Law personal statement

Author
John McKeown, Careers consultant
Posted
May, 2022

An LLM can greatly enhance your subject knowledge, as well as make you stand out to employers but when applying for a course you need to highlight your experience and be clear on your career goals

When writing a personal statement for an LLM you'll need to:

  • state why you wish to study this particular LLM subject. Its undertaking will require considerable time and expense so be clear in your motivation.
  • outline how your experience to date, both academic and non-academic has prepared you for the LLM and how this indicates that you will be successful on the course.
  • link your study of the subject to your future career goals and state how completion of the course will support your achievement of this.

This example should be used for guidance only. Copying any of this text could significantly harm your chances of securing a place on a course.

LLM personal statement

My primary motivation for applying for the LLM in Criminal Litigation is to enhance my existing subject knowledge and to gain a solid foundation from which to build a career as a criminal defence solicitor. I have not yet applied for a training contract, as I have a love of both academic study and the subject and wish to pursue this further, as well as enhancing my career prospects. Throughout the study of my undergraduate LLB I strove to maintain consistently high grades in each module and I believe my achievement of a first is testament to my commitment, which I intend to take forward when studying the LLM.

My interest in law is longstanding and was first piqued through a work experience placement with a local solicitor while still at school, where I had the opportunity to witness a criminal case first hand. Through attending court with an outdoor clerk I gained an insight into the workings of the court and into how cases were managed and argued. I was drawn towards this type of work due to its human aspect - the importance of trust between lawyer and client and the life implications for the client depending on the outcome of the case. I built on this experience by attending the public gallery of the Crown Court in my own time and developing a greater understanding of how the criminal justice system functions through observing proceedings and speaking to solicitors and barristers whenever possible. It was this experience that prompted me to study an LLB.

While my experience of the criminal sector provided my initial motivation, on the LLB I also felt it was important to take modules that would allow me to develop skills and experience across a range of legal sectors, to test the area I was most suited to in terms of interest and aptitude. I undertook Business Law and International Commercial Law, as well as modules in Employment Law, Family Law and Criminal Litigation and Evidence. I enjoyed the technical challenge of the commercial work and successfully applied to complete a work experience placement with a commercial law firm. There, I sharpened my legal skills by engaging in tasks such as researching relevant law, drafting a memo to a trainee solicitor and drafting a letter of advice to a mock client. I also gained an appreciation of the daily duties of a solicitor through shadowing them at meetings and reviewing contracts. I gained an insight into how corporate lawyers' relationships with professional clients have a far greater commercial focus than those of lawyers working with the individual.

I sought to build on these combined experiences by gaining as much practical experience as I could to gain real-world insight and skills with clients in my own right. I volunteered as a Gateway Assessor with Citizens Advice, which gave me excellent experience in how to manage an interview with a client using an appropriate professional manner and identify the pertinent legal issues and draft advice. It also gave me practical experience of building relationships with often vulnerable people, from all walks of life and the ability to speak to them in a way that they understood. 

Further to this, I have undertaken several pro-bono opportunities. These include working on projects such as Street Law, teaching young people about legal issues like online privacy and rights regarding stop and search, through practical and interactive methods. I have also taken part in the Schools Consent Project, leading workshops around the legal definitions of consent and assault in secondary schools and youth groups. Through these roles I further developed my ability to effectively communicate with audiences from a range of backgrounds and to adapt my approach according to their needs. I believe this ability, together with my deep interest in the subject, will stand me in good stead when working with clients involved in the criminal justice system.

In addition to academic work, I have a number of achievements in the field of music. I have obtained Grade 8 standard in both cello and violin and as part of my university's Symphony Orchestra I have played to audiences in Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as around the UK. I have achieved this while maintaining excellent grades in my undergraduate studies.

My goal is to work as a criminal defence solicitor in the future. I have chosen the route of solicitor, as opposed to barrister, as I place great value on the strong relationship built with a client and have the intention, once qualified, to undertake Higher Rights of Audience qualifications to allow me to advocate in court and see a case through to its conclusion. I see the achievement of the LLM in Criminal Litigation as a crucial step in gaining the enhanced knowledge to really excel in this role. My career aims beyond the course would be to secure a training contract with a Tier 1 ranked firm for crime, ideally in London or the South East, where I have strong personal roots.

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