Whether applying to college to study law is just something you are considering, or it has been a lifelong dream, chances are your old resume (curriculum vitae or cv as they are sometimes known) will not do the trick. Many factors will determine your acceptance or rejection from the law school(s) you wish you attend. However your resume is a simple aspect of your law school application which you can update and utilize in order to ensure your application stands out in a long list of applications.
Of course when it later comes to applying to law firms, or other organizations for experience while studying law, or as you are finishing your degree you’ll want to dust off that legal resume again.
Utilizing some simple guides and templates, we aim to help you ensure your resume is ready to be presented to the most prestigious of law schools and law firms. It is easy for students to think the resume and personal statement or covering letter do not play a large part in their application when compared to their LSAT score or other grades. However the importance or marks are generally speaking over-emphasized, and it is an applicant’s resume, and personal statement which will set their application aside from the many others in an otherwise long pool of applicants.
How will a resume in my law school application differ from my existing resume?
Because your c.v. will be submitted as part of your application to law school it is important to tailor your resume to reflect the type of things which most interest law schools when applicants. Usually your resume will aimed at gaining employment and its content will reflect this. On your law school resume, it is important to focus primarily on your work experience in legal and related fields, either paid or voluntary, as well as your previous education. Other work experience can naturally be included, but it would be better to include a paragraph explaining your work experience at your local lawyers office than one explaining your high school job.
Certainly include extracurricular activities, charity work, awards, nominations and interests. Just be selective. Keep your interests section short, with only a few bullet points and no more than one or two personal interests. Any others should relate in some way to the legal field. When it comes to your extracurricular activities, be sure to focus it, weighing those with any relationship to the law towards the top. If you have a lot of extracurricular activities, think about cutting a few out of your resume so the section isn’t too long and your c.v. is as a whole easier to read.
What a law school resume is not
The resume you submit in your law school application should not be your forum to express your love of the law. Keep this for your personal statement. It is also not the place to disclose too much information in relation to any legal case you have experience working on or have a personal or family connection to. However you should not include this in your law school personal statement either. While you want your resume to portray your experience and the kinds of things, or cases you may have experience with – it is important to remember that a lot of information can be considered confidential. Being too eager to offer this kind of information does not look good.
Remember your prospective reader for this curriculum vitae. This should give you some idea of what not to do (and hopefully what to do). Just remember, law schools are generally speaking relatively conservative. Your resume should reflect this. It can be modern, it can be simple, it can be traditional, and to some extent, it can even be a little bit more edgy. It should not, however, be too out untraditional. Unusual fonts should be avoided, as should any heading or layout which may be confusing. While color resumes are acceptable, any resume that relies too heavily on color – especially utilizing it in the background should be avoided. However remember if you are submitting your resume or application electronically, it may not be printed in color and as such it is imperative to check it is not only legible, but also remains aesthetically pleasing in black and white.