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Sunday, December 18, 2011
So You Want to be a Lawyer
These days, the web is filled with advice about writing admissions essays; much of it sounds the same-just delivered in different packages. The other day, I came across yet another list-of-pitfalls-to-avoid-in-essay writing; this particular blogger reserved his ire for narratives about study abroad experiences (not helpful, by the way), and I must say, it made me giggle. Having reviewed thousands of law school admissions essays over the past decade, I realized I had some pet peeves of my own to share, all in the spirit of constructive criticism, naturally.
Please, please, please spare everyone the platitudes about wanting to change the world. A tiny sliver of law students will get to work for a human rights organization or draft revolutionary legislative policy. Many more will have the chance to work at the local legal aid clinic, but the latter isn't going to put much of a dent into that six-figure student loan debt. If you are going to follow this angle, please avoid ambling into hypothetical fantasy territory and bind your dreams together with some pragmatism.
If you have a particular specialty in mind, mention it. If not, don't waste too much time on speculation. Many firms are happy to take on bright-eyed associates and let them grow into a specialty, but most admissions officers would welcome a student with sharply honed direction. If you intend to use your J.D. for something other than practice, talk about that.
Answer the obvious question: "why do you want to go to law school?" You'd be surprised how many people skip that part. Watching lots of Law & Order, serving on a jury or successfully fighting a parking ticket is just not enough. Sure, we all like the idea of crusading for justice, but if you're invested enough to consider three grueling years of law school, you need the school to know that you're aware of what you're in for.
No one wants to admit that they are pursuing a law degree to make lots of money and/or because they are bad at math and science, but don't assume that your reader won't read between the lines figure this out anyways. Your job is to make them think more of you and of your legal aspirations. In a profession built upon the art of persuasion, consider the law school admission essay your very first test.
Labels: So You Want to be a Lawyer
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