Sample Law School Application Essay - After

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Edited Essay

Halfway through my senior year at the University of Arizona, I was chosen to be the undergraduate representative at "Arizona First," a three-day, bipartisan conference focused on shaping legislation to bring economic growth and prosperity to the state. During the conference, I worked closely with state representatives and senators--the majority of whom were lawyers--proposing legislation to create new job opportunities, more commerce, and an increased standard of living in Arizona.

For the first time in my life, textbooks no longer mattered. I was faced with the weighty challenge of balancing reality with idealism. As the conference progressed, I noticed that the most effective participants were lawyers, not because of superior information or inside knowledge, but because they instinctively knew how to deal with the difficult situations and interactions that arose. The conference taught me to appreciate the interpersonal subtleties of conflict resolution and showed me that I would succeed in a career as a lawyer.

During my last year of college, I experienced the rewards that flowed from academic and intellectual challenges. Although I had the option of graduating with a degree in finance in four and a half years, I stayed an extra semester to obtain a second degree in accounting. The abstract nature of finance and the concrete precepts of accounting have provided me with a wealth of knowledge and the ability to look at problems from both a theoretical and a practical perspective.

By distinguishing myself in both of my academic programs, I was granted the honor of becoming a Professor's Assistant (PA). As a PA, I experienced the extremely rewarding challenge of teaching students in need of special assistance, and I drew upon the people skills that I had learned at the conference. Helping students understand previously foreign concepts is an indescribable feeling, and the work convinced me to pursue a career teaching law.

In my third year of college, I was elected president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), assuming full responsibility as the youngest president in our chapter's history. Running meetings, representing the fraternity to the university, and serving as the fraternity's spokesman in the community helped me refine my leadership, organizational, and speaking skills. Before my tenure, SAE was second-to-last in academic rankings among fraternities. After I left, we were number one. For leaving the chapter free of any financial or scholastic probations, I received the "Order of the Phoenix," the highest national award given to a brother for exemplary leadership and zeal.

Transitioning from academia to the professional world, I obtained a position as a summer intern at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Based on my background and experience, I was assigned the role of supervising my assistants during my first audit, a responsibility typically reserved for accountants who have been with the firm for two or more years. Learning to plan and execute an audit has further developed my researching and critical thinking skills, which will enhance my competency as a lawyer.

Despite the professional opportunities and rewards available at PwC, I do not believe that I can reach my full potential intellectually, academically, or professionally in an accounting firm. Public accounting is a noble profession and obtaining my CPA certification will provide me with invaluable skills for dealing with business clients. However, I too often find myself engaging with my clients as an adversary rather than as an advocate. Leaving this field to obtain a law degree will allow me to pursue a career that is more consistent with my dominant personality traits: loyalty and charity.

I look forward to law school as an opportunity to develop my most cherished personal characteristics. As an experienced leader, teacher, scholar, and professional, I have much to contribute to a program in law. My analytical, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills will help me become a competent attorney, and I am anxious to embark on this next stage of my career.

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Critique

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Dear John,

Thank you for giving me such license with your essay. My editing focused on streamlining your sentences and paragraphs to focus the reader's attention on the most relevant details. In response to your question, if you do not feel you really have anything to add through an additional essay, I would advise against including one. It is more important to state everything and to dazzle your reader in the first essay.

You have a lot of good text to work with here. The main problem is not your organization or your ability to form sentences--it is your tendency to over-summarize and over-generalize the ideas of your essay. Instead of telling the reader what your experiences have done for you or what you think the legal profession is about, show your reader through anecdotes and examples. You include a number of these, so if the explanations can be kept to a minimum, you will have a very compelling essay.

I also noticed that you relied on many slang words and phrases in your essay. I realize that this is part of your voice, but at the same time, you need to maintain a formal tone in an admissions essay. Adhering to your request, I adjusted the tone of your essay to ensure that it is consistent and appropriate.

Here are my specific comments on each individual paragraph of your essay:

Paragraph 1

You really need to grab the reader's attention with the introduction. Instead of starting with, "As long as I can remember..." you should allude to the earliest relevant memory that illustrates your point. You do not have to do this, but a sentence with action and narrative is a powerful way to capture the reader's attention.

In general, avoid contractions in a formal essay unless you are quoting direct dialogue.

I have removed the entire original first paragraph because it is more effective to convey all of these ideas in the body of your essay. You should try to write shorter, pithier sentences than those in the original introduction.

Do not abbreviate state names like "Arizona."

You only need to mention the length of the conference once.

Avoid repeating words or phrases in too many successive sentences.

Paragraph 2

Using the word "idealism" and the phrase "a hope for a better tomorrow" is redundant; both expressions mean the same thing.

Notice how the paragraph break makes your ideas easier to digest. This break also allows you to bring in the personal "I" so that your story does not sound overly generalized. If you can think of a concrete example of reality and idealism clashing at the conference, you should include it in this paragraph.

Be sure to maintain a confident voice in your writing. You should avoid constructions like "seemed to" which undercut the reader's confidence in your assertion.

Keep your vocabulary varied. Do not overuse words like "interact" or "interested."

"It was at this point in time that the desire to embark on a legal career started to take shape."

The sentence that immediately precedes this one is a great, natural segue. I suggest leaving this sentence out.

"...and the ability to bridge the mental gaps between these two ways of thinking..."

Give a concrete example here. Although many of your sentences in this paragraph are technically correct, I have streamlined your language to leave room for more concrete examples.

Paragraph 4

"I hope to use the skills I acquired in this teaching program as a lawyer."

Offer an example of how you might do this.

Paragraph 5

While this is a good paragraph, you need to do a better job of tying it to the rest of your essay. Were you always a good leader? Is this why you were elected? Did you use lessons from the conference? Can you cite specific examples? How did these experiences influence your decision to become a lawyer?

Paragraph 6

"Pricewaterhouse"

Write out the full name of your company, at least the first time that it appears in the essay.

You should elaborate on the discussion in this paragraph. Was it awkward being a supervisor? Did you face specific challenges? Try to think of a concrete example of "practicing critical thinking on a professional level."

Paragraph 7

"Loyalty" and "fidelity" basically mean the same thing, so it is redundant to use both.

The word "servitude" is misapplied in this paragraph; you do not want to sound like a slave. I suggest using "fraternity," "charity," or "compassion" instead.

Paragraph 8

For last paragraph, I illustrated your salient personal features so that the reader will understand your qualifications for law school.

Despite my streamlining of your essay, there are still passages in which you should replace generalizations with more specific examples. You are a very strong writer, and I am confident that you will be able to provide more concrete examples to improve your essay further.

Good luck with your application!

Sincerely,
Your EssayEdge Editor

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