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Personal statement example: Michael Winch

Michael is applying for a legal training contract. The personal statement is part of an application form, but the job advert has highlighted some specific areas to focus upon in his answer:

Llamb and Christie: Law Training Contract

Your training will be based on seats that vary between two and five months, in order to expose you to different departments or practice areas, where you will sit with a partner or an associate.

At the beginning of your training contract you will have the opportunity to suggest areas in which to tailor your training, whether that is in regard to international secondments or individual seat lengths.

We are principally concerned with are Banking and International Capital Markets. As such a considerable part of your training contract will be focused on bringing you up to speed with our actions in these areas. and as a trainee you will spend at least twelve months of your training contract gaining experience in at least two of these areas. There will also be a heavy focus on Litigation.

After the initial twelve months trainees have the opportunity to apply for international secondments. These are designed to increase our trainees’ understanding of our wider, international emphasis and their nuances of working within differing legal systems.

Pro-bono work is also an increasingly prominent trait amongst our most successful trainees. We strongly encourage all trainees to seriously consider expanding their knowledge of the legal sector through this means.

Please write about yourself in no more than 4000 characters (this is approximately 750 words). You may wish to mention any positions of responsibility held at school or subsequently, any regular employment or other work experience, any sporting or other achievements and any particular interests and personal qualities which are relevant. Please also state briefly why you are making this application.

I am an ambitious law student with a keen desire to work in an international city firm with the high quality work and opportunities that entails. I have had this ambition confirmed through undertaking vacation scheme placements at Tale and Cross and Markwriters'. These firms are similar to Llamb and Christie in terms of work, large trainee intake and international focus. Over these placements I experienced work in general banking, corporate and litigation departments, which also inherently improved my commercial awareness. I have experienced a different type of legal work experience in Underton Solicitors in my hometown. I have also undertaken legal work experience on a series of mini-pupillages at sets in Birmingham, though have chosen the solicitor route over that of the bar due to preferring the greater scope for teamwork and variety of work and clients. It is for these reasons I seek a training contract at Llamb and Christie.

My positions of responsibility have included being editor of Obiter Dicta, the professionally produced University of Warwick Law Society magazine, which features sponsorship from firms including Llamb and Christie. As part of this role I also headed a sub-committee team. The position has been challenging, requiring strong organisational skills to co-ordinate an entire magazine of articles, pictures and advertisements from a variety of sources, and to have it printed and distributed working to tight deadlines. It has been an enjoyable challenge however, providing great satisfaction on the publication of each issue.

This year I also sat on the Executive Committee of Warwick Law Society. At school I was a prefect, President of the Debating Society, and founder of the Atticus Finch Book Society. I was also managing director of a successful Young Enterprise company. As all positions of leadership necessitate teamwork skills, I believe these experiences show how well I work in groups of people.

In my third year of university I plan to become strongly involved in pro bono, having volunteered in the past on projects including a book drive for students in a Malawi university. My volunteering has so far included working Saturdays at Barnardo’s in Leamington Spa. The strong culture of pro bono work at Llamb and Christie has motivated me to apply.

In terms of relatively less structured interests, I play the acoustic guitar and enjoy cooking and skiing. In my first year of university I progressed to the second round of the internal mooting competition. I am also interested in travel, last year having toured Europe with a group of friends. At school I took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, which involved volunteering at a local Cub Scouts group and learning to play badminton. I have recently taken up squash.

At the end of this summer I will be improving my teamwork skills immensely by participating in Orientation Week at the University of Warwick, where I have been chosen to be part of a team of around ninety volunteers organising activities to help nearly a thousand incoming international students settle into the UK, through educational seminars and social events. This will also help my interpersonal skills, dealing with students from a variety of cultures, who may be lacking in confidence and English language skills.

Having taken French to AS Level, I am keen to pick up these skills again and I plan to take six months out travelling in France after completing my Legal Practice Course to become highly confident in the language before starting a training contract in February 2011. I hope that this desire, as well as my participation in Orientation, shows a curiosity and attraction towards an international mindset.

We don't believe that any letter is perfect but one very like this has worked for our students. Remember this letter is based on a real letter, but details in this example have been anonomised. Information such as name, organisations mentioned, and projects that would identify an individual may have been changed.