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The 6+ years of experience question in Personal Statement webinar by David Busis

aakriti.chaudharyaakriti.chaudhary Legacy Member
in General 20 karma
Hi everyone. Just attended an amazing webinar by David Busis about writing law school essays. However, the questions round had to be limited to 20 minutes. There was an interesting question that we missed just at the end of the session and it was something like - "how to explain 6+ years of experience before applying to law school". Any ideas, folks? Or if David is around maybe he can guide us. Should this be an addendum rather than a PS? I'm an applicant with about 5 years total experience so I'd really like to know :). Thanks!

Comments

  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    you need to explain 5+ years of experience because? sorry I am not following this line of reasoning and i am curious to know too. thank you!
  • 1LBound1LBound Legacy Member
    149 karma
    That was my question. I was asking what his advice would be for someone who had 6+ work experience regarding the type of theme to write. I just sent David an email, so if and when he responds, I'll be more than happy to share his response on here.
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    @1LBound! I have 10+ years of experience. I have decided to go through my years in my PS. Yes, it might be boring, but I feel like I need to convince adcom that law school has always been my aspiration. (Columbia told me that I needed to convince them that I decided go to law school not because of some midlife crisis..) I could just write a cute story on something but I am not fresh out of school and I just have too many things on my resume. Anyways, you have asked a great question. I am revising my PS right now. I can't wait for David's reply.
  • aakriti.chaudharyaakriti.chaudhary Legacy Member
    20 karma
    Yup.. I'm cautious because the adcom might feel this is a career change as something else didn't work out or because I'm just bored of what I do. I don't think that'll reflect very nicely on an applicant's profile. A natural progression towards the necessity of studying law at this stage in career might help.. but does this go as an addendum?
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Definitely not an addendum since you want to keep those to a minimum and six years is not even that long. You can address it in your PS if you like, but it is by no means necessary. The one thing you don't want is a boring PS, so if you can't address it in an interesting way I would definitely not write about it. I am ~10 years out of undergrad and I let my resume do the talking when it comes to that. Rehashing your resume in a PS is definitely not a great way to go and would really waste the opportunity to write something more interesting and unique. There are tons of non-traditional applicants out there and I really don't think it requires explanation. Just make sure your application and essays are all internally consistent. That means don't write about how you want to end homelessness if you've never even worked at a soup kitchen or something similar since it seems inauthentic.

    All that being said, if there is something more to your story of being a non-traditional applicant (e.g.- being a parent) then that is something I would highlight in a DS since that would give you a much different perspective than simply being a few more years out of undergrad. Good luck!
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    I have the same amount of experience and addressed this via my resume as well as a very brief (1 sentence) narrative note. (I'll be 30 in June and thus have been working for a much longer period than most applicants. My resume speaks for itself.
  • The AviatorThe Aviator Legacy Member
    69 karma
    Imaging people in their early 30s sit in the same classroom with kids who are just out of college. Yes, there is a need to address or explain why professionals with 5+ work experience want to go to law school and potentially change their career path. Please help.
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    @The Aviator That is one thing I dread most about law school actually - surrounded by kids who are just out of college.
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @mimimimi said:
    surrounded by kids who are just out of college.
    I'll eat them for breakfast. Nicely.
  • Nilesh SNilesh S Alum Inactive ⭐
    edited January 2016 3438 karma
    @"The Aviator" said:
    Imaging people in their early 30s sit in the same classroom with kids who are just out of college. Yes, there is a need to address or explain why professionals with 5+ work experience want to go to law school and potentially change their career path.
    Actually... there is no need to explain this... I never did... I probably have double the experience of my classmates barring a few (I'm a 1L - age 32 - soon to be 33)... you just have to have a convincing story about why law school... everything else falls into place... if the explanation is supposed to be a part of your story, it will be... if not, there really is no need to address it. Remember.. admissions officers read a TON of files every year and so time is at a premium for them... do you really want to give the person who is reading your file extra info if it does not serve a purpose (and the schools are very specific in their prompts about what they want to know) ? I think not. At best, it will be deemed irrelevant and at worst the extra material may serve to annoy. While this may not do much damage if your app is a strong one... why risk it?
  • Nilesh SNilesh S Alum Inactive ⭐
    3438 karma
    @"Nicole Hopkins" said:
    I'll eat them for breakfast. Nicely.
    lol @"Nicole Hopkins" you probably will... with ease.
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    @Nicole Hopkins Haha! I wish I could find you guys on campus soon. btw I will start 1L at 36...
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    477 karma
    @mimimimi do you mind sharing where are you deciding to go , east coast may not be my first choice (for similar reasons as yours) but I am open to moving out for the right school. Find it interesting that Columbia thought one was allowed to have a midlife crisis at 36 :-)
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    edited January 2016 7468 karma
    Because I'm a non-traditional student who's giving up on the dream of an acting career, I'm willing to admit that this may seem self-serving; But "crisis" just means a turning point. Law school is a crisis for everyone, be he or she mid-life or otherwise. Therefore, I don't see why it's necessary to justify that the choice to go to law school is not a crisis, be it mid-life or otherwise, in your application.
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    edited January 2016 368 karma
    @pritisharma
    I wonder if we should start a group for non-traditionals. Thanks to the Internet, I could get a general feeling of what my fellow young 1Ls are like... I feel that there is an overflow of intellectual arrogance (typical of the younger minds). I am eager to meet people in my age range so scoring169 in LSAT after three takes does not make me feel so dumb..

    I have not sent in my apps so I don't know where I will end up going... I have a 4 year old at home and I am only applying to schools in CT and NY. By CT I mean Yale. The rest on my list is Columbia, NYU, Fordham (I live on Long Island). What is your plan? Have you got acceptances already?
  • The AviatorThe Aviator Legacy Member
    69 karma
    @"Nilesh S" Good points. Overage (sort of) is a fact, but I guess we don't want to overemphasize that fact. Thank you!
  • Nicole HopkinsNicole Hopkins Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4344 karma
    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    But "crisis" just means a turning point.
    Absolutely.
  • stepharizonastepharizona Alum Member
    3197 karma
    As a nontraditional we want to make sure we don't retell our resume but explain the evolution of why law school now. These can be a PS of telling our story, we can also carry the theme in our diversity statements. I'll be 38 or 39 by the time I'm a 1L... This is ahead of schedule for me as the original plan was 52 :)
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    477 karma
    I am on the west coast and was planning on applying this year , but since I am not where I want to be score-wise I will be taking the June lsat ( yes another year lost :-() but I am working on multiple things and hopefully they will help the final application . Yes maybe we should have a thread for non-traditional applicants. I agree on the not/overemphasizing part. However I would love to hear from @"Nilesh S" if he has a perspective to share since he is already at a law school . Is that something to consider w.rt bring s good fit at school .
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    I wish people in their early 30s would stop worrying about being too old because it's making my dentures clatter with the fear of my own age (let's just say early 30's were "the good old days").
    So, maybe my dinosaur status is coloring my perspective, but I wasn't under the impression that law schools are only looking for candidates who knew from birth that they wanted to be lawyers. This is not the 50's where you get a job out of school and retire from it with a pension 40 years later. Lots of people change careers, often going back to school to do so. Some go to law school. As long as you can convince the admissions committee that you've thought it through, you have the intellectual power to do well and you are employable at the end of school, I don't think they care whether you're going because you've always wanted to be a lawyer or because your software engineering job went to China and you'd rather use your scientific background, analytical skills or general smarts as an attorney then sign up for the dole and wallow in self pity. I'm not saying it's easy to demonstrate the above, but like Nicole and others are pointing out, hopefully your resume does most of that talking. If anything, it's probably less likely that the older applicants are going to law school on a whim and without having tested out the market they are hoping to break into before ponying up $100000 for a JD
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    @runiggyrun If I could LIKE that comment 100 times, I would. Well said!
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    And I'd love a group, or thread or some other such virtual nursing home for us oldies
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    @pritisharma
    I totally understand how you feel - whenever I think of applying to law schools I always have this feeling of running against the clock. I did not have the time to study for LSAT last year but I did not want to lose a year so I took the test anyway. The score was disappointing and I waited for another year. So take your time to study and do not rush (not for the LSAT anyway).

    @runiggyrun
    Haha! Thanks for the encouragement. It could just be me or a cultural thing (I'm Chinese). The other day my friend (studying for medical school) and I were just talking about how lucky we are to be in America. In China, women are pretty much worthless after 35 in many eyes. Of course I do not believe that! I am excited about starting a new chapter. But sometimes I do feel uneasy about fitting in and making friends in law schools etc.
  • GochujiangGochujiang Alum Member
    42 karma
    On being old:
    Going into school with an assumption that 23 year olds are immature just reinforces the mentality that a divide exists in the first place. I'm 33 and plan to associate with other friendly people, whether 22 or 90 years old. I've worked a lot with younger people professionally, and aside from the occasional but innocent "you're old" joke, its actually quite fun to be around.

    On my post undergrad period:
    I will include my 10+ years on my resume, and my PS story will originate from those years. I see those years as nothing but a positive on my application.

    On aspiring to be a lawyer:
    Being a lawyer certainly wasn't an aspiration until a couple years ago and I don't make any apologies about it. My change of direction will be alluded to in my PS. But like David said, I will try to show it instead of saying it explicitly.

    Good luck everyone!
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Great post Iggy. We had a non-trad slash old folks thread before, and there are some good ones on TLS that I've frequented in the past.

    Also, unless a school asks for it specifically, "why law?" is pretty played out as Mike Spivey alluded to the other night. Far too many people devote their entire PS to the topic when it generally warrants little to no mention at this point. I didn't write anything about why law for any school that didn't ask for it and my apps still did what they needed to do.
  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma
    @runiggyrun said:
    And I'd love a group, or thread or some other such virtual nursing home for us oldies
    This ^^
  • noobie1noobie1 Legacy Member
    266 karma
    I was concerned about my candidacy (currently 40 y/o) at top schools until Mike Spivey addressed my concern. I recently looked into full-time MBA programs and was surprised to find out that some schools ding older applicants. According to one article I found, employers prefer younger MBA's (for a variety of reasons) and business schools cater to what the employers want. All indications I've received so far is that full-time law school programs are different.
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    @pacifico. I'm bummed that 2 of my choice schools ask precisely "why law". I have a convincing answer, but it's going to be a lot less fun to write about that than about my awesome grit and determination running 20 milers on the treadmill because doctor said I shouldn't run on pavement, or the time I thought my American friend was driving an SUV because he couldn't afford a sedan. In my country only farmers and the military drove SUV's, and we got to watch North Korean movies for entertainment and salami was a legitimate currency. And all roads leading to schools were uphill and against the wind both ways, obviously.
    But yeah, "why law"...
  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma
    I anticipate that there will be many arrogant jerks no matter their age. A number of my daughters' friends are starting to study for LSAT as they finish undergrad. They are great peeps and I hope to find similar students when I finally finish studying for this test.
  • Nilesh SNilesh S Alum Inactive ⭐
    3438 karma
    @pritisharma so being non traditional probably helped my application though I can't say for sure. I had a set reason for why I actually wanted to do a JD which I explained through the prompts that Georgetown had in its application but there were plenty of things I excluded because they didn't fit in my narrative... I don't even have a US gpa... my gpa is LSAC calculated as I graduated in law from India. If all the things you are working on fit seamlessly into your narrative, by all means put them in. the SOP/prompt(s) (though you should never style such documents as a case or a brief) is/are basically your chance to communicate to the admissions committee that you are an applicant they want in their school. This means using your discretion to craft your story the best way that you can... and excluding what you think needs to be excluded.
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    edited January 2016 477 karma
    @"Nilesh S" thanks for the details, however I was looking to hear from you about the social aspects now that you are already at school , do you feel different / do you think you need to make more of an effort to fit in ? Or any other insight you may have eg his much group work vs individual work is required ? Would it be tough for me to for example find project partners etc :-)
  • stepharizonastepharizona Alum Member
    3197 karma
    I think it goes back to what the other person said, there will be a lot of people at various ages. We just have to realize we are all peers now, regardless of our age. We are all "just" 1Ls from the first day of our class, going forward this is our new peer group, for the rest of our law careers. I'm sure as long as we all have the right attitude we will have no issues forming study groups, that same is true for the "young folk" ;)

    You can alsways look at the group from the previous class to see the age span. Most of the ones I looked at had ages in the 40s and 50s. We absolutely won't be the only NTS at our schools.
  • Nilesh SNilesh S Alum Inactive ⭐
    3438 karma
    @pritisharma actually not really... I fit in with my class and do not feel very different - there are younger and older people and they are all friendly... yeah there are some aspects I don't include myself in... for example... bar review is something do not go to but that is because I am a tea totaller and no offence or any judgement call - plenty of people love bar review everyone should go at least once, but law school is hard and if I can spare an hour, I'd rather eat and sleep then go to something that would leave me more tired. There are group projects, but law school is by and large a solo endeavor. It won't be tough for you to find project partners and you'll likely be put into groups for projects by your instructors. Hope this helps.
  • pritisharmapritisharma Alum Member
    477 karma
    thanks @"Nilesh S" !! Nice to know it does not affect my ability to relate and succeed in the program. I worry about how I get that "been there done that" feeling anytime a younger colleague wants to do something... that is their idea of fun. My idea of fun now is going for long walks with my dog and my preteen child.. :-) If I can spare an hour that is what I would like to do.
  • Nilesh SNilesh S Alum Inactive ⭐
    3438 karma
    @pritisharma you should definitely use your time for those things then... whatever your relaxation is, you will need as much of it in 1L as you can get to ensure that you're happy and healthy. Not all activities have to be collective especially recreational ones.
  • 1LBound1LBound Legacy Member
    149 karma
    Hi everyone! I apologize for getting back so late, but David didn't respond to my email until late yesterday evening. As a recap, I asked him how to translate my work experience (6+ years of work experience or in my case almost 10 years) into my personal statement or what my theme should be, this is what he said...

    Great question. If you've been in the work force for a while, you'll probably want to explain to the adcom why you're applying to law school now, so the "Why I want to be a lawyer" option is more attractive. That said, you don't HAVE to write about why you want to be a lawyer; if you have a better topic, you should write that.

    I hope this helps for some of you, who wondered about this question. Back to the drawing board for me.
  • mimimimimimimimi Member
    368 karma
    @1LBound! Thanks for getting back to us! This is the exact impression I got from last year law school forum. I think I will stick with my 4-page biography...
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