Legal Resume Basics

Your legal resume is a living document – you will find yourself revising it throughout your legal career and especially during your time in law school. The guidelines below will help you create a basic legal resume, which you and your coach will further revise once you have a chance to meet. Your first legal resume will look vastly different from the resume you submitted in your law school application. By creating your legal resume now, you will be better prepared for your first appointment with a career coach and better prepared to begin applying for summer positions.

No More Than One Page

Your resume must be no more than one page, unless:

  • You have professional publications.
  • You have more than 10 years of relevant legal-related experience, for example as a paralegal or a business professional.
  • You have 10 years of public service experience including volunteer work and are interested in pursuing a career in public service law.

NOTE: If one of these exceptions applies to you, your resume may not exceed two pages.

Tips

  • Eliminate all use of bullets
  • Create a header that takes no more than two lines
  • For each school and/or job, use no more than two lines to state the name of the company/school, location, and time frame (and title, if a job). This is easier if you use symbols like | or like ▪ to separate out these four components
  • Instead of hitting return after a sentence in your job description, place a period and start the next sentence.
  • Instead of using an "Achievements" section, include descriptions of your achievements under the relevant experience (either under the school you attended when you received the award or under the job where you worked when you received the acknowledgement).
  • Use lines to separate sections, rather than spaces.

Use Legible Fonts

The body of the resume should be no smaller than 11 point size font. Preferred fonts include Times New Roman or Garamond

Format

Be Consistent

Use a consistent format throughout your resume, being mindful of your use of whitespace. For example, if you use small caps for your Education section, then you must use small caps for your Work Experience section.

Required Sections

Your resume must contain an education section, an experience section (can be separated into legal experience and other experience), and an interests section (which could be combined with other sections, such as community involvement, skills, and/or languages). If you are interested in public service, you must also include a separate section for volunteer experience or public service.

DO NOT include sections for references or publications on your one-page resume. Publications should be listed on a second page. References are typically submitted on a separate document, as they are not always required at the time of application.

School Experience

For your school experiences, include:

  • The name of the school.
  • The location (city, state).
  • What degree you received and what major/emphasis.
  • When the degree was conferred (so "June 2010", not "Sept. 2006 – June 2010").
  • Any honors or awards you received, and any leadership positions which you held.
  • Any study abroad programs

Work & Volunteer Experience

For work and volunteer experience descriptions:

  • Include the organization name, location, month and year for start and stop dates, and your job title.
  • Be brief (no more than three lines per experience, unless you have a lot of white space).
  • Be relevant (to the potential employer).
  • Be specific ("Managed a staff of 15 people." is better than "Responsible for managing the staff.") Include any awards or recognition that you received.
  • Be objective. Do not use the "first person" form. No "I" statements.
  • Be descriptive. Use active verbs to describe what you did. Do not use the same verb more than three times. Do not use "worked on" to describe your position.

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