3Ls Reading their Personal Statements – Feature 3: James Omran
FEATURE 3: JAMES OMRAN
Academic/Career Goals at the Time the Personal Statement was Written:
When writing my personal statement, I very much had a law school or bust mentality. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in elementary school and I went into my undergraduate degree fully expecting to apply and hopefully get accepted into law school. In hindsight, I wish I had considered other forms of employment and career goals (either doing a Master’s or working in a professional workplace) before going into law school, to gain experience that would help me moving forward as a lawyer.
A lot of my personal statement seemed to reflect a handful of themes: a dedication to work, an interest in intellectually challenging issues, and a desire for self-improvement that I (generally) achieved. I knew that I was writing like this consciously because I wanted to highlight as many achievements and goals in my undergraduate degree as possible but at the same time it felt almost flat when I was reading it.
There was one segment that stood out to me when I read my personal statement:
“Upon coming to Queen’s University for my undergraduate degree I was immediately struck by a whirlwind of emotions that caught me off guard and led me to an immediate goal for personal discovery”.
Is this the best way I could have put this? Come on.
Academic/Career Goals Right Now:
I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the legal field when I wrote my personal statement. I didn’t have any family members or close friends who I knew had gone to law school to discuss different practice areas or trends in the legal industry with. For me, law school was the logical place I was meant to go to and I would figure things out along the way. Now I have a solid idea (or at least as much as you can as a 3L) of what I would ideally like to practice, the types of lawyers I would like to work with, and how I want to be known in the legal community. That’s something I’m very proud of.
The Impact of OCIs on Academic/Career Goals:
I participated in OCIs mainly because I thought they would be the right thing to do for my career. I think for a lot of students there is an idea that if you get a job through OCIs that you are, for the most part, set and that a lot of doors open for you.
But now that I am a little bit more in touch with the different legal associations and practitioners, there seems to be more of an emphasis on the fact that anyone, from any firm, can be known for their work. I think the idea of just consistently doing good work gets somewhat overshadowed during OCIs when there is far more of a focus on firm culture and fit. Now I consciously want to be known for being reputable in what I practice.
I found that my summer in 2L was instrumental because I got exposure to some different practice areas at the law firm and the professional organization I worked at and realized what I wanted to (ideally) do with my career. This is one of my main issues with OCIs. Realistically only a small handful of candidates will have a solid understanding about the area(s) they want to practice in and many of the firms know that they are recruiting people who only have an inkling of what they want to do.
It’s a major problem I have with our recruitment system and I wish there was an acknowledgement that people need some time to figure out what legal practice really means. It might not be what firms want but I think it will help students determine what they want, and hopefully, lower the attrition rates.
Self-Reflection in Law School:
For me, and a lot of people (based purely on anecdotal experiences), I think people become very jaded as the wonder and mystique of the law world gets pulled away from them. But at the same time, we are closer with the people we care about (in law school and outside of it) because we realize we need to value those relationships more.
For most of law school, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do professionally and attempted to line myself up with summer/articling positions. Even when I did a variety of extracurricular activities that I enjoyed and pursued for purely personal reasons, I wouldn’t say I had a lot of time to sit back and think and reflect on who I was becoming as a person. That’s what I’m starting to do now.
What I Would Tell My Pre-Law Self:
To ground yourself more as a person. It’s incredibly easy to let law school get to you and to narrow your vision to a handful of objectives. I know I did that and there are certainly times I have regretted it. Despite the competitiveness and the strain that we put ourselves under, law school’s a bubble – don’t forget that.
James Omran (3L) is a contributor to Juris Diction. Harshi Mann (3L) is Opinions Editor for Juris Diction.