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Advice on writing a personal statement for the Legal Practice Course
Your personal statement (the “Other Information” section) is important.
The CAB Guidelines for completing the form state that it is your opportunity to tell the Universities and Colleges about you and why they should choose you.
Your statement can be up to 10,000 characters long: the online form includes a counter. You can cut and paste from Word documents etc, allowing you to use spell checks.What to include, (the following are suggestions only)
- Why you are applying for the course
- What interests you about the course
- What motivates you
- Your future career
- Your skills and achievements
- Your hobbies
- Your work experience
You have a great deal of flexibility in what you choose to include from these categories, so don’t feel that you have to cover them all, or that you should include something in which you feel weak – emphasise your strengths.
Why you are applying for the course? What interests and motivates you
What interests you about the legal profession? Why do you want to become a solicitor rather than a barrister? Have you talked to practising solicitors? attended Court? read widely around career opportunities in the legal profession? considered any alternative careers? Are there any particular types of firm or practice areas that you are keen on? Why have you chosen to apply to particular course providers?
Your future career
If you already know which areas of law you aim to practise in; if you already have an offer of a training contract or if you have a long-term career plan you may wish to include this here. There is no need to say “I aim to qualify as a solicitor” – this will be taken for granted!
Your skills and achievements
Your achievements could be awards (both academic and for things like volunteering), any significant difficulties overcome, Your skills could be practical skills (such as languages, IT etc) but could also be the transferable skills gained through your studies, extra-curricular activities and/or work experience – see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsmenu.htm
While it is not essential to include these, it is worth doing so if they help to give a picture of you as an individual, help your application to stand out, relate to your career interests (e.g. volunteering with victim support or refugee groups; Young Enterprise or other entrepreneurial activities) or demonstrate particular skills, achievements or posts of responsibility. However, sentences such as “In my spare time I enjoy music, reading and socialising with friends” do not add any weight to your application!
Your work experience
First-hand experience of the legal profession (through work experience, vacation placements, the Law Clinic etc) is probably the most important thing to include. Non-law work experience can also be useful in demonstrating the general skills that you will need as a solicitor.
What do law schools look for in personal statements?
“Commitment to the profession e.g. legal experience or voluntary work” Nottingham Law School
“Dedicated and enthusiastic applicants. We like to see a strong personal statement, explaining your commitment to becoming a solicitor” Bristol Institute of Legal Practice
“Evidence of commitment to the profession” College of Law
Some examples of personal statements
These three statements are included to give an idea of how you might structure your own statement and what you might wish to include.
Please do NOT take sentences, phrases or paragraphs verbatim from these examples to use in your own application – this is plagiarism!
I first became interested in law after talking to a local solicitor at a school careers fair. I was fascinated to hear about his involvement in building a case against a planning application for a mobile phone mast beside the school – a case that was making headlines in the local press at the time. I asked if I could work-shadow him for a day and was delighted to be offered two weeks work experience. During this time I sat in on client meetings, attended Court and assisted with office tasks. I came away more determined than ever to become a lawyer and with a strong interest in environmental law.
I chose to study law at the University of Kent because of the opportunity to get involved in the Law Clinic. I volunteered at the clinic as a receptionist in my first year and took the clinical option module last year. This gave me experience of interviewing clients and assisting them with real-life legal problems, such as unfair dismissal.
I have maintained my interest in environmental law through a mini-pupillage, shadowing a barrister specialising in this field and carrying out research into emissions trading. This gave me an insight into the barrister’s side of the legal profession but has confirmed that I prefer the more direct involvement with clients which a solicitor has.
While at Kent, I have been secretary of the Ice-Skating Society, organising regular visits to the nearest ice rink at Gillingham, as well as social events.
As a son of Greek parents, with a family spread around the world, international travel has been a theme of my life, giving me the opportunity to experience different cultures and to become fluent in Spanish and Arabic as well as Greek and English. I would love to practise law internationally as well as in London.
While at school I undertook work experience at a local solicitors’ firm, where I shadowed a partner, observing meetings with private and business clients. Last summer, I was accepted onto a two-week internship in an international law firm, Ince & Co., where I gained experience in the shipping and commercial property departments.
For the rest of the summer I worked as a barman in Crete, which helped me to develop my language and communication skills.
I keep up to date with business and legal issues by reading the Financial Times and law magazines and journals, including The Lawyer and Legal Week.
Outside the law, my main interests are theatre and sport. I directed school productions of Twelfth Night and Our Town. I played for the University rugby team and am also a member of the University cricket club.
After completing my LPC I intend to seek a training contract with an international law firm in London. I would like to specialise in shipping law because of the opportunities for international travel that this would offer, and intend to apply to firms which have an office in Athens. Before then I plan to take a year out to travel and teach English in South America.
My ambition to become a lawyer was sparked off by my aunt, who was a barrister in Nigeria. I often watched her in court and discussed the cases with her afterwards.
While at University I have attended trials at the local crown court as a member of the public, where I was particularly intrigued by the interplay between the judge and the lawyers. I have also visited a lawyer’s office and observed the day-to-day work in a law firm - answering phone calls, filing documents and preparing for court sessions -which has given me an insight into the practical workings of the legal profession.
Through working as a healthcare assistant during my studies, I have improved my communication skills by interacting with people of various ages and backgrounds, sometimes under difficult circumstances. This experience will be useful in my chosen fields of interest – family law and mental health law – by the insight into the real lives of clients involved in such cases which it has given me.
Joining the debating society in my secondary school really helped my confidence develop. This society helped me to conquer my shyness and I took part in many interschool debates. At University, I have continued to increase my confidence through membership of the Christian Performing Arts Society. I have sung with this choir at events at the University and in Canterbury Cathedral.
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