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Writing a personal statement

Your LLM personal statement is your chance to show the admission tutors who you really are – so you want to get it right. Although LLMs are significantly less competitive than LLBs and training contracts, if you've set your heart on a specific course you don't want to trip at the last hurdle. You have the experience of writing your undergraduate personal statement, topped up with three years of essay writing, so it should really be a walk in the park.

Beginning and researching your LLM personal statement

Unlike your undergraduate personal statement, you can tailor your application for an LLM for your specific course rather than speaking generally about your enthusiasm for law in the hope of impressing five different universities.

Whilst this means your statement is going to be more interesting and more impressive, you will need to do your research. Law schools will have a course description on their profiles which is a good place to start. If possible, check out which tutors teach the LLM and what their specialisms are. There's nothing wrong with a bit of stalking... Within reason.

Specialising in an area of law

The LLM is generally a more focussed law degree, allowing you to explore one or a few areas of law in great detail. If you're applying for a specialised LLM, you should obviously write about the area you've chosen. Explain why you have picked this particular field – if you've chosen to do something very specific, you should probably already have a strong reason in mind!

If you're applying for a more general LLM, you should still mention the areas you're intending to focus on. Think about modules you particularly enjoyed at undergraduate level and explain what in particular made them interesting for you.

Discussing your future career options

If you have specific plans for your life after university, it would be good to mention how the LLM will fit into them. You should also explain why you've decided to do an LLM instead of going straight for a training contract and jumping into your legal career.

You might not have an answer for this – you could just be really interested in a specific area of law, and that's fine too! Developing your knowledge in one legal field will probably lead you into the career of your dreams anyway.

Writing about your personal skills

Just like with a CV, you need to prove to the admission tutors that you're the perfect candidate. The best way of identifying and demonstrating your talents is by thinking of any activities or work experience you've done, and what you learnt during the process. This will also show the admissions tutors that you have some real world experience and are thinking seriously about your career. If you don't have any formal work experience like a vacation scheme, think about to anything you did during your undergraduate degree, such as law society events or holding moots.

What not to do in an LLM personal statement

Just like when writing your undergraduate personal statement or when applying for jobs, you should avoid any clichéd phrases or hackneyed quotes. Words like "passionate", "enthusiastic", "interested" and phrases like "since I was child" should be avoided. It's unlikely that your first words were "I love tort law" and admissions tutors will quickly be bored.

You should also steer clear of making jokes – you're applying for a postgraduate degree and while Elle Woods got through her career by being charismatic, most admissions tutors are looking for something a bit more serious. It's ok to try to be individual, but make sure you're not coming across as overly carefree.

The finishing touches

Make sure you proofread your personal statement, and your entire application, and get someone else to check it if possible. You should also make sure you haven't exceeded the word limit – each university requires something different, but it's unlikely they'll want any over 500. It's always better to be concise.

By Lauren Bowes, Editor,