--> divine angst: Another personal statement shredded

Monday, August 09, 2004

Another personal statement shredded

....but at least this time, he said that if the particular piece of writing I shared today did nothing else, it proved at least that I can really write. That's good to know—I just can't write an effective personal statement.

Never fear, though, I have plenty of time, and am really only on draft number two. Well, now I'm on draft number three, since draft number two is garbage. Or at least, not personal-statement-worthy writing.

A big part of my problem in writing a statement is that I still feel that I need to explain myself. I'm still mentally excusing myself for the last five years spent "finding myself" when, in reality, I don't need to say anything at all about them. OK, perhaps I need to acknowledge them, but I don't need to take more than fifty to one hundred words to detail my disillusionment with what I thought was my chosen career, right? Admissions committees just want to know why I will make a good lawyer—and why I'll do so now.

So, the five years I've been out of school are of no importance except as a learning experience. I don't need to make excuses for the jobs I've held. (Although, I might want to make the titles sounds nicer; it sort of stinks when you work for an employer that considers anyone without several technical certifications to be an "administrative associate." Seriously. There are pretty much no other titles, even if you do nothing remotely "administrative.")

What I do need to talk about is why, in particular, law. After all, if I were just bored with my current job, I could take some community college courses and try and do something else. (I've done that before, why not again?) And if I just want to get an advanced degree, why a law degree? Surely there are other graduate programs that would be satisfying, right?

But deep down inside me, I really feel drawn to law. I don't think I'd be fulfilled in an MFA Writing program; I'm almost positive the people in any theatre graduate program would drive me batty. I don't want to have to learn any languages or take any remedial undergraduate coursework—I want to move forward and learn new things, rather than looking backwards or sideways and playing catch-up.

Why law? I keep coming back to this question, and I think I'm finally starting to articulate it with some success.

Thusly, my reasons for law are twofold:

  1. Learning the law, legal practice, and legal scholarship all serve the greater good. Yes, yes, there are slick, shady lawyers who are only out to make the money, but law, as a discipline, inherently serves the public. You can serve the public by being someone's attorney and writing out contracts, wills, estates, and other defining documents; you can serve the public by representing an accused person; you can represent the public by prosecuting criminals. You can serve the public by simply practicing law and helping society to refine the fabric of our lives. (I don't mean cotton, of course.) So, I am drawn to law because I like that it is a discipline that actually matters—it has an effect on everyone.

  2. The study of law, and law as a discipline, is intellectual. It requires a brain. You need to be able to read critically, write clearly, edit precisely, and argue effectively. While I am sure there are law practices where you really can just phone it in, I suspect most lawyers do a lot of learning for the rest of their lives. (I know for a fact that most must complete continuing legal education classes yearly.) To be a good lawyer, you really should possess a mature intellect, and be interested in continuing to expand your knowledge. Law is a constant education, and requires a willingness to constantly be educated.

So. There are my reasons for law. On to the personal statement.