There is no such thing as a standard law school resume. Resumes differ in their style and substance. When building your resume, express your creativity and unique history while keeping the following considerations in mind:
Because law school is an academic undertaking, your education should be the first section in your resume. List the name of the institution you attended, location (city and state, or city and country if you attended a school outside the United States), degree earned and the year you earned it, and your major(s) and minor(s), if any. Include any study abroad experiences in this section as well. You should only include your overall GPA and/or your major GPA if it is exceptional. Remember that you also will be providing a transcript as part of your application.
Do not include your high school education. In fact, high school should be completely excluded from a law school resume unless there is some truly remarkable experience from that time in your life to highlight (on the level of an Olympic medal or performance at Carnegie Hall, for example, which belong in another section). Note that a perfect SAT score or status as a high school valedictorian would not be worthy of inclusion.
Also, include key extracurricular activities unless you decide to move those to an “Experience” or “Skills, Interests, and Activities” section.
Honors and Awards
This section is common in law school resumes, but it is not an absolute must. You could also break out the honors and awards under “Education,” particularly if the content relates to your academic experience. If you don’t have any honors and awards, do not despair—instead, expand on any professional or extracurricular experience.
You could approach naming this section in different ways, including, for example, “Experience,” “Work Experience,” “Professional Experience,” or “Employment.” Capture any paying jobs, internships, and volunteer experience within organizations. Instead of merely listing job titles and dates, explain your roles and responsibilities for each experience. Think about your day-to-day responsibilities and how you contributed to longer-term projects. Use crisp, concise, and powerful words to describe your roles, and lead with strong action words, such as “directed,” “developed,” or “managed.” Be precise and truthful about your roles and avoid exaggeration or mischaracterization. Don’t, for example, claim to have worked in the capacity of an attorney.
Skills and Interests
Use this section to showcase your well-roundedness. Law school interviewers often start interviews with an “ice breaker” from this section.
Some ideas for content include foreign language proficiencies, community involvement, artistic or musical abilities, and interesting hobbies—but ask yourself whether your hobby is truly “interesting.” Many people like to travel or cook, for example. But “adventure traveler and hiker” and “avid pastry chef” are both more interesting and less common. Steer clear of general interests that don’t make you stand out.
Technical proficiencies are only compelling if they are unusual. It’s not worthy of a line in your resume to note your prowess with the Microsoft Office suite, for example.
Length, formatting, and overall appearance matter. Most law school resumes should be no more than one page. If you have extensive post-graduate work experience or have other unique circumstances, such as significant research projects or publications, a second page is fine.
Make sure to use one font throughout. Choose a classic font such as Times, Arial, or Calibri, and use an 11- or 12-point font.
Be consistent. If you right-justify dates or left-justify headings, do so throughout. If you use bullets for one job, don’t use dashes for another. Aim for a look that is professional, straightforward, and polished. Ask yourself: Is my resume visually pleasing? If it isn’t, fix it! In your legal career, you will find that employers and courts care very much about the appearance of documents, so polishing your resume for law school is excellent practice.
This is important: proofread your resume! After you do, have someone else proofread it. Producing a resume with no errors will not be a feather in your cap, but producing one with mistakes certainly will not serve you well.
Apply these tips to help you craft a strong law school resume. Although your resume is one of a myriad of application components, be sure it fits in with your application as a whole. Avoid unnecessary redundancy, and consider that your resume provides opportunities to display key experiences and accomplishments that you may be unable to showcase elsewhere.