Sample Law School Application Essay - After
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My previous trips to Calcutta had not prepared me. I had seen women and children begging on the street for money, but I did not know what to expect as I made my way through Calcutta's twisting, claustrophobic streets. My lungs filled with the delightfully pungent aroma of Indian spices and incense as I turned a corner and faced the gates of Mother Teresa's orphanage.
Entering the premises, I was struck by a curious sight. Children, obviously quite ill, were playing and laughing on the grounds and enjoying the modest toys, which had been donated to them. Infants, thin and malnourished, were clothed in clean, colorful outfits so cheerful that they almost outshone their wearers' concerns. It was a different world from the desperate Calcutta streets I had just left.
The experience was very significant for me. I suddenly realized how a hopeful and optimistic environment could transform even the direst conditions. The children inside the orphanage were no richer than those begging on the street, but they had the benefit of a caring environment, which transformed their poverty-stricken lives into something resembling a normal childhood. There is no solution to, and certainly no justification for, childhood suffering, but it is important that we play our own small roles in consoling and helping young victims of poverty.
Since my initial visit in 1996, I have returned multiple times to Mother Teresa's orphanage to volunteer my time with the children. I have also been involved in helping adolescents with emotional, social, and behavioral problems at the Children's Assessment Centre. Currently, I devote two or three hours to the "Junior Achievement Program" in my city's elementary school by lending my hand, my advice, and my support to the children. These volunteer experiences have given me the chance to improve the community, but I now want to do something more substantial.
I realize that injustice and suffering in the world are too widespread to be solved through volunteer activity. Consequently, I want to attack the roots of these problems and play a more substantial role in the defense of defenseless victims. This is why I am attracted to the law.
The legal profession will draw upon my interest in social justice and give me the chance to aid individuals by offering legal advice. I learned through my work at Mother Teresa's orphanage that commitment to others can lead to great results. I now want to apply this lesson to the law. At first, my practice may only help one person at a time. Eventually, I hope to impact entire communities, cities, and even states.
In terms of career aspirations, I wish to spend a few years after passing the bar practicing law to gain practical experience and to help individuals directly. After that, I want to direct my energies toward teaching the law, since I believe this is the best way to impact the future of society. A single lawyer can help some, but a law professor can inspire generations of jurists to pursue social justice.
I have always been very inquisitive and interested in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. As an undergraduate in McGill University's economics department, I wrote a thesis on Islamic banking practices. I chose the topic after encountering an article that claimed that interest rates did not exist in religious Islamic countries. This puzzled me, and I decided to investigate the matter further. Poring through data from the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, I discovered that such interest rates did exist, but that they were hidden and disguised within other economic transactions. Unraveling mysteries and testing hypotheses against data is the foundation of the legal profession, and I believe that I have the temperament and cognitive capability to excel in such work.
I have gained exposure to the law through my work at the Bank of Canada as an Assistant Manager. Through my role as an investment and credit advisor, I am responsible for ensuring that clients receive the best financial advice possible. This often entails legal research on my part due to the complex legal issues that surround many credit and investment transactions. I have worked closely with the legal department of the bank and have learned a great deal about estate, collection, and repossession law. This work has enabled me to guide my clients more effectively and has also taught me to delegate tasks beyond my competency to more experienced experts in the field. I have seen the law in action, and I am intrigued by the complexity and subtly of this instrument.
My study of the law, and my interest in applying it toward social justice, will be informed by my extensive travel experiences. I have traveled throughout Asia, from the crowded streets of Bangkok to my family's village in Northeast India. I have also experienced Western cultures, from attending university in Canada to studying abroad in Western Europe. These diverse experiences will give me a better perspective on the global implications of my work and will allow me to see how national laws influence the entire world community in the age of globalization.
While I cannot hope to effect as much change as Mother Teresa's orphanage, I nonetheless feel an obligation to try. By studying law and by using it to address social ills across the globe, I will contribute to a society that is more equitable tomorrow than it is today. As a law school student, I look forward to sharing my experiences with my classmates and to learning the skills that will help me help others.
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Click Here for the Edited Version.
You come across as a very intelligent and caring individual in this essay. Your work at Mother Teresa's orphanage is truly compelling, and your educational and professional experiences suggest that you have strong qualifications for law school.
That said, there were ways in which your essay could be improved.
Throughout the essay, I took liberties to correct stylistic and grammatical problems. My changes largely took the form of making sentence transitions smoother and more compelling, varying sentence structure to keep the reader interested, and pruning unnecessary words to increase sentence comprehension and coherence. I consciously tried to leave your own voice and ideas intact.
Here are my specific comments on each individual paragraph of your essay:
I suggest reworking the introduction to build suspense and to set the scene in a more dramatic narrative fashion. I have broken up your first paragraph and have rearranged your sentences to obtain this effect. The result is very powerful and draws your reader more completely into the story.
"...why are children, who are so innocent, subjected to such pain and suffering? Since my initial visit to the centre I have concluded that is no easy answer for that question."
This comes across as a weak lesson. Realizing that there are no easy answers should not take months or years to discover; it should be an a priori assumption. See the proposed treatment of this idea that I have suggested below.
The elucidation of your specific career goals in this paragraph is quite effective. I suggest tweaking these slightly, however, to ensure continuity with your earlier discussion of social justice. In addition, I think the detail about your experience as a piano teacher is distracting, and I suggest leaving it out.
"From volunteering at that orphanage in Calcutta (I've done that twice since my initial visit)..."
Two visits do not seem like a very substantial commitment. Consequently, I suggest omitting the specific number of times that you volunteered. Here is what I suggest instead: "I have returned multiple times to Mother Teresa's orphanage to volunteer my time with the children."
"I have decided to pursue a career in Law primarily for the same reasons why I have volunteered for so many years of my life, so that I may lend my clients my support, my legal advice and help."
This is an example of excessive wordiness. You need to draw an implicit connection between your volunteer work and your interest in the law, but you should not beat this point to death. See my subtler treatment of this idea below.
"It is a profession that perfectly matches my personality and goals, and gives me the ability to fulfill my lifelong dream of making a significant impact on our society through civil service."
This is wordy and redundant.
The discussion of your thesis was excessively wordy; I have made it more direct.
Remember that it is essential to illustrate your points through examples rather than to state them explicitly. Claiming that you are inquisitive will do nothing to convince an admissions officer of the fact; you need to prove this quality through details.
Finally, the discussion of how your thesis demonstrates your problem-solving skills came across as too grasping and calculated. The description of your thesis speaks for itself, so there is no need to force an interpretation onto the reader.
"Using my critical thinking skills from the Arts and Science program and my economic knowledge..."
This is too much. Claiming to use "critical thinking skills" will not set you apart from other candidates, and it will not convince the admissions committee that you are any more qualified than others. I suggest leaving this out.
"I love solving puzzles - discovering pieces, analyzing their importance, uncovering relationships and then utilizing the information to produce a final work..."
This detail gives the impression that you have read a law school admissions handbook and have discovered that law schools want candidates with strong problem-solving and deductive skills. This is a bad impression to give, so you should make your point more subtly.
I have provided a reworked conclusion that better summarizes your essay. Your original conclusion was too vague and meandering; I have provided a short, punchy conclusion to maintain the momentum of your essay.
"a Major Canadian Bank"
Give the bank's name.
"The law and the banking system share constant variety. Since both are evolving, they require constant research and learning. Through my various jobs and by reading various works on law, the breadth and variety inherent in the law has impressed me."
These ideas are vague and wordy. The "breadth of the law" is not something that should attract a student to it (unless, by the same logic, the breadth of governmental departments should attract one to the study of bureaucracy). I suggest omitting this assertion.
With all the changes I have proposed, you will have to use your judgment and accept only those which you think are best.
Overall, your essay has been refined into a very strong personal statement expressing your intelligence and deep commitment to the law. I wish you the best of luck in the admissions process.
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