Law is a popular and competitive degree choice, so if it's a subject you want to study at university you're going to have to make yourself stand out.
Your personal statement gives you the perfect chance to do just that, by providing more detail about your academic, work and life experience.
But wouldn't it be handy to know what universities want from a good law personal statement? We think so too, so we went out and asked them.
Read on to discover the secrets of a brilliant law personal statement, then take a look at our library of real law personal statement examples.
"Get out and experience law first-hand"
We want to see a genuine interest in law; make us understand what has inspired you to want to study it. Always back up your statements with personal and/or topical examples, as this shows you take the time to read and think about law.
Demonstrate why you think law is interesting and relevant. Avoid the common trap of thinking that law comprises two areas only: crime and human rights. Make yourself stand out by looking at different areas.
Make sure you show us that your passion goes well beyond your studies. Demonstrate that you do your own independent legal reading and research. Read beyond anything set for your course, and think laterally – maybe you have a favourite novel that includes a legal point?
Get out and experience law first-hand – not everyone can get work experience (though you should try) but anyone can visit a range of courts and sit in on different cases.
At all times, think about what you read, see and experience.
"Write simply and honestly"
Students should not worry about doing something ‘flashy’ with their personal statement. The most important thing is to write simply and honestly about why they wish to study law and why they believe they would be good at it.
We at LMH do not expect students to have done a lot of placements or internships in law firms or other legal contexts simply because not everyone has the same opportunities. That said, it might be an important way for the students themselves to explore whether they like dealing with legal questions and what type of work they might enjoy.
Students should also remember that the personal statement is just one of many elements we take into consideration when admitting students to study law at Oxford.
"We're looking for a real interest in the subject"
For law we're looking for evidence of a real, personal interest in the subject. Applicants often seem to think they need to say that they have been interested in law since they were very young. General statements are less impressive than personal information.
We like to know that students are going to be interested in studying law and it is useful to know what motivated the applicant to choose law rather than all the other subjects on offer.
Interest may stem from A-level study, or from something in the news, or from personal interaction with the law - it doesn't matter as long as it is personal to the individual applicant.
Law is also very much about communication and language so personal statements that indicate genuine interest in reading (beyond the set texts for A-level) or the meaning of words will suggest an aptitude for law.
"Show you have researched your intended career path"
Admissions tutors reading law personal statements will want to see evidence of an inquisitive mind and an eye for detail. Grammar mistakes are a definite no.
Remember you’re trying to stand out from the crowd so show you have understood and researched the career path you intend to take and have investigated the professional routes available with a law degree.
You won’t need to have studied law at A-level or equivalent but try to demonstrate your passion for the subject through any work experience you may have undertaken and books you’ve read.
Finally it isn’t advised that you give an example of a TV drama you’ve watched as to why you want to study the subject.
"Show your engagement with legal concepts"
While you may want to talk about pursuing a career in the legal profession, your personal statement should also show understanding and engagement with legal issues and concepts. For example, you could write about how a visit to a courtroom made you reflect on aspects of justice, or you could give your opinion about a book you have read on morality and ethics.
Your personal statement should also demonstrate that you have the skills and attributes to be a successful law student.
"Explain what triggered your passion for law"
When I review applications, greater consideration is placed on academic qualifications and work experience rather than the personal statement.
Show that you are making an informed choice. Rather than explaining how passionate you are about this subject, explain what, when and how an event, article or experience triggered your passion and why you want to study this subject? For example, what is your current awareness of how law functions and where does this stem from?
Law is current and changing. Have national or international events inspired you or have you begun to understand your relationship with law, or has society inspired you to apply to read law? Do matters of law-making and justice interest you?
Explain how your skills will enable you to be successful on this course. Law is a literary subject that requires you to enjoy the process of study, investigation and analysis – when have you experienced these before? It's useful to explain how your chosen activity or opportunity has developed your skills, aspiration or understanding of what it means to learn or be a student.
Skills do count, but higher education is about evolving. Are you equipped for this? Do you enjoy reading and research, are you excited about developing these and other academic and practical skills? Have you developed your skills prior to this application? For example, taking part in sport is about teamwork, communication and motivation, whilst being a proficient musician is about tenacity, rehearsal and dedication – all of these are skills needed for study and for future employment.
Hobbies and extra-curricular activities do not have to be about law. In explaining what you do, show the admission tutor who you are and how your experiences make you a well-rounded student who is focused on success at degree level.
"Show a genuine academic interest in the study of law"
Many law applicants feel that they ought to talk about the profession and their ambitions for a legal career in their personal statement.
This can be great and we appreciate the enthusiasm, but we also recognise that this is just the beginning of their journey and that many law graduates want to use their degree in other ways.
We also worry that applicants who do not have lawyers in their family or an extensive network of contacts will feel that they are missing something valuable from their application.
We recognise that not all applicants will be able to find legal work experience before they apply but many of you will have balanced a job, sport, hobby or other responsibilities with your studies.
We want to hear about this – it shows us that you are able to manage your time and dedicate yourself to a challenge. The most important thing is to show a genuine academic interest in the study of law at university. Tell us what it is about law that excites you and why you want to dedicate your time to the study of this fascinating subject.
"Attention to detail is key"
You need to show that you have a real interest in the subject. Give some examples why you want to study law. Try to stay away from generic statements like "since I was very young, I wanted to be a lawyer". It may be true but it doesn’t say anything about you or your character. Personal information is the key to success here.
You want to stand out from the crowd and make the person reviewing your application interested in you and your reasons for choosing a law degree. A degree of research into your chosen course would be good as well as reference to real-world events. You may want to state where you are intending to head with regards to a chosen career path.
If you are thinking of a law degree and the legal profession, attention to detail is key. Make sure that you proofread your personal statement for grammatical and spelling issues and do not rely on the computer's American spellcheck!