After reading through some of those essays, it seems the most important thing to do on a PS is overly romanticize a
meaninglessmeaningfull moment of your existence. Seriously - get over yourselves.
Would it be that detrimental to write something like, "Im 22, and have yet to discovered the meaning of life. Im an intelligent and hardworking student with the desire to attend and succeed in your law school."? If forced to, I'm sure I could come up with some BS about how an aspect of the law affected my prepubescent mind to such a degree that, in my short 22 years, it became my sole purpose in life. I realize Im being very cynical about all of this, but, really - why do adcoms reward such naval gazing garbage?
First, I completely agree with you and I wish that it was as simple as you describe above. However, it won't do you any good to come up with a personal statement that only states the obvious (if that were true we would all sound the same). Try to think about it from a different perspective. The personal statement is pretty much the only part of your application that gives you the ability to showcase your writing (and bullsh*ting) ability. The point is not that your statement will be full of romanticized BS because everyone's PS will be full of the same. This "meaningful moment of your existence" statement is what law schools in general seem to have agreed upon as their chosen topic and the question is not "how meaningful has my short life been," but "how do I choose to describe and portray whatever meaning I find in my own life and which particular area of my life do I choose to emphasize in the very short space that I have been provided." Don't focus on WHY they reward "naval gazing garbage," just focus on the fact that they DO reward it. I don't think that most people look forward to waxing on and on in a cheesy essay about one life experience that can't possibly provide a complete picture of themselves. What is most important isn't that you WANT to write about yourself in this manner, but HOW you go about doing it. Showcase your writing ability and do your best not to provide a COMPLETE picture of yourself, but a really nice SNAPSHOT of one aspect of who you are.
Here, I hope, is a helpful analogy:
Imagine that you are allowed to send in a photograph of yourself to each law school along with your application (analogy alert: photograph = personal statement). Of course, you would spend time choosing the right backdrop, the right lighting, the right clothes, hair, makeup (if applicable), and angle for your photo. Now, would it do you any good at all to try and come up with a photograph that somehow magically showed every side and angle of you including your beautiful derriere? Of course not, this would be impossible, just as it would be impossible to try and capture the sole purpose in your life or to create some grandiose picture of who you are in a 2 page personal statement.
I am writing this because I feel the exact same way about romanticizing meaningless moments of my life (aka bullsh*ting) and this is how I have come to understand the personal statement. And I don't think that you are being cynical at all...I'd bet that most people who apply to law school have the same reaction to writing a personal statement.