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Friday Factoid: Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy at Georgetown Law

The Center on Poverty and Inequality at the Georgetown University Law Center works in a variety of areas to discuss and develop public policy solutions to inequality and poverty in the United States. Led by Faculty Director Peter Edelman and Executive Director Rebecca Epstein, the center focuses on such topics as low-income tax policy, workforce development policy, and youth policy. The center’s work on youth policy includes a series of offerings on how public systems can better serve “marginalized” girls who have been engaged in the criminal justice system, become young mothers, or been involved in sex trafficking. In September 2016, the center hosted a conference titled “Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline” in partnership with such organizations as the National Crittenton Foundation and the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The “Anti-Social” Life: Get a Glimpse of Student Life at NYU Law

Law school students have a reputation for burying their heads in their books, so we offer this weekly series, “The ‘Anti-Social’ Life,” to illustrate that they can enjoy a life of leisure as well.The “Anti-Social” Life: Get a Glimpse of Student Life at NYU Law - jdMission

Life at NYU Law, the New York University (NYU) School of Law’s official student blog, is a great way for students to share their experiences as NYU law students and for prospective students to learn what life might be like for them in the future. Although participating bloggers are not paid for their work, they must apply and be accepted to write two short posts every month for the blog, which is also read by alumni, faculty members, the media, and the public. According to the blog, the students chosen to contribute provide an “up-close look at their lives as law students, inside and outside the classroom.” The blog covers such topics as in-class movie watching, ways to de-stress, how to maintain work/life balance in law school, and how to find a great summer internship.

Professor Profile: Kevin E. Davis, New York University School of Law

Many JD applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a law school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor at a top law school. Today, we focus on Kevin E. Davis from the New York University (NYU) School of Law.

Kevin Davis, NYU School of LawSince 2004, Kevin E. Davis has been a professor of law at the NYU School of Law, where he teaches law and development, contracts, and secured transactions, often with a focus on economic development. Davis, a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, clerked for a judge at the Supreme Court of Canada and briefly practiced before earning his LLM from Columbia. After teaching in Canada for several years, he came to NYU as a visiting professor in 2003 and has been at the school ever since. In 2008, Davis was appointed the Beller Family Professor of Business Law, and in 2012, he was appointed vice dean of NYU Law’s global affairs. In NYU Law Magazine—the School of Law’s magazine—he said he tries to teach his students not only “how to think like a lawyer and understand how to engage in legal reasoning,” but also “to recognize that they don’t always have to take legal rules as given. Some rules vary across time and place; they’re malleable. I want my students to see that there’s room for debate around the margins, while still recognizing the boundaries.”

Real Law School Personal Statements Reviewed: Sample 49

In this series, a jdMission Senior Consultant reviews real law school personal statements every week. What is working well? What is not? If it were his/her essay, what would she change? Find out! To sign up for your Free Personal Statement Review by a jdMission Senior Consultant, click here!

Note: To maintain the integrity and authenticity of this project, we have not edited the personal statements, though any identifying names and details have been changed or removed. Any grammatical errors that appear in the essays belong to the candidates and illustrate of the importance of having someone (or multiple someones) proofread your work.

Additional Note: This essay is the “Yale 250,” the short essay required by Yale Law School in addition to the longer, standard personal statement. The candidate who wrote this Yale 250 essay also wrote the personal statement reviewed here. Because she, as many students do, linked the two essays, this Yale 250 submission will be reviewed in light of the candidate’s longer personal statement.

Yale 250:

The emphasis the Chinese government has placed on reforming the legal system appears to be a step towards democracy and political progress. It is easy to hope that a reformed legal system will provide a framework in which citizens can demand their rights. However, one must ask oneself why a one-party state would allow this to happen.

I have worked with rural protesters who have given their lives in a vain pursuit of justice. Chinese workers have lost their pensions, their limbs and their livelihoods and now wait patiently in court rooms and labor bureaus for the law to make them whole again. These men and women I have met do not contest the government. They do not contest an economic system that favors the few over the many. Under a one-party state in which a handful of men decide the fates of many, people do not question the justice of the laws themselves.

Legal reform will not transform the power structure. It will not lead to democracy. Reform must be targeted at helping those that can be helped, but it cannot be the end of the struggle, and reformers in the West who want this to happen must not allow the pursuit of a better legal system to blind them to the greater changes that must be made.

jdMission Review:

Overall Lesson: Do not settle for an overly simplistic or less than fully developed thesis for your Yale 250 essay; start by being ambitious in your writing, and then cut later, if necessary.

First Impression: The candidate’s first paragraph confuses me—I have to read the last sentence twice to figure out what she means by “this.” I determine she means “a framework in which citizens can demand their rights,” and I thereby deduce that she is suggesting that the one-party state of China is unlikely to become a democracy even though the government has said it will reform its legal system. I believe she could explain her point more clearly.

Strengths: In this essay, the candidate successfully takes the personal experiences she presented in her longer personal statement and extrapolates from them a thesis on China’s legal system as a whole. This tactic works for many Yale applicants—keeping the primary personal statement more personal and then using the 250-word essay to philosophize on an idea or ideas introduced in that personal statement. But this candidate’s personal statement is better written than her Yale 250 essay. Her personal statement is coherent, seamless, and easily readable, whereas this essay is somewhat clunky, academic, and, in places, hard for me to understand.

Weaknesses: What does the candidate intend the link to be between the second and third paragraphs? In the second paragraph, we are introduced to people who do not “contest” the government. In the third, we are told that reform will not be enough. I do not see a direct link between these two points. I am sure the candidate has one in mind, but she needs to express it more clearly.

In addition, I feel that her “reform is not enough” thesis is a bit sparse. I know from reading her other essay that she has a wealth of experience working with rural peasants, and through those situations, she has developed an equally rich stash of opinions based on what she observed in others and in herself. For that reason, I suspect she can go further than merely saying that reform may not be sufficient. What are the greater changes that must be made? I have a feeling they are related to the people she discusses in paragraph two—possibly convincing them to challenge the government. But I do not know, and consequently, I cannot draw any hard conclusions about her points.

Final Assessment: I would work with this candidate to clarify precisely what she wants to say about the reformation of the Chinese legal system, and I would push her to be more ambitious about conveying her true message within the allotted word limit. I recognize that the 250-word limit is extremely restrictive, but I also know that with judicious phrasing and substantial collaborative cutting, candidates can successfully say quite a bit, even in such a small amount of space.

To sign up for your Free Personal Statement Review by a jdMission Senior Consultant, click here.

Off the Beaten Path: 50 Ways to Leave Law School

Becoming a lawyer is not the only path you can take after graduating from law school. Every Monday, we bring you the story of a former lawyer or law student who has taken an unusual or unique career path.Off the Beaten Path: 50 Ways to Leave Law School - jdMission

Paul Simon of the famed duo Simon & Garfunkel studied law briefly at Brooklyn Law School. After recording his first solo single, he met and collaborated with Art Garfunkel. In 1957, their song “Hey, Schoolgirl” reached number 54 on the U.S. singles charts. However, they continued to record individually, and their first performance as Simon & Garfunkel did not come until 1963. Following their success, Simon left the study of law and went on to compose most of the duo’s songs, three of which reached the number one spot on the U.S. singles charts: “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Simon & Garfunkel went their separate ways in 1970, and Simon proceeded to establish a successful solo career. He has amassed 12 Grammys so far, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time, after being inducted with Garfunkel in 1990.