Law School Discussion

How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?

How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?
« on: January 07, 2009, 09:27:30 AM »

For the sake of disclosure, I am a URM. I am having trouble with my personal statement. I have buckled down to a topic and decided on one which I call "it could have happened to me." The gist is, I tell stories of people I was close to and situations I was in that could have lead me down the wrong path. ie, selling drugs, in jail dead etc. Does this sound like a bad idea? Does it make me seem like I have the potential to be a corrupt lawyer or that I have bad people in my life and may not be able to conduct law ethically etc?

I have a small anecdote about one time where I almost brought a knife into school for protection from a bully. I also have another story of a time I was with a friend who planned on shooting someone, but fortunately things didn't go according to plan.

I decided on this because I don't really have a unique story. I used my class clown/slacker turned serious student as a personal statement at my current university and want to tread new waters.
Is this too much detail and does it make me look bad?

Thanks in advance

Re: How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2009, 09:43:54 AM »
You should change its name to "I'm a Huge Liability."

Re: How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2009, 10:14:28 AM »
That doesn't sound like the makings of a great personal statement -- "At least I'm not in jail!" You don't really get bonus points for being a decent person and following the law.  I think that maybe you just don't know what your unique story is.  I seem to remember that Anna Ivey has a questionnaire that could help you figure out what your "story" is and write about that.  The one you used for undergrad is probably not a good choice either. 

Thanks for the reply. It not supposed to be an "at least im not in jail thing." It was more or less to show how I was able to make good decisions while those around me crapped on themselves and how it eventually lead me to decide to pursue a career in law.

Also, I googled Anna Ivey and found some stuff, but no questionnaire.

Re: How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 10:53:39 AM »
Maybe you have to approach her about signing on.  I didn't use her, but I think that's where I got the questionnaire then. 

A lot of my friends from high school are on their fourth baby and fifth husbands; I don't deserve a medal for not have 6 abortions before the age of 22.  Again, it really just makes it seem like you want credit for doing the things that normal people who go to law school do without "the ethical struggle."  I can see if, maybe, you were writing about a grey area but "hey, I decided not to be a crack dealer!" or "I decided not to knife a bully in the cafeteria!" isn't a situation that requires a lot of moral clarification to a law school adcom.

Again I thank you for your response. I'm not looking for reward or special consideration by writing a statement such as this. I just thought it would be an interesting story (if implemented right) as opposed to another mundane story that gets lost in the shuffle of things. I have a 3.3GPA and have scored consistently 160+ on practice LSATS, but I know I'm going to need an essay with a kick. I'm just stuck in finding a story that shows growth or insight into who I am.


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Re: How much detail should I put in (or not put in)?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 10:12:37 PM »
One of the keys to personal statements is that you have to make it tell the adcomms who you are TODAY. If you can tell these stories in a way that describes you as a person made stronger by those adversities, it can work. BUT you MUST frame them in a way that describes YOU, not the people around you, or who you could have been or whatever; end on a note talking about yourself moving into the future.

Also, this sounds like a really good idea for a diversity statement.

(Sorry I just kind of skimmed everything, so if I'm just repeating what other people said, ignore me ;) )