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Author Topic: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?  (Read 1523 times)

zero

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Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« on: June 13, 2008, 05:45:37 AM »
As a member of the armed forces I spent a year in Iraq interrogating detainees.  I witnessed several incidents that have strongly influenced my decision to become a public defender.  Would this be a good topic, or would it make me sound too idealistic?

WashLaw

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2008, 12:29:48 AM »
Sounds like an interesting topic to me. Yes, you do run the risk of sounding too ideal if you make platitudes such as, "my time spent interrogating detainees will make me the best public defender ever." or some such thing. But with a mature tone and reasone analysis i think it could be very good.

riccardo426

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2008, 10:30:20 AM »
I think such a unique topic could only show great things about you, but yeah, don't be too idealistic.

good luck!
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tebucky

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2008, 11:00:55 AM »
Absolutely.  I went this route and it panned out great for me.  This type of experience is uncommon to say the least among law school applicants and will help you stand out.  In this type of situation it's ok to present how it affected your ideals and why that leads to you wanting to defend the public.  You just need to impart the profundity of the experience to the reader - law school people do not understand the military or the pressures of combat situations.  Also avoid using too many acronyms and don't assume the reader will know the chain of command, etc.

zero

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 01:56:10 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  I do think my experience will help me to stand out from the other applicants, but I also want to show how my experience will make me a better public defender as well.  I am non-traditional student, I went back to school after I got out of the military, and I also wanted to incorporate the "hardships that I have overcome by going to back to school while working full-time to support my family" angle into my personal statement as well.  Should I choose one or the other?  Could the latter experience be considered appropriate material for a diversity statement (I am a URM)?

tebucky

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 02:52:18 PM »
It's tough to say on that one.  Personally, I would stick with one or the other in order to keep it concise.  You only get a page, certainly no more than two, for your PS and you don't want to muddle your message.  I do think the part about supporting your family would make for a great diversity statement!!

Sell Out

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 04:06:37 PM »
Yes, use it.  I did and it was a good move for me.  I would probably look at toning down some of the incidents because (as I've found out) what I thought was "normal" was actually something that could make people uncomfortable.  Especially the topic of detainees.  I would avoid any wording that may make it overtly political.  Other than that, I think it could be a powerful PS that could separate you from the pack.  Just a suggestion. 
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zero

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2008, 06:28:37 PM »
tebucky and Sell Out, you both mentioned that you used your experiences in Iraq in your personal statements, I was hoping you could elaborate a little.  Did you make it the focus of your statements, mention it as one experience that helped shape who you are, etc.?  Also, do you think being a veteran helped you get accepted to schools where you might not have been as competitive otherwise?  Thanks for your help.

Sell Out

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2008, 07:01:52 PM »
tebucky and Sell Out, you both mentioned that you used your experiences in Iraq in your personal statements, I was hoping you could elaborate a little.  Did you make it the focus of your statements, mention it as one experience that helped shape who you are, etc.?  Also, do you think being a veteran helped you get accepted to schools where you might not have been as competitive otherwise?  Thanks for your help.

No, I didn't make it the focus of my PS.  I included it as a "Oh yeah, I was in the military and have had leadership experience" kind of anecdote.  That being said, I think it did help me in the close decisions, but in my opinion, law schools care about numbers first and then go to PS's/rec letters.  If you have the numbers, I doubt they actually even read them.  Then again, I feel far removed from the application process so I may be way off.  Just my observation.
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robelguapo

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Re: Should I use my experience in Iraq in my PS?
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2008, 07:10:36 PM »
Concur. I used both the combat experience and the whole active duty while completing UG bit. I didn't get into specifics, just the general leadership, perespective, and what I would bring to my class that would be different.

Also concur on staying away from anything too specific as it will probably be lost on someone non-military, alientate them because they may not understand it or make them uncomfortable.

Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.