me an edge in networking in the Baltimore/D.C. region. The __________________ School Of Law is the best school that fits the criteria outlined above......

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