Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 48: Personal Statement for Law School
By Quinton Lister, legal assistant
My time as a legal assistant to attorney Eric Johnson has served the exact purpose I was hoping it would. I wanted to gain experience in the legal field before starting law school. I have now been accepted to Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and will be attending starting this fall. In honor of that, my blog post this week will be my personal statement I used for my law school applications:
The serenity prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I have needed each part of this prayer at different times in my life. As I have applied the three elements of this prayer, I have found healing for myself, and I know that other people deserve to experience the same. I can help bring this healing to others by practicing law.
First, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” This was difficult for me to accept because I did not like to think I could not change certain things. I am an American, and I have been taught from my youth that my choice is paramount in everything I do. And I believe that I have the power to make whatever choice I want. However, I have had to learn that even though I always have my choice, I cannot eliminate the consequences of my choices. For instance, I regret not playing hockey when I was younger. I love hockey, and I am one of the few American boys born in the 90s whose favorite athlete was Joe Sakic and not Michael Jordan. I cannot go back and choose to play hockey now and accepting that helps me change my mindset. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, I can now focus on enjoying things like acting, singing, and dancing. Things I did as a youth, and that enhance my life now. That acceptance brings healing, and I think that by helping people see they cannot always change the consequences of the law, I can bring this essential healing as a lawyer.
Second, “courage to change the things I can.” To me, this means I have responsibility when I want to see a change in my life. For instance, when I served a two-year mission for my church in Hungary, I did not speak Hungarian well at first. I would say that I was like a child, but even Hungarian children can communicate with words instead of pointing and acting out what they mean to say. Despite the struggle, and because of my love for my faith and the people of Hungary, I did everything it took to improve my language skills throughout my mission. I worked at it every day and persevered until I could confidently hold a real conversation with any Hungarian I met (even the children). The work I put in to get better at the Hungarian language helped create closer relationships with others and built my confidence. These things are examples to me of the healing that comes when I accept responsibility for what I can do for myself. People need good lawyers to help them do what they can for themselves in a lawsuit, and I can offer people this necessary healing through practicing law.
The final principle of the serenity prayer, “and wisdom to know the difference”, has been crucial to me in my relationships with others. I have learned that I cannot control how other people react to me or what they think about me, but sometimes I forget that I cannot control these things and I need wisdom to keep myself from trying to manipulate other’s reactions and emotions. For instance, I used to work with my brother at a company he started in college. We did not have the healthiest dynamic as kids and I could tell this was playing out in our professional lives together. I had to quit, but I was scared to tell him because I thought he would “freak out.” I needed wisdom to tell him I was quitting while allowing him to have whatever reaction he wanted. It turned out, he felt the same way I did, and it helped bring healing to our relationship. A good lawyer helps their client find the same healing by helping them exercise wisdom to know how they should or should not act, and that’s why I want to pursue the law as a career since I know other people would benefit from that.
The serenity prayer has been a guiding influence in everything I do, and I have been blessed with healing by choosing to follow these principles in my life. I am immeasurably grateful for this healing, and I want to share this with others because it will help them. I know these principles paired with law degree can help me be a “healer” for other people in my own way.
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