Law School Discussion

Personal Statement - Please Critique!

loki13

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Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2015, 02:13:19 PM »
No!

I'm saying that nicely, and hoping that you remember that the personal statement isn't that important.

But here's the issue- it really looks like what you've done is just append a few buzzwords to the end, and a bit of a mea culpa (and here's why you should discount my undergraduate GPA). More bluntly- this isn't a creative writing contest. Your second, third, and fourth paragraphs don't tell me anything. I don't need you to set a scene. I am completely indifferent to who got punched in the face. I don't know how being punched in the face made you a better person, and what those nebulous "past mistakes" were. Was it lack of ability? Lack of concentration? What stressors?

The soul of narrative of specificity. Again, you're very specific about the SERE training, but I have learned nothing about you. How did SERE training, which you just devoted the majority of your personal statement to, help you with classroom work? What failure in undergrad was rectified?

loki13

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Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2015, 03:35:52 PM »
SO let me try and be more helpful. Here's would be a better structure, if a little generic.

-Start with the problem. "I used to be this way, because of X, Y, and Z."

-Then talk about the formative experience. "One day, at band camp / SERE training, I got punched in the face!"

-Explain how it changed you. "I realized that X, Y, and Z was a lot like getting punched in the face, but this time ..."

-Then show it in application. "So a few years later, when X, Y  and Z happened to me, I remembered how I got punched in the face, and it was no big deal."

It's a simple, banal, and effective structure.

Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2015, 05:14:00 PM »
Honestly, just make sure spell check is on and then scan to make sure that there isn't anything politically sensitive in it
then submit


its a personal statement, I think mine said "I like pie" in it.

Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2015, 06:02:56 PM »
its a personal statement, I think mine said "I like pie" in it.
I'm glad you can bottom line it, but if I saw that in a PS I would write a special email to the director and/or dean of admissions urging you to not be accepted.

Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2015, 06:42:06 PM »
its a personal statement, I think mine said "I like pie" in it.
I'm glad you can bottom line it, but if I saw that in a PS I would write a special email to the director and/or dean of admissions urging you to not be accepted.
some discretion may be advised, but I honest think if it was just a single paragraph it would have 99% the same value and actually MORE value than a longer one that might accidentally polarize someone somehow.

Burhop

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Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2015, 12:13:11 PM »
Hi Sisyphus99 - It also depends where you are applying. Top law schools look at writing quality, character, and thought processes - they're after soft factors because the students they are accepting already have the highest GPA and LSAT, so they can spend time building a class out of people who excel personally and professionally, and who can pen a good story. The personal statement matters in this sense: someone who is truly an excellent writer does have a shot at talking their way into a spot at a top school, as long as their numbers aren't too far from the mean. Good writing = good thinking, and can later translate to professorships, judicial clerkships, etc.

Because you allude to an undergrad GPA that may not be as stellar, I'm not sure what tier of law schools you are looking at. This is important, because some mid-tier schools specifically ask candidates to discuss "why law" in their personal statements, and they mean it. It's not enough to tell them a story, or be a good person. If they know that many of their graduates go on to handle DUIs and represent the wrong side of asbestos claims, they are hoping to see that you have a real sense of what your career might look like. Particularly in these economic times, where many lawyer can't find positions, they are quite literally looking for candidates who can say "My dad does X law, which I find interesting, and I've worked in his office and will be joining him." Or, "I want to be a public defender, and I really mean it." Or, "I plan to be a JAG." That way they don't end up in the NYT as a "bad actor" school who accepted 90% students who claimed in their application that they would go into public service but now have $200k of debt and no viable job options.

If you are applying to a mix of schools, some which request a personal statement that is meant to encapsulate your character, and some which want more of a "statement of purpose" re: your future career plans, you're going to need at least two different essays to send out.

This essay partly fills the first requirement, as it is more of a character essay. You do cut away before the essay gets truly personal, however. It jumps from probable torture to 5 years later. It's remarkably unemotional for what must have been a traumatic experience.

Sometimes a topic is "too big" for the personal statement structure. It's just too much to unpack - too much of an emotional wallop for both the writer and reader. You're sometimes better off with a smaller story - helping a kid while you were in another country; bonding with a fellow soldier who was from an entirely different walk of life; flying some totally bonkers plane in formation for the first time. The personal statement is enough room for a quality photograph; there isn't enough room for the whole album.

Best, Dani


Re: Personal Statement - Please Critique!
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2015, 10:14:06 PM »
Hi Sisyphus99 - It also depends where you are applying. Top law schools look at writing quality, character, and thought processes - they're after soft factors because the students they are accepting already have the highest GPA and LSAT, so they can spend time building a class out of people who excel personally and professionally, and who can pen a good story. The personal statement matters in this sense: someone who is truly an excellent writer does have a shot at talking their way into a spot at a top school, as long as their numbers aren't too far from the mean. Good writing = good thinking, and can later translate to professorships, judicial clerkships, etc.

Because you allude to an undergrad GPA that may not be as stellar, I'm not sure what tier of law schools you are looking at. This is important, because some mid-tier schools specifically ask candidates to discuss "why law" in their personal statements, and they mean it. It's not enough to tell them a story, or be a good person. If they know that many of their graduates go on to handle DUIs and represent the wrong side of asbestos claims, they are hoping to see that you have a real sense of what your career might look like. Particularly in these economic times, where many lawyer can't find positions, they are quite literally looking for candidates who can say "My dad does X law, which I find interesting, and I've worked in his office and will be joining him." Or, "I want to be a public defender, and I really mean it." Or, "I plan to be a JAG." That way they don't end up in the NYT as a "bad actor" school who accepted 90% students who claimed in their application that they would go into public service but now have $200k of debt and no viable job options.

If you are applying to a mix of schools, some which request a personal statement that is meant to encapsulate your character, and some which want more of a "statement of purpose" re: your future career plans, you're going to need at least two different essays to send out.

This essay partly fills the first requirement, as it is more of a character essay. You do cut away before the essay gets truly personal, however. It jumps from probable torture to 5 years later. It's remarkably unemotional for what must have been a traumatic experience.

Sometimes a topic is "too big" for the personal statement structure. It's just too much to unpack - too much of an emotional wallop for both the writer and reader. You're sometimes better off with a smaller story - helping a kid while you were in another country; bonding with a fellow soldier who was from an entirely different walk of life; flying some totally bonkers plane in formation for the first time. The personal statement is enough room for a quality photograph; there isn't enough room for the whole album.

Best, Dani

Thanks, Dani. That was great advice.