Every year, universities receive thousands of personal statements from law school applicants eager to impress admissions tutors. While grades are still the most important factor in securing a place on a course, a well-written statement can help you punch above your weight. So with the Ucas deadline looming in January, how do you write a personal statement that will pique an admissions tutor’s interest?
Russell Buchan, senior lecturer in law at the University of Sheffield, and Joel Klaff, a law lecturer and admissions tutor at the University of Derby, offer their advice: What do you look for in a personal statement?
Russell Buchan: I always emphasis the word “personal”. Students need to move away from this emphasis on jargon and gimmicks. Saying “I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 12 and ever since then I have had a massive desire to be a criminal defender” really doesn’t mean much. It’s too formulaic.
On the other hand, what you say needs to be supported by evidence. Even if it is playing for a sports team at the school or college, or working in the local supermarket. What responsibilities did you have? Whether it’s leadership, effective communication skills, or interpreting rules, applying them, understanding them and enforcing them. Then develop the narrative that supports the personal qualities we are looking for. Which are of course enthusiasm, good communication skills, analytical ability, and critical understanding. The more they can make the link to legal careers, the better.
Joel Klaff: [It is important] the student has actually researched the university and shows why they want to go to there. A lot of law schools offer different levels of expertise. So it is actually a good idea to say, “I want to come to this university because I know you place a large emphasis on skills and that is what I see as important.” How does a personal statement for a law school differ?
JK: It’s all very well being open and honest, saying law is a good career and will get them in good standing. But it helps to have an […]