Personal Statement Law Examples Ucas

One of my most embarrassing moments at university was at the Finalists Dinner. During coffee, the Senior Tutor for English rose clutching some sheets of paper. “Here,” he explained, “Are your UCAS personal statements. Can you guess who described himself as ‘a Renaissance man’?”.

Yes. It was me. And worryingly, everyone looked at me without the tutor saying anything more.

The personal statement is the first step in the process of applying to university and for non-Oxbridge universities it is often the most important part. Despite this, it is often done poorly. Ridden with clichés, spelling mistakes and almost no knowledge of the subject that you are hoping to read, many good candidates fail to get the interviews expected of them.

What not to do

A good rule I like to propose for writing a personal statement is not to write it. You should compose it out loud then get someone else to read it back to you. Most people write very differently from how they speak. This can be a good thing as we tend to use informal register and poor grammar when we speak. The personal statement is a formal document and writing “Basically, law is like interesting, you know?” would see your application put in the bin very quickly.

That said, people also tend to write in a bizarre and often tortured way: long, cumbersome sentences; words used imprecisely; paragraphs with too many ideas. If you want a brilliant guide to writing good English, read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, particularly the last few paragraphs.

The most heinous crime, however, is to write things which, when considered logically, make no sense at all. Take this sentence, for example: “From as long as I can remember, I have been fascinating between the interplay between rights in rem and in personam”. It’s one of the top ten most over-used sentences according to UCAS. It’s not just that it’s a cliché; it’s also ridiculous. Let’s test it. How many three-year-old children know what in personam rights are? If you have been interested in law for a long time then fair enough, but your views on the subject should have matured and changed since then. The reasons for being passionate about law now should be very different from those you had even three or four years ago. The admissions tutor is interested in your views today.

Pour mes vacanes, je suis allé en France

I have a theory. If Martians landed in the UK and went to a local school wishing to learn about French culture, they would come away thinking that all the French were interested in was their holidays, the environment and the film Jules et Jim. Subjects at school, narrow and repetitive in their content, often bear little resemblance to the equivalent one studied at university. This is especially the case with law which applicants have rarely studied at school.

You should ensure that you have researched the course in detail. All law courses are remarkably similar: certain subjects (contract law, tort law, criminal law) are compulsory. Despite this, few applicants mention them explicitly. If you want to read law, you need to show some knowledge of the content of the course you will be studying.

Applicants also often draw tenuous links between subjects they have studied at A-Level and law. “The study of biology has prepared me to study law” is a common phrase but, again, is somewhat illogical. One can create tenuous links between the two subjects: both involve reading; both involve learning facts; both demand hard work to do well… but then, so do most subjects.

Talking about the substance of law is a far better use of the limited space. In any event, the admissions tutor can see your subjects and grades elsewhere on the UCAS form. If you have loads of A*s at GCSE and strong ASs, that itself will show them your strong academic ability better than your own descriptions.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award fallacy

My old tutor at Oxford once told me that as soon as she reaches the part of the personal statement which starts “I have achieved silver in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award…” she stops reading. Her view is that extra-curricular activities, in sports or music or charity, tell her absolutely nothing about students’ capacity to do her subject.

More interesting is to see how an applicant has engaged with a subject outside of the school curriculum. What lectures have you attended? What books have you read? To which magazines do you subscribe? Have you been along to court for the day to watch a trial? Have you done work experience with some lawyers? What are your views on the hot legal topics of today: the Legal Aid cuts; Scottish independence; high-profile celebrity rape allegations?

Showing an in-depth and informed understanding of these issues is more impressive than listing the tries you have scored or the oratorios you have sung. “But,” candidates say, “getting into the first VX shows I am hard-working and committed.” Nope. It shows you like rugby. Having taken the time to research international law and developing views on Abu Hamza’s deportation shows your commitment to reading law and your hard work.

A crime of passion

For Oxford and Cambridge, the personal statement is a gateway which convinces the admissions tutor to give you an interview. At its heart, it needs to show the tutor you are passionate about your subject. But, as UCAS’s clichés list above shows, avoid the word “passion”. Your personal statement should show you’re passionate, not tell the tutor that you are. That is the true sign of a Renaissance man.

Law Personal Statement

Whether you’re applying for undergraduate LLB law degrees via UCAS, Legal Practice Courses (LPC) via LawCabs or Bar Professional Training Courses (BPTC) via BarSAS, you will be required to provide a law personal statement.

When preparing a law personal statement, the aim is to persuade the reader that you are a great candidate to study and/or practise law. This page includes some key information on how to write a law personal statement before offering a step by step guide on what you need to do to get ahead.

Get Your Personal Statement Reviewed

What is a Law Personal Statement?

A law personal statement is essentially your big chance to promote yourself to universities (in the case of UCAS) and law schools (in the case of LawCabs and BarSAS). Given the limitations on the number or words/characters you can use when creating a law personal statement, it is vital that you are precise and use your unique selling points as well as you can to gain an edge over the competition.

What Should My Law Personal Statement Include?

Broadly speaking, your law personal statement needs to cover three main strands:

  • Motivation – Why do you want to study/practise law?
  • Exploration – What have you done to learn about it?
  • Suitability – Why are you a great fit for it?

Your law personal statement needs to be written in a clear and precise way. Why not take a look at ourLaw Personal Statement Writing Style Guide for more hints and tips?

Take a look at our Law Personal Statement Tips: Do’s and Don’ts blog post!

Law Personal Statement Tips: Dos and Donts

Structuring Your Law Personal Statement

Of course, this is a matter of personal preference. But you need to make sure you have a clear and logical framework. We would suggest that following the guidance below gives you a strong foundation on which to showcase your attributes. In brackets, we state the main function of each segment.

  • Why you want to study law and for the purposes of Lawcabs and BarSAS why you want to be a solicitor/barrister respectively (motivation)
  • Law work experience – first-hand experience shows you have taken time to explore the legal profession and that you have a genuine interest in the law (exploration)
  • Volunteering, for example pro bono work (which involves offering free legal advice) shows you have gone above and beyond to find out more about the law and the legal profession generally (exploration)
  • Wider reading and study (exploration)
  • Extracurricular activities – for example, mooting and debating experience and any other experiences which have helped you to develop skills which are key to the study and/or practise of law. You can visit our page on What Makes a Good Lawyer? for more information (suitability)

Law Personal Statement: How Many Words is 4000 Characters?

One commonly asked question when writing a personal statement is ‘how many words is 4000 characters?’ This is the character limit for personal statements, and is also sometimes defined as ’47 lines’.

Whilst this entirely depends upon what you’re writing and the length of words used, the number of words this (very approximately) equates to is 500-600 words.

However scary this may seem, characters can often be easier to cut out than whole words – try swapping adjectives for shorter descriptions, or taking them out altogether. Writing an overly descriptive personal statement can often be a mistake many students make, thinking longer vocabulary will make them stand out.

Sometimes, the simplest personal statement is the most effective.

Step by Step Guide: Writing a Law Personal Statement 

  1. Keep your reflective diary up to date. You can do this by using your free personal portfolio. This will prove to be a goldmine of material for your law personal statement.
  1. Plan your structure properly. This might follow our guidelines above but it doesn’t have to. Just make sure it is clear.
  1. Start drafting. Make notes for each section in your structure. Don’t worry if you are writing too much – you can always edit it down to the best bits later.
  1. Edit and refine. Begin honing your draft down into something resembling the final form in the appropriate writing style.
  1. Get advice. When you’re fairly happy with your personal statement for UCAS/LawCabs/BarSAS, give it to parents, tutors, friends and family. Get feedback and make improvements.
  2. Get a law personal statement review. Send your personal statement for university (UCAS) or law school (LawCabs/BarSAS) to The Lawyer Portal for professional feedback. Incorporate this feedback and repeat step 5.
  1. Upload and submit. Transfer the final version from Word onto your UCAS/LawCabs/BarSAS application form.
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