Don’t write that you want to “help people.” That is probably the piece of advice I heard the most when I was applying to law school. When you apply to law school, you have to write a “personal statement” describing why you want to get a legal education and, essentially, your personal story or some version of it that’s relevant to a law school admissions officer. The reason to leave out the “I want to help people” bit in a personal statement isn’t because of some aversion among law schools to students who have philanthropic interests; it’s because it’s cliché. Everyone wants to help people; you want to make your personal statement unique. I took note of this advice, drafted a personal statement that was unique enough, found nuanced ways of saying exactly how I wanted to help people in my interviews, and, a few months later, I got accepted at Harvard Law School where I’ve been for almost three semesters.
Law school opened my eyes to a side of the law I hadn’t really seen before where corporate greed twists legal arguments, and the wealthy are often able to game the system through their purchasing power. Most people probably have some conception of the Erin Brokovich or Dark Waters stories of a corporate behemoth carelessly destroying the health and wellbeing of countless citizens and having big law firms fight on their side. However, Erin Brokovich and Dark Waters are success stories (at least legally)–the “little guys” won in suing the big corporations–but often the big law firms win for their rich clients and help them get away with horrendous harms just because they can pay for a good lawyer.