Law School Discussion

Personal Statement Help Please :D

Personal Statement Help Please :D
« on: November 12, 2013, 04:00:35 PM »
Hey guys, any feedback would be greatly appreciated here. I've been writing so many different personal statements and finally have decided to stick with this one. I know my english is a bit iffy, so don't hold back on the criticisms. Thanks again, here it is:

I am proud that I was able to graduate and become the first college graduate in my entire family. However, I still donít believe that I completely succeeded in college. I had written explanations of my college grades in my previous drafts but in the end decided to remove them. I realized no matter how legitimate they were, they were ultimately all excuses.

I was born and raised in a refugee settlement in India. Although my childhood lacked many things that one would take for granted in America, I now cherish it dearly and wouldnít change any of it if I could. My upbringing in India blessed me with multi-cultural experiences and insights that I could never imagine having being born in America. It also granted me the ability to speak Hindi, Tibetan, Nepali and a general affinity for languages which has helped me in my studies in Spanish and Mandarin.

Upon graduation, I began working in a small office for XXXXXXXXXX. My official title there was ďAssistant Office ManagerĒ but I was pretty much tasked with doing anything and everything that was needed there. I did everything from managing our office server, handling sales calls, accounting work on Quickbooks, and managing our online vendor systems with companies such as Amazon and Brooks Brothers. The hours were long (60+), the pay was great; however the job felt empty to me. After college, I had given up on my dreams of law school and a legal career. I had failed in my attempts at the LSAT and my GPA had been very lackluster. I had started believing that I didnít have it in me to put in the hard work that was needed to get to law school and succeed there. However, after several months of working at Top Circle, I started to see the hard work I was capable of and started to believe in myself once again. This was my turning point where I decided that I was going to try again and pursue law school. I handed in my two weeks-notice to my employers and immediately began searching for internship/volunteer positions in the legal field. I then, enrolled myself into an intensive LSAT prep course. I wanted to give it my all this time and knew I had to put in everything I had to have a chance of succeeding.

I wasnít able to find a legal internship that was open to non-students. However, eventually I was able to volunteer for a fellow Tibetan, XXX XXXX who had just recently opened a new solo practice. The timing was perfect, Mr. XXXX was only one of two Tibetan lawyers in New York and I was lucky enough that he had just happened to have opened shop exactly when I needed the experience. The work here was very fun and interesting for me. Most of the assignments I received were researching various legal topics. The work appealed to me a lot because I personally love investigating and research and in the process I was also able to learn many new things about the legal field. The experience I was getting here was very valuable but both Mr. XXXX and I agreed that I also needed some real experience at an actual law firm/office with multiple lawyers to see how life was for most lawyers.

So I began searching again and this time was able to secure a volunteer intern position at The Legal-Aid Society. I was placed in the civil department and mainly worked with consumer law. I had begun around the same time that the Legal-Aidís Hurricane Sandy department had been created and so I was placed here and worked mainly on this for the first few months. I felt extremely lucky at my timing because the work I did in our Sandy Relief project had been extremely gratifying and fulfilling. I believed I was fighting on the right side with the Sandy victims against all the insurance companies, contractors and even FEMA themselves. I was also given other consumer law work and had the opportunity to witness courtroom action. It was here that I learned so much about the legal field and my convictions to become a lawyer were fully enforced. I now believe I can and will be able to succeed in law school.

While I've got you here, what do you guys think of a person like me doing a diversity statement. I came to the U.S when I was 10 and was granted asylum as a refugee. I was a Tibetan refugee living in India before that. I've grown up living as a minority my whole life from India, to the States. I can also speak 5 languages, IDK if that would matter or not...

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 06:57:02 PM »
I think growing up as a refuggee and being Indian is more than sufficient for a diversity statement. The majority of law students are White Americans who faced very little adversity so I would recommend a diversity statement, but contact any school you are interested in to ensure your topic is appropriate I imagine they will tell you it is, but they are the ones making the decisions and any poster on myself included are just some people on the internet whose opinions mean nothing as far as getting you admitted into law school.

I think your personal statement is solid, but you might want to get rid of the word I so often it is a bit of a distraction. Also establish you are Tibetian and were an refugee in India I was confused when you mentioned a fellow Tibetian attorney as I initially though you were Indian.

I also think you might want to go into more detail about the challenges you faced in India that is far more interesting to law school admissions officers than volunteering at a law office, which 99% of incoming law students will write about.

You have a unique experience that can grab the attention of admissions officers few law school applicants were refugees overcoming that type of adversity could really be a selling point.

Good luck

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2013, 08:42:05 AM »

1) You have such a rich story, it is captivating

2) Your reserved (in a good way), driven voice comes through - very good indeed.

3) You should feel proud that you have written a strong draft.

Things to work on:

1) Talk yourself up more. Right now you talk your self around flaws. It seems as though you want to sound humble, but it is coming across as somewhat of a checklist of excuses . You can reference the fact that you struggled in college, but only in passing and as a springboard to talk about the achievements you have done. After this, the rest of the paper should be positive.

2) In order to circumvent the flaws mentioned above, you say that you were very proud about a lot of your achievements. This can be an extremely powerful tool if used correctly. The issue is that you use it so much that it loses its emotional impact on me, the reader.

3) Once you tighten those things up, I think this next thing may fix itself to some extent. But you really want to cut out any redundancy. If you can say something in one sentence instead of three, say it in one.

4) This comment kinda sums up the prior three... You can say things in much more powerful ways. For instance, your last line. Instead of speaking in a hypothetical (which diminishes your argument's voice), speak in a stronger tone with confidence. i.e. Instead of saying "I now believe I can and will be able to succeed in law school..." just say "I will succeed in law school." (you would want to connect it in a more meaningful way to your prior lines, though)

5) There are some syntax/grammar errors (albeit minor) that you can tighten up. This would require someone to read with a fine comb and explain in edits in word.

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 09:49:26 PM »
Excellent comments Miami.

A judge once told me imagine writing a word costs $100. This was excellent advice and being able to say a lot with few words is how to become an effective lawyer and writer.

Good Luck

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2013, 01:10:06 PM »
Thanks a ton for the replies guys. I first want to say that I talk about my post college experiences a lot, because my college grades were pretty terrible. So my intentions were to show that I have changed since then. I worked hard and got a great score on the LSATs and also worked hard at volunteering, interning and at my job. I guess, being Tibetan and growing up as a refugee is much more interesting than those things. So, I will look for ways to squeeze more of that into the essay. Once again, thanks for the feedback. Please keep them coming.

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2013, 03:39:25 PM »
You could use your PS to explain these things - particularly if you didn't have a whole lot going for you in general. BUT (huge but) given your life story, there are way stronger things to focus on in your personal statement. You really want to talk yourself up in your PS. Big things in PS are your voice, outlook on life, and self-analysis/reflection on past events.

Don't get me wrong, those things (poor grades/lsat) are extremely important to mention in your application - but its better suited for an addendum than a PS. An addendum will give context to less appealing facts, ideally in a way (as you are attempting to do in your PS) that turns a weakness into a strength.

My suggestion:

Personal Statement Outline:

Struggled early in life (family story) ~ Overcame it (later in life) [these two sections should be no longer than 2-3 para.] ~ Huge Achievements from my overcoming struggles turned into deep interests in... (law stuff) ~ Will succeed in law school and as a lawyer... Note: tie in, and reflect on, your family/culture throughout essay (which you are currently doing very well by the way)

Addendum Outline:

Let me explain more about my early struggles that I touched upon in my PS, specifically as it relates to academia (tie in family story from PS) ~ How I overcame it ~ How this process turned my weakness into a strength ~ Why and how I will rock law school!

Those are my thoughts at least. I'd be curious what other think. I'd also heavily recommend talking to a pre-law advisor and/or writing center to get their perspective.

Good luck my friend. You are almost there! :)

Re: Personal Statement Help Please :D
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2013, 06:21:12 PM »

You shouldn't focus on your flaws in your personal statement it should do everything possible to make you look like an amazing person that needs to be at X school. Your story about being a Refugee etc is grabbing every single applicant out there could have done better in College or done something better, but don't dwell on that.

Saying although your GPA and LSAT is lackluster is going to make the reader immediately look back at your numbers and it sounds like the last thing you want is for them to be looking at the numbers. The truth is they will see those they are what they are use the personal statement to sell yourself.

Usually personal statement means very little, because it will be from some College Kid that volunteered at a Legal Aid Society or the typical story that is fine, but the committee will just go to the numbers there. Very few law school applicants have been through real struggles and being a Refugee traveling to various countries etc will be unique and set you apart from the standard Rich White Kid applicant.

Again, good luck.