Law Personal Statement
Law as an academic discipline offers the ability to answer some of the biggest questions facing society today. Moreover, the law is always changing, and the ability to be at the heart of this change is an exciting prospect. This dynamism was made apparent when reading an article in the Guardian, which highlighted the need for legal change regarding Internet Surveillance Law. My interest in Law, therefore, arises out of the tension between its importance and ambiguity.
Reading "What about Law","Letters to a Law Student" and attending a Cambridge Law Conference gave me an overview of studying Law. I enjoyed tackling legal problems; interpreting and applying vague statutory law was challenging yet satisfying. In "What about Law", I enjoyed the chapter on Constitutional Law, since it shows how the Judiciary plays a vital role in checking arbitrary power. Moreover, it was fascinating to see the relationship between politics and law; reading "The Assault on Liberty" furthered this, since it showed how successive governments have undermined basic Civil Liberties for the sake of political gain. "What about Law" introduced me to the workings of our constitution, whilst also demonstrating how the courts can influence Parliament to change an unjust Law (such as the 'Belmarsh" case). This enthusiasm for Constitutional Law was further whetted by Rabinder Singh QC's talk at a Trinity (Cambridge) Law Residential I attended in July. It was inspiring to see how a respect for Human Rights meant that even an individual could challenge the State- a fundamental axiom in the rule of law. This prompted me to read Lord Bingham's "The Rule of Law" and Kafka's "The Trial". Both books stressed the importance of the rule of law, since it provides a means of preventing injustices in society.
Reading "The Economist" keeps me well-informed about topical affairs. An article I enjoyed was about Myriad Genetics and their bid to patent a human genome. I enjoyed this because of the wider economic and ethical implications that had to be considered, such as the effects on further research, which shows how the law is not an isolated abstract. Reading the Times and the Guardian legal sections allows me to gain various legal perspectives on contentious issues (such as the issue of veils in court). Participation in the Trinity Cambridge Law Essay Prize (in which I was "Highly Commended") prompted an investigation of how the Law interacts with Religion. This was enjoyable because it meant researching cases of religious discrimination and then examining them in relation to religion's place in the law and wider society.
Work experience at a law firm allowed a better understanding of Land Law and provided the opportunity to experience the law in a practical sense. Applying statutory law and past judgements to a landlord-tenant dispute encouraged a sounder grasp of both the legal and analytic skills required in applying the law. This enthusiasm for Land Law was furthered by reading the chapter in "What about Law" and attending the Land Law Workshop at the Cambridge Law Conference. Understanding how adverse possession could be justified was fascinating, since it challenged my preconceptions regarding squatting. I also attended the St John's (Oxford) Legal Studies Day- being able to dissect a contract in the Contract Law workshop was gratifying and highlighted the need for a close analysis of language. Attending a UCL Lecture on "International Law and War" was absorbing because it explored the idea of "responsibility" in regards to unmanned drones. Participation in debating competitions improved my public speaking and ability to articulate logical arguments, whilst the Harvard MUN honed my teamwork skills; vital for drafting a constitution that stressed the need for the Rule of Law in failing states.
Law at university is an exciting prospect and I believe that I have the informed enthusiasm required to thrive at studying Law at University.
Universities Applied to:
- Cambridge (Gonville & Caius) (Law) - Offer (A*AA) Firm
- Durham (Applied to University College, pooled to Trevs) (Law) - Offer (A*AA)
- UCL (Law) - Offer (A*AA)
- KCL (Law) - Offer (A*AA)
- LSE (Law) - Offer (A*AA)
- Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) (A2) - Grade A*
- English Lit. (A2) - A*
- History (A2) - A
- Maths (AS) - Grade A
TSR probably helped me more than any other part of application (e.g. mock interviews, open days). Use it, exploit it, and if you have time, add something to it regarding admissions. Such a wonderful website.
Having gone through the process, I'd like to offer some advice regarding course selection. Think long and hard about this- this is easily the most important part of the process. Ultimately, this is what you'll be studying for 3 years and spending £9000+ on. If you can't decide, don't worry. Take a year out, talk to your teachers, do what you need to until you get to a stage where you know deep, deep down that you want to do this course. I made something of a mistake- rather than deciding what I actively wanted to do, I deselected courses I didn't want to do until I ended up with a course that was less boring than the others, but in reality, not that exciting. In fact, I probably shouldn't have to gone university- as a hint, there are things like apprenticeships out there. If only I realised that earlier....
Some specific advice aimed at applications to Oxbridge/Russel Group Uni's:
1) There's no point in getting intimidated by old buildings. Remember that they are just bricks and stone, carved by men and propped up by men. They too will crumble into dust.
2) Don't get sucked in to the "romance" of universities. Remember that you will have to spend 3 years/£9000+ there. From the outside, they may be enchanting, but from the inside they are academic pressure cookers.
3) Here's a quote that I saw on TSR some time. "Always remember that a man is no more than a man". Whenever you might feel intimidated by another applicant, just remember this. It helped me, at least.
Comments on the statement:
Teachers often have the annoying habit of promoting extra curriculum activities with a statement like: "Having D of E/World Challenge/Other-generic-stuff-every-other-sixth-former-in-the-country-does will look really really good on your university applications". Fools. Admissions tutors (especially at Oxbridge) don't really care about the EC's, unless..'THEY RELATE TO YOUR SUBJECT. Playing cricket (for example), if not linked to your chosen subject just takes up precious space- I kept this kind of stuff to an absolute minimum of one sentence.
That being said, you may be wondering what you CAN do to spice up your P.S. Here are some ideas- pick and choose as you see fit:
1) Reading around your subject- this is very, very important. Universities generally publish "recommended reading lists"- have a look at these, pick some books on the list and then go wherever you feel interested- so in my case, Constitutional Law. If called for interview, this may be a talking point (speaking from experience here). If a uni doesn't do interviews, wider reading demonstrates enthusiasm...which is always a good thing.
2) Wider "events". These are events like:
a) Student conferences/study days/summer schools b) Free public lectures by universities (for example, in London, UCL, LSE and SOAS have free public lectures on through the year, on a wonderful array of subjects). Gresham College is also a massive help- some of their lectures are on YouTube (meaning that you still "attend" them- if you catch my drift...) c) Public facilities (museums, art galleries, law courts)- nearly all are free. d) Work experience- don't worry too much if you haven't got any- they're mainly for the more vocational courses- and really, the above points also count as "experience". If you did have W.E., then say what you learnt and how it inspired you to do something/read something.
It's these that you want to try and do as much as.
3) Lastly, keep up to date with current affairs (I'm talking to social scientists mainly here). Broadsheets, academic blogs, magazines like TIME, The Economist, New Scientist etc....
It is not enough to just read/attend the above points. You need to have an opinion on what you've read, and then you need to be able to justify your opinion.
That's all I think of so far regarding the P.S. Don't worry too much. It can be an exciting time of your life: for once, you have the freedom to make your own choices, and therefore, your future. Good luck!