Spivey Consulting Sample Personal Statements

Below are several sample law school personal statements. Each of them helped their writers achieve results superior to those their numbers might predict, but they are very different statements. Some are the sort that end up being among the most memorable essays admissions officers read throughout the cycle or even their career — truly unique experiences — while others are examples of clear, effective statements about the writers' life paths and goals in the absence of unusual or extraordinary life experiences. Please note, though, that personal statements are not read in a vacuum, and though these essays were all extremely successful, the strategy behind them involved not just a personal statement, but a full, well-rounded application. For example, a personal statement that does not address the applicant's interest in law in any way may have been accompanied by an application that otherwise showcased or made apparent their legal interests. A personal statement that was very lighthearted and casual in nature might have been accompanied by other essays or application components that were quite serious and dealt with extremely grave matters. Etc. Personal statements are one part of a full application package, and a topic that works for one applicant would not necessarily work for other applicants.

When reading these essays, also please keep in mind that admissions officers are individuals, and what may stand out to one person may not stand out to all. That said, our team has over 250 years of collective experience reading and making decisions on law school applications, and these are essays that we feel represent excellent examples of different types of personal statements.

Personal Statement Example #1

This is one of Derek Meeker's top 3 favorite personal statements ever in 17 years of working in law school admissions, including his time as Dean of Admissions at Penn Law. This applicant's results were also phenomenal.

The Bow is a traditional cattle ranch in a remote section of Montana’s Rocky Mountains. Each spring the snows retreat, and life—wild and domesticated—returns from the lower valleys to its rich pastures. During summers in college, I would leave my studies of early-modern philosophy on the east coast and return there as well, together with two middle-aged cowboys, Luis and Manuel, who came from a small town in western Mexico. As the ranch’s sole human inhabitants and proprietors, we worked 4,800 acres and tended 850 cattle. Through this experience, I forged a bond with the Bow’s land and way of life, a bond that inspired my first photographs.

Although I had no prior experience with cows, my youth in rural Montana spawned an interest in cattle ranching. It also gave me an adeptness for riding horses and doing manual labor, something I reinforced with my high school construction job. But, most importantly, I went to the Bow because it allowed me to engage a different way of life and to do so from the inside. I lived, socialized, and worked with Luis and Manuel, all in Spanish. Their traditions as migrant cowboys shaped every aspect of our lives on the ranch. In the spirit of the Mexican rodeo, or charreada, we focused on elegance of technique in our riding, often competing with one another to see who could extract a sick cow from the herd with the least disturbance. On Sundays, our one day of rest, we rose early and made the three-hour trip down to a small, Latino Catholic parish. There we attended mass, ate, and socialized with other migrant workers.

Jumping into this new world demanded significant personal growth. Most basically, I had to learn and adapt to the practice of cattle ranching at the Bow. As a philosophy major who made the persistent search for explanations a habit of mind, I copied Luis and Manuel’s methods and sought to grasp the reasons behind them, so that I could apply them on my own initiative and in novel situations. I also toughened myself to the physical intensity and unpredictability of the work. Laboring ten hours a day, we fixed miles of barbed-wire fences; irrigated huge pastures with nothing but gravity, ditches, and shovels; tended, moved, and medicated cattle; and made roughly 3,000 bales of hay. Every day we endured the capriciousness of ranching in a remote alpine environment. Sunny weather could quickly darken into sleet. A falling tree could break a fence in a remote corner of the ranch, allowing fifty cows to disappear into a dense, unbounded pine forest from which we had to locate and extract them one by one.

More abstractly, I had to learn how to forge a friendship with Luis and Manuel, which required opening myself up amidst cultural differences. I initially tailored my behavior to what I thought would fit into my colleagues’ worldview. As a young American from a small, conservative town who now studied Descartes and Hume in college, I worried my life beyond the Bow would alienate them. By contrast, I discovered they held no similar worries towards me. They treated me like they treated each other, speaking of their lives back in Mexico; of their wives, children, houses, and land, and how they missed them; of their previous jobs, rodeo triumphs, and brushes with death; all interspersed with dirty jokes they had been collecting for years. Much of their experience was difficult for me to imagine. Yet their openness allowed me to connect with them as individuals, and I realized I needed to repay their honesty in kind. I had to respect them enough to trust in their ability to form a bond of friendship across a cultural divide. When I did, the distance my reticence had created disappeared, and our differences made the relationship more fulfilling.

By labor, I gave myself to the Bow’s land. By responding to my toil, the land gave itself to me. And by cultivating a friendship, Luis, Manuel, and I gave ourselves to one another. As time passed, I began to express this bond in black and white photographs.

The light was best in the mornings—pale and glittering. After we would wake and feed the horses, I’d often set up my camera and tripod outside the old barn. From there, I could comprehend the entire ranch. Rolling pastures fall away on all sides, their tall grasses blown about in gentle waves and dotted with cows of black and brown. Further out, dark forests of aspen and pine run to high peaks jutting up into a huge blue sky. Bright white cowboy hats shade Luis and Manuel’s weathered faces. They methodically tack up their horses for another day. Looking out over this expansive sweep, carried in uncountable rays to the surface of my lens, I would open the shutter.

Personal Statement Example #2

This one produced some of the best results we have seen, and accomplished so much. It's also in Karen's top 3 all time, and Karen spent 12 years at Harvard Law, so that is high praise. Note that this applicant's other essays highlighted their specific legal interests and goals.

My feet skid on the ground, one after the other. It was clumsy, but it succeeded in stopping the bike. As I craned my neck to look behind me at the long, tree-lined road, the helmet I had haphazardly buckled fell to the right side of my face, letting the breeze pass through what felt like a heat wave just north of my forehead. I had covered maybe 250 feet, roughly the length of a city block, in a mere 30 seconds. It wasn’t quite a success, but it was progress. I picked up the bike and repositioned it so that it faced the abandoned road that had become my training ground for the day I spent teaching myself how to ride a bike, and I embarked down it again. This isn’t a tale from my childhood; this was a little over a year ago. At 22 years old, I taught myself how to ride a bike.

When I was seven, I asked for my first bike for Christmas. On Christmas morning, my dad rolled in a pink bicycle with a white basket and shiny bell. Five years later, he rolled that very same never-been-ridden bike out the front door, and into the Goodwill store. At 12 years old, I begged for another bike, and my parents begrudgingly gave me an all-black roadster they had intended me to grow into. I just gave that bike away last week, the tags and plastic casing still intact. That I asked for bikes but never asked to learn how to ride them, and that my parents gave me bikes but never taught me how to ride them, can be explained by one simple fact: I lived on a hill, one of San Francisco’s famous seven hills no less; riding a bike outside just wasn’t appealing. As active as my family was growing up, bike riding had simply never been a part of my childhood.

It was not until the week before my first day as a legal assistant at Google when I committed once and for all to finally learn how to ride that baffling apparatus. Having just graduated from college and returned from a post-grad travel excursion, I began to prepare for my first day. While daydreams of meeting my team drifted through my mind, I realized that I hadn’t considered one important thing: the Google bikes. With a campus that spreads over a mile, the Google bikes are the primary mode of transportation on campus. When I interviewed, I remember seeing dozens of Googlers perched on these bikes, breezing down Charleston Avenue with their laptops occupying the basket in front.

With a pit in my stomach, I decided to no longer just accept what I had once thought to be my non-cycling fate. I got in my car, and drove up to Sonoma County, to a town with which I was very familiar but where no one would recognize me. When I arrived, I rented a bike from the nearest bike shop and walked it two blocks away to a quiet road deeply hidden within a surrounding vineyard, strapped on my helmet, and kicked off.

For those first few pedals, I played it safe. My palms were already sweaty from nerves and as soon as I felt myself gaining speed, I immediately put my feet on the ground. After thirty minutes of this, I was flustered. Learning to ride a bike was harder than I expected; I was frustrated with my lack of any real gains, and I was embarrassed to be in this position in the first place. Up until this moment, I had succeeded in accomplishing practically anything I set my mind to with relative ease. Riding a bike presented a challenge that was going to take considerable effort, and I’d have to keep at it long after that day ended. This was almost enough to get me to quit right there, but I contemplated what it would mean if I went home: further evidence that I wasn’t capable of something I desperately wanted to learn.

From that point on, my attitude changed. I grew more patient, acknowledging that each unsteady pedal was progress. The intuitions I lacked for how to balance began to come together as I learned that speed actually increased stability; a common understanding for most, but an intuition I had to develop. I found myself a little more fearless with each pedal, trusting my body to keep me upright just a little longer each time. The result was a few pedals at a time, then a few more, until finally I was able to take what I considered my first bike ride.

Riding down that tree-lined street felt exhilarating, and I savored both the sense of accomplishment and sense of freedom I felt on the bike. I’m sure that whatever image I had of myself in those moments, riding through the wind, effortlessly peddling on the bike, more closely resembled someone attempting to bike after a day of wine tasting. Nevertheless, it felt good. After a few hours and more than a few scrapes, I wheeled the bike back to the shop and proudly reported that I had actually learned. I drove back to San Francisco feeling ready to face my first day, knowing that even though it would take time before I felt truly confident on a bike, I had proven to myself that I was capable of something that I never thought possible.

Personal Statement Example #3

This personal statement is from an applicant whose results were exceptional for his numbers!

“Miss, if I do my work, can I have a Snickers bar?” It was my first day of school as an 8th grade English and Language Arts student teacher, and Manuel was looking up at me from his computer with a mischievous grin on his face. I made the classic rookie educator mistake of responding to his bargain with, “I’ll think about it.” He giggled with his friends for a moment, then returned his attention to his online reading assignment. Before I knew it, the dismissal bell sounded, the kids stampeded out the door, and I had survived Day One.

My mentor teacher and I lingered in the library to debrief. I was hesitant to reward Manuel for meeting what I deemed to be bare minimum expectations; nevertheless, I asked Ms. P about the school policy on candy. She acknowledged that sugary incentives were permissible, but not without a notable eye roll. “I wouldn’t spend my money on that kid. He never does his work.” It astonished me that in just the third week of school, she had already formed pervasive negative judgments of this child. Apprehension knotted in my stomach as I realized I was being challenged to do exactly what drove me into education in the first place: fight for a challenging student who was so often dismissed by other educators.

On Day Two, Manuel sauntered into our classroom at the beginning of 8th period with a smirk and a “Miss, where’s my Snickers bar?” I regretfully informed him that I had forgotten to go to the store. Disappointed, Manuel took his seat at the back of the room and promptly went right to sleep. Despite my unskilled but earnest efforts to get him on task, he napped all 50 minutes of class. Again, the bell buzzed, the students bounded out and down the hall, and I sank into a chair, exhaling my frustration into the empty room. Ms. P’s expression was smug as we made eye contact. I could practically hear her eyes screaming, “I told you so!”

That gaze lit a fire in me. Here is the thing: Manuel is not dumb, lazy, or any other negative trait so often unfairly ascribed to him. He is just far too accustomed to adults whose promises constantly fall through. Weeks passed as I watched him wear the same clothes to school every day and heard “this phone number has been disconnected” every time we tried to call his family. Why did this 12-year old have no adults looking out for him the way parents and teachers should? I committed to changing this cycle. From then on, every day I camped out at his desk, perpetually challenging and encouraging him. I spent every last ounce of patience I had until his grades, slowly but steadily, trended upward. On Halloween, he finally worked hard enough to earn his Snickers bar from me; his face lit up with pride like a Christmas tree.

My experiences this semester reminded me why I decided last year to pursue law school instead of a career in teaching. While I entered education to be an agent of opportunity for disadvantaged students like Manuel, during my student teaching, I have been increasingly frustrated by the limits of my ability as an educator to make the difference that I desired. Through studying education law in my coursework and working for a local attorney, I realized the power lawyers hold to further educational equity by creating better legal outcomes for children whose lives have been destabilized by crime and disruption of the family. Instability at home stunts students’ abilities to learn effectively before they even walk through the
schoolhouse doors, exemplified by how the unreliable nature of Manuel’s home life influenced him to be skeptical of teachers and quick to give up on himself. Teachers can only do their best to repair the damage done, but attorneys are capable of addressing these problems at their roots by ardently representing children and families embroiled in legal conflict.

I believe that my passion for government, dedication to child welfare, and natural intellectual curiosity will be better used to serve vulnerable children and families as an advocate in the courtroom than as a classroom teacher. Our justice system needs attorneys who not only relish in the philosophical challenge of the law, but are driven by the real, diverse individuals whom it serves. I was attracted to the
(Redacted) Law School while visiting last January because I believe it shares this perspective, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue my education in (Redacted) at a school whose values I cherish.

Personal Statement Example #4

“Welcome Guys… and Gal,” my project manager said as he turned to raise an eyebrow directly at me. It was 7:30 am, nearly an hour into my first day on the job site. Most of our team recently relocated to build a new project, and I assumed this early team gathering would welcome many of us. However, my manager continued the kickoff meeting by next announcing that I was “obviously a woman.” Puzzled, I scanned the room and quickly realized that, in the excitement of my first day, I failed to notice I was the only woman on site, the singular “gal” in his opening remarks.

My mind raced as my coworkers shared policies they brainstormed in preparation for my joining the team: a separate bathroom for me, minimizing cursing, and avoiding derogatory comments about women. I tried to shake off this unusual introduction, hoping they only meant to make me feel welcome.

Unfortunately, as the months of the project rolled by, my status as “the gal” continued to impact my everyday interactions. Clients regularly mistook me for the team’s administrative assistant instead of an engineer, men frequently apologized to me only for cursing in meetings, and coworkers constantly approached my male counterpart with questions about my work instead of asking me.

Despite this atmosphere, I grew into a critical role on the team and excelled at drafting and negotiating contracts for our clients. I enjoyed analyzing project drawings to evaluate proposals and discovered my ability to translate technical terminology to different people, from tradespeople who speak English as a second language to government officials with minimal engineering experience. While some incidents still bothered me, particularly when a client inferred a problem arose because of “women like me,” I learned to navigate them while focusing on my work. In that case, I asked the client to take a break and return to the meeting when prepared to work together toward a solution. I slowly created a more comfortable environment for myself. Additionally, I continued to partner with female colleagues in our corporate office to cofound a women’s resource group. Through this group, what my male colleagues deemed a “glorified book club,” we bond over shared discriminatory experiences and work to enhance the culture for female employees by advocating for paid maternity leave and flexible return-to-work policies.

While maneuvering and supporting women through the gendered obstacle course at work, I noticed the industry is also disrespectful to our planet. Within the first weeks on site, I found it odd our trailer did not have a recycling bin. I brought one in, offering to empty it at my home weekly. Each week I found the bin filled with old lunches and half-full coffee cups. For months, I sorted through the trash to salvage the cans and bottles. Over time, my teammates’ mockery of and resistance to participate in even this minor effort to help the environment disturbed me and motivated me to find other ways I could increase our project’s recycling efforts and reduce hazardous waste. I recommended diverting a larger amount of the site’s byproducts to a facility that separates waste from recyclables, initiated an effort to procure materials that would minimize our carbon footprint, and worked with the architect to ensure we exceeded the sustainability design goals. My project manager rejected my initiatives, insisting these changes would not make a difference. I even offered detailed explanations of how recycling facilities operate pulled from my undergraduate sustainable design courses, but my manager refused to budge.

Today, after three years in construction, I see how much the industry’s practices regarding and common behaviors toward women and the environment differ from my personal values and educational interests. Growing up, my parents pushed my sisters and me to join any sports and activities, even if exclusively offered to boys. They raised us to believe women and men are equal and that your drive and how you treat others define your success in life. These values carried me through my undergraduate experience while I studied in engineering classes of mostly men and competed for an athletic department centered on the men’s teams. My parents’ encouragement also led me to explore interdisciplinary electives in environmental engineering, where I passionately researched methods we can use to mitigate climate change and help stabilize the environment through sustainable design.

Accordingly, these recent experiences as a woman in construction with the desire to improve sustainability practices on the job site made me reevaluate my career path. I now want to join the legal profession because it aligns with my skill set, values, and desire to promote inclusivity. In combination with my civil and environmental engineering background, a law degree would enable me to pursue a career as an environmental attorney and be a part of the climate crisis solution. While I will no longer be “the gal” sorting recyclables on the construction site, I want to help build a more sustainable and dependable future for our planet with a law degree.

Personal Statement Example #5

This personal statement, from an international student applying to U.S. law schools, helped the applicant overperform their numbers.

I will never forget my first visit to Hong Kong at age 12. Purpose of the trip: grocery shopping. A string of explosive scandals since 2003 eroded my mother’s trust in food safety in China. When Hong Kong opened up to individual travelers from mainland China, she immediately undertook the trek to this unfamiliar neighboring city, to buy rice. I was her rice mule seduced by a McDonald’s vanilla cone.

During our return trip, weighed down by three 28-inch suitcases loaded with rice, I asked my mother what the point was of such a hassle? She answered that products supplied in Hong Kong were safe, guaranteed by the city’s established, operational, and comprehensive legislation to protect consumers. At that time, although I could not yet fathom the fundamental contrasts between the “two systems” of the mainland and Hong Kong, I did notice that the same vanilla soft serve in Hong Kong tasted milkier than it did in my hometown. This conversation, flavored with ice cream, was my first insight into the rule of law.

As I grew older, I started to visit Hong Kong myself to take advantage of its global cultural scene, spanning from exotic restaurants to bookstores selling scholarly works labeled as contraband by Beijing. Protected by Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights, these bookstores were a haven for dissenting opinions that were, unsurprisingly, suppressed in the mainland. By frequenting there, I soaked up the inharmonious voices that contradicted state propaganda, challenging me to never hastily accept a single narrative as the final truth.

The year 2012 put my evolving objective mindset to the test, when Xi Jinping waged the largest anti-graft campaign in the history of communist China. Powerful oligarchs and low-ranking bureaucrats alike were swiftly indicted, leading to waves of bankruptcies for high-end restaurants that exclusively served officials flush with stolen state money. This campaign swept the headlines of major newspapers, in which the state media incessantly extolled Xi’s superior efficiency in eradicating malfeasance within the party rank and file, dignifying the iron-fisted anti-corruption efforts as the hallmark of his political brand.

I was initially invested in these initiatives out of a deep concern about the entrenched corruption in the Chinese government. I grew up listening to dinner table stories about how businessmen, voluntarily or grudgingly, conjured up covert ways to bribe employees of state-owned enterprises (SOE) to win contracts. To me, it was a belated vengeance of justice that these officials were punished for soliciting the filthy lucre.

The news reports that I read in Hong Kong, however, presented an opposite and disenchanting story: behind the façade of stellar productivity hid the ugly truth of a blatant lack of transparency and due process. Secretive investigations, arbitrary detentions, and grueling interrogations marred the campaign, which dissidents likened to a Stalinist purge weaponized by Xi to expel his political enemies. The collisions of information between Hong Kong and mainland China inspired me to contemplate the genuine meaning of the rule of law, as I realized that my understanding of it was parochially defined by its punitive aspect. Contrarily, the rule of law aims to protect people; it emphasizes not just the outcome, but the process of defending justice, striking a balance between retribution and rehabilitation. Without the core element of respect for people’s liberty and rights, the rule of law can be perniciously substituted with the rule by law: while the former is founded upon the idea that no one is above the law, the latter degenerates the law into a blunt instrument conveniently deployed by the governing authority to legitimize its decisions. Absent a codified due process to limit the reach of those in power, any crusade waged in the name of justice can be easily politicized and steered away from the declared goal, especially the often-glorified “fight against corruption.” Working at the forefront of the [international organization]’s efforts against corruption and poverty, I observed firsthand how a fact-and-rule-oriented anti-corruption regime can protect the accused, ensure procedural equity, and uphold the integrity of the system—while still meeting its goal of tackling corruption.

Upon reflection, I was extremely privileged that my family could afford the trips to Hong Kong to shield me from toxic rice and political indoctrination. Such protection, however, should not be a prerogative, and a healthy and educated citizenry capable of thinking critically is essential to the robust and sustainable development of any society. With an aspiration to do my part in promoting the rule of law to protect human rights and stimulate economic growth, I am bent on ascertaining how to design and reform social institutions through legislation to limit state power while ensuring government efficiency. To this end, I want to pursue a law degree in the U.S., where the separation of powers is written into the Constitution. By acquiring the necessary knowledge, skill set, and network, I want to rejoin the cause of global economic development, spearheaded by organizations like the [international organization], so as to create better lives for people across the world.

Personal Statement Example #6

This personal statement starts with a common theme in law school personal statements then takes it in a different direction.

“I will never be a lawyer.” I held this conviction at a very young age, although I understood little of what a lawyer was or did. As a child, unable to grasp the complexities of a messy divorce, I believed lawyers were soldiers enlisted to torment my mom. I associated her perfectly pressed navy or black outfits with her spending all day in court and returning dejected and exhausted. I thought the litany of process servers that continually rang our doorbell were lawyers badgering my mom and often bringing her to tears. I was not yet able to recognize that the “bad guys” I learned of in Disney movies were not the lawyers I was so quick to assign blame, but instead my father. He held my mom hostage through the court system for twelve years, with over 700 court filings pursued against her.

One day in high school, in an earnest attempt to decipher my childhood, I pored over the hundreds of legal documents my mom had kept from the many years of legal battles with my father. I had the serendipitous experience of viewing my life from outside myself. In scouring cabinets full of papers, I learned the positive role the court system had played in my life. Lawyers worked tirelessly to safeguard my siblings and me from the tumult while trying to free my mother from a maniacal man. Ultimately, the Judge’s court-appointed psychologists would help release me, my mom, and my siblings from an emotionally abusive father, and I realized I had misjudged those associated with the law from my childhood entirely. It made me wonder: Could I be one of the “good” ones?

My piqued, but not sealed, interest in law led me to an internship with a real estate attorney and a probate judge. Typically, I spent my summers surrounded by piles of paper and a team of probate clerks. But one day, the Judge offered me a different scenery: an involuntary commitment hearing at the local hospital. I sat across from a woman in a hospital gown flanked by two lawyers. Teary-eyed, she pleaded to the Judge to release her from the hospital. She claimed her early morning kayaking accident had been just that: an accident. Yet, there was a police report establishing attempted drowning, her doctors’ testimony, and a voicemail she had left for her boyfriend that outlined her plan. As I listened, the realization that she was alone saddened me. She could not be much older than me, maybe 30. So, where was her family? It shocked me that the only people looking out for her were the people in this conference room, all strangers to her. And yet, maybe these lawyers were just enough to save a life.

I could feel the gravity of the Judge’s decision in the silence of our drive back to the office. I saw his profound respect for life and the duty to protect etched on his face. For the first time in my life, I witnessed the sincere emotion of a lawyer and a judge grappling with how to restore someone’s life. The considerate lawyer beside me sat in stark contrast to what I believed lawyers to be as a child. Given the severity of the moment, I felt guilty for the excitement that bubbled inside me. Yet, I could not help but be invigorated by my new understanding and appreciation for the law; it was a system that could defend and protect the vulnerable if wielded thoughtfully. I felt reaffirmed that I could be a positive force of justice.

I am now proud to say I aspire to be a lawyer. My desire to be a lawyer is to recognize that the legal field is complex and equally delicate. Lawyers can be both good and evil, depending on what part they play in everyone’s distinct story. My initial perception that lawyers are an exploitative power able to embolden an abuser was not misplaced; however, I was naive to the profound and positive effect lawyers can have in many people’s lives. The Judge taught me that society could trust lawyers to be stewards in times of crisis, where the vulnerable need a skilled advocate and those around them need systemized support. Therefore, I hope to pair the necessary legal training with my unique personal experiences to become a thoughtful representative of others and provide individuals with aid in the most pivotal moments of their lives.

Personal Statement Example #7

I posed like Superman in front of the bathroom mirror at a local breakfast diner. Earlier that morning, I had read somewhere that such a power stance would boost self-confidence. In my jumping into a cold pool approach to networking, I was meeting with Marco Russo, an executive of a health system, over coffee and pancakes. I took the leap and sat down at our table.

I began the conversation with a tongue-twisted introduction as my heart raced faster than my thoughts. Marco smiled and responded by introducing himself. I had prepared and memorized questions the night before and started to shoot them off one after the other, taking no time to digest his responses. Relief came as the waiter stopped by to ask for our orders. At this moment, I collected myself. Marco asked for quadruple bacon, and we both laughed as the waiter reaffirmed his extra sides. Feeling a little more at ease, I went off-script, asking questions about Marco's family, hobbies, and interests. We soon got into a discussion about a shared favorite college basketball team. The waiter returned with our orders, including his mountain of bacon.

Our discussion went deeper. Marco shared career advice and, specifically, how to handle crucial conversations. He spoke about how he managed conversations during the acquisition of another large health system. I learned that trust was the foundation for having these crucial talks and building relationships. Meeting with Marco inspired a passion not only for networking but for becoming an active listener and challenging myself.

I drew upon lessons learned during that breakfast as I managed my first project: integrating a pediatric association into our health system. The association was comprised of 450 providers accompanied by clinical and billing administrators. The integration would increase system revenue and benefit patients by streamlining the billing process. The project would also eliminate several vendor contracts, allowing us to charge less for the same quality of service.

During the kickoff meeting, it was apparent that the pediatric team was unenthusiastic about the project. It would cause substantial changes to their current workflow, organizational chart, and business. I recognized that the crucial conversations were failing due to a lack of trust between the two groups. The pediatric association pushed back against go-live dates and resource allocations. The project began to stall out before it even reached the first phase gate. To align the teams, I constructed a project plan that established expectations, deliverables, and timelines. This framework guided conversations and encouraged a sense of team as both sides made compromises. I listened to the customers' concerns during each meeting and provided reassurance. Subsequent exchanges became less adversarial and more productive as honest relationships began to form.

The next challenge was gaining executive approval. Because of the complexity and technical systems that form the revenue cycle, upper-level management required a conceptual design. The assignment's purpose was to make the project's objectives more comprehensible. Only a few conceptual designs had ever been created, all of which the executive committee rejected. Beginning with a blank page, I sought to engineer a visual model that peeled back the technical aspects of the project while retaining its system benefit. After many iterations and upon presentation, my design was approved, garnering support for the project. The committee also established my model as the template for future requests systemwide.

The integration was successful in part because of the strong team that we had formed. Working closely with the regulations and compliance billing teams has supported my aspirations to pursue a legal career focusing on regulatory health law. I aim to become a thoughtful legal advocate, strengthened by my networking and problem-solving skills. Learning to build relationships through establishing trust was one of the significant lessons I took away from that breakfast diner. Another powerful lesson, stepping out of my comfort zone, led to personal and professional growth. That morning as Marco and I said our goodbyes, I noticed he hadn't eaten any of his bacon. The extra side order had been his way of breaking the ice, building trust, and allowing for a crucial conversation.

Personal Statement Example #8

This essay is an outstanding example of discussing one's path to law school in a way that is neither cliché nor generic. Through the use of metaphor and descriptive details regarding her background and identity, the writer takes us on her academic journey with a genuine and conversational tone that keeps us engaged. We get a clear sense of who she is, why she is going to law school, and what her goals are. A K-JD splitter, she rose above "the pack" with multiple offers from T-14 schools.

Growing up, I loved playing the Game of Life. I delighted in driving around the game board in a little plastic car, the steps neatly laid out in front of me: go to college, get a job, get married, have kids. Although I could choose the path to “Start Career” instead of “Start College,” I always chose college because, even at a young age, I knew that it made the rest of your “life” more successful. After all, my parents had built their lives in America from two suitcases and $200—working tirelessly in menial jobs to put themselves through school. They followed the same step-by-step process that I mirrored with my plastic car and miniature peg people in the game, patiently moving one step at a time towards their goals. As I grew older, I wanted to build my future in this same straight-and-narrow path.

For me, this path meant becoming a doctor. As an American-born Chinese kid, or “ABC” as we were called, I felt compelled to choose a career considered to be safe. And as a Chinese American girl, especially, I was supposed to choose a job that values technical skills over assertiveness. Doctor, yes. Engineer, yes. Lawyer, no. These preconceived notions of the Chinese American community followed me through my adolescence; any time I brought up the possibility of choosing a different career path, I was immediately shut down with an air of disapproval: “Why don’t you want to become a doctor like so-and-so’s son?” Thus, I constantly heard a voice inside my head, reminding me that I couldn’t be the disappointment of the group—the one who wasted my parents’ sacrifices. This voice, along with a natural affinity towards science and medicine, led me to choose a pre-med path at the start of college.

My decision did not turn out quite like the straightforward course on the Life game board. My pre-med courses lacked the type of intellectual stimulation I desired, and I became increasingly disenchanted with them. An academic advisor suggested I switch my major to undeclared after my first semester so I could explore the array of majors available at the university. But in my mind, undeclared equated to unmotivated and confused, so I staunchly refused. As I continued to struggle through my pre-med courses into my sophomore year, I learned of an opportunity to travel to Honduras with Global Medical Brigades, an organization that brings basic healthcare services to underserved areas of the world. I signed up the next day.

We spent eight days in Honduras over Christmas vacation, doling out over-the-counter medicines to villagers who stood in the rain for hours each morning, anxiously awaiting our arrival. I learned that our trip, and others like it, provided the sole source of healthcare for the majority of people we met. They viewed traveling to the hospital or regular pain management as a hopeless fantasy. The nonchalant way in which they discussed pain and illness as an accepted part of life shocked me. For the Hondurans we met, access to healthcare was a luxury, and they found it easier to accept this fate as truth than to waste time and energy fighting an impossible battle. I left Honduras with a sense of hopelessness, feeling the fleeting nature of our efforts as inconsequential to those we had treated. I began to realize that the traditional study of medicine could not adequately address what I already understood to be a complex health crisis.

The desire to understand the disparities in access to healthcare brought me to work with the Institute for Global Health the following semester, while simultaneously switching my major to Global Health. As I reviewed policy proposals and planned events to bring awareness to international health issues, I immersed in a curriculum that illuminated a tangle of economic challenges and political corruption, all of which is rooted in inequality. It is this last issue that gnaws at me; in a world of brilliant legal and scientific minds, why have we not reached equality in global health? A basic covenant of human rights is to recognize the inherent dignity of all, and the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. And yet in Honduras, I saw a mother who accepted the congenital heart defect of her baby as a guaranteed death sentence, because she did not have bus fare for the daylong journey to the nearest hospital. I saw a man who cried out of gratitude when we gave him ibuprofen, because his 78-year-old bones ached from working in a field all day. That is not living with dignity.

Unification between health policy, human rights, and ethics is needed to solve these issues. In an increasingly interconnected world, global health issues transcend borders and affect lives on both an individual and communal level. The lingering health inequalities between rich and poor raise fundamental questions of social justice and define the need for effective global governance for health. Only the law can create a cohesive solution by taking into account all of the seemingly disparate, but equally influential factors.

Last year, a Chinese family friend warned me about the difficulties of finding a job after law school, and praised her son, who was finishing his medical residency. I proudly told her that through my choice of a “risky” career, I will be working to address the health issues that flood the news regularly—the same issues that her son will also face. Law school will provide me with the knowledge and experience to tackle these challenges as I forge my own path in the game of life.

Personal Statement Example #9

Not many applicants have such an incredibly gripping experience to convey, but everyone has their own emotionally important event. Put the reader in your story, just like this client of ours did.

The door slammed shut and now, it was just me, three other guys, and one dead man in the room. None of us—that is, the four of us who were alive—had ever washed a dead body before, but the phone call I received the day before would soon change that. A congregant from my mosque wanted to know if I could personally help with the funerary body-wash of a man who was hours away from death. Knowing that at least someone had to discharge the religious rites for this soon-to-be-deceased man, and I had the added responsibility of being a religious services coordinator, I agreed. But it was only after I had sent out several mass-texts searching for friends naive enough to volunteer did I realize why this intricate religious ritual had fallen on the shoulders of a funerary novice like myself. The dying man had been convicted for the rape and murder of a young girl and her mother two decades ago and was being lethally executed by the State of Texas.

Here I was, moments away from personally conferring upon a rapist and murderer the dignity of a sacred rite. Wondering if the latex that covered my hand was enough of a psychological barrier between myself and the murderer's body, I paused. A rush of anger flooded me: why had I volunteered to confer the dignity of a ritual washing for this rapist's corpse? My stomach tightened and I looked around to see my partners having tilted the corpse and waiting for me. With each second of introspection, my repulse and reluctance to continue grew, but being aware that the body had to be shrouded and transported to the mosque before the noon prayer, I knew the group couldn't afford to lose these precious minutes. I stepped back from the autopsy table and told the guys to give me a few moments pause. Meditation is seldom done with a three men and one dead one waiting for you in the backroom of funeral home, but then and there, I began breathing exercises, waiting for my emotions to subside. Eyes closed, I decided to approach the ritual cleanse as simply a trickier car-wash with the added burden of some strict religious guidelines.

When we prepped to wash the corpse’s lower half, my hands brushed over several stripes of protruding flesh. Vaguely recalling the biographical details in the man's court record I had glanced at the night before, I immediately realized from the location of the scar tissue that these marks were the result of childhood abuse. While I prepped to wash the posterior bottom half, it was clear that this was not an indefinite corpse, but one that had engraved within it countless personal narratives. Like any other kid, decades ago, he too, must have quipped 'recess' as his favorite subject in elementary school, and similarly, it was doubtful that this body had been spared the tremors that adolescents of all backgrounds have suffered at their first date. In speaking just one dark detail from his childhood, the fleshy Braille reminded me that the man's entire life couldn't be reduced to his worst moments.

By the time we finished the washing and had taken the body to the cemetery, my earlier self-doubts had dissipated. At the cemetery, the other volunteers were surprised to see me stepping into the burial pit alongside the deceased's siblings to help lower the body into the tomb. This time, my resolve came not from an energizing meditation session but from the realization that the differences between the deceased man and myself, however stark in legal records, paled in comparison to the ups and downs of life we shared as members of the same species—of the genus Homo Sapiens.

Whether it was trying to host a Quran-burning pastor for an interfaith dinner discussion at my mosque or, as in this case, helping perform the ritual bath of an executed felon, I have always been drawn to exploring and understanding the deeper narratives of unseemly people. This capacity to carefully listen to the backstories and motivations of individuals, even those whose ideologies or behavior profoundly disturb me, is what attracts me to the law. At its core, our legal system succeeds when participants’ complexities are fully appreciated and their stories are heard. In employing my drive for unraveling the perplexities of each individual, and lending a voice to those understandable slices of humanity contained in each viewpoint, I hope that I can play a part in advocating not just for the rights of the conferred, but also of the condemned.