Law School Discussion

Anyone have a strong personal statement


Anyone have a strong personal statement
« on: July 21, 2004, 05:05:58 PM »
anyone have a personal statement that they are really proud of? If so could you email me a copy so i can get a good idea of what a good one looks like? If not the whole thing, at least the main point and gist of the essay, as well as how you approached the topic... (artistically, scientifically, matter-of-factly, humorously, entertainingly...etc...) thanks so much

Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2004, 05:56:14 PM »
Here is a portion of my personal statement, the parts that I think were the most compelling, and some advice.

1. Think of the thing, no matter how big or small, that made you want to go to law school and build from there.

2. The only thing that is helpful about reading other people's PS is that it reiterates that you have to come up with your own story.  Trust me, there is ABSOLUTELY NO FORMULA(other than solid writing skills)that you can use.  The AC wants to here YOUR story, WHATEVER it is.  The key is to tell that story in a way the makes the AC WANT to read it and is, of course, COMPLETELY error-free.

As you read mine, know this:  I tried literally 20 different approaches before I felt comfortable.  It happened one day (a week and a half before the deadline) I was at my wits end with the thing and I just said back and tried to recall the moment I knew I wanted to go the law school(or at least the moment I began thinking about it began to seriously think about it).  Once I decided to start there, everything else flowed.

You can alos try ESSAYEDGE.COM

Let me know if there are more questions.

It has been ten years since I was active in the legal profession, but the memories remain fresh in my mind. 

I can still see Paula – an attorney at the firm where I was a legal secretary – as she walked into the office each morning with coffee in hand, no make-up, and wearing a pleasant smile.  “Hi Angela,” she would greet me sweetly as she walked in.  I can still see Ben, the head attorney: a quiet and kind man.  He was in his sixties; but nevertheless put in forty-hour workweeks.   I recall how I enjoyed my own work (I was also a paralegal-in-training) I found the work complex, demanding, and above all exciting.   I imagined the possibility of becoming a lawyer someday as I watched them with admiration.  I distinctly remember the day a client’s $12,000 settlement check arrived at the office.  Paula immediately refused the fee because there were two parts to the claim and that settlement had been approved as soon as she took the case.  She explained that she would not accept the fee because she had not earned it.  That was a show of integrity that I will never forget – and now, as I pursue my ambition, it is what I want my future work as a lawyer to represent.

Though I was happy working at the law office, I left in 1994 for a better-paying job at an HMO.  I had hoped that the work would be as interesting or challenging as in the law firm.  It was not.  My early passion for the legal profession never waned.

On my last day of work Paula and Ben took me to lunch and wished me well.     I don’t remember our conversation, but I remember walking to my car wondering, “Should I be doing this?”

Leaving the firm turned out to be blessing in disguise: what I learned in the years following was a key factor in me gaining the focus I needed to follow my ambitions. 

When I left the law office at the age of 22, I had not established a real sense of direction.  I had been on my own since I was sixteen.  My mother was killed when I was a baby, and my father’s alcoholism and mistreatment led to me becoming an emancipated minor (ironically, he told me when I was 15 that I should become a lawyer).  I was a single mother before I finished high school and I had my second child by the time I was twenty.  Their father was abusive, and I finally left him after four years; but followed that up with a marriage that proved emotionally degrading.  The saving grace was that somehow my resiliency and intellectual confidence remained intact.  I justhad not figured out how to use it – not yet, at any rate.

About a year after leaving the firm, I developed a relationship with Ms. English, the woman who has since become my godmother.    That was a pivotal point in my life.  By listening to her wisdom I realized that I needed to make certain changes if I planned to succeed.    I was still in the midst of personal trials and we talked about those struggles, and my aspirations to become a lawyer.   Instead of telling me what to do, she used her wisdom to steer me, allowing me to determine the best solutions myself.    I realized that underneath my struggles I was a person with much to offer, but that it was up to me to realize this and do what was necessary to fulfill my ambitions.  We talked about principals such as courage, self-respect, dignity, determination and strength.    From this I established a foundation for a stronger sense of character.   I decided that I would not allow my negative experiences and choices to dictate my future.  I disentangled myself from my dysfunctional relationship and provided a secure home for my children; and within three years of leaving the firm I began my undergraduate studies.  Not only did those lessons help me make changes then, but they have guided me ever since.     

I began my undergraduate studies with a sound interest in the law, but that interest grew through continued learning........
Years ago I resisted my fate out of fear and insecurity.   Just as I was able to move beyond those barriers, so it is that I am ready for the next chapter of my life.  I have been warned about the rigors of law school and I listened, but was undaunted.  I am confident that whatever work I must do to accomplish this goal is worth all my efforts.  As demanding as it may be to combine my ambitions with working and caring for my family, I have found that there is nothing about pursing my goals that is harder than imagining my life if I did not.

It has taken me over seven years to complete my undergraduate studies, but my experiences and lessons have made me well-prepared for the next step.....   
Today I represent the culmination of countless invaluable lessons and I am grateful for the guidance I received over the years.  While I am far removed from my first experience in the legal field, I see myself coming full circle and representing the profession with the same integrity that I was shown years ago. Please be assured that by accepting me you will receive a candidate with not only the intellectual ability to succeed, but one with a sense of values, a strong mind, and a determination that is second to none.


Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2004, 07:14:52 AM »
That's one hell of a good PS.

Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2004, 07:37:53 AM »
you used the word "principals" incorrectly.  'principles' would have been appropriate.  hopefully that didn't matter in the end! :)

however that was a good PS, if for no other reason that it made me want to read the whole thing.  i would be careful about posting your PS on the board, however.  as others on the board have said before, there is a risk of someone ripping off your work.  just a kindly suggestion, though. 


Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2004, 08:10:04 AM »
Hi and thanks,

Principles, huh?  Damn, and all this time I thought it was "COMPLETELY error-free" Oh well, I did get admitted to a good school, though.

I was a bit concerned about posting my statement for all to see, but I was proud of it and after all that I went through, I just wanted to help make it easier for someone else.


Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2004, 09:38:49 AM »
"...I have found that there is nothing about pursing my goals that is harder than imagining my life if I did not."

Great PS!  I am curious about the word coice here.  I am curious if it is a typo or a word use I am not familiar with.

"pursing"... perhaps to put away or hide. Or is supposed to be "pursuing?"

Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2004, 10:35:53 AM »
Thanks to you all for pointing out my errors.  ::)

I had to go back and look at my statement.  I posted the nearly final version from my hard drive on this board, but I looked at the final version from my disk and those errors were caught. (whewww!!!)

Anyway, let this be a lesson to all applicants on the importance of proofreading.

Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2004, 12:14:49 PM »
I second law lady's advice, but would add the following to it:

1. Include why you are qualified to succeed at the school as well as why you want to go there.  Especially if you have to explain lower than avg. grades and/or LSAT.

2. What is there about you that is unique and would add to the class.  Lawlady certainly had that in her statement.

3. Proofread (and have someone else as well) a paper hard copy.  Don't rely on spellchecks.

4  Read it outloud to see how it sounds.

5. Spread the process of drafting, redrafting, proofing, and honing to take a few weeks.  Put it down for a few days and then come back to it.  It's amazing what a fresh mind and set of eyes finds.

6. Follow any specific school instructions.  Some have word and/or page limits.

Remember, this is your chance to sell the school on you.  There are always more applicants than slots.  Take advantage of it.

Re: Anyone have a strong personal statement
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2004, 08:11:34 AM »
MJ, I agree with Coregram 99%.  I must differ on the first part of advice#1

First, the AC usually looks at your UGPA and LSAT #s to determine that you're qualified to succeed.  Unless those numbers are low, there's no need to convince them that you are qualified.  More importantly, they may get impatient when applicants with good numbers talk about their academic and intellectual abilities. Something like that may make them say "Uh yeah, we already know you're smart...tell us something we don't know"  Remember, the AC is made up of regular people who have to read hundreds of letters, Don't give them a reason to be impatient with yours.   Like Coregram said, talk about your uniqueness.

Of course, if your numbers are low then of course explain.  But an explanation of shortcomings should be an addendum to a PS, not an integral part of it.

MJ, be sure to take Coregram's advice about contacting the school.  In addition to page# requirements, they can tell you what they look for in a PS. 

Ultimately, whatever advice you follow, in the end, trust your instincts.  When your PS feels right, then you know you've done well.