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Sample Personal Statement for University of California at Berkeley

Graduating in xxxxx from a law school where I was instructed in concepts of democracy and the rule of law, I became a public servant at the Politics and Law Committee of xxxxxxxx, dutifully and conscientiously executing the instructions of my superiors. In xxxxx, I was promoted to the vice presiding judge of a local court. As the name of my organization indicates, politics and law are in close marriage in China and this marriage informs the legal environment of present-day China.

Presently, the legal system of China has a dual role to play. On one hand, in a country where political ideology predominates, the legal system largely becomes the instrument of the political will of the government. On an underlying level, the level of bureaucracy culture, is the tendency and the behavior on the part of the bureaucrats to oppose constitutional government and judicial independence. Therefore, compared with politics, the rule of law is always marginalized. On the other hand, with the transition to a market economy, China is undergoing dramatic social and economic transformations. As the transition continues, executive authority over the society’s economic life will be dramatically undermined, losing its overriding importance it once enjoyed. This will be the optimum time for the rule of law to enter the economic and social life with unprecedented intensity and breadth. The rule of law will represent a noteworthy power and may well become the motive force behind judicial reform.

The confrontation between those two roles is essentially a conflict between Chinese traditional culture and the current social reality. It also reflects the conflict between China’s cultural traditions and the real world which have largely come under the influence of western democracy and civilization. I wish to study the essence of democracy and freedom of the west, study the western political and legal theories, and doctrines about individual freedom and judicial independence. Many of the western values share a border with the traditional values as advocated by China’s Confucian philosophy. If an integration or incorporation between western values and Confucian values is realized, then the Chinese society as a whole can walk out of the valley of history. Prof. xxxx is a leading representative of Confucian philosophy in modern China. In the book xxxxxxxxx that he published, he examines the possibility of how to exploit the legacy of political theories in Confucianism to meet the needs of China’s current and future construction of the legal system and national constitutionalism. Prof. xxxx is a pioneering attempt, indicating that the Chinese scholars are seeking their own approaches to establish a free, democratic and independent constitutional government with deep roots in its own traditional culture.

In my proposed LLM program, I wish to focus on two areas—comparative legal studies and international legal studies. With acquired knowledge in those two fields, I wish to become part of larger campaign in promoting the social and legal experiments of the Chinese society. The key to realizing judicial justice lies in the establishment of a sound institutional mechanism. In the comparative legal studies, I expect to systematically study European and American legal systems, the conditions for their genesis and development, and the composition of those legal systems. In particular, I will focus on (1) the distribution of the judicial power, the legislative power, and the executive power; (2) the system of choosing and appointing judges; (3) the non-administrative internal management of the court; (4), how to construct a set of sound judicial ethics; and (5) how to establish the social credibility of the judiciary. Then I hope to make an in-depth comparative study of Sino-American legal systems and the social and cultural soils that gave rise to those two systems. I may borrow many useful experiences from American legal system which may provide solutions to some of China’s legal problems. In my research, I also wish to uncover general rules for legal development in different countries.

According to Tocqueville, different systems of jurisprudence have their own specialized features, with their individual historical tradition, concepts, system of knowledge and methodology. The particularity of legal traditions, knowledge, and methodology is deeply entrenched in different historical background. In my study, I will explore how the construction of democracy and the rule of law are possible under different social and cultural traditions. The comparison between China’s legal reality and legal practices with those of the United States will be my focus and, hopefully, the comparison will shed light on useful approaches conducive to China’s legal reform and democratization.

In my international legal studies, I intend to investigate into possible measures that can be used to facilitate China’s legal reform under the impact of external factors such as WTO, specific provisions in international law, western culture, etc. However, my most vital concern in my study of western legal systems will be to understand how to systematically prevent and restrict the encroachment of political power upon the rule of law. I admire Prof. xxxx, whom I would like to identify as my potential advisor, for his in-depth knowledge of the Chinese society and its legal system. I wish to attend the courses that he offers in the LLM program such as CHINA AND WTO, THE IMPACT OF THE WEST ON CHINESE LAW FORM. It would be an immense pleasure to work together with him. Meanwhile, I would also like to identify Prof. xxxxxx as another possible advisor under whom I desire to systematically study WTO’s impact on China’s legal system and many important issues in international trade law. I would like to study both public law and private law, especially those that are immediately connected with WTO framework. Though newly-created, xxxxxx situated in xxxxxx region where I come from is the largest among the four cities directly affiliated to the Central Government. In the country’s campaign to develop the west, xxxxxx plays a vital role as the region’s hub of the most vibrant economy and foreign investment. As the city becomes increasingly integrated with the rest of the world, legal professionals with a sound knowledge of international law will be sorely demanded.

It is my sincere wish that I can be admitted into xxxx’s LLM program. With its liberal academic atmosphere, intellectual tolerance, and innovative spirit, xxxx as a prestigious world-class institution will expose me to the most accomplished faculty, the most nurturing education, and the best research environment. I will apply the knowledge I acquire from your program to the development of legal systems in western China.

Upon completing your program, I will return to my current organization. Your program will help me establish a groundbreaking precedent. Within the judicial system of xxxx, none of the practicing judges have ever received a systematic western gradate legal education! This is totally incongruous with Xxxxx as a newly-created city directly affiliated to the central government of China. Through your program, I will acquire knowledge and experience not only necessary for my personal development but also for perfecting the legal systems in Xxxxx. This is highly likely because as the sole judge with a systematic academic training in a top U.S. law school, I will stand great chances for successive promotions to senior positions, which will put me in a unique and best position to implement my ideals. Therefore, my present application transcends a merely personal level.


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