Harvard Law School


What Worked for them can Help You Get into the Law School of Your Choice 

Law influences virtually every aspect of the world and works, in theory, to ensure equality and justice for those which it governs, serving as a safety net for societal values. Yet within this fail-safe, the very moral fabric that society relies upon, exist areas in which people become entangled and rendered unable to function. This delicately woven safeguard becomes yet another barrier, preventing those who lack the means to successfully navigate it, helpless. Attorneys are the integral artisans who, through their expertise of the law, transcend these barriers and ultimately serve as the gatekeepers between justice in theory and in reality. As national borders slowly dissolve along the global, political, economic fronts, the need for legal professionals from diverse backgrounds becomes more and more of a necessity.

My life has taken me around the globe—from ancient monasteries now deep under the waters of the Three Gorges Valley in China, to remnants of Incan cities in Peru—allowing me to see people, places, and things others may never get the chance to experience, while shaping my perceptions of the world we live in. Recently, I found myself within the depths of the Panamanian rain forest, a land fraught with danger and beauty, opportunity and deprivation, and memories that will resonate within me forever. Enroute to the various villages and schools in desperate need of food, the hills slowly became alive as men, women, and children gathered. Just as I had witnessed time and time again throughout my travels—there was an unspoken divide, a mental obstruction, separating “us” from “them.” Disregarding these superficial differences I reached out to the people, greeting them in their native dialect and shattering any preconceptions they had already formed. Surprised that I wasn’t just another foreigner, they opened up. Children began scurrying down the hills on small footpaths; eagerly grabbing at the packages of food we had hauled through the jungle. Their eyes lighting up in excitement, as it was uncommon thing to see outsiders in those regions of the country. It was only at the end of my journey that I realized I was able to do what many in this world cannot. I was able to transcend the barriers that plague the minds, hearts, and lives of millions. The barricade that lays between those that have and those that do not; those that can and those that cannot; those who aspire and those that lay impotent in defeat. These impediments contribute to the many problems that our society faces, creating obstructions that can ultimately impact the course of a person’s life, for better or for worse.

Although my first semester at Tulane University Law School has been exceptionally stimulating, I am drawn to Harvard Law School for a host of reasons—the fundamental basis of which being the strength of its internationally focused programs. I find myself invigorated by the prospect of participating in your International Human Rights Clinic and working with such renowned scholars such as professors Giannini and Roseman. I am also particularly interested in taking courses with Professor Delgato, given his breadth of scholarship on human rights issues in South America. Furthermore, the variety of internationally oriented research programs offered at Harvard speaks directly to my envisaged career path. Although Tulane Law School is widely known for its international cachet in certain arenas, its academic offerings relating to my intended field of practice are clearly lacking in light of the seemingly tailored programs that Harvard has to offer. To this extent, I feel that I lack the necessary resources that will allow me to develop my full potential within the field. Likewise, Harvard’s location provides access to unique opportunities that are not currently available to me in New Orleans. Although the city of New Orleans has a depth of cultural and historical offerings, Cambridge provides practical access to multiple internationally influence cities such as Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., and to be frank—I did not come to law school to sightsee. My travels well off the beaten path have resulted in an expanded understanding of the interpersonal interactions and relationships that contour the modern global arena. As such, I want to leverage this unique, real world experience into the public sector.

Upon matriculation to Harvard I will have traveled to over ten countries and began studying a third language, allowing me to bring a unique world perspective to my studies and even further, my future work as an attorney. I will bring a singular level of passion, dedication, and real – world experience distinguishable from my contemporaries, and I feel this confidence of skills and attributes will allow me to significantly strengthen, and diversify, the class of 2014. Though I cannot claim myself to be an altruist guided only by selfless intentions, I do on the other hand know where my fidelity lies and where my skills, life experiences, and personal drive would be best utilized. I ask not simply to attend Harvard Law School for the implied recompense such entitlement confers. I want to be an influencing agent, to impact our system—the rational balance of our world—for the better. One case at a time.

Because Joshuah Fiveson isn’t a standard first-year applicant, his essay naturally takes on a different purpose than most other applicants essays would. For this reason, he devotes much of his essay to explaining his reasons for transfer, focusing in particular on the established prestige and opportunities offered by Harvard’s international programs. To this end, he vividly describes his time abroad and details the experiences and people he encountered on these trips. Most importantly, he effectively articulates the ways in which these experiences could impact both his approach toward education and his future legal career.

Although Fiveson’s overall tone in this essay is more explanatory than anecdotal, it is generally appropriate to the way in which he presents himself to the reader. Rather than simply listing off the assets of Harvard Law, he connects them to himself and his life goals in such a way that makes it clear to the reader why he is such a good match for the school. For example, he devotes a large part of his essay to describing how his perspectives on human interactions were shaped through his travels, thus leading to a fundamental change in the way he ultimately views the role of law in society. Such detail in Fiveson’s introduction of himself and his personal values creates a tangible portrait of his character and, rathertahn beating around the bush, allows him to directly address the major reasons for his application to Harvard Law.

Nevertheless, the straightforwardness of Fiveson’s tone may not always be an asset. In particular, his introduction is a bit dry and too abstract to be relatable to his life experiences and “personal statement.” Rather than introducing his essay with a grandiose and rather verbose explanation of law, he should have explored a more personal touch, especially considering his focus on his travels later on in the essay.

But the drier portions of the early paragraphs still demonstrate a capacity for careful reasoning. The reference to his international experience are not so much bragging points as they are jumping –off points for a discerning discussion of the law and need for lawyers like one Fiveson hopes to become.

-Rebecca Hu

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