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Personal essays or statements


applicant88
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applicant88
  • Applicant

For some schools, personal essays are required. When writing the  essays, did you draw on sources and refer to outside sources? I am discussing increasing access to justice, do you suggest I cite sources and make it more like a formal academic paper? I'm a little lost between being formal or thinking I am being too informal....

 

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QueensDenning
  • Law Student

Don't cite your personal essay it's not meant to be an academic paper, hence the name "personal" essay. 

I'm also of the opinion that increasing access to justice is a pretty vanilla and over-done topic for a law school admissions personal essay, and it isn't a topic thats really all that personal to most of the people writing about it, but I digress. 

Edited by QueensDenning
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Piffle
  • Law Student

Don’t cite anything. The personal statement is a genre of writing in which you write about yourself in the first person in a tone and style that's less formal than academic writing. If you have citations, not only would your personal statement break convention and stand out (in a bad way), it'll make the reader think you don't know what you're doing.

As with the above poster, I’d also caution against writing about access to justice in general. My one caveat is that I think it may be effective only in the limited situation where you actually have substantial and meaningful experiences that back up why you’re drawn to it. And even then, I’d still tread carefully. Writing about access to justice is easily susceptible to sounding cliché, trite, and/or insincere. 

Edited by Piffle
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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

97% of personal statements are cliché, trite, and/or insincere.

OP should obviously spend time reflecting on their personal experiences and motivations for going to law school (as all applicants should), but there’s nothing wrong with writing about increasing access to justice if that is the reason they want to go to law school. 

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WiseGhost
  • Law Student

With a personal statement, your goal is to convince adcoms that they should accept you. It should ideally explain why you want to pursue law, what your strengths are + any interesting experiences that you may have had, and why you are interested in the school you are applying for.

It seems to me that you might be focusing far too much on the "why law" aspect instead of establishing what makes you an interest candidate. 

If you're struggling, this is a decent template for a PS.

1. Provide an anecdote that succinctly explains why you are interested in law and who you are as a person.

2. Describe the skills and experiences that make you stand out and explain how they make you likely to succeed as a law student.

3. Explain why you are interested in attending this particular school.

 

 

 

Edited by WiseGhost
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Piffle
  • Law Student
38 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

97% of personal statements are cliché, trite, and/or insincere.

OP should obviously spend time reflecting on their personal experiences and motivations for going to law school (as all applicants should), but there’s nothing wrong with writing about increasing access to justice if that is the reason they want to go to law school. 

I think you just unearthed a thought I haven’t properly formed until now.

Yes, when I think about it, most personal statements can be lumped into the category of cliché, trite, and/or insincere. But when one’s personal statement has those traits, and its topic is on access to justice… invoking the most vulnerable and needy among our society as a plot point to get into law school makes it extra off-putting. It is that extra off-puttingness I wanted to caution against. (Of course, I’m not saying the OP is this person. I was writing in general).

I think that gets to why my first instinct was skepticism toward focusing a personal statement, which in all likelihood will have some of those 3 traits, around this topic.

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applicant88
  • Applicant
2 hours ago, Piffle said:

Don’t cite anything. The personal statement is a genre of writing in which you write about yourself in the first person in a tone and style that's less formal than academic writing. If you have citations, not only would your personal statement break convention and stand out (in a bad way), it'll make the reader think you don't know what you're doing.

As with the above poster, I’d also caution against writing about access to justice in general. My one caveat is that I think it may be effective only in the limited situation where you actually have substantial and meaningful experiences that back up why you’re drawn to it. And even then, I’d still tread carefully. Writing about access to justice is easily susceptible to sounding cliché, trite, and/or insincere. 

Thanks everyone. This is making more sense to me now. I think I need to throw my academic hat out the window for a minute....its been a long time since I've written a personal essay. It feels very unnatural at this moment but these points help.

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