Admissions tutors reading law applications aren't just looking for the sports captain who works part-time in a solicitor's office. Well-rounded applicants, with a firm grasp of current affairs and a genuine reason for wanting to study the law, are really who they're after.
"Schools of law know that not all candidates have had access to high prestige work experience," says Steve Jones of the University of Manchester, who recently conducted research into personal statements. "Focus on the skills that you do have. Think carefully about why you want a law degree and what you'll do with it. Everyone says they're 'passionate' about their subject – think instead about what makes you different from other applicants.
"Don't talk about your hobbies unless they're directly relevant to your chosen programme. Spend time researching the university departments and degree programmes for which you're applying. There's no big secret to the personal statement: universities just want applicants who are well prepared and have lots of potential."
So make sure you have done your research. Aled Griffiths, deputy head of the law school at Bangor University, says students must show an up-to-date understanding of the legal profession. "It's a bit naïve nowadays to say 'I want to be a barrister' unless you have some idea of how that might happen," he said. It's important to say which areas of law you're interested in, though it's fine for students to be undecided "as long as they understand what confronts them".
Reading newspapers is considered to be more important than reading law texts. "We want to know what turned you on to law, whether it's constitutional issues in Egypt or civil marriage," said Griffiths, adding that students should demonstrate a "knowledge of world events and the applicability of the law".
Griffiths said introductions should be about why you think you'll make a good lawyer or what attracted you to law. "Personal experiences which sparked your interest are great, but don't give us your whole life story," he added.
And it's no longer novel to mention your favourite law drama. The worst thing you can do is list your achievements without exploring their applicability to a law degree – even mentioning a placement at Jones Jones LLC is meaningless unless you say what you thought of it, Griffiths said.
Similarly, Deborah Ives, director of admissions for the University of East Anglia's school of law, recently rejected a 3 A* candidate who said "I want to be a lawyer because my father's a lawyer". Ives said that unless this has led to experiences which have generated a personal interest in law they are not interested "We are looking for an informed decision."
Some of the possible hobbies that relate to a law degree are public speaking, debating, languages and advocacy. Most admissions tutors, however, make it clear that there are many activities which teach transferable skills relevant to law.
Ives said that students underestimate how important sport is – any sport – especially if a student is good, because it shows motivation, diligence and determination. Work experience doesn't have to be directly law related either: "I was most impressed by a lad who was explaining about his interest in criminal law and how that had developed, and how he had gone down to the police station and volunteered to take part in identity parades," Ives said.
Every law school wants different things, however. Claire McGourlay, admissions tutor for the University of Sheffield's school of law, said the best thing to do is ring up the university and ask them what they are looking for. "I don't look for work experience that's just law related," she said, adding that she'd be just as impressed by someone who has got up at six every morning since they were 14 to do a paper round.
"As long as they can demonstrate that they have done something – a bit of an all rounder really," she said. "And they don't have to be an Olympic athlete, just as long as they have done something." Nor do applicants have to be clear on their career aspirations – it's OK if you don't yet know if you want to work in law.
McGourlay says every personal statement is individual. "Some are very creative, some are more concise. I don't mind either way as long as it shows them as a whole person and shows a general interest in the subject.
"The key is to write fluently. No spelling mistakes, no bad grammar, not plagiarised." The worst personal statements are always the ones that haven't been proofread, she said.
Daniel Attenborough, admissions tutor at the University of Leicester, agreed – saying that personal statements are a "sales pitch" and students need to express themselves in an eloquent and elegant way. He advised against simply stating that you like chess. Explain that chess has encouraged your independent thinking and competitive nature, and why this is relevant to a career in law.
If students mention something like enjoying the TV show Suits "it usually just makes me laugh," says Attenborough. "It doesn't necessarily go against the student at all." But he's more impressed by an interest in how the law interacts with broader social issues – how the law is shaped by capitalism, or the impact of UK law on asylum seekers.
And it's important to remember that the personal statement is only one part of the application. Neil Kibble, director of law admissions at Lancaster University, said he is reluctant to set too much store by personal statements as he's very aware that some students get more guidance than others.
"We don't want to privilege two or three types of extracurricular activities at the expense of others," he said. "We would ask students to reflect on whatever experience they have had, whether it's working in a shop or looking after a member of the family, and say what they have learned from it."
Kibble said he tends to pay more attention to personal statements during clearing, when a particularly strong statement can win him over to a candidate who has not achieved the right grades.
SOP Sample for UK University- The Statement of purpose or SOP is one of the most important aspects of admission to any good university. Universities across the globe have made it imperative for applicants to submit their SOPs along with their application credentials. The Statement of purpose is a declaration to the university in which you summarize your purpose of pursuing a specific course from the university. It is a short piece, which lists your potentials, aspirations and how you plan to channelize your knowledge gained from the college.
However, this is only a general understanding of SOP. The best way to understandhow to write an SOP is to read samples of SOPs. SOP samples provide a clear picture of how the statement must be written.
Here, we have a Statement of Purpose written by Divya Sreedhar (name changed) for the MA in Marketing course from the University of Durham.
In this SOP sample for UK University, Divya enlists her achievements, her career graph and how she plans to channelize the knowledge she gains from the university and the country.
Statement Of Purpose
Marketing is the brain, heart and soul of any industry in the globalised world. Today, the boundaries between countries are swiftly vanishing away, so the understanding of marketing requires a more holistic and international view of the industry. I am eager to pursue MA in Marketing from Durham University because international exposure of the marketing industry is very essential for growth in this highly competitive and progressive world. And, through this I want to understand the nuances of analyzing and strategizing for sustainable and long term growth in global firms.
For my Masters degree in Marketing, U.K is the most suited location. Being one of the most progressive nations of the world, it is laden with best opportunities and the best companies. Since, the Durham University has an excellent faculty, flexible course structure, world class amenities and most importantly a friendly atmosphere for foreign students, hence, it is the perfect destination for pursing higher education. The degree acquired from Durham University will be recognized across the globe.
Furthermore, it will enable me to understand diversity in terms of languages, culture, perspectives and experiences, which will go a long way in shaping my personality and give me an insight into understanding the different behavioral patterns of people.
I have always been very curious and eager to learn new things. Since my early childhood days, I have been a bright and inquisitive student. I did my schooling from D.A.V Public School, Delhi and secured first class marks in 10th and 12th board exams. After finishing school, I joined Jaypee University of Information Technology, which is one of the best private engineering colleges in India, to pursue Computer Science engineering. I hold a good academic record with a CGPA of 7.9 on 10 pt scale, and have 3 International Publications in diverse fields with Springer, IEEE and IBS .My final year dissertation on Interconnection Networks got published in a journal under Springer and as a paper with IEEE . I presented a research paper on “Impact of Inflation in post Liberalization Era of India” in an international conference on “Globalization:Opportunities & Challenges” at IBS (ICFAI Business School ), Ahmedabad, India in December 2007. Apart from academics, I took part in many extracurricular activities at college level and have also won few accolades in diverse fields at intercollegiate festivals like, second prize for Picturesque marketing, 2nd and 3rd prize in the annual College Marathon and 1st Prize for IEEE Short Documentary Film making. Further, I was also an active member of the Finance and Art division of the college Youth Club.
After completing my graduation, I started working with Accenture Services Private Limited, India, where I worked on Customer Relationship Management software. My role required me to understand the logic and develop the basic functionality of the interface between the Hartford Insurance Group’s client and their customers. Being well equipped with domain knowledge and good interpersonal skills, I often took the responsibility to train new resources in the project. Apart from the key responsibilities, I took part in various cultural and people development activities at both project and organizational levels. I got a chance to organize a few Delivery Unit meets and International Women's day, 2009 at Accenture Hyderabad. While working on The Hartford Insurance Group Project I was awarded with the Invest Hero title as a part of release award. My leadership and people development skills were highly appreciated and awarded in form of reward points by the senior management. I got an opportunity to understand direct marketing and various strategies employed while working part time with Amway Corp., as an independent Business Owner. Within a short span of time, I attained a good leadership level in Business.
My engineering degree has enabled me to understand the science behind most of the things around me. Being good at quantitative and analytical skills helps me see the principle and logic behind most of the things. I have the ability to strategize, conceptualize and analyze creatively using out of the box approach. Being a computer engineer gives me an edge in softwares and ability to adapt with changes in technology. In today’s modern world with technology being a boon and bane at the same time, an engineer who understands its intricacies can bring out fresh ideas in the field of marketing which has technology as its backbone.
I am confident that studying at the University of Durham will empower me with sound knowledge of the basic principles of this field and help me acquire the necessary skills to reach my goal. Also my Masters degree in marketing from Durham University will give me a strong grounding and a perfect channel to capitalize on my strengths.
I sincerely hope that the admission committee finds my profile well suited to the requirements of the course and gives me a chance to be a part of the esteemed university.
How to write best SOP?
SOP sample: Admission to Warwick University in UK