How to Write a Resume for Law School Applications
Posted: 05/May/2022

Law schools require applicants to submit a resume, but most prospective students won't need to write one from scratch. If you have a resume on hand from your job search, you can work with that. However, you will need to tailor it to emphasize what law schools are looking for, which can be different from what employers are most interested in.

Resumes from job seekers often aim to attract the attention of someone sifting through hundreds of resumes. A hiring manager may devote mere seconds to each resume before determining whether the applicant meets the criteria to merit further consideration. For example, someone angling for a design job might use an eye-catching format to showcase technical skills, specific experience, former clients and familiarity with an industry.

In contrast, law school admissions officers have a little more time to read over applicants' resumes. They are generalists looking for a sense of a person's background, not just a checklist of qualifications within a specific field. They have read through thousands of resumes and are not looking for a resume that stands out. They are looking for a resume that demonstrates readiness for law school.

To tailor a resume for law school applications, take the following steps:

Format professionally.
Simplify sections.
Write plainly.
Perfect each bullet.
Be honest and complete.
Format Professionally
Keep the formatting in a law school resume simple, professional and legible both on screen and on paper. Avoid distracting colors, graphics and symbols.

Like a good lawyer, show your creativity by communicating relevant information concisely rather than using gimmicks. Use a common font like Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial with a size of 11 or 12. Try to keep to one page but use a second page if warranted.

Law schools look for tailored resumes that communicate professionally and concisely – like lawyers. Skip jargon and be honest when writing your law school resume.

Simplify Sections
Keep the sections on your resume short and simple. The standard headings are education, experience and activities. Some applicants also include honors or skills and interests. Don't include a summary or objectives section because what those would say should be self-evident.

Use section headings and ample spacing so that readers don't have to hunt for key points in a sea of text. Recent graduates may put the education section ahead of experience, but list entries within each section in reverse chronological order.

Entries in the education section should include the degree and major or majors, an institution's name and location, and the graduation date. You might also list your GPA overall and within your major, although they will appear in your transcript.

Additionally, now that you are aspiring to attend professional school, remove anything from high school.

Write Plainly
Another important tip for your law school resume is to use plain English without jargon or wordiness. Imagine a reader who is smart and educated but unfamiliar with your field. Take care to express your responsibilities and achievements in a way that anyone can understand.

For example, "Interfaced through client-facing interactions in order to implement knowledge transfer solutions for product functionality" sounds to most people like a meaningless tongue twister. Instead, try something like: "Met with clients to share lessons on useful product features."

Perfect Each Bullet
Carefully craft each bullet point on your resume. Each position should rarely require more than three bullet points.

Each bullet point should be a sentence long, although the final period is optional. Begin the sentence with an active verb in the past tense for former positions or present tense for current positions. Focus on a concrete task or responsibility, highlighting your personal role.

Ideally, each bullet point should provide evidence of high performance. Mention how often or how many times you did something, the results of your work or how you compared to others in your position.

For example, "performed administrative tasks" is uselessly vague. Instead, replace that with something like "commended by supervisors for courteously and efficiently redirecting dozens of calls daily." And remove any job skills irrelevant to law school, like computer software.

Be Honest and Complete
Be truthful. No law school is expecting applicants to be titans of the working world. Ensure the resume is not contradicted by other application materials like recommendation letters.

Include every significant position and don't leave any chronological gaps longer than a few months. On the other hand, don't stretch minor events like brief acts of community service into whole entries.

Finally, proofread and comply with any specific application instructions.

A good resume for law school should clarify the skills and experience you bring from work, school and other activities. It won't paint a full picture of who you are, but it should provide a frame for the admissions committees to understand the rest of the application.