PLEASE critique my law school personal statement (again)

I remember I did this a while back and with the advice offered to me on this message board, I decided to just write a new one. My original personal statement is going to be my diversity statement instead. Any advice or comments will be appreciated. THANKS!

If you’re curious, this is my diversity statement that you don’t have to read.

For reference, my undergrad gpa is a pathetic 2.7 and my lsat 170.

Heh. Believe it or not, this is my job right now. I wish I could talk to you in person – I love working with personal statements. Though it sounds dangerously trite, you learn so much about people…

The whole purpose of a personal statement is to sell yourself, to highlight your good points, and to turn your weaknesses into strengths. I don’t know about the LSAT or what a good score looks like for it. Google tells me your score is very good. My undergrad GPA also sucked – it was almost exactly yours, as it happens – and I believe I got into grad school (in the school of architecture, at one of the top schools for architecture in the country) based on my personal statement and my letters of recommendation. It surely didn’t hurt.

I would consider handling your first paragraph a little more gently. You might even play with using humor. It feels very teenaged and dramatic, and while that’s appropriate for what you’re getting across – that you were being, well, teenaged and dramatic – you might want to lighten the tone there somewhat.

I like the transition from that to your undergraduate schooling to your military duty. It’s a clear narrative that the reader can easily follow. I would, however, suggest you spend more time on what you know lawyers can do. Be definite: you say “I have little doubt that brilliant and dedicated legal minds worked to bring about changes in policy and government to pave the way for economic growth.” Who? What did they do? How do lawyers help? What inspired you to become a lawyer? Is there a particular case, a particular lawyer? What kind of lawyer do you want to become?

Finally – and this is something just about everyone does in their statement of purpose – don’t sell yourself short. Law schools are looking for people they can brag about later. You need to be able to brag about yourself now. Don’t say, for example, “I feel now that I am capable of making a change, however small.” Say “I know now that I am capable of making a change” or something similar.

I think what you have is solid. It needs some smoothing out, perhaps, and don’t forget to give a final grammar/punctuation check.

I grew resentful of that fact that I had no “home”.
dump “of the fact.” It’s redundant.

to see all those different countries
different is redundant

only make me feel even more bitter
“only” is doubtful.

I thought that life was being inflicted on me
“I thought my life” would be better

a two year military term like all able-bodied Korean men
a two-year military term, [comma] like all able-bodied Korean men

look at myself at those times in embarrassment
look at myself in embarrassment at those times — otherwise, it’s the times that are embarrassing.

upper class minority
upper-class minority —you used hyphens in previous double modifiers. Now inconsistence rules.

I didn’t dare dream
What prevented the dare? Dump dare.

Attending High School in Guatemala
Lower-case high school

many with whom I attending school
, having attended school with many of them.

And as that child
dump the “and”

It would be difficult for me
“for me” is redundant

Then college came
new paragraph

Then college came to an end
ended. One word for four.

On January of 2009
In January 2009
In January of 2009

The experienced change me

truly grow
dump “truly.” What else? Falsely?

The army gave two things
new paragraph

previously possessed
“previously” is redundant

I had only compared myself to the wealthy children that attended international schools in a show of immaturity.
you, the other wealthy children or all of you showed immaturity?

After the Korean War
new paragraph

geography and/or resources
geography and resources — it wouldn’t be one or the other

first world nation
fist-world nation — hyphenate the double modifier to retain consistency (there may be others)

however hopeless it may seems now
now is redundant. “seems” must be “seem.” “may” could be dumped with no loss

Now think the complete opposite.
Now I think the opposite. “Complete” is redundant. “Opposite” is an absolute.

to have experienced everything that I have in remote corners of the world
to have experienced in remote corners of the world everything that I have

I tweaked the above post in a few places, but the edit window closed as I was doing so.


I thought that life was being inflicted on me
“I thought my life” would be better phraseology.

And at least one typo. Gaudere’s Law and all that.

I’ve no idea of how you’re supposed to write these things but I would have binned yours after the first two sentences as self-pitying drivel.


That said, it seems to me that you want to study law because the rule of law leads to prosperity as evidenced by South Korea. So start by saying that as your thesis then justify it with the rest of your statement.

BYW in your diversity statement you refer to your unusual background but don’t actually say what that is.

There are a lot of little grammar things to work on.

Over all, I like it much more than the first draft, but it still could use a lot of work. To begin with, you say you have changed, but how do we know? In personal essays, it’s always show-don’t-tell. Tell a little story that demonstrates your newfound maturity.

You also really need to flesh out what exactly you plan to do with the law degree. I get the idea it is some kind of international development focus…but that could be anything from working with trade regulations of expensive medicines to doing human rights interviews. Where do you want to work, and what do you want to do there? I would cut down the whole “immaturity” story a bit- squeeze it into a few sentences, and then go on to what you want to do with all this direction your life has.

Remember, they won’t force you to do exactly what you said you would. Even if you are not 100% sure of your path forward, it’s probably better to sell a credible path than to risk looking directionless.

And of course, personalize it to each school. Mention specific class you’d like to take “I.e. I’m interested in your trade analysis law because i want to learn how Korea’s increasing trade links with Ethiopia can be made fairer on both sides.” and specific professors you’d be interested in working with.

You’ve obviously got a lot to offer a law school. That’s clear in both your personal and diversity statements.

Something to keep in mind, though–all of the essays you submit as part of an application are essentially sales pitches. Your statements, as they are now, aren’t written as pitches. They’re more like excerpts from your memoirs, which may not do too well with an admissions committee, even if you’d be a wonderful addition to the student body.

Make your first paragraph an introduction/abstract of the larger statement. Make it very clear, from the very beginning, why you’re exactly what the school needs in its next incoming class. Keep in mind that each person on the admissions staff has what feels to them like a bizillion applications to go through. Making that first paragraph a compelling summary improves your chances that someone in admissions will actually read the rest.

Make your accounts of your experiences, motivations, talents, etc. fit with what that school wants to see. Make sure they know that you chose to apply to that school, in particular, because your interests and goals align with theirs. Keep your focus on your participation and contribution to the program you want to be admitted to. Your personal experiences and stories about your background should all act as evidence in support of the argument that you’re perfect for the school.

Be clear about the career you’re aiming for, and why that particular school is the perfect choice to achieve those goals. (As even sven pointed out, you don’t necessarily need to stick to the goals you’ve outlined in the personal statement. Faculty expect student interests to change as students become more knowledgeable about different areas within their fields.)

Good luck to you!

Wow thanks for the great advice everyone. They’re trying to bury me with work at the office so sorry about the late reply.
That cut-by-cut will no doubt come in handy, Kenm, thanks.

No, I’d bin YOUR self-pitying drivel. How about that?

Well the whole point was to demonstrate that I’ve grown out of that. But enough people have commented on that and re-reading it, it does come off a bit more melodramatic than it needs to be.
LittlePlasticNinja, if you were willing to offer some of your time I’d love to talk to you about my PS, maybe through facebook or something. Maybe we can work something out.