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55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays: With Analysis by the Staff of The Harvard Crimson

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Harvard Law School is one of the premier law schools in the world. It as well as other top schools draws thousands of applicants from the best colleges and companies. With only a limited number of slots for so many talented applicants, the admissions officers have become more and more selective every year, the competition has become fierce, and even the best and brightest could use an edge.

This completely new edition of 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays is the best resource for anyone looking for that edge. Through the most up-to-date sample essays from the Harvard Law School students who made the cut and insightful analysis from the staff at The Harvard Crimson , it shows you how best to:

* Argue your case effectively * Arrange your accomplishments for maximum impact * Avoid common pitfalls

55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays guides you toward writing essays that do more than simply list your background and accomplishments. These are essays that reveal your passion for the law as well as the discipline you bring to this demanding profession and will help you impress any admissions department. The all-new essays and straightforward and time-saving advice will give you all the insider tips you'll need to write the essays that will get you into the best law schools in the world.

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  • Publisher St. Martin's Griffin
  • Publication date July 8, 2014
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successful harvard law school application essays

Harvard Law School Personal Statement Samples

Harvard Law School Personal Statement Samples

Reading Harvard Law School personal statement samples is a great way to learn how to write your own for your application to law school. As arguably the best law school in the world, Harvard has extremely competitive law school acceptance rates . Your personal statement for law school is a tricky challenge and writing one for Harvard requires superb writing skills and following specific directions. In this blog, our law school admissions consulting experts provide 6 samples to guide you on how to write a personal statement that will impress the admission committee at Harvard Law School.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 14 min read

Writing a law school personal statement.

Writing a personal statement for law school is always a challenging task. Writing a statement for your Harvard Law School application might seem even more intimidating, but reading sample law school personal statements can help you understand what is needed to write your own.

In this blog, we’ve included several Harvard Law School personal statement samples to help students like you prepare to write your own. Reading these samples is useful even if you are preparing an application to other law schools, or if you’re applying for other elite programs like Stanford Business School . Harvard Law School, as one of the best law schools in the world, is selective about its applicants, and has specific instructions in writing a personal statement. So whatever program or school you’re applying to, using guidance from Harvard personal statement samples can help you craft a stellar statement for your application.

Want to learn about the top Harvard law school personal statement examples? Check out this video:

Personal Statement Requirements for Harvard Law School

Most importantly, Harvard is looking for authenticity. The school believes that applicants themselves are the best persons to determine the content of their statement. So, after reading the prompts provided for your application\u2014or if you\u2019ve chosen to write on a topic of your choosing\u2014be sure to start brainstorming and use the strongest idea or details to include in your personal statement. In other words, write about what stands out most to YOU in your interests or background. Think hard about your reason for pursuing a career in law, or why a degree from Harvard is so important for you and your future. "}]">

You can read our Harvard Law School personal statement samples below, but you can also read some Harvard personal statement examples for medical school too, to get more ideas of how to write a fantastic statement.

Harvard Law School Personal Statement #1

There’s more than one way to lose your home. Tragedy is sudden and its traumatic effects linger long after the original incident. But when you feel a slow, steady disconnect between yourself and the place you grew up, it’s another kind of loss.

In recent years, I’ve noticed this loss more than ever before. As we grow up, there’s bound to be some disillusionment. But my hometown is just the same, only some of its uglier sides have been brought into the light.

This pandemic has taken a huge toll, but I’ve never imagined it would stir up hatred and resentment in a place I always considered friendly and open-hearted. When I walked past the first anti-mask protest outside my local legislature, I was surprised by the vehement emotions from the crowd. I didn’t understand their anger over very light restrictions from officials.

We all have a childhood memory about our favorite treat. Maybe it’s getting ice cream from the roving neighborhood ice cream truck or stopping at a corner store for an ice-cold popsicle. For me, the sweetest treat was running by a local mom-and-pop bakery after school.

The place was practically an institution. Cupcakes of every flavor, with the fanciest icing and the biggest choice of sprinkles and toppings to go with. It had been in the neighbourhood for 20 years, at least, catering every child’s birthday and local celebration. I went there once a week with my friends.

When I was in high school, I still visited once in a while. Around this time, a bakery in another city became overnight famous for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The internet backlash was incredible. Many establishments, in support of the bakery, began putting up signs in their windows advertising themselves as Christian-owned businesses that wouldn’t cater to the LGBT crowd. A few places in our town did the same.

A year later, I moved away to attend university, and the issue dropped out of the news for a while. Over summers, when visiting home, I would stop in for a delicious cupcake and say hi the owners to make small talk. On one such occasion, I was visiting when a family friend stopped in to make an order for her daughter’s birthday. The owners’ faces dropped the moment they saw my friend, and they busied themselves with other customers.

As I chatted to my friend about her daughter’s birthday and how she wanted to get cupcakes from the local bakery as was tradition, I couldn’t help but notice the cold treatment from the owners. My friend confided to me that they’d refused her service last time because she’d come into the shop with her wife in tow and asked for cupcakes for a birthday celebration. This time, she wanted to try again and ask for generic cupcakes for an event, without her partner there. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That my friend had to outright lie to be served, and served with subpar service at that, was appalling. After attempting to order cupcakes for the second time that day, my friend was actually told by the owners they would call 911 if she entered their shop again and refused her service. I have not been back to their bakery since.

As the kind of kid who always liked standing up to bullies, I’d thought about being a lawyer before, but experiencing this exchange confirmed my decision for me. My friend should be able to enter a business and be served like any other customer. She was not disrupting their business in any way or infringing on their rights as business owners. She just wanted some personalized birthday cupcakes for her child.

These may seem like small incidents, but together they add up to a disturbing pattern. And unfortunately, there are too many in the LGBT and other marginalized communities that don’t get to have their voices heard on issues like this. I think the world needs more people who are willing to stand with them and speak up about what’s right.

Coming from a family of immigrants, I’m not a stranger to discrimination, injustice, and hate. I understand the silent inner struggle. My parents left Lebanon in the years after civil war broke out, taking my infant brother with them. I was born once they landed safely in Canada.

My mother was always tight-lipped about home, preferring not to talk about it. My father believed we should know about our culture and history at home. Hearing about the atrocities my parents witnessed and the things they experienced has given me a divided view of my ancestral home. My mother often says how much she wishes to go home again, but she never will.

Growing up, with the weight of my parents’ experiences and memories, I used to think that those ghosts would not follow my family to our new home. For the most part, we were content and peaceful. Yet there have been incidents. I vividly remember the man who shouted at my mother in the supermarket for speaking in her native language, asking me to hand her a can of beans from the shelf. My mother never took us back to that store.

My mother especially has been sensitive to the plights of others like her. She knows that often, no one will speak up or speak out. Some are too afraid. But the one thing we can all do is volunteer our help and our kindness. The past several years, my brother and I have gone with her to our local mosque to help refugee families from Syria acclimate to their new home. Speaking with them, I often see my mother’s face in my mind’s eye. I try to offer my help and compassion, but I know there is only so much I can do. I cannot undo what they have gone through. I cannot fix the injustices that were done.

My father likes to say that we are not alone in our fight. That there are many of us, but we can always use one more soldier of faith and love. This is how I view my dream of being a human rights lawyer. As being a soldier in this enormous fight for peace. I view it as my duty and my privilege to take on some of the work that is so needed. When I think of those, like my mother, who need someone in their corner, who don’t have anyone to defend them, I realize how important this work is. And it is monumental, but we are not alone. I feel that it is my calling to do my part and stand up and speak up.

Want to revisit those Harvard Law School personal statement requirements before reading the rest? This infographic is for you:

Harvard Law School Personal Statement #4

I’ve always been a drama fan. Whether it’s my mother’s latest soap opera, a medical show, a forensics thriller, I always found them entertaining and stimulating to my investigative mind. I was that annoying person who tried to figure out who the killer was before the episode ended. It was secretly on my bucket list to witness a real live courtroom drama.

In reality, being in court is not as dramatic as it’s portrayed on TV. And it’s nowhere near as exciting or fun. When my mother was diagnosed with a rare disorder, we explored all our options. We finally landed on a drug trial that looked promising. We did our research, everything checked out. We were told the initial studies were promising. It was our last option.

Everything started well enough. My mother’s condition improved, and our hopes were rising for the first time in a while. Then came the night we had to rush her to ER after she suffered unforeseen side effects from the trial, and she was left partially paralyzed. The response we got from the drug trial company was disappointing to say the least. They hadn’t disclosed the side effect, and many of the other patients we’d met experienced similar side effects, fortunately none as drastic as my mother’s.

As the case became a lawsuit and we wound up sitting on those hard benches, it was harder to watch the procedure unfolding at the front of the room. I wished I could be the one up there, arguing on behalf of the other patients, telling the jury about their experiences and how these undisclosed side effects had changed my mother’s life forever. There were a lot of emotions I couldn’t process in the courtroom. And the settlement we won wasn’t enough to cover my mother’s medical bills and the care she now needs for the rest of her life at 57.

Watching those old shows, I used to think being a lawyer was a dramatic and exciting job. And I’m sure it can be. But from experience, I now realize how crucial it is, and how serious. You’re not just arguing about the law or questioning witnesses. You’re advocating for people’s lives. It’s definitely not a soap opera. It’s real life.

My mother’s story is something no one else should have to go through. And if they do, hopefully there’s someone there like our lawyer, like me, to care enough to do something about it. I wanted to become a lawyer, so I could stand up and take on what looked like an exciting role. Now, I want to become a lawyer, so I can stand up for others who are suffering and right the legal wrongs they’ve experienced. And nothing could be more exciting than that.

Harvard Law School Personal Statement #5

On cool springtime mornings, when the sun is barely crawling over the horizon and the water is still grey with a streak of fire, you can spot them. It’s easy to mistake them for shadows or ripples on the water, just a trick of the eye. But they’re there. Sometimes you can hear them, crying out to each other with shrill, echoing bursts.

It used to be common to see orcas in the waters around Vancouver Island. Five minutes from where I grew up, I used to be able to walk along the shore and see them every morning. Their fins are so black, they look like the shadows of birds swooping. But then you catch a peeking patch of white when they come out of the water, and you can see them in all their majesty. It’s hard not to be entranced by something that awesome. And, like every other kid in my neighbourhood, I thought about being a marine biologist. Learned everything I could about orcas and humpbacks and all the other fantastic creatures of the island.

As their numbers dwindled over the years, my mind turned to conservation efforts. There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities for a high school and undergrad wanting to do their part to clean up the oceans. I started volunteering with local groups before finding the Surfrider Foundation, which cleans up shoreline on the island to prevent plastic waste from entering our waters. This experience, while rewarding, hasn’t been without reminders of how important it is.

Having to see an orca slowly dying on a beach instead of slicing through the waves is a harsh reminder of the impact of human pollution on our planet. You can hear the difference in their cries in those moments. And you can see the change in their eyes. Somehow, morning walks on the beach aren’t the same after that.

My desire to protect these beautiful creatures evolved the more I educated myself on current events and kept up to date on what was happening in the news. Last year, there wasn’t much I could do as a conservationist except continue to advocate and perform solo beach cleanups in my backyard since we couldn’t gather together. But after 12 months of this same routine, I went out one chilly April morning and saw a surprise.

I looked out to the bay that had been empty for so long. Sightings were rare now, and I was growing more used to the quiet. But that morning, there was an entire pod of orcas swimming there, their voices loud and echoing. It was no shock that I had to take a minute on the beach before I continued my cleanup.

Without human interference, even with smaller cleanup efforts, they had rebounded just fine on their own. And they weren’t the only ones to return, as humpback whales are becoming more frequently sighted again, too. It reaffirmed for me that conservation was only one goal. Protection for these creatures was still needed. And if this pandemic had taught us anything, it was that we can’t go back to the way things were.

We need to change the patterns and policies we have in place. We need to implement policies of protection. We need to be the voices of these animals. At its heart, I believe this is what environmental law should be. The protection and conservation of our world and all that inhabit it.

Harvard Law School Personal Statement #6

When you grow up in a low-income neighbourhood, you expect to have your stuff stolen sometimes. I have more than one missing backpack. A bicycle my parents saved up 6 months to buy me for Christmas, I never saw again. They’re things, and things get stolen sometimes when you have something others want. I learned to expect this, but I also learned to stand up to thieves when I saw them.

My dislike of thieves is still strong, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized they could steal more than stuff. As a high school student, we were told not to cheat, not to plagiarize. I think probably most of us didn’t understand that. And we certainly didn’t know what copyright law was. When I went to college, the anti-plagiarism slogan was drilled into me again, and I had a passing understanding of intellectual property laws. A case study on stolen intellectual property and corporate spying piqued my interest—it was like one of my favorite heist movies told in the form of a less dramatic, real-life story.

The example went from marginally interesting right back to dramatic when my own work was stolen from me. In my spare time, I’d written a short story for another class submission. I’d, perhaps foolishly, posted it on a student forum to get some feedback. A few weeks later, a friend tipped me off that it had been published in an outside short story contest and even won a prize. Unfortunately for me, I was never able to do much about it. I reported it to the school, and the student who stole my work did face consequences. But my work was never returned, as they had changed just enough from my original story that it still passed the contest’s anti-plagiarism check.

I still write short stories, but I rarely share them with others now. To me, my intellectual work is not just a backpack or a bicycle that can be replaced if you have the money. Writing and other creative works aren’t so easily replicated. And having them stolen is a feeling I’d never experienced before. I wasn’t sure what the proper procedure was for getting my writing protected and what to do if copyright was violated.

I ended up going back to that professor who’d taught the case study, and we discussed copyright laws and intellectual property rights. As he pointed out, there are some gaps there. There are complex situations and arguments to be made. Protecting intellectual property from thieves is a little different than busting someone cutting locks at the bike rack.

The experience made me realize my desire to protect things could have a lot of benefits if I become a lawyer. And it could prevent people from experiencing what I did with my stolen short story. And the truth is, I kind of always wanted to be the cop chasing down the bad guys in those old heist movies.

To write a superb personal statement for your Harvard Law School application, it’s most important to follow the provided directions, answer the prompt if you’re provided with one, and create a well-written essay full of pertinent details.

Harvard Law School asks students to submit a double-spaced, 11-point, two-page personal statement. This equals about 500 words.

Yes; Harvard may provide applicants with a prompt for writing their personal statement. Although these prompts can be vague and open to interpretation, students should focus on answering the question in their own way.

Harvard’s admissions committee stresses authenticity. They are seeking students who can write clearly about themselves and demonstrate deep thinking. They expect students to provide strong evidence of why they will be a good addition to their school.

Harvard is one of the most competitive law schools in the world, with a notoriously low admissions rate. The school admitted 12.9% of applicants in recent years. But submitting a well-written personal statement can help improve your application considerably.

Law schools are extremely competitive. Writing a good personal statement for law school requires being able to write well, follow instructions, provide solid evidence, and tell a compelling story. And above all, be genuine in presenting yourself and your background.

Harvard Law School does provide a prompt asking students why they chose to apply. However, if you do write on this prompt, it’s important to give a unique, personal reason why you chose Harvard other than “it’s the best law school in the world”! The admissions committee has heard this many times before, and they are looking for more compelling reasons.

Yes; the personal statement is a required component of your application to Harvard Law School.

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Six Law School Personal Statements That Got Into Harvard By David Busis Published Feb 10, 2021 Updated Feb 10, 2021

The essays below, which were all part of successful applications to Harvard Law, rely on humble reckonings followed by reflections. Some reckonings are political: an applicant grapples with the 2008 financial crisis; another grapples with her political party’s embrace of populism. Others are personal: a student struggles to sprint up a hill; another struggles to speak clearly. The writers have different ideologies, different ambitions, and different levels of engagement with the law. Yet all of them come across as thoughtful, open to change, and ready to serve.

Jump to a personal statement:

Essay 1: Sea Turtles

I stood over the dead loggerhead, blood crusting my surgical gloves and dark green streaks of bile from its punctured gallbladder drying on my khaki shorts. It was the fifth day of a five-week summer scholarship at the University of Chicago’s Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and as I shuffled downwind of the massive creature, the pungent scent of its decomposition wafted toward me in the hot summer breeze. Aggressive flies buzzed around my head, occasionally pausing to land on the wad of plastic we had extracted from the loggerhead’s stomach. The plastic had likely caused a blockage somewhere, and the sea turtle had died of malnutrition. When the necropsy was finished, we discarded the remains in a shallow hole under a thicket of trees, and with the last shovel of sand over its permanent resting place, its death became just another data point among myriad others. Would it make a difference in the long, arduous battle against environmental pollution? Probably not. But that dead loggerhead was something of a personal tipping point for me.

I have always loved the clean, carefully objective nature of scientific research, but when I returned to the US from my native XXXX to study biology, I began to understand that because of this objectivity, scientific data rarely produces an emotional effect. It is difficult to initiate change based on such a passive approach. My ecology professor used to lament that it was not science that would determine the fate of the environment, but politics. The deeper I delved into research, the more I agreed with her. Almost every day, I came across pieces of published research that were incorrectly cited as evidence for exaggerated conclusions and used, for example, as a rebuttal against climate change. Reality meant nothing when pitted against a provocative narrative. It was rather disillusioning at first, but I was never one to favor passivity. In an effort to better understand the issues, I began to look into the policy side of biological conservation. The opportunity at the MBL came at this juncture in my academic journey, and it was there that I received my final push to the path of law.

After weeks of sea turtle biology and policy debates at the MBL, we held a mock symposium on fishing and bycatch regulations. Participants were exclusively STEM majors, so before the debate even began, everyone in the room was already heavily in favor of reducing commercial fishing. I was assigned the role of the Chair of the New Bedford Division of Marine Fisheries, and my objective was clear: to represent the wishes of my constituents, and my constituents wanted more time out on the sea. However, that meant an increase in accidental bycatch, which could hurt endangered marine populations and fill up the bycatch quota for commercial fishermen before the season ended.

There were hundreds of pages of research data on novel technological innovations for bycatch reduction that I had to wade through, but with the help of my group, I was able to piece together a net replacement plan that just barely satisfied my constituents, the scientists, and the industry reps. Although the issue of widespread net replacement incentives for the commercial fishermen remained, there was no doubt that I enjoyed the mental stimulus of tackling this hypothetical challenge. I was able to use my science background to aid in brokering a compromise that would reduce the amount of damage done to the environment without endangering the livelihood of the people involved in the industry.

By the end of the symposium, I knew that I wanted to bridge the gap between presenting scientific data correctly and effecting change in the policy world. Although there are many ways for me to advocate for change, I believe that only legal and legislative enforcements will have a widespread and lasting effect on the heavy polluters of the world. I want to combine my legal education and a solid foundation in the biological sciences to tackle the ever-growing slew of environmental challenges facing us in the twenty-first century.

The night the symposium ended, we patrolled the beach for nesting females. As I walked beneath the stars, I thought of that sea turtle and of the repeating migration of my own life, from my birthplace in XXXX to my childhood in the US, back to XXXX and now the US again. With the guidance of the Earth’s magnetic fields, sea turtles are able to accurately return to their birthplace no matter how far they deviate, but I like to imagine that they, like me, do need to occasionally chart another course to get there. Standing on a beach in Woods Hole, thousands of miles from home, I knew that I was on the right path and ready to embark on a career in law.

Essay 2: Joining the Arsonists To Become a Fireman

On the morning of the 2004 presidential election, my sixth-grade teacher told me to watch out for John Kerry voters in the hallways because our school was a polling station. I nodded and went to the water fountain, thinking to myself that my parents were voting for John Kerry, and that as far as I could tell, they posed no risk to students. It was a familiar juxtaposition—the ideas at my dinner table in conflict with the dogmas I encountered elsewhere in my conservative Missourian community. This dissonance fostered my curiosity about issues of policy and politics. I wanted to figure out why the adults in my life couldn’t seem to agree.

Earlier in 2004, Barack Obama’s now famous DNC keynote had inspired me to turn my interests into actions. Even at age twelve, I was moved by his ideas and motivated to work in public service. When Obama ran for president four years later, I heeded his call to get involved. I gave money I had made mowing lawns to my parents to donate to his campaign and taped Obama-Biden yard signs to my old Corolla, which earned it an egging and a run-in with silly string in my high school parking lot.

While I knew in high school that I wanted to involve myself in public service, I wasn’t sure what shape that involvement would take until signs of the financial crisis—deserted strip malls and foreclosed homes—cropped up in my hometown. I was amazed by the disaster and shaken by the toll it took on my community. As I saw it, the crisis wasn’t about Wall Street, but about people losing their jobs, homes, and savings. I didn’t understand what Lehman Brothers had to do with the fact that my neighbor’s appliance store had to lay off most of its employees.

Intent on understanding what had happened, I started reading up, inhaling books about financial crises and articles on mortgage-backed securities and rating agencies. Along the way, I also developed an affinity for the policymakers fighting the crisis. I admired how time and again these unknown bureaucrats struggled to choose the best among bad options, served as Congressional piñatas on Capitol Hill, and went back across the street to face the next disaster. I decided that I too wanted to work in financial regulation. I thought then and believe today that if I can help protect consumers and mitigate the downturns that force people from their jobs and homes, I will have done something worthwhile.

Strange though it may seem, this decision led me to join Barclays as an investment banking analyst after college. While in a sense I was “joining the arsonists to become a fireman,” as one skeptical friend put it, banking gave me immediate experience working with the firms and people who had played key roles in the response to the financial crisis years before. I was initially worried that I would discover financial rules and regulations to be impotent platitudes, without the power to change the financial system, but my experience taught me the opposite. New regulations catalyzed many of the transactions on which I worked, from bank capital raises to divestitures aimed at de-risking. Ironically, becoming a banker made me even more of an idealist about the power of policy.

I envisioned spending years in the industry before moving to a government role, and I left banking for private equity investing with that track in mind. When I began making get-out-the-vote calls on behalf of the Clinton presidential campaign, however, I realized that I needed to change my plans. I cared more about contacting voters, about the result of the election, and about its policy implications than anything I did at work. Although I’m grateful for what I’ve learned in the private sector, I don’t want to spend more time on the sidelines of the policy debates and decisions that matter to me.

That’s why I am pursuing a J.D. I want to help shape the policies that will make the financial system more resilient and equitable, and to do so effectively, I need to understand the foundation upon which the financial system is built: the law. The post-crisis regulatory landscape is already in need of recalibration; large banks still pose systemic risks, and regulation lags even further behind in the non-bank world. Advances in financial technology, from online lending platforms to blockchain technology, are raising new questions about everything from capital and liquidity to smart contracts and financial privacy. Policymakers need to confront these issues proactively and pursue legal and regulatory frameworks that foster public trust while encouraging innovation. A J.D. will give me the training I need to be involved in this process. I don’t claim to have a revolutionary theory of financial crisis, but I do hope to be a part of preventing the next one.

Essay 3: Populism

Growing up, I felt that I existed in two different worlds. At home, I was influenced by my large, conservative Arizonan family, who shaped my values and understanding of the world. During middle school, my family moved, and I enrolled in a small, left-leaning school with an intense focus on globalism and diversity. I enjoyed being surrounded by people who challenged my beliefs, and I prided myself on my ability to dwell comfortably in both spaces.

In 2015, American political reality disrupted the happy balance between my two worlds. The Republican presidential primary, in a gust of populism, was proposing ideas that I didn’t recognize and wouldn’t condone, like a hardline immigration stance, opposition to free trade, and a tolerance for harassment. I resented this populist wave for hijacking the party, and the voters who created it. I didn’t understand them, and I didn’t think I could.

Despite my skepticism, I decided to make an attempt. As the founder of the Bowdoin College Political Union, a program that promotes substantive, inclusive conversations about policy and politics among students, I brought speakers with diverse ideologies to campus and hosted small group discussions with members of the College Democrats, the College Republicans, and students somewhere in between. In the winter of my senior year, I helped organize a summit that brought together students with a broad spectrum of views from dozens of universities throughout the eastern United States.

As a resident assistant during the 2016 presidential election, I held open-door discussions for individuals from across the political spectrum and around the globe. Facilitating these discussions felt like a natural extension of my role on campus, and I learned not only that having space for open dialogue can ease tensions, but also that the absence of that space does not erase political difference. Instead, it creates feelings of isolation and fosters ignorance.

But it was the death of a family member in early 2016 that helped me understand another perspective, namely the populist views beginning to overwhelm the Republican Party. After the death of my mother’s cousin from cancer, I called my second cousins, all three of whom are around my age, to offer my condolences. I was surprised to learn that none of them had finished high school. Instead, they had worked to help pay for their mother’s treatment. While I had been worrying about which summer internships to apply for, they were worried about maintaining their family home. In the past, I’d thought that their views on economic policy and immigration came from a place of ignorance or spite. I realized over the course of our conversation that I had no idea what it was like to not have a high school degree and compete for employment in a rural area where wages are low. For the first time, I was engaging with people in the demographic that was generating the populist wave that was sweeping the country. This conversation led me to expand my studies in politics and to think beyond the left-right spectrum to consider class and urban-rural divides within my own party. Ultimately, reconnecting with my extended family informed my decision to write my senior thesis on populist movements and why economics drives them. It also changed the way I thought about politics and its effect on people like my second cousins.

After my college graduation, I took a job with a political and opposition research firm called XYZ in Washington, because I felt that my understanding of 2016’s populism was still lacking. XYZ gave me the opportunity to work with people from different parts of the Republican Party: both establishment operatives and grassroots operations. This enabled me to work within the framework of Republican politics that resembles my own, while being exposed to the perspectives of people working to represent people like my second cousins. My time at XYZ helped me see the power of the populist movement, but also understand the limitations of its proposed solutions, like a resurgence of manufacturing. Now that I have interacted with populist groups, I see that ultimately, the valid frustrations of many working-class Americans need to be addressed by empathetic leadership and challenging but necessary evaluations of policy in the areas of economics, education, and culture.

I want to apply my passion for political discourse in law school and in my career as a lawyer. My passion for engaging with others will serve me well in the classroom and in a career at the intersection of law and politics. I hope to continue to make connections between people of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints and to engage in meaningful, bipartisan discourse.

Essay 4: Pop Warner

One summer, when I was eight years old, I signed up to play Pop Warner Football for my hometown. After the calisthenics, scrimmages, and the rest of practice concluded in the midst of the sweltering early August sun, I would sprint thirty yards up a hill steep enough to go sledding down. I had to lose nine pounds in order to make weight for my junior pee-wee football team. I wanted nothing more than to be on the team, so it didn’t faze me that I was the only one running up and down the hill. A dirt path marked the grassy knoll from my countless trips up and down. I usually managed to hold back the tears just long enough until I got home. As an eight-year-old, this was the most difficult challenge I had ever been tasked with. But the next day, I would get down in a three-point stance and sprint up the hill under the red sky of the setting sun.

When I finally made the team, I was elated; I had achieved a goal I often felt impossible in those moments of sweat and tears. The excitement was, nonetheless, short-lived. The other kids still called me “Corey the Cupcake,” a nickname I thought I’d left behind with the extra pounds. In every game of the season, my first playing football, I received my eight minimum plays and rode the bench the rest of the game. It was an unusually wet September, and I caught a cold a few times from standing there for two and a half hours in the nippy morning rain. I hated it, but I kept playing.

I continued to play every fall through high school. My freshman year, during a varsity practice, I broke both the radius and ulna bones in my left arm and simultaneously dislocated my wrist, which required a plate and four screws to repair. To this day, I can’t help but flash back to that frigid November afternoon when I look at the five-inch scar on my left arm or when the breaking point is hit precisely. Sophomore year, I was introduced to a coach who frequently criticized me for “not being black enough,” or sometimes, contradictorily, for acting “too black.” I was even benched for my entire junior year for being unable to attend football camp over the summer.

Why did I play football for eleven years? It might have been for the Friday nights in front of the school, as there was nothing more thrilling than making a crucial catch and hearing the whole town cheer. It might have been because I wanted to fit in with my athletic classmates. It might have been because I felt that I was improving after each catch, each hit, and each drill. But I believe, above all else, it was because I just don’t like to give up.

My first job as a project assistant at a large law firm was somewhat similar to my experiences as a young football player; both required grit and determination to push through difficult circumstances. Late one evening, two days before Thanksgiving, my supervisor asked me to complete and organize the service of eighteen subpoenas for the following day. The partners and associates were so busy with internal politics—one of the head partners was leaving the firm—that no one was available to walk me through the process. I felt ridiculous when I Googled “How to fill out and serve a subpoena,” but it was important to me that I complete the project properly.

I am appreciative of the challenges that I faced as a project assistant. If it weren’t for those experiences, it is unlikely that I would have been fortunate enough to be hired by the Delaware Office of the Attorney General, where I work today. My job here has confirmed that law is exactly what I want to do. I realized this through several opportunities to draft written discovery. I loved fashioning objections to each individual request in a given set. Developing legitimate grounds for disputing discovery on its merits and intent was inspiring to me. I can’t wait to do this more and on a larger scale as an attorney.

The steadfastness that I obtained as a young athlete defines who I am. I couldn’t see it at the time, but every day on which I gave something my best effort, whether it was on the practice field or in my tiny office on the twenty-seventh floor, I became a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser. I am confident that my perseverance and dedication will facilitate my future success, both in law school and afterwards.

Essay 5: Speech Therapy

When I was very young, I was diagnosed with a severe phonological disorder that hindered my ability to verbalize the most basic sounds that make up words. It didn’t take my parents long to notice that as other children my age began speaking and communicating with each other, I remained quiet. When I did speak, my words were mostly incomprehensible and seemed to lack any repetition. I was taken to numerous speech therapists, many of whom believed that I would never be able to communicate effectively with others.

From the age of three until I was in seventh grade, I went to speech therapy twice a week. I also regularly practiced my speech outside of therapy, eventually improving to such an extent that I thought I was done with therapy forever. This, however, was short-lived. By tenth grade, I realized my impediment was back and was once again severely limiting my ability to articulate words. That was also the year my family moved from Vancouver, Canada to Little Rock, Arkansas, which complicated matters for me.

I knew that my speech was preventing me from making new friends and participating in classroom discussions, but I resisted going back into therapy. I thought that a renewal of speech therapy would be like accepting defeat. It was a part of my life that had long passed. With college approaching, though, I was desperate not to continue stuttering words and slurring sentences. I knew that I would have to become more confident about my speech to make friends and to be the student I wanted to be. During the summer before my freshman year, I reluctantly decided to reenter speech therapy.

I see now that this decision was anything but an acceptance of defeat. In fact, refusing to reenter therapy would have been a defeat. With my new therapist, I made significant strides and the quality of my speech improved greatly. Using the confidence that I built in therapy that summer, I pushed myself to meet new people and join extracurricular organizations when I entered college. In particular, I applied to and was accepted into a competitive freshman service leadership organization called Forward.

The other members of Forward were incredibly outgoing, and many of them had been highly involved in their high school communities—two things I was not. I made a concerted effort to learn from those who were different from me. I was an active participant in discussions during meetings, utilizing my unique background to provide a different perspective. My peers not only understood me, but also cared about what I had to say. I even began taking on leadership roles in the program, such as directing a community service project to help the elderly. My time in Forward made it clear to me that my speech disorder wouldn’t be what held me back in college; as long as I made the effort, I could succeed. The confidence I gained led me to continue to push past the boundaries I had set for myself in high school, and has guided the bold approach I have taken to new challenges in college.

When I first finished therapy in seventh grade, I pretended that I had never had a speech disorder in the first place. Having recently finished therapy again, I can accept that my speech disorder has shaped the person I am today. In many ways, it has had a positive effect on me. My struggle to communicate, for example, has made me a better listener. My inability to ask questions has forced me to engage with problems on a deeper level, which has led me to develop a methodical approach to reasoning. I believe these skills will help me succeed in law school, and they are part of what motivates me to apply in the first place. Having struggled for so long to speak up for myself, I look forward to the day when I can speak up for others.

Essay 6: Ting Hua

“Ting hua!” I heard it when I scalded my fingers reaching above the kitchen counter to grab at a steaming slice of pork belly before it was served; I heard it when I hid little Twix bars underneath the bags of Chinese broccoli in the grocery store shopping cart; I heard it when I brought sticks back home to swing perilously close to the ceiling fan. Literally translated, “ting hua” means “hear my words.” Its true meaning, though, is closer to “listen to what I mean.” Although the phrase was nearly ubiquitous in my childhood, that distinction—between hearing and listening—did not become clear for me until much later in life.

That childhood began in Shanghai, where I was born, and continued in Southern California, where we moved shortly after I turned four. Some things stayed the same in the US. We still ate my mom’s chive dumplings at the dinner table. On New Year’s, I could still look forward to a red envelope with a few dollars’ worth of pocket money. But other things changed. I stopped learning Chinese, and my parents never became proficient in English. Slowly, so slowly I almost didn’t realize, it became harder and harder for me to communicate with them.

Because I didn’t feel like I could talk to them, I could never resist opening my mouth with others. I talked to good friends about Yu-Gi-Oh, to not-so-good friends about Pokemon, and to absolute strangers about PB&J, the Simpsons, and why golden retriever puppies were the best dogs ever. Even alone, I talked to my pet turtle Snorkel and tried out different war cries—you know, in case I woke up one morning as a mouse in Brian Jacques’s Redwall .

The way I communicated with my parents didn’t change until I came back for Thanksgiving my freshman year of college. I was writing for the school newspaper—a weekly column on politics. I had written an article in support of gay marriage. My parents had asked me about it, and in the way I was wont to do, I answered briefly before moving on to talk about my friends and my floor and my classes.

While I was brushing my teeth that night, my dad came into the restroom. He stood in the doorway and said, “Hey. I read the article you wrote about gay marriage… you should be careful saying things like that.”

His words—you should be careful saying things like that— sounded to me like homophobia. I knew that in China, same-sex relationships were illegal, stigmatized, banned, so I thought I understood where my dad was coming from, even though I also thought it was bigotry. I was about to brush him off, to accept that we had different views, but when I looked up, I didn’t see the judgment I was expecting. In the way he stood slightly hunched in the doorway, in the way he touched his chin, in the way his eyebrows drew together, I saw love. So I swallowed down “don’t worry about it” and asked what he meant. He told me about a cousin of his, someone I would have called Uncle, who was expelled from his school and sent to the countryside for his political comments. In that moment, I realized that my dad wasn’t concerned about my politics—he was concerned about me. Had I not stopped to listen , rather than just to hear, I would not have understood that. I would not have known why he told me to be careful.

Although I still enjoy talking to other people about PB&J sandwiches, I have learned to listen, to actively engage with my parents when we communicate. More importantly, whether I’m interviewing witnesses on the stand in mock trial, resolving disagreements between friends, or sitting in a chair while teachers and professors give me advice, I’ve made an effort to remember those words my mom has spoken since I was a toddler: “ting hua.”

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55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays: With Analysis by the Staff of The Harvard Crimson

Harvard Law School is one of the premier law schools in the world. It as well as other top schools draws thousands of applicants from the best colleges and companies. With only a limited number of slots for so many talented applicants, the admissions officers have become more and more selective every year, the competition has become fierce, and even the best and brightest could use an edge. This completely new edition of 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays is the best resource for anyone looking for that edge. Through the most up-to-date sample essays from the Harvard Law School students who made the cut and insightful analysis from the staff at The Harvard Crimson, it shows you how best to: * Argue your case effectively * Arrange your accomplishments for maximum impact * Avoid common pitfalls 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays guides you toward writing essays that do more than simply list your background and accomplishments. These are essays that reveal your passion for the law as well as the discipline you bring to this demanding profession and will help you impress any admissions department. The all-new essays and straightforward and time-saving advice will give you all the insider tips you’ll need to write the essays that will get you into the best law schools in the world.

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successful harvard law school application essays

Inside the Black Box

Real Talk: The Personal Statement

For our first entry in the Re al Talk series, Associate Director Nefyn Meissner shares his advice on approaching the personal statement. 

Some applicants feel the need to start their personal statements with a bang by throwing in a colorful personal story or dramatic hook to grab the Admissions Committee’s attention right from the start. I, for instance, could spend the next page regaling you with a pithy vignette from my prior work in elementary education, opening with a vivid description of the time a lively Pre-K student chased me across the classroom with a pair of safety scissors after I tried to correct his attempt at identifying the letter Q. (He was adamant that it was the letter O…just fancier). Instead, I will start this post by reassuring you that our best applicants most often open their essays by making a clear statement in their opening paragraphs. Such essays start strong, dig deep, and end when they should end. These essays do so with a dash of authenticity and brevity. It is my hope that this short essay does just that.

Putting aside debates over whether or not the letter Q is indeed just a more dressed-up version of the letter O, the former elementary educator in me would be remiss if I did not remind you that the two most important things to do when writing an essay are to follow instructions and check your work. This is doubly true for those of y’all applying to law school. A jumbled memo, a rambling oral argument, or a misplaced comma in a contract can all have major implications in the real world. Law school will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to write incisive memos, craft compelling arguments, and draft ironclad contracts. Show us that you are ready for the challenge by formatting your essays appropriately, following word and page limits, and avoiding simple mistakes.

Content is just as important. Your personal statement should tell us something about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. Should you add a famous quote at the top for inspiration? No, please don’t. Should you mention you want to come to HLS? We already assume that if you’re applying. Should you talk about your grandmother? Only if doing so helps make the case for us to admit you. Otherwise, we might end up wanting to admit your grandmother. Whatever you write about, keep it relevant and real.

In closing, I’ll share the real secret behind a good essay. That secret? There is none. It’s fine if you can’t write about surviving a classroom showdown over the true identity of certain letters of the alphabet. Just start strong, dig deep, end when you should end, and remember to check your work.

Filed in: Inside the Black Box

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55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays

55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays

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内容简介  · · · · · ·

Separate yourself from the pack

Competition has never been more intense for admittance into the nation’s top law schools. The application essay represents your only chance to plea your case to admissions officers. Why select you over so many other qualified applicants?

Your essay needs to do more than simply list your background and accomplishments. It must reveal ...

Your essay needs to do more than simply list your background and accomplishments. It must reveal the depth of your passion for law, the discipline you bring to this demanding profession, and the strength of character you possess for the ethical and moral challenges that lie ahead.

Learn by example

HarvardLaw School is one of the premier law schools in America. Every year, thousands of elite applicants try for a few hundred slots. Of the dedicated few accepted, fifty-five haveshared the application essays that helped them make the cut.

* Learn what works.

* Structure your essay for maximum impact.

* Avoid common pitalls.

Each essay is analyzed by the staff of the Harvard Crimson , Harvard's daily newspaper, and accompanied by no-nonsense advice on crafting your own. 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays will give you all the help you need to write the essay that will get you in.

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successful harvard law school application essays

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短评  · · · · · ·  ( 全部 5 条 )

1 有用 沉默之岛 2020-09-30 23:45:49.

有个小孩写她从小是一个舞者,长大后梦想致力于intellectual rights。感觉他们的背景真的很丰富。

1 有用 Metaphysician 2010-12-28 08:18:56


0 有用 japonica 2023-09-04 00:45:42 上海


0 有用 清明梦 2018-11-14 22:04:46

用来参考心理硕申请 有一些些帮助吧

1 有用 春日迟 2018-09-12 20:24:03


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