Published on October 3, 2019 by Lauren Wade
It’s hard enough knowing what to include in your personal statement for law before even thinking about the structure it should follow. That’s why our contributor, Devangi, has outlined a framework of just how to do that.
So before you submit your UCAS application, read on for some tips on the way your text should be laid out so that it makes sense and impresses university admissions tutors.
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1. Section One: Personal Statement Introduction
Your personal statement introduction should showcase your motivations behind pursuing a law degree. Consider the following questions:
- What inspired you to study law? Were you intrigued by political events? Did you read an interesting article or book that encouraged you to pursue it further
- What interests you about a law degree?
- Are you interested in a particular area of law? If so, what have you done to demonstrate that interest?
Avoid starting your introduction with cheesy quotes, unless it forms part of your motivation for studying law. Often, people find writing the introduction the hardest part, so if it helps, write it last.
2. Section Two: Academic Experience/Supercurriculars
This section should comprise the majority of your personal statement for law. Bear in mind that admissions tutors are more interested in your academic experience (and suitability for the course), rather than your affinity for a particular musical instrument.
Think about the following:
- How do your A-Level subjects relate to law? For example, studying history develops essay-writing skills, while maths enhances logical reasoning skills. Tutors are interested in evidence of independent work outside of the curriculum; perhaps you read an interesting article about Charles I’s execution that got you thinking about the monarch’s role in the judicial system.
- Have you attended any summer school or taster courses? Rather than listing things you have done, instead reflect on them critically – What did you learn? What did you do to develop your interests in concepts introduced to you at these events?
- How can you demonstrate your interest in law? Have you completed an online course on an area of law you find interesting? Have you participated in any mock trials?
- Mention any reading materials that challenged you intellectually – This could be a book, an article or a magazine. Rather than summarising the content, focus on critically evaluating the material; did you agree with it? Why (or why not)?
3. Section Three: Practical Experience
Although not essential, practical experience is a good way of demonstrating your interest in law beyond the classroom. There are a number of ways to gain practical experience:
- Work experience or vacation schemes are the standard ways of displaying practical experience. Spending time at a solicitor’s firm or shadowing a barrister can provide an invaluable insight into a potential legal career path, as well as vital exposure to contemporary legal issues. When writing about work experience in your personal statement, avoid presenting a wide overview of what you did. Focus on the relevant skills you learned or a particular aspect (like witnessing a trial) that you were interested in and carried out further research on.
- Witnessing a court trial in person can serve as a springboard for further intellectual inquiry – Perhaps you saw a criminal trial and the theoretical dispute concerned whether the defendant had the mens rea (intent) to commit the crime. This is a great way to engage with legal questions and form an opinion on them.
- If you have had a non-legal job, that can also be useful as you may have picked up valuable skills that are relevant to law. For example, working as a tutor requires you to communicate your ideas logically and teaches you how to engage with different types of people.
4. Section Four: Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities should only take up a small amount of your personal statement. Try and choose extracurriculars that demonstrate skills required in a law degree like perseverance, organisation and motivation.
- Mention any podcasts you listen to regularly that deal with current affairs or legal issues, like Today in Focus or Law in Action. This is particularly good as it can directly be linked to law and you can discuss if you found a specific episode stimulating (and how that allowed you to do further research).
- If you play any sports, this can be a great way to demonstrate important skills like teamwork and communication.
Your personal statement conclusion should reiterate why you are a suitable candidate for law. Remember that there is no set formula for producing a perfect personal statement conclusion. It has to be tailored to what you have written in your own statement.
Instead of repeating what you have already mentioned, consider writing about what you hope to achieve on the course and/or what your future career aspirations are. This will ensure that you have a good overall structure for your personal statement.
Words: Devangi Dave