Preparing Your Resume for Law School
Many, but not all, law schools require a resume with your law school application. Other schools make it optional. A law school resume, if done nicely, can supplement your application in a meaningful way. Your resume can add information to your application, subtly highlight unique factors, and supplement the theme from your personal statement. While the resume doesn’t always come into play in the admissions process, it is very important for highly competitive schools or close-call applicants. Submit a resume with your application unless the law school specifically states that you should not.
Law school resumes are not the same as a resume that you would use to apply for a job. They are academic resumes. Remember that your audience is the admissions committee, not a prospective employer. This resume has no place for “Objectives” or “Summary of Qualifications.” You need to highlight the skills and accomplishments that law schools search for. If you need a refresher on the list of those skills, review the letter of recommendation section. Pay particular attention to the evaluation topics.
Your resume is an opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are more than a number. Your resume should highlight financial self-reliance, language proficiencies, exposure to different cultures, community service activities, professional responsibilities, and even hobbies that require dedication and commitment. You should use your resume to communicate your interests and passions, illustrate how you spent your time during college, highlight your leadership and activism, and to point out any other factors that differentiate you as an applicant.
The resume you submit could make or break your application. The ideal situation is that an admissions officer comes away from your resume thinking that they would like to meet you, or read your personal statement.
Use This Form for Your Law School Resume
The format of your resume is no place to stand out. Instead, you want to conform to what the admissions officer expects as to form so that they are paying attention to what your resume says instead of how it looks.
Resumes should be 1 page long, written in at least 10pt. Times New Roman or Arial Font. You need to leave at least ½ inch on the margins. Unless you have a good reason, limit yourself to no more than these five headings: Education, Honors, Activities, Employment, and Skills. Under each heading that you use, your information should be entered in reverse chronological order (most recent things first). Order the resume in a way that makes sense (if you’ve been out of school for a while, put experience first), and refer to yourself in the third person. Bullet points are common.
For some it may be hard to condense a resume down to one page. But, remember, this isn’t the typical resume. 95% of applicants should be able to highlight their skills and accomplishments in one page. You can consolidate by lumping things together in your bullet points. The key is the accomplishment, not the details of the accomplishment. If you have a significant work history and awards and extracurricular activities, you can use two pages. But, make sure both pages are full of relevant highlights.
Five Things that Your Resume Must Include
1. A listing of your educational experiences. – Include your major areas of study, GPA and (if higher) your Major GPA.
2. A listing of at least 5 Honors or Activities.
3. A listing of your employment. If you worked more than 15 hours per week during school, include the hours you worked. Unglamorous jobs can be summarized in a line or two: “Summer jobs included lifeguard, waiter, delivery person.”
4. All paid and unpaid volunteer work experience.
5. Highlights of intellectual ability, writing skills, leadership, and initiative within your experience.