LSL Personal Statement Bank

Get advice and feedback on your personal statement.
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LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by KENYADIGG1T » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:30 pm

Hello LSL!

As one of the mods here, I figured it would be helpful for future 0Ls to have a repository of personal statements to look at and draw from. I encourage all who can post their personal statements to do so.

Please include
Application Cycle (e.g. 17-18)
Schools applied to
School chosen
K-JD or WE?
Other relevant info

I should note that this thread is NOT for asking others to read your PS. Posts asking for such will be deleted. Also, please 'spoiler' your personal statements.

Looking forward to seeing your submissions!


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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by rachelac » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:11 pm

Thanks for putting this together, Kenya! Here's my contribution.

Applied 2017-18
Applied H (accepted offer/requested one-year deferral), S, UChi, CLS, NYU, UVA, Mich, Duke, NU, Berk, UT (OOS). WL at UChi and held at CLS (I'm not a great interviewer tbh), withdrew from S before decision, accepted everywhere else.
3 years of WE
I loved to read as a child, and I believed for a long time this would translate into an ability to impart this love of reading to other children through a kind of osmosis. This belief was brought to a screeching halt on a warm, sunny day in 2013, when I was in the middle of a read-aloud at a summer literacy program and [student] decided to squeeze into the supply cabinet because he was bored out of his mind and wondering if he could fit. As I pleaded with him to come back out and read, I was, for the first time, brought face to face with the stark difference between how our educational system worked for students like [student] and how it worked for students like me.

My love for reading was fostered by my mother, an English major and Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps Member turned homeschooling aficionado. She began homeschooling me when my father was stationed at an Air Force base surrounded by low-performing public schools, and much of my academic success can be traced directly back to the individualized attention and academic rigor that permeated every aspect of my homeschooled existence. This nontraditional schooling arrangement placed significant financial strain on my parents and was financially prohibitive for the vast majority of local families, who needed two family members working. Curious about how this status quo impacted those who lacked the class privilege to avoid a failing public school, I began to learn about things like the school-to-prison pipeline and correlations between parental income and career success. I became—and remain—convinced of two things: educational inequity is inextricably connected to every other societal ill, from poverty to racism, and the system is fixable, even if the mechanism for doing so is open to debate. Thus began my educational and political awakening.

Starry-eyed idealism led me to Freedom Schools, the summer literacy program that in turn led to me coaxing [student] out of the art supplies. Although I had been passively interested in education reform for several years by this point, Freedom Schools was my first active attempt to work toward that reform. At the time, I was exploring the idea that community-based contributions, such as a summer job at a literacy retention program, could eliminate the opportunity gap that existed so starkly between our lowest- and highest- performing schools. Work with Freedom Schools and my first full-time employer, Boys & Girls Clubs of [city], quickly dissuaded me of this notion. The impact these programs had on hundreds of young people was profound, but the root causes of inequity in the United States, whether one believes them to be segregation, lack of funding, or something else entirely, remained intact. Our programs improved academic achievement, yet no matter how effective we were, the small role I played in [student's] life could not protect him or his classmates from being suspended and arrested at significantly higher rates than their wealthy and white peers. As a ten-year-old, [student] already knew the ugly truth: to many people, it didn’t matter whether he was interested in academics or he locked himself in the supply cabinet. We function within a biased system, and bias exists independently of a child’s academic success.

Hoping that I could help correct this bias at a classroom level, I began teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) through a Teach for America placement in September 2015. Over the last several years, I watched as students were arrested for fighting on school grounds, plunged into a criminal justice system from which it was almost impossible to extricate them. I stayed after school, providing makeup work for students who were missing class because of immigration-related court dates or 50-hour workweeks. I followed along as my district became the target of a class action suit brought by the ACLU on behalf of ELL students who were not receiving legally mandated support and accommodations in school—and eventually I realized I want to be on the opposite side of that suit. While I firmly believe the vast majority of teachers are working tirelessly toward educational equity, I have become more convinced than ever that our educational system functions in a way deliberately designed to hinder the success of minority students. Upon graduation from [school], I plan to work as a civil rights attorney focused on juvenile issues, so I can play a role in ensuring children like my students and my Boys & Girls Club members are protected by our system instead of targeted by it.

For the better part of five years, I have worked toward educational equity within the educational system itself, but doing so while my students are arrested, harassed, and treated unequally and sometimes illegally has grown too painful. The best way for me to continue to serve students is to work to provide them with the equal footing in our system that is too often legally mandated but unenforced. My students desperately need advocates. Before, during and after my time at [school], that is what I intend to be.
Last edited by rachelac on Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by doji33 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:43 pm

Last edited by doji33 on Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by solennita » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:26 pm

Application Cycle: 2017-2018
Schools applied to: HYS(accepted to HY, WL from SLS), CLS(Hamilton), NYU(Accepted), Michigan(Darrow), UVA(WL), Duke(Dean's Scholly, JD/LLM), GTown (Preferred WL)
School chosen: N/A
K-JD or WE? ~1.5yr WE
Other relevant info: non-URM minority
It’s February 2014. Student-led protests erupt throughout Venezuela, with nearly 50 reported deaths and thousands of arrests and injuries. I spend my nights clutching my phone and waiting for the WhatsApp family chat to confirm my cousins made it home alive. Despite my fears and anxiety, I decide to take action and organize the few other Venezuelans I know on campus to plan a rally. We spread the word as much as we can about our first event, latching on to the #SOSVenezuela movement — a massive, global coordination of Venezuelans hosting protests and marches on the same day.

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but raised in South Florida, where I watched Venezuela’s crisis develop from afar. I saw how a political party gained power by exploiting economic fears. I saw how the government corrupted the law to silence opposing voices. Organized protests and marches were the only recourse people had to be heard. I wanted to help somehow, but I didn’t expect a small rally on a college campus in the Midwest to amplify Venezuelan voices in any significant way.

Despite my doubts, I threw all of my energy into mobilizing both my community and those outside of it —finding speakers to share their stories, using social media to spread our reach beyond campus, and increasing awareness among those without connection to or knowledge of our cause. Just as I prepared to start the rally, a man accompanied by a toddler approached me and told me how they had traveled from a neighboring state to participate. Within minutes, there were hundreds of us gathered, and I led the crowd in a chorus of “Gloria Al Bravo Pueblo” — Venezuela’s national anthem — our voices fighting to be heard against the wind. For a moment, my hopelessness and fear dissipated, and I felt just a little bit closer to home.

We were just one part of an unprecedented global movement. Our campus rally was a drop in the bucket, but the ripple effects showed the world the resilience of our people and the power in our voices. This was an initial step for me in recognizing the potential for change in my country. I began to consider how the law that had been twisted into an instrument of oppression could instead be used to liberate.

When the time came for post-graduate plans, my focus was on achieving that goal. I wanted to take my desire for advocacy and change somewhere, but I wasn’t sure what avenue would best allow me to pursue this ambition. I cast a wide net in my research — typical for me, the textbook over-preparer. Ultimately, I chose to explore the legal field through a paralegal program. This program introduced me to a new way of thinking, and it was a challenge I embraced. I learned how the law could be utilized as a powerful tool for advocacy, and I actively sought out paralegal positions where I could apply this knowledge while working to protect human and civil rights.

Six months later, I was invited to The Hague as the sole paralegal assisting a case team with a weeklong hearing before the International Court of Justice, on behalf of Ukraine against Russia. Despite a few obstacles along the way — including almost having my laptop compromised by a Russian USB — I was able to help my team present a strong case for our client and secure wins on most of our requested measures.

I spent two weeks running around the city, coordinating with Dutch vendors and government officials, pulling all-nighters to prepare exhibits, and assisting with research to strengthen our case. At that point, I had been working as a paralegal for five months, and I felt sure that I was on the right path. Yet, it wasn’t until I witnessed up close how our team put together such passionate, eloquent, and strong arguments to protect the fundamental rights of a group of people that I had that defining moment. I saw first-hand the beauty of using the law to advocate effectively for people who were being oppressed, who may not have had a voice of their own, or whose voices were not being heard in the face of oppression.

On the plane ride home, I went over all we had accomplished at only the preliminary stage of the case. I thought back to how almost exactly three years earlier, I was one of those speaking out against oppression, standing among hundreds of my own people who were fighting to be heard. I envisioned, for the first time in a more concrete way, a future of advocating for others through the law.

There were — and still are — many ways for me to satisfy my activist nature, but I truly believe the law is the most potent, powerful tool at our disposal to accomplish significant and progressive change. I know that, as an attorney, I could use this tool to advocate for and achieve justice, as well as to overcome the frustration that stems from fighting a system actively working to maintain power at the expense of others. I always remember what I was taught by my people — el que se cansa, pierde. He who tires, loses. And I will not tire.
Last edited by solennita on Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by darthlawyer » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:38 pm

I’ll post my ps about sitting in the hot tub at the gym when the cycle is over. Only used it for a few schools.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by BlondeAmbiti0n » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:50 pm

My PS is a little too identifying for me to feel comfortable sharing publicly, but just wanted to say that I've loved the ones on here so far! Ya'll are seriously incredible, accomplished people and great writers.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by KENYADIGG1T » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:32 pm

Applied: 2017-18
Applied To: Yale (Accepted offer + requested to defer until 2019), Harvard (W), Stanford (W), Columbia (W), UChi (W), NYU (W), Penn (W), Mich (W), Berk (W), Duke (W).
WE(ish): Current PhD Student, UC Berkeley
Stats: 4.0/16x/Unicorn softs + recs
I'm saving this spot for when I do publicly post my personal statement.

Until then, I am more than happy to send it to anyone who requests via PM.


Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by Guest » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Cycle: 2011-12
Stats: 3.86/177
Softs: Excellent recommendations but almost no softs to speak of
Applied To: Yale (R), Stanford (A), Harvard (W), Chicago (W), Columbia (A), NYU (A), Michigan (W), Penn (W), UVA (W), Berkeley (A), NU (A), Duke (A)
At UC San Diego there is a short path that winds its way towards Geisel library, the massive book repository located at the heart of campus. This path is inlaid with colored slate so as to resemble a serpent, and inscribed on a marker at its base is a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost: “And wilt thou not be loath to leave this Paradise, but shalt possess a Paradise within thee, happier far”. The metaphor is simple: Our school, the proverbial Garden; the library, a stand-in for the tree of knowledge. And after almost four years, I think it’s time for me to leave Eden.

I didn’t always think of San Diego as paradise though. In fact, it began as quite the opposite. When I first arrived, I was terribly unhappy. The large lecture halls, packed with more students than I’d ever seen before, were a far cry from my small, relatively quiet high school. It also seemed paradoxical that I could be on a campus with over sixty times the population of my last institution and still feel so alone. Yet so I was, and by the end of my first quarter I wanted desperately to leave. Stuck at least temporarily, however, I browsed the library’s collections in my downtime, half-hoping to find something that spoke to my unhappiness (a state surely unique to my then teenage psyche). And that’s how I found the section on existentialism.

I’ll confess now that many of the nuances in those readings probably escaped me, and in the end what I took away from them sounded more like a Tony Robbins sound bite than Nietzschean advice. But the idea still stuck with me: Become better. Obviously, there is more to both the story and my understanding of the philosophy. Responsibility seemed to be pretty important; external meaning to life, less so. Suffice it to say that my attitude changed dramatically. Where once the vastness of college frightened me, it instead became an opportunity to assume responsibility for myself, without the hand-holding of parents or professors; the loneliness, incentive to form new friendships, in many instances with people I would never have thought myself compatible with before. More than anything though, college became a blank slate, a playground of sorts where I could try and shape the kind of person that I wanted to be.

Now, when I think about the last few years I often think about them as a series of firsts. College was the first time I was responsible for choosing and attending my own classes; the first time I shouldered the entire weight of my performance as well as the embarrassment of academic failure. Just as importantly though, it was the first time that I cooked all of my meals, disastrous as they were in the beginning, or went drinking, or surfing. It was the first time that I regularly stayed up late into the night, talking with friends. And at each juncture I always ask myself how these experiences have changed me. Have I become more than I was a year ago? A month ago? A week? The answer can’t always be “yes”, but I’m certain that the effort is there.

I know that I’ve grown immeasurably since I first entered the freshman dorms. And while there is more knowledge held on this campus than I could possibly consume in a lifetime, I feel as though I’ve already learned many of the most important things. I’m now happier than I’ve ever been. More importantly, I’m more myself than I’ve ever been, and I think that means that I’m ready to take the next first step. In my case, I believe that’s law school. It appeals to the way that I think. More than that though, I know it will improve the way that I think, and that’s critical. Such improvements help me better understand the world around me; they help me better understand myself. I believe I can use that understanding to make myself a better person, and in the end, that personal growth, that sense of becoming more: that is what cultivates the paradise within.

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Re: LSL Personal Statement Bank

Post by Stranger » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:55 pm

Cycle: 2017-18
Stats: 173/2.52
WE: 10+ years, mostly in insurance
Softs: Management/executive level nonprofit experience, and as the PS shows, farming and living off-grid
Applied to: Columbia (R), Penn (R), Michigan (R), UVA (W), Duke (R), Northwestern (W), Cornell (R), Texas (R), Vanderbilt (W), Wash U (A/$0), Minnesota (W), Emory (PW), Alabama (W), ASU (A/$$), W&L (A/$$$), Georgia (W), Wake Forest (W), South Carolina (A/$$)
Decision: W&L

Notes: This personal statement spends very little time addressing the question of "Why Law?" - this was a deliberate choice, and a gamble. As a super splitter, I wanted to make sure my PS was something that would stand out, and wagered that many folks would be flooding admissions offices with "Why I want to be a lawyer" essays. As we've heard from Spivey, the answer to that question carried a higher value this year, and I suspect this led to some waitlists I might otherwise have seen as acceptances. I'm happy with my result, but wanted to clarify that this PS is not a shining example for future applicants. It was good enough, but could have been much better if I had chosen a strategy in line with the admissions cycle this year.
We hadn’t counted on the mud, but it was everywhere. That first night, we slept in a dome tent set on nearly the only dry patch of ground we could find, wrapped in every blanket available. By the December 29th closing on our dozen acres of rural land in Fairfield County, South Carolina, my wife and I had already rewritten our relocation plans twice. After searching for a house with acreage, then considering an RV, we took out a loan from our credit union for slightly less than the RV would cost. That gap led us to get creative: we decided to build our own small dwelling and live off-grid. Researching our options, we would get the most out of a platform tent the size of a dorm room. The savings left us with money for a composting toilet, fencing, a rabbit barn, and solar power system, while the tent came with a wood stove. The first day at the new homestead was lost to endless supply runs, our driveway growing ever muddier, until we grew careful where we parked the truck.

On the second day, we seasoned our wood stove with an old cedar fencepost and chose a site for the platform tent, which only required cutting down one tree. It was the only relatively clear, flat terrain outside of the badly rutted driveway. We had planned to rest our platform on concrete blocks, but the hard, winter ground made it clear that digging to put them all on the same level was out of the question. The new plan involved using posts to raise the platform, and that redesign meant all our notes and diagrams were useless. We assembled the first bits of a deck frame, but even with a generator and floodlight, we found the frigid darkness too much, and turned in, filthy and exhausted.

We built with a frenzy in the morning light. I cut pipes while my wife built out the frame. We finally laid deck boards as the sky grew dark, only taking the time for a couple screws in each. Raindrops started to fall as we placed the final boards. Soldiering on, we forced together the upper angle of the tent frame. The pipes fell apart whenever we moved to secure another joint, but the dozen fittings finally linked together on the deck, and we dragged the heavy tent canvas over top of them. Huddled beneath under our blankets and sleeping bags, we drifted off to sleep well before midnight to rhythmic rain on the canvas, forgoing traditional New Year’s festivities.

By the next night, we raised the tent to its proper height, attached the fly, installed the wood stove, and set up the composting toilet. In a few days, the deck was secured and the perimeter fence up. The rabbits came down within the week, and we raised their barn, spread gravel for parking, then installed our solar power system. Gradually, we cleared trees and added comforts like a propane stove, lofted bed, and lights and automatic water for the rabbit barn. In our first six months in the woods, I did duty as an impromptu carpenter, electrician, plumber, lumberjack, and farmer. I drove to remote locations to trade for alfalfa and rain barrels, to process and sell rabbit meat, and to search for places to fill water jugs. I fought drafts trying to creep into our tent and chill my bones for months, then rejoiced when I opened the rear flaps and swept out the heat with an evening breeze.

Life on the fringe of ordinary society has made me conscious of my resource consumption and the role of technology in my life. Flashlights gave way to oil lamps, Oxfords to work boots, and air conditioning to wind and shade. The home we built in this small tent attuned me to the glow of sunlight, starlight, and moonlight, the smells of smoke and rain, the distant rumble of freight trains, and the baying of coyotes. My fresh perspective also came with a career restart – which, while humbling, left me free to choose a return to school. I had always considered law to be the most natural progression from studying philosophy, as law assembles the concepts and theories of ethics into a structured and concrete reality. After talking over the decision with my family, I was convinced it was time to commit. With the flexibility and determination the past year has taught me, I stand prepared for the rigors of pursuing a Juris Doctorate. This tent has required me to learn more, and more quickly, than at any other time in my life, and I am ready to bring that to the classroom. My boots are in the mud, my eyes are on the stars, and I will give this new path my best efforts.

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