Professional Law School Resume
Written by Matthew Scott: This was written by a fourth year undergraduate student as an Honours Bacculeaurate in Commerce, specializing in Human Resources Management. Through my course work, I’ve been exposed to many resumes both in a theoretical sense and from an evaluator’s standpoint. In addition, I have gone through the application process myself, and been accepted to several law schools. Although there are many ways to write a resume, it is my hope that this will help those of you who need direction. Note: You might want to reference the following resume template (.pdf) and a sample resume (.pdf). Published March 2008, last updated June 2010.
Creating a Strong Resume:
One of the most daunting tasks you will likely face while preparing for Law School is coming up with a professional resume. This is one of the most important tasks in crafting a successful application, and should be treated with the same care that you would invest into a personal statement. Therefore, it is important that you spend the time to create a good resume, and hopefully this guide will help you out.
Most individuals have written a work resume before, but few people have made an academic resume. Although both have a similar intent, in that they are designed to highlight your past accomplishments and get you in the door, they must sell different things. The academic resume that you will be writing must help convince an admissions officer that there is more to you than simply numbers, and that you will be a beneficial addition to the class.
With this in mind, you want to make sure that you carefully craft it to highlight your accomplishments, extra-curricular activities and employment. All of these things will help to demonstrate the unique perspective you have formed, and make you a more interesting potential student. Remember that at the end of the day, you are doing this to be admitted to law school. There is no beating around the bush in that respect.
Consequently, it is important to sell yourself. Emphasize what you have actually accomplished and why you are unique as an applicant. Admissions officers get thousands of applications a year, but if you are an engineering major who also is a renowned classical pianist, make note of that in your resume. Think of it as part of the entire package you are putting forward. This will give you the best chance of success.
With this in mind, many applicants choose to carry a theme throughout their works. Perhaps it is overcoming adversity, demonstrating adaptability, strength of character, personal growth, a unique perspective, or countless other themes. Whatever your message, if possible, you can sometimes use your resume to carry forth and reinforce that theme. If you are speaking about how your experiences as a Hispanic individual have shaped who you are, and you worked with the Hispanic Students Association at your undergrad, you could mention that under activities. These subtle cues reinforce your overall message.
In any case, if you are unsure about going how to do these things, I recommend Richard Montauk’s book, How to Get into the Top Law Schools. He does a much more thorough job of highlighting the types of things that are required to be successful than I can hope to do here. However, the above provides some quick ideas for you. What follows in this guide, are some suggestions on do’s, and don’ts, of resumes, as well as a sample resume and a resume template. I hope you find this guide to be useful.
Things that you should do:
- Use 0.5 inch margins.
- Use Times New Roman or Arial fonts.
- Use action verbs.
- Use “I” not “we”.
- Use a work email address or school email address if you have one.
- Be consistent in your spellings (either American or British English, not both).
- Remember that presentation is nearly as important as content.
- If you are no longer in school, work should come first.
- If you are in school, education should come first.
- Proof read again.
- Have someone else proof read it.
- Use reverse chronological order in subsections, most recent comes first.
- Include all undergraduate awards, distinctions and recognitions.
- Increase or decrease length of sections as appropriate for you. It’s your resume, don’t be afraid to play with the formatting.
- Be consistent, either use periods or don’t after points.
- Having fewer than two sub bullets per job.
- Highlight national awards.
- Use your achievements section to highlight any unique experiences, for example, professional pianist.
- Remember that the objective here is to sell you as a candidate, you want to stand out.
- Reinforce ideas, if your personal statement talks about your unique cultural background, under achievements it might be appropriate to include “Fluent in X, Y and Z.”.
- Proof read it even more. Spelling and grammar mistakes in a resume are unacceptable.
Things that you shouldn’t do:
- Go below size 10 font.
- Use paragraphs instead of bullet points.
- Exceed 1 page in length.
- Include high school awards.
- Having more than one sentence in a given point.
- Exceeding three sub bullets per job.
- Including class rank if your class rank isn’t in the top 25-50%.
- Including your school median GPA if you’re below the median.
- Do not include an “objective” line, it’s a waste of space.
- Include an unprofessional email address like “email@example.com”.
- List your 100 hundred minors that you happen to have.
- Repeat yourself, if it’s on your transcript; don’t waste valuable real estate on your resume.
- Doing something just because I did it. If it doesn’t make sense for you, don’t do it.
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