An LLM personal statement is your chance to describe and showcase your career interest, work experience, ambitions and skills to the university that you aim to obtain your LLM degree from.
It can be a double-edged sword getting you to your destination. How? If you are one of the strong candidates deserving of a place in the university, the personal statement can act as your key weapon of choice that can secure you a place. However, it could weaken your case if you didn’t manage to get information across in the best possible way! Therefore, by starting early on, you can work your way through the structure and save enough time to get the draft reviewed by your family and peers.
Including a mini dissertation
You are meant to explain your interest in the area that you wish to specialise in, which doesn’t mean writing an essay on your proposed dissertation topic! That can wait till you start your LLM program and are asked to submit a thesis proposal.
Rather than blaming yourself later on for missing out on listing achievements from your work experience or undergraduate study, make it a point to highlight all the relevant information; ranging from past work experience on specific projects, skills acquired and applied, publications, moot courts, etc.
All your efforts will be futile if you didn’t make your personal statement read clearly with details relevant to the LLM course that you are applying for and clearly stating your interest for that course.
Writing too much or too little
Usually universities provide the word count/A4 page limit for the LLM personal statement. Some students will have a tendency to write less hoping that the CV will cover all their academic and career highlights, whilst others may be tempted to write too much describing everything they have done in all possible detail. The sensible approach would be to mention enough to match the word count/page limit and to highlight only what is important to put your case forward.
Obsessing with templates
It might be a common trend to scour the internet for templates on personal statements but be warned that some may have been copied off the others and may all end up looking very similar. Your LLM personal statement should be unique and well drafted to make logical sense to the reader.
Making stupid mistakes
Sometimes we tend to overlook minor mistakes that can have significant bearing on the outcome of our application. Things such as addressing the statement to the wrong university (or with a wrong date/address) can give a very bad first (and almost certainly final) impression!
Doing it last minute
Our general advice when it comes to university applications is to never leave anything to the last minute. Some students tend to work hard on their personal statement redrafting it a 100+ times, while others only pick up this part of the application on the last day of its submission. Time must be given to this vital part of your application so that any mistakes including ones listed here can be corrected in good time.
Although you may feel that you are trying to make a point by explaining a situation in different ways, university admissions staff may see this as a repetition of information that they don’t need to know. Once you make a point about a particular skill/achievement, move on to the next piece of information to show varied experience, knowledge and interest.
In professional services we tend to mention names of high-profile clients or popular legal representatives to get ahead of competition through our application. This may work in a casual networking setting, however when it comes to application processes for admissions, the focus is usually around your contribution to legal matters, your ambition to progress your career further through further studies, rather than just throwing some names in!
Making grammatical errors
Although legal eagles tend to be careful on this one, it is best to proofread your LLM personal statement several times before handing it in. Ideally, you should share it with friends or colleagues to spot any noticeable errors.
Remember there is no perfect personal statement. Admissions staff vary from each university and look at each application depending on the circumstances and background of the applicant, so as long as you take your time and avoid making any of the above mistakes you should be in with a good chance of application success.