5 Tips On Writing a Personal Statement For University
For prospective law students a big part of being successful with your application is writing a good personal statement. On this page we will give you tips on how to write a personal statement for law school.
It can make or break your application so don’t skip over this part of the process.
Firstly some brief advice on writing your personal statement. This should be followed whether you’re making applications to Oxford or Cambridge, or just a foundation year course at a university out of the top 100.
What points should a law personal statement put across?
Your personal statement should tell your future law school why they should admit you onto the course. For this you need to do two things:
- Give them reasons to admit you.
- Don’t give them reasons not to admit you.
So you need to demonstrate that you hold some key legal skills and you have a real passion for the law. A law school doesn’t want drop-outs. So be honest and genuine about why you want to study the law. Do you want a challenge? Do you think you’re good at it? Do you want to become a solicitor? Tell them. As for point number 2, you simply can’t give them reasons to decline your application. Even if you have good academics, a personal statement riddled with errors could really mess up your application. Remember to use the university prospectus to prevent factual errors about the university!
So all that needs to be in a personal statement for law is reasons the law school should admit you. Talk about your skills, work experience, hobbies, interests and ambitions in an eloquent manor and you should be fine. Now read our top 5 tips.
5 – Get help writing your personal statement
No this doesn’t mean get someone to write it for you! But getting help writing your personal statement can be very useful. Others can point out spelling mistakes you may not have seen, or point out how skills you have could be relevant. The very minimum you should do is get a friend / parent / tutor to look over it before you send it off. It could be the difference between acceptance and rejection.
4 – Show an interest in law
This doesn’t always need to be work experience, however that is a great way to show interest. Even one week working at a local solicitors firm can do wonders for your application. You could simply enjoy reading about legal and political developments too, or maybe just really enjoyed your law AS level.
Make it a legal personal statement rather than just a general personal statement. Also think about mentioning a recent legal event. Pick a legal story which has recently been in the news that interests you and provide some sort of opinion. It doesn’t need to be anything revolutionary – for example you could say you found a recent judgement surprising given the political pressure. You mainly need to show that you’re actively thinking about legal matters.
3 – Demonstrate ambition
What is your end goal? Do you want to become a solicitor or a barrister? Do you want to study law as an academic? Or do you want to go into law for the great skills it teaches you? Law schools will want to to know where your end goal lies.
If you have your heart set on becoming a solicitor, and this passion comes across in your personal statement, it shows a great drive to succeed. And that’s obviously something which will be beneficial during your degree.
You can show ambition in other ways too. Do you play the guitar? Then explain how you aim to constantly improve through practice and aim to play a few gigs when you’re good enough.
2 – Get extra curricular
If you’re still in secondary school think about writing your personal statement after college. Think about something which will make you stand out. A lot of students won’t have any legal work experience at this stage; you can really set yourself apart if you can get some. Even if you’re in the second year of college it’s not too late – ask for some work experience at your local firm, even if it’s for 2 days.
You should really try and get at least one extra curricular law activity on your CV. You can also arrange a court visit at your local court. This could be a good chance to make contacts too. It could open the door to a shadowing opportunity – shadowing any court staff will be exceedingly valuable.
If you can’t write a personal statement which has logical ordering and structuring, then how are you meant to write a good essay? Or construct a good argument? It won’t look good for your legal career. Plan your personal statement; don’t just start writing it. Have clear beginning where you talk about why law interests you. Then go on to describe why you would be good at law. Include work experience and extra curricular activities here too.
Next should be a section on your academics or other (relevant) qualifications (even if it’s non official qualifications, like a first aid course). Then talk about the future. This could be your end career goal, or what you’re looking forward to at university. Good foresight, as mentioned above, is an attribute law schools will look for.
Lastly conclude your legal personal statement; try and encompass the main themes of your personal statement. If you want to become a barrister for example state how you can’t wait to get started by joining the debate club. Say something optimistic, but not arrogant or over confident.
Remember these are just examples of how you would set out a personal statement. It doesn’t need to be structured the same way – it just needs to be logical.
Need help writing your CV? Check out our legal CV template.