Things to Avoid in Your Personal Statement for Law
Most people struggle to brag about their achievements and sell themselves, but a law personal statement for university will require you to do this.
Read on to discover the things to avoid in your personal statement for law and how to do so successfully.
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Writing a personal statement can feel like a gruelling task and sometimes it’s just easier to watch something on Netflix instead of tackling those 4,000 characters. However, the best advice for writing your personal statement is to just go for it.
Most students find out that they need to prepare and write their statement in Year 13. So use your time productively at the start of the academic year and make notes on what you could potentially include.
To start off with, ignore the word count and write down everything you can possibly say about yourself. Use whatever format works best for you, whether that’s a list, a mind map or a Venn diagram – it’s completely up to you!
Doing this will ensure that come those two weeks before the deadline when everyone else is stressing about their personal statement, your main task will be trimming and refining, rather than thinking of new things to write.
2. Lack of Work Experience
It can sometimes seem like the legal world is about who you know, rather than what you know and law work experience opportunities can be hard to come by if you don’t know someone already in the industry.
If you realise you have nothing to talk about when writing your personal statement, it’s time to be proactive. Volunteer at your local Citizens Advice Centre, email local law firms and solicitors‘ offices.
Explore whether your circumstances mean you qualify for any special work experience opportunities or even ask your parents if their companies have a legal department you could assist in.
There are plenty of opportunities out there and the important thing to remember is that it’s really not what you do that matters, but your personal statement needs to explain what you learnt during your experiences and how it’s prepared you to study law at university.
Remember that rule and you can ease the stress of finding the perfect work experience opportunity and focus on explaining your existing skills and experiences are beneficial to your future.
3. Uneven Ratio of Extracurriculars and Academic Content
Since you’re applying for an academic course at university, your personal statement should have an academic focus, but a good personal statement will also show that you’re a well-rounded person.
You might have heard that the ideal ratio of academic to extracurricular content is 70/30, but it is important for any extracurriculars you mention to save the same purpose as your academic content.
Your personal statement must show how you are suited to an LLB law degree or any other undergraduate law-related course. For example, a part-time job could demonstrate that you’re good at managing your time, and a place on the School Council could have prepared you for debating at university.
Whatever it is, think: does this show that I’m suited to studying law and if so, how?
4. Sounding too Pretentious
It’s true that a personal statement is designed for you to sell yourself to university admissions tutors, but it is important to remember that the person reading it has probably read hundreds more and can smell exaggeration from miles away.
The best way to avoid exaggerating or sounding too pretentious is to make sure that your personal statement sounds professional, realistic and most importantly, like you!
Why say ‘hermeneutic’ when you could describe something as informative? Why use a quote from Gandhi when your own words would work better?
Instead of promising a new golden age of justice, focus on what you specifically want to achieve in the next three to ten years and what steps you plan to take in order to get there.
Remember to read your personal statement out loud and make sure that it sounds like you. This will help you to avoid sounding like a satire of an 80-year-old Oxford Professor and will ensure you sound like a real person who speaks with authenticity and enthusiasm.
5. It’s too Long
You’ve followed all of the advice above only to find out that your personal statement is over the 4,000 characters and 47 lines limit.
To start off with, the usual process of refining and trimming will apply but if, as most find, you cannot get it within those constraints, then get someone else to read over it.
A trusted member of staff at your school is a good choice to turn to. They will be able to make suggestions for where to expand and where to cut down. Maybe instead of mentioning three work experience samples, you could talk about one in greater depth.
Perhaps you keep using a particular phrase that’s unnecessarily hiking up your word count and it could be substituted for something simpler. Letting things go can be a frustrating process but doing it with someone else allows for a more ruthless set of eyes to examine and cut down on the excess.
Make sure you read over the final draft, but remember this is your work and you will want to be 100% comfortable with what what you send off.
After all of that, your personal statement will be ready to go and, with a bit of good luck, you’ll be on your way to your dream university to study law!