Article by Kushni Ula
If you are applying to do law, find work experience in a law firm. This is the most straightforward and relevant way to boost your application and show you have a genuine interest in the subject. It can be very difficult finding legal work experience, but the best way to do it is to call every law firm in your area (or further if you are able to travel) or send out cold emails, and ask if they would give you a couple days shadowing a lawyer or doing admin work. You don’t need to directly be doing cases – just working in a legal environment can show universities that you have an interest! If you are unable to find experience in a law firm, try and phone banks or other organisations and ask if you can work with their legal team or offices- this will also be good work experience and help you develop valuable skills that you can talk about in your personal statement.
Doing online courses is a great way to gain experience for your personal statement. There are many free online courses on websites such as FutureLearn, edx and Harvard Online Courses. If you complete one of these courses, you can talk about what you have learnt from them as well as mentioning any skill that you think you have enhanced during the course. The courses you take don’t have to be directly link to law as a whole, for example, I completed an economics course to do with mergers and acquisitions (an area I have an interest in). If you have an interest in a particular area of law, do a course that reflects that interest, so universities know that you have done research into law and have a passion for this particular area.
If you are applying to study law, this section should not take up a large portion of your application as universities will mainly be focusing on things that show your interest in studying law. However, building skills outside of academia can demonstrate transferable skills, which can be used in the legal environment. So, if you mention extra-curricular activities, try and talk about the skills you gained from doing them. Volunteering can build your skills and demonstrate that you would be a good addition to any university. For example, volunteering for a charity organisation or a school, shows that you have great interpersonal skills, which universities will value, as it is important to have this when studying law. You can make your personal statement stand out by playing a sport or picking up an instrument. This is not essential, as universities may not look into this too much if you are applying for law, but it good to show what your hobbies are outside of work. Most universities have societies and clubs related your interests, so they will be happy that you would be join them.
Many firms hold open days and workshops for year 12 and 13 students, so attending these show that you are proactive, have done research and are aware of these firms. You can talk about anything new you have learnt in the open days and workshops and how it has made you want to study law even more.
Attending talks at universities or companies is a great way to show your interest in law, and also gives you good topic to talk about in your personal statement. For example, when I was in sixth form, I went to watch a debate on “Brexit” at the London School of Economics, and I related this back to law and spoke about how each side executed their argument and what I had learnt from it. Even though the talk wasn’t specifically law, it can be applied to law – as long as you can apply the talk to law and make it relevant, then universities will acknowledge and admired it.
Reading books about law, shows universities that you are have been doing research and have built a basic knowledge of law. A couple of books that I found particularly interesting and informative were “Letters to a Law Student”, by Nicholas Mcbride, “The Rule of Law” by Tom Bingham. Both of these books enhanced my knowledge about studying law at university and gave me a solid understanding of the legal system and how it functions with society. Applying rules or facts, that you have learnt from reading books, will make your personal statement stand out, as it will show that you have knowledge of the subject and that you are a keen learner. It may also be beneficial to read fictional books as well, such as “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, as you can talk about a particular issue that was raised in the novel and why it gained your interest.
Doing research into cases and legal deals is also a brilliant way to demonstrate to universities that you would make a great addition. For example, I did research on the famous case of O.J Simpson, and by mentioning this shows that I am proactive and aware of how the law works in practice. So, if there is a famous case or deal that interests you, research it and see what the basic facts were and the final outcome.
Everyone knows that it is very difficult gaining legal work experience and building skills when applying to study law,due to its competitiveness. I have never had any legal work experience when applying to university, due to its scarcity, but I managed to show my interest in other ways and got an offer to study Law at a university I had dreamt of going to. Do not stress about not having experience or skills, as if you showed this ardour in other ways, such as attending events or talks, your application will be exceptional and admired by universities.