Before applying for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), you’ll have to write a GDL personal statement to help convince law admissions tutors that a career in law is right for you.
But what should you include, and how do you make sure you highlight your interest in law after studying an unrelated undergraduate degree?
Read on to discover tips to help you craft the perfect GDL personal statement.
People choose to become lawyers for various reasons, from the appeal of advocacy in the courts and battling on behalf of a client, to just wanting a secure job with plenty of career progression and exciting opportunities.
In your GDL personal statement, you should be honest about why you are pursuing a career in law. The admissions tutor reading your statement will have read numerous applications that discuss the psychology of law. This is all very interesting, however, make sure you talk about your eligibility for this career.
Explain why your personality is suitable for a career in law and if possible, back it up with concrete evidence. For instance, if you like chess, it shows you are logical, creative in your thought process and use strategies to reach your goals.
If you’ve carried out volunteering work at a Citizens Advice centre or shadowed a solicitor or barrister, this shows you’ve taken a proactive interest in the law. It also shows you have an understanding of what law involves and whether it’s the right career path for you.
You might not have any legal work experience, but if you’ve read widely around the subject. For example, if you’ve considered that criminal litigation work would be an interesting niche area of the law to work in, you would need to show how you’ve carried out research to understand the demands of the job.
It might seem simple but explaining your knowledge of the areas you’re interested in demonstrates to the admissions tutor that you have taken constructive action to see what you need to do to qualify as a lawyer in your chosen area.
Working as a lawyer can be considered a lifestyle, as well as a profession. Working long hours and taking work home with you is common. Completing the GDL will be your introduction to this – it’s an intense course where you’ll cover all compulsory modules you would during a three-year LLB but in just one year.
On your GDL personal statement, you should communicate periods during your education or employment when you’ve had to fully commit to something. This could be running a society or times when you’ve had to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines. Perhaps you joined the student newspaper or the debating society? Both of these demonstrate skills that would be transferable to a legal career.
Think about whether you’ve had any jobs before that required you to be logical and efficient in the work you carried out.
If you want to become a solicitor, you will be part of a team whether it be large or small. In a solicitor’s office, there will be some solicitors, an office manager, legal executives, paralegals, and admin staff. All of the team are vital cogs in the smooth running of a legal practice.
Again, a similar set of circumstances arise in a barristers’ chambers. You will be working alongside the barristers, plus the clerks and admin staff.
In both of these setups, it’s vitally important for them to function effectively, that you work as a positive team member. In your GDL personal statement, you should try to refer to periods during your education, family life, or employment where you have demonstrated your ability to work well in a team.
You’ve got to remember that your application is not an academic exercise. You want to come across to the reader as someone who has a genuine interest in pursuing a career in law and at the same time someone who they can relate to.
Do your research, make some notes, then write the statement without referring directly to anything in front of you online. Use a tool like Grammarly to help you avoid being too wordy and to highlight any grammar issues.
Words: Chris Mallon
Chris is a law tutor and content writer. He has taught law extensively at university level and now enjoys teaching and producing content for law students.
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