Moving On | Choose your lifeMoving On | Choose your life
Safe Passage Foundation - Support to youth raised in high demand organizations

Saturday, January 31, 2009    

Home | New Content | Statistics | Games | FAQs

Getting On : All My Politics

Law School Personal Statement

from Sharon - Friday, October 06, 2006
accessed 1104 times

I'm looking for some advice on writing my personal statement for law school applications.

This is the general type of question all my applications are asking for: In 500-100 words, indicate your reasons for pursuing a legal education. If you have overcome physical, economic, cultural, linguistic or educational obstacles, or if there is anything else that you believe the Admissions Committee should be aware of when considering your application, please explain or discuss the circumstances fully in a separate essay.

Besides not being a particularly good writer, I'm just not sure what direction to take with it. I don't know if it would be beneficial to bring the Family into it, and if so, how much detail should I get into? I don't want to come across as trying to get sympathy with it but I also don't want to do the whole I was raised a missionary-seen many cultures-speak many languages, blah, blah, blah spiel. I honestly cant think for the life of me what to write. Even the simple question why do you want to pursue a legal education? is complicated for me. The main reasons I want to is because law is empowering to me. I feel happiest when I'm involved in some aspect of the law. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure no one takes advantage of me again. I want to be able to provide legal help to other SG's who need it, etc. I have many reasons but most of them involve our childhood and my need to take back my life. My problem is how, (or if) I should word that in a way that comes across as a compelling reason to accept me into their school. What, if any, are the legal ramifications for admitting to being part of a sex cult? Will that come to haunt me later when I'm an attorney? If I don't bring the Family into it I'm rather stumped as to what I should talk about at all!

Lucid, I was going to call you directly and ask for advice but I thought maybe someones comments on here would be helpful to someone else who needs to write a personal statement for law or any other type of school.

Reader's comments on this article

Add a new comment on this article

from Hansel
Saturday, October 14, 2006 - 16:55


some good advice above. As a 3L, if anyone is looking for more detailed info on California law schools, firm jobs, or the bar exam--feel free to email me.
(reply to this comment)

from Jedran
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 08:08


I'm in my second year of law at a French university. It works a little differently here. I did have to write a letter explaining why I wanted to study law although I don't know how much it counted for my getting into uni.

Anyway in my letter I left out all cult references and simply concentrated on the fact that I'd grown up and worked in various countries and was interested in the social interactions between individuals and between the government and the people.

It was actually only a small part of the reason why I wanted to study law but it seems to have worked out okay.
(reply to this comment)

from sar
Monday, October 09, 2006 - 08:21

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Hi Sharon

I don't know what would work for you, but I got into a good university and am doing law. I did mention the fact that I grew up in a "sect" and didn't go to school as a kid. I don't know whether or helps or is a detriment, but if you come across as having something to hide or if there are gaps in your story, it can't help. It's also probably easier to explain it briefly rather than have to bring it up when asked and it helps to explain why you're doing it as this point in your life, etc. I only said in my statement what was necessary to explain the lack/lateness of education.
(reply to this comment)

from murasaki
Sunday, October 08, 2006 - 04:56

I agree with the previous, you do want to be honest, but I don't think it's wise to victimize yourself when you want to be taken seriously. You can say that you were "disadvantaged" without going into any detail and still get the point across. I'd steer clear of anything specific about the Family or being raised in a sex-cult, just because of the potential for it triggering negative stereotypes. You have to remember that what you write will be the way they perceive you, which can be quite tricky when trying to express yourself.

In my case, I haven't yet mastered how to express myself emotionally in writing as far as my studies go. I get excellent grades on any kind of technical writing, but only get a passing grade when there is any kind of emotional or personal factor involved, so I've found I do better when I distance myself from my work. It would probably help to get some people to look over your application when you finish it, hopefully people already in the field you're applying for. Good luck with everything.
(reply to this comment)
From Lawyer, represent thyself!
Sunday, October 08, 2006, 11:39

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(

With all due respect, hopefully that someone you get to look over the application will also be someone who has managed to to do work that has emotional or personal factors involved and get good responses from others. After all, this is a "personal" statement you're asking about.

"Disadvantaged" will not tell them anything of interest or make you stand out. To people who read these statements for a living, and get statements from all over the world from people who have fascinating experiences of all types, you might as well be asking them to file you in the "next" shredder.

Have you tried approaching it like this: OK, you want to be a lawyer. Clients will come to you with dilemmas. If they were easy, they would solve them alone, for free.

Be your first client. If somebody came to you with the life story you have had, would you not feel outraged for them? Would you not work to present the truth of what they have lived while maintaining dignity and not "victimizing" them (as it was put above), but also not failing them by not telling your audience what they deserve and why?

This can be your first legal professional challenge in a sense. Work at that "complicated question" and answering it in way that is compelling to your audience. Believe me, this will not be your last complicated question if you become a lawyer, or even your most complicated!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry about all those exclamation points, but that last point is something you should consider.

I know we were raised to not praise ourselves, to suck up what was done to us, and to care more about others than ourselves. Maybe you feel that you can do great advocating for others, but don't want to deal with this pesky preliminary assignment of advocating for yourself.

Well, I am afraid that you will need to get used to advocating and looking out for yourself to get your foot in this particular door. I wish I could tell you you're done once you get into school, but it does not stop there.

You're going to have to do it for 3 tough years of law school, and thereafter as well. If you go into the private sector, you will have the cutthroat competitiveness of a capitalist business. On the other hand, to even get a job in the public interest, you will have to convince employers with perenially insufficient (and often shrinking) budgets that you are a better investment than so & so who has this long list on their resume (which may just be because mommy and daddy could afford to support them doing free good works each summer). It never stops. May I humbly suggest: get used to it. If you can overcome this threshhold challenge and get into a good school, you will have better ammo as you deal with all the hard work that has not even started yet.(reply to this comment

from Lee Galegal
Saturday, October 07, 2006 - 18:37

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

I would spend some time hanging out in the closest bookstore with a good reference section. So many people go to law school in the US that books with advice about the various stages of becoming a law student then a lawyer, are plentiful. Barnes & Nobles stores let you check out the content of books so you don't have to buy one that does not turn out to be helpful. Pick a big store with lots of different selections.

Of course, these will probably not have something based on the experience those of us on this website share. However, not all of us on this website have advice that is going to help you get into a US law school, however valid, felt and truthful the responses you get.

Does your school have a pre-professional studies service? I would try them if so. However, if you don't feel they "get" you, don't get affected by any negative vibes.

You absolutely needn't worry about "legal ramifications" of having been raised in (or as you put it, "admitting to being part of") "a sex cult". Weren't you even a minor the entire time? Even less reason to worry. Only abusers and those who aided abuse need worry.

That will not come back to haunt you when you're an attorney, although there are creeps everywhere who will try to use anything to come back to haunt you. Didn't you see one of our very own on Montel ( Now why would she do that if it was something to hide? WTH do you think we have been doing all this time? Tsk tsk!

We have nothing to be ashamed of and I got into the best schools and admitted to the bar wearing the truth on my sleeve. My having been on record years ago as having done what I could for truth and justice strengthened my record all the more. If anything, disclosing in a responsible manner can help you defuse a hypothetical numbskull's trying to use it against you.

The judge who interviewed me for the bar said to me, verbatim, "some day you'll write a book. But first, you're going to practice law!" Now I work at one of the very top firms in my area.

There is something to be said about managing self-disclosure in a way that will not leave you feeling more vulnerable. But that is another issue. You have no "legal" worries! Fortunately, in 3 years or so you will chuckle that you ever worried about this.

I think you have a very good start on your essay in the few sentences that tell why you want to go to law school. You say you don't want to be taken advantage of again, that it is empowering. I somehow don't know if you can make a hunky-dory scenario work and ring as true as something based on your real experience.

I worry a little about your concern about being seen as looking for "sympathy". Remember that you will be going up against applicants to law school who have had every privilege and help in preparation for this. Other students will be underprivileged, but they will not downplay the adversity they have overcome knowing who they are competing with.

Don't risk foregoing admission to as good a school as you can. The school you graduate from is determinative in your early career, and it never really leaves you.

If you cant or don't want to go check out the local bookstore's offerings, try Here are just a few of dozens that turned up on one search:
(reply to this comment)

From Sharon
Monday, October 09, 2006, 08:47

Thanks, I’ll check out Barnes and Nobel or Borders this weekend. I know I’m going to be up for a lot more challenges in law school but for some reason this personal statement thing is a mental road block that I need to just get over. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to advocate for myself—I have no problem advocating for others! In the past few months when discussing what to say on my personal statement with my close friends I’ve had a few people give me the ‘get over your childhood, you’re looking for sympathy’ which was very upsetting because I tend to go out of my way to NOT talk much about my past for precisely that reason. However, I trust your advice so if you think downplaying adversity is not a good route then I won’t.
As far as legal ramifications, I did not word myself well. I know that there are no real legal problems for me, since I was a minor and the victim not the abuser. However, I thought I read something by Nancy a while ago where she talked about having trouble when taking the Bar exam and having to discuss TF. I could have just read that wrong but that’s why I was wondering if it would just be better to not bring it up at all. I took the LSAT’s on the 30th and don’t get my scores for another two weeks—if I bomb them then maybe I won’t be worrying about my personal statement anymore L Seriously though, thanks for the advice everyone—I appreciate it. (reply to this comment
From Nancy
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 17:57


Yeah, not me. But, again, I don't know anyone else who ever had "trouble" taking the bar exam or filling out the bar application, either. That's not either of the two survivors currently licensed to practice law.

What the cult did to us is not something for which to be ashamed or hide. It didn't come up on my bar application. There was no question about it. As far as the other attorney out there, they didn't have "trouble", either. It's just not relevant.

What the bar examiners are looking for is something which connotes moral turpitude. What was done to you as a child and how you overcame that abuse doesn't figure in, except to show you are strong. But, you don't go telling the bar examiners about your strengths and what you've overcome in life. They don't care. They're just looking to weed out those not fit to practice law. The only want you to answer the questions truthfully and leave it at that. They don't care about all your strengths. It's not a resume. They do an SBI background check and a credit check on you anyway and run your fingerprints through FBI databases. They're looking for individuals who have broken the law or have trouble being truthful or upholding the law. They're not looking for every case of a person who overcame obstacles to make something of themselves.

(reply to this comment

From tuneman7
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 19:40


True. ... Several survivors in the United States, as well as in other countries are licensed to practice law, I'm unaware of any situation where their history has been an issue.(reply to this comment

From I could be wrong, but....
Saturday, October 14, 2006, 08:10

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(
I think the concerns Nancy had with passing the Bar had to do with the Argentine court case with which she was involved. I could have my facts mixed up, but I remember hearing that she asked TF to remove references from their website regarding her testimony.(reply to this comment
From Nancy
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 17:33

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Although, such an off base comment doesn't deserve a reply, I will venture one because it upsets me enough when people go around completely ignorant while attempting to advise others.

1. I was never involved in the court case in Argentina. Although, those who were have nothing for which to be ashamed. In fact, I know some of these survivors of abuse who were strong enough to testify in Argentina. I respect these individuals. They did what many here did not have the strength to do when they first left, that was tell the truth about their horrific childhood in a court of law. As a result, many of theose individuals were villified and maligned. Some of those witnesses were barely of legal age when they testify and the cult attacked them in the media. What the cult did to some of those witnesses in the early court cases, what they said to the media, through their spokesperson Claire Borowick, was nothing short of defamation. They attacked the very individuals they had raped and beaten and exploited and neglected as children under their care just a few years prior. It was sickening and a great injustice that has yet to be addressed.

2. I have NEVER mentioned the cult in any of my applications, whether to the bar or to law school. I do not define myself by the choice my parents made to turn me and my siblings' childhoods over to a cult. I do not define myself by the abuse perpetrated upon me by the cult. I do not define myself in any capacity involving the cult, except to the extent my friends know I am a survivor of abuse.

3. I had "no concerns" passing the bar. Before you go prattle off such a baseless statement, try getting your facts straight. The fact that you didn't have the balls to actually use your name in making this comment should be noted. Furthermore, no attorney I know of who was raised in the cult, had "concerns" passing the bar. Your statement implies that someone raised in the cult had reason to be worried about their bar application as a result of growing up in the cult. That's assinine. No one raised in the cult, attorney, law student or otherwise, has any reason for "concern", worry, guilt or responsibility for any of the abuse they suffered as a child.

4. No attorney I know of who grew up in the cult ever asked the cult to remove references of them from their website. Again, who are you? What this insidious half-baked comment really implies is offensive. Why would anyone who has had the strength and courage to testify in a court of law about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the cult need to ask the cult to hide their testimony? No such person or situation exists. I have yet to have my opportunity to testify in court to the abuses the cult committed against me and my siblings. But, you can rest assured that when I do have the opportunity, I will prefer that my testimony be known to as many people as possible. I do not hide in shame for anything I have ever stated publically or privately concerning the cult. I have nothing for which to be ashamed, certainly not for what the cult did to me as a child or having the strength to not keep quiet about it.

5. What this inane comment really does is imply that those who have had the strength of character and resolve to talk about their most painful experiences of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of this dangerous religious cult which exploited children in the name of God should somehow be ashamed of it and need to hide it in order to become an attorney. That is not the case. Currently I know of two attorneys who were raised in the cult, both abused, both passed the bar without any "concerns". One of those two is me. The other one is a better, stronger person than I have ever been, and never once done anything regarding the cult for which to be ashamed.

6. Next time you aim to make one of these mindless comments, at least post your name.(reply to this comment

From afflick
Saturday, October 14, 2006, 12:05

Average visitor agreement is 3 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
That wasn't Nancy. (reply to this comment
From maybe
Monday, October 09, 2006, 12:33


..someone can prevail upon Nancy to explain, but my guess is that she was referring to answers to the application to become a member of the bar, which in the US you have to do to practice law, but is different from the bar examination or "passing the bar".

One thing you will learn in Legal Ethics is that you always, always tell the truth to the bar organization regarding any qestions they ask you. While there may be circumstances in which as a lawyer you are not required to disclose certain things you know to certain parties, questions from the bar is not one of those circumstances.

There are 2 things people tend to get mixed up: the bar examination and admission to the bar (I refer to the US system).

You need to pass the bar examination to become admitted to the bar. This examination is a legal knowledge test. It can last 2-3 days, depending on the jurisdiction. Most US jurisdictions require you to pass the Multistate portion or MBE, which is a multiple choice, day-long exam, plus one or 2 days of local law examinations (which may be in essay, multiple choice, true or false form). People tend to take this exam the summer after law school (and if you're JFK Jr., several more times thereafter, LOL).

In addition, there is an exam called the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination) which people tend to take while still in law school, as soon as they have taken the professional ethics course.

IN ADDITION to these tests of legal knowledge, to become a practising lawyer you will need to be admitted to the bar. Generally you will have to fill out a detailed questionnaire for the local bar association's "Committee on Character and Fitness" or equivalent body, regarding your educational and employment history, debt issues (e.g., bankruptcy does not look so good on the application) and a number of other questions designed to see if your character is "fit" so to speak. You will need to submit character references and other recommendations. Submission of this sworn document may be followed by an in-person interview. At this interview, they might decide to admit you right away, or they may want to inquire into certain aspects further.

Some of the answers to some of these questions will be more colorful coming from one of us than from the average applicant. Such as the answers to all the places you have lived since whenever they happen to ask for in that jurisdiction...especially if you have to explain why for the life of you, you can't remember the address of the Home in Timbuktoo, LOL.

People raised in TF may have certain issues like this, which are probably a bigger deal emotionally for us than anything. If they are really nervous, some people go through an advance inquiry option, where you basically ask the bar if they think you'll be denied admission, so you can know before you sink 3 years and 100 grand into a legal education. Some people do this if they have a criminal record. I don't know if every jurisdiction has this option, and I don't know any more about it.

Anyway, back to the application for admission: all of these questions have to be answered, and if you cannot avoid mentioning the Family in the course of truthfully answering, you will have to mention the Family. As I said, some of us have been there, done that. You will be fine! Although I can only speak for myself, my own sentiment (and this goes for afflick as well as Sharon) is that if I can help someone through the process that I felt so alone in, with nobody I knew having been through it before when I was dealing with law school, bar exam, etc., it makes the considerable struggle more worthwhile. But it is not a question of "if" any more (the way it felt to me) -- you WILL be FINE!!!

P.S.: While the US legal system has historical underpinning's in the English system, which like ours is a "common law" country, the actual ins and outs of legal education and the road to becoming a lawyer are quite different from what I understand, so none of this is likely to be useful information for students outside the US. In England my understanding is that you study law at university level as what we'd call an "undergraduate", but then you have long apprenticeship requirements -- then you have solicitors one one hand, barristers on another, etc.(reply to this comment

From Nancy
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 17:42


The questions on the bar application concern fitness to practice law. Having suffered childhood abuse has nothing to do with whether you are fit to practice law. There was no reason, even in answering the 80 some questions on the bar application, for the cult to have ever come up. Now, they do ask if you have ever been a party to a legal action. They are looking for litigious people. Having testified as to abuse suffered doesn't make you a party to litigation. To be a party, you must be named. A witness is not necessarily a party. But, even if you were a party, for which I know no one who ever has, it makes no difference to the bar examiners. If anything, it shows that you cared enough about truth and justice to have actually gone on record with your personal experiences of abuse committed by the cult.

Those who really have to be worried are all the cult's current members, especially SGAs, who have written statements or testified or spoken to the media, trying to deny instances of abuse for which they either have no knowledge or know first hand actually occurred. Those individuals would have a hard time ever being licensed to practice law, even if the did retract their statements and leave the cult because they knowingly lied in order to perpetuated and cover up the abuses and exploitation of the cult. And that is the definition of conspiracy, something most state bar examiners look a tad bit down on.(reply to this comment

From clarification
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 18:47

Nancy, it might make sense to clarify that this only applies to people who may have covered stuff up as adults.(reply to this comment
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 19:13

I don't want people on this site to get worried that if, for example, you were an abused minor in the cult but you told authorities in Australia, France, Argentina or Spain that you were fine because you were scared, you also should NOT worry. A bar association will understand that. When the cult tries to make you look like a liar because of something you said when you were an abused minor with nothing and no way out, the bar association will listen to you, and give your abusers short shrift.(reply to this comment
Sunday, October 15, 2006, 19:07


Do you mean "especially FGA's"?

Also, isn't admission to the bar is a state-by-state matter in the USA. People who are admitted on the other side of the country may have different experiences, the questions on the application may vary, and bar associations have a different ethos (not to mention the variations in law from state to state about bar membership).

Finally, I have heard that there are at least 3 practicing attorneys raised in the Family.(reply to this comment

From Big Sister
Saturday, October 07, 2006, 21:07

I agree with these excellent comments. I don't know for certain, but I would think that law school applications are confidential documents. That means you have some control over who has access to your personal information.(reply to this comment
from afflick
Friday, October 06, 2006 - 14:57

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I am currently in the midst of writing my personal statement, too, and am planning on writing about my childhood in the cult. For one thing, it shows overcoming, it shows determination, it shows diversity. I have a consultation with a law school admissions' coach on the 39th. She has been getting people into law schools for thirty years, is non-profit and has a very good reputation. I trust her advice. Please e-mail me to find out what she has to say.
(reply to this comment)
From Sharon
Monday, October 09, 2006, 08:48

Thanks afflick--I'll email you to find out (did you mean 29th?)(reply to this comment
From afflick
Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 11:20


Oops. I meant the 30th. Stupid 9 so close to the 0.(reply to this comment

from solemn
Friday, October 06, 2006 - 14:46

Be honest, but not forthcoming. I would certainly not use "Sex Cult" or even "Cult" in writing anything about myself. That was your parents decision not yours. There is plenty about you and your life experiences that you could say without having to mention a cult. If you are going to be a lawyer, you are going to have to learn to "spin" things anyhow. This will be a good start ;0)
(reply to this comment)

My Stuff

log in here
to post or update your articles


76 user/s currently online

Web Site User Directory
5047 registered users

log out of chatroom

Happy Birthday to demerit   Benz   tammysoprano  

Weekly Poll

What should the weekly poll be changed to?

 The every so often poll.

 The semi-anual poll.

 Whenever the editor gets to it poll.

 The poll you never heard about because you have never looked at previous polls which really means the polls that never got posted.

 The out dated poll.

 The who really gives a crap poll.

View Poll Results

Poll Submitted by cheeks,
September 16, 2008

See Previous Polls

Online Stores

I think, therefore I left

Check out the Official
Moving On Merchandise
. Send in your product ideas

Free Poster: 100 Reasons Why It's Great to be a Systemite

copyright © 2001 - 2009

[terms of use] [privacy policy] [disclaimer] [The Family / Children of God] [contact:] [free speech on the Internet blue ribbon] [About the Trailer Park] [Who Links Here]