During this process, you will hear a lot of people tell you to 'be yourself!' It's true advice, but not very actionable. This article is meant to help you flesh out what 'being yourself' could mean.

A good starting point is to reflect on the question I (Renee) set out above: What life experiences are unique to you? What experiences were particularly formative in shaping who you are today? There are two potential reactions that could stop you from seriously considering this question:

1️⃣ You concede to having a very 'normal' upbringing and therefore have no experiences you would consider unique; or

2️⃣ You assume that by 'unique' experiences I mean some stellar achievement or circumstances in which you are the only person in the world qualified to speak about.

There is some truth to both reactions and I will respond to them in the remainder of this article. Firstly, I want to persuade you to think about this question by giving 3 reasons:

✅ Life experiences are ones that are formative or meaningful to you, meaning you can often speak about them with some form of emotion (in this case, hopefully positive ones!)

✅ When you're a HR Manager reading through your 478th application, a document conveying emotion breaks the monotony and sticks in their memory (and heart!)

✅ Life experiences usually also include a lesson you have learnt, giving you an opportunity to demonstrate an ability to reflect and grow (a key skill law firms are looking for).

If you're now convinced of the importance of this question, read ahead!

What are 'unique' experiences?

I don't necessarily mean being world-class athletes, subject prize winners and Rhode scholars. (Caveat: I have personally met amazing law students during my clerkship who have accomplished the above. I will address this below.) Unique experiences are ones that have been particularly formative or important to you.

When reviewing other people's application documents, I have seen people mention experiences like:

As you can see, these are stories that do not immediately scream success or achievement, yet can be incredibly powerful ones to share. The clincher is that these stories are only powerful if they mean something to you, so have a hard think about what your unique experiences are.

What if my experiences aren't unique enough?