Personal statement advice: law
Budding lawyer? From wider reading to spot-on spelling and grammar, you'll need a law personal statement that makes a convincing case. We asked admissions tutors to share their top dos and don’ts…
Law personal statement pointers
Bringing your interest in law to life
- A book you’ve read that had a legal dimension to it.
- Work experience, which could be in a solicitor’s firm or a mini-pupillage, but equally could be shadowing at your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), some charity work or even your Saturday job.
- Visiting your local magistrates' court, the Crown Court or your nearest employment tribunal. As Dr Murphy puts it, "the English legal system is open and receptive to those wishing to experience law in action".
- Joining a debating club or starting your own.
- If you have the opportunity to conduct a personal project or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), consider giving it a legal focus.
What else to include in your law statement
- Why you want to study law: bring this to life by focusing in on aspects of law that are of particular interest to you, how it relates to your current studies and what additional reading you've embarked on. But keep it concise - three or so paragraphs is probably fine.
- How your skills fit: demonstrate that you have, or are developing, the skills needed for success in law - from public speaking to persuasive writing, or your meticulous attention to detail when writing essays.
- Current affairs: the University of Cambridge (and many other universities!) like applicants who keep up-to-date with current affairs and who are interested in the legal implications of the latest news stories.
- Good written English: sentence construction, spelling and punctuation are absolutely vital and are sometimes a cause for rejection.
- Combined course applications: if you're applying for law in combination with a different subject, make sure you demonstrate something relevant to the other subject, too.
What you've drawn from extra-curricular activities: this is another good way to demonstrate your motivation, skills and enthusiasm for the course.
What NOT to do in your law personal statement
- Fail to research your chosen courses: all that talk of your passion for company law won't impress a uni that doesn't offer it as an option.
- Spelling and grammatical errors: as Dr Murphy says, "law is a discipline of precision, so being careless in such an important document will not bode well for a future legal career".
- Not explaining why it's relevant: if you read the law section of The Times, that’s great - but make sure you elaborate on why it's relevant to your application. Try reflecting on a specific article or feature, for instance.
- Overuse of quotations: "don't try too hard to impress with quotations. I don’t care what Locke thinks, I want to know what you think!"
- Use clichés: including overuse of the word 'passion' or the phrase "law is all around us". Don't just say it, demonstrate it in a personal, concise way. And remember, less is more.
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