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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

The Best Application Essays. What worked for them can help you too to get into Harvard or other top law schools in the world.

In this series of essays, Lawyers Update helps you to get into world's top law schools.

An Intellectual Desire

Molly Silfen

My brow furrows as I shuffle tiles around, sticking the Z between the A and the E, and then pushing the D to the back of the line. With a sweeping gesture, I place FAZED where the F joins the word EN on a triple-letter score, and the D lands on a double-word score. "Sixty-six points," I declare triumphantly. "And I didn't even use all of my letters."

I have been playing Scrabble since I was eleven. When I was young, I watched my dad win game after game and finally convinced him to play me. At first he beat me soundly every time, but I could not get enough of the game. Week after week, I lost but continued to absorb strategies to make the most out of seven tiles. Four months after we began playing together, I eked out my first win, 313 to 294. My dad and I still play Scrabble together, diligently recording each of our scores and their sum to assess the overall quality of the game. These days I beat him just over half of the time.

I have always loved solving problems, and games have the kind of focused creativity that I enjoy most. A precise set of rules forces me to choose the best path within the game's structure. I can utilize my creativity and problem-solving skills in the quest for the honor of a hard- won victory.

In college, my love of problem solving led me to mechanical engineering. I soaked up the theories behind the problems and applied them to new situations. Like a player in a game, I followed given parameters and tried to design the best possible machine to fit a specified problem. For my senior project, for instance, I had to design a machine that tested the flexibility of a spine but fit within a foot of the wall, cost less than a thousand dollars, and applied no extraneous forces on the spine segment. After many wrong turns, I designed and built the working machine. Not only did I enjoy the process, but in the end my problem solving also improved the whole lab's ability to carry out its research. I was proud to have used my creativity in a meaningful way.

Engineering has a lot of the elements of games I have always loved, such as creativity within a framework and the need to strategize, but one key element is missing. When playing a game, the opponent is not static; it is a live person who can make mistakes and who also can amaze me with his or her ingenious plays. In an engineering problem, the human element is removed, and the face-off is often the engineer versus the laws of physics. Even though an engineering problem, ultimately benefits an end user, as an engineer I rarely get to see my own impact on others.

Since working in a patent-law firm, I have realized that patent law can combine my problem-solving creativity with my engineering background and my preference for human interaction. I can use my engineering skills to understand the designs set before me. Law inherently involves working with others because it is constructed by society for the benefit of society. As an engineer, I revere the process of invention, and I am excited to help the world to place a greater value on its inventors and creators by protecting the intellectual property of others.

I have continued to play Scrabble for so many years because it is both dynamic and interesting-it requires that I constantly adjust my strategy to new situations. The law presents a similar challenge that I am eager to face -a series of problems that I hope and intend to solve. With the law serving as the rules of the game, I can use my creativity and problem-solving skills to make the most out of every set of tiles.


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