Critique my law school personal statement (please)

This is only my first draft and I would especially appreciate comments on tone or appropriateness. If it’s too detail-heavy perhaps. THANKS IN ADVANCED!
(background: I have a really really bad GPA(2.7) but decent LSAT(167), which I plan to take again december for a theoretically higher score. I also plan to write a diversity statement for schools that take them. Or use this as my diversity statement. Hmm…)

That bad huh?

It reads like an extract from a memoir, which is not a personal statement.

It’s about 90% a factual statement, and 10% a personal statement. It’s an interesting and different life experience, but you don’t powerfully make the connection to how it changed your perspective. You just say it did. You also only allude to poor undergraduate grades. Don’t be evasive. Come right out and say you had bad grades in college. That’s a jumping off point to explaining how you changed your perspective.

It also doesn’t say why you want to go to law school. Why DO you want to go to law school? Unless you truly feel a calling to the law, or get a very substantial scholarship, I would advise against law school at this time. Are you aware that employment prospects are very poor for new graduates?

That said, it’s not really that important. Law schools look at LSATs overwhelmingly over every other factor, no matter what they say. Your scores are on the mark for schools in the lower end of the top 25. What schools are you considering?

I’d echo what Hello Again says. Why do you want to go to law school? Can you draw a direct connection between the experiences you describe in what you’ve written and how those experiences will help you achieve your goals as an attorney?

Also, I don’t know how it is for law school, but I only applied to two Ph.D. programs, so my personal statements for each program were quite different and more tailored to the specific programs. Can you add some details that will show the admissions committee that you understand the unique features of that program and that you will be a good fit for the program?

The first paragraph reads more like the opening of a novel.

I think your personal statement should focus more on why you want to go to law school. I really like the first two sentences of the last paragraph. If you can tie those concepts into a burning desire to practice law, I think you’ll have a stronger essay.

I found it focused far too much on the technical side of what you did in the military, as opposed to who you are as a person. They don’t want to know what kind of equipment you were using or what kind of living arrangements you had, they want to know what drives you, why you want to go to law school, what kind of personality you have, etc. Your personal statement is your one chance to get in a word about Grey area the person as opposed to Grey area the statistic. Use this to paint a little picture for them, not just recite facts. Spend no more than a few sentences on the details of your service, and use the most of it to tell a little story about who you are.

With a low GPA, this is also your chance to explain your low GPA, how you’ve changed, and why you won’t get a low GPA in law school.

Finally, if you are applying to US schools, keep in mind you are going to be up against people writing their statements about being Afghanistan watching their best friends get blown into a pulp. “It was cold at night and the TV was a bit wonky” is not going to look good next to people who have just returned from active combat. There are a lot of wars going on right now, so unless your military tale is amazing, you are going to need more than that.

A (not great, but you’ll get the idea) example might be:

Eh, yeah, he’ll be up against peope who saw their buddies get blown up by IEDs… and even more people who have never done shit. He’s above the middle of the pack life-experience prior-to-law-school-wise.

And as to the question posed by BetsQ, aside from fairly trivial differences, all law schools offer basically the same program, especially in the first year. You go to the most prestigious one that accepts you, or the cheapest one, or the most convenient one, or whatever criteria means something to you. The curriculum rarely varies much. If there is some professor you’re honestly excited about, great. If not, don’t make up some bullshit (I heard your first year torts class is better than ALL the other first year torts classes! = bad)

Just my opinion, but unless you know for certain that the people reviewing your statement are pro-military, you really run into a problem of turning the reviewer off. My eyes glazed over by the second unit description.
You do write well.

Hello Again has already given a good analysis. But I want to harp on this point. First, I think law schools look to your LSAT and UGPA, everything else is a very distant third. Among non-LSAT and non-UGPA characteristics, I think the quality of your undergrad institution and pre-law school employment is the next tier of consideration. As for the personal statement, I think it is among the least important elements of your application and is even evaluated for your ability to write a persuasive narrative, rather than the life experiences documented therein.

Outside of ensuring high scores and selectivity in order to preserve their USNWR ranking, law schools want the kind of nose-to-the-grindstone bright and driven students who will flourish in school and in (BigLaw) practice, donating money and raising the profile of the school.

In my experience, a mediocre LSAT and a high UGPA augurs much more law school and job placement success than the reverse.

Lawyers deal with bad facts all the time. One really big bad fact in your case is your very low UGPA. What evidence do you have, beyond “I did a year of obligatory military service in a position that I once felt was beneath me (and still kind of feel was beneath me, that’s why I’m telling it in this story-of-redemption sort of way), and now I’m sure next time I’m a student will be different!”, that you will in fact be able to sustain the self-discipline, particularly against students who have excellent LSAT scores and UGPAs, required to thrive in law school? That is what your personal statement needs to relay.

Suggestion withdrawn, in that case!

I agree. I’ll add that the essay might also state what the OP can bring to the law school. Even sven touched on this in her sample rewrite where she said:

This is what the OP wants to bring to the school, and what he hopes to take away from the school. Of course, there can be other things the OP wants to bring in order to add to the academic life of the school–a desire to join a mooting team, for example–but it seems to me that the essay would be stronger if the OP also mentioned, even as briefly as even sven did, what he can offer the school.

I do feel that the military experience is a useful experience to talk about but I would definitely agree with the idea to try to flesh out the reasons you think it is relevant to law school some more. The law schools aren’t really going to be interested in exactly what battalion you were in, but they will want to know about what you learned from it and why you think it will make you a good lawyer, so that is what you need to go into detail about.

If you are planning to apply to law school in America I do want to make sure that you are aware of the issue with the American legal market being oversaturated with too many law school graduates for the number of good lawyer jobs out there.
Nowadays many people recommend that it is not worth going to law school unless you can get into a top ranked school.
Here are some places to read more about that if you wish:

This is a forum where many unhappy JDs who have had problems finding jobs post if you want to talk to people who have been through it firsthand:

Thanks for the great feedback everyone! (Hello Again especially)
So let me try to organize the suggestions.

*Too impersonal (“you went to the army, why should we care?”)
-Not enough connection to why I want to go to law school and why I would do well.
*Too detail-heavy (2+1/2 ton m101a1 105mm towed-zzzzzzzz)
*Too whiny? Self-satisfied perhaps. (“I shoveled shit with peasants but I really missed my purebred ponies”) Just to clear any misconceptions, diplomat families are decidedly middle class by American standards.

Another option is to write another PS from a different angle, emphasizing why I want to go law school and why I would be a good fit, while using my army stuff (after some revision) as a diversity statement. Maybe that would be wiser (?)
I also plan to acknowledge my poor undergraduate performance in an addendum, talking about depression, directionlessness and so on. Would that be wise? Would saying I was depressed just make me look more like a slacker?

Until I take the test again Dec, top 20~30 is just the range I’m considering. But with my GPA, everywhere I apply is a crapshoot so I really feel the pressure to wow them with my personal statement. Of course there’s no guarantee I’ll get a higher score Dec, but I’m optimistic.

I’m hoping not too many vets apply to the schools I do. No IEDs but a kid in bravo got his hand blown off by a bad fuze. Does that help maybe?

Why do you want to go to law school? I can’t tell from your statement.

Why do you want to go? Employment prospects are dim and it is a tough way to make a living.