The Legal Content Curator: Opening Lines from 7 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays

          The law school application essay is one of the most daunting tasks a law school applicant faces in the process of getting into law school. How do you begin? How do you encapsulate enough of your life into one sentence, enough to really capture the reader's attention? Is this the right way of expressing your identity as a person?

          Published by Harvard's daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays offers sample essays and analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of each one. What follows are seven opening lines selected from these essays, with brief explanations.

  1. Eighteen months ago, I viewed my career path as very divergent from that of my parents; both were attorneys, and I was a scientist. Eric T. Romeo focuses his essay on his scientific career in chemistry labs, first at Boston College and later at Merck. Romeo emphasizes the responsibilities he was given in these positions, and his steady evolution towards an interest in patent law.
  2. At the time, I wasn't sure of my answer: "I think a good manager knows he or she doesn't have all the answers, but does know where to look for them." Brian Aune writes of his experience in the working world, and stresses the leadership skills he developed as manager at a major national bookstore's local branch. He focuses on the importance of questions and answers, and brings his essay back full circle at the end in stating why he wants to pursue law: not to know all the answers, but to know where to look for them.
  3. Alison Chase is an innovator in modern dance. Sarah O'Loughlin, a dancer herself "since the age of two," writes of her love affair with dance and connects it to the law by telling the story of Alison Chase, who lost rights to her creative work upon leaving the dance company at which she worked. In this way, O'Loughlin strongly emphasizes her interest in abstract intellectual property.
  4. It had never occurred to me to learn to box, let alone in Cairo. John is interested in exploring new legal approaches to engaging with the Middle East, in a way that is not about "trading punches in the ring," but about "refining [strategies] before [crossing] over the ropes in the first place." He uses his experience with boxing as a metaphor for this wider interest.
  5. One night seven years ago, my mother and I sat in the car waiting for the light to change when a homeless man knocked on our window. Amanda Morejon, an Afro-Caribbean woman, is interested in structural inequalities and the ways in which they have affected her life and the lives of those around her. In attending law school, she hopes to "have a greater impact in assisting these historically vulnerable populations."
  6. I was seven years old when I returned to Nigeria for the first time after my family's immigration to the United States. Enumale Agada writes of the dual identities he experienced as a Nigerian immigrant in America, and of his plan to study law for the purpose of engaging in "public service and policy work with an emphasis on human rights and public health."
  7. Juan Rivera was interrogated for four days before he confessed to the murder of Holly Staker in 1992. Nicholas Warther begins with the story of a man sentenced to life in prison despite no evidence beside this confession, and goes on to describe his work with the Center on Wrongful Convictions in freeing him. He also describes his work with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, looking at justice from the other side. Warther demonstrates his passion for justice and interest in going to law school to answer the questions he has about the legal system.


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