Whether you already have a resume or are starting from scratch, read on to learn law school resume tips to stand out in the admissions process.
A law school resume summarizes your achievements, qualifications, and experiences. Your resume and cover letter can tell admissions officers much about you and your law school preparedness. We’ll outline tips for your law school resume so it’s refined and ready for submission.
Your resume should be one to two pages long using a standard, legible font size. Stick to Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or another similar font, and don’t use a size smaller than 11 points.
Putting together a law application resume can be daunting. Applying to law school is already a big task as there are many elements to consider, like personal statements and recommendation letters.
To help you get a leg up, it’s a good idea to look at some examples of what other law school application resumes include, as well as to pay attention to what admissions counselors have to say.
UPenn states, “Law school admissions committees are very interested in how you spend your time and energy outside of class, so it is essential that you create a strong, accurate, and flattering portrayal of yourself on your resume.” It’s crucial to summarize your experiences and candidacy succinctly.
That being said, you have some freedom regarding what goes on your law school resume to complement its core elements. Standard sections you should include in every law school application resume include:
Source: US News
These are the main sections that every law school application resume should have. If you haven’t done much volunteer work or participated in many activities since high school, the University of Wisconsin–Madison suggests weaving any activities into your resume’s education section.
While these are the standard pieces that every law school resume should include, you can choose to add other sections if they’ll add something new and fresh to your application:
You can add whatever sections you want that best reflect your candidacy, qualities, and experiences so far. You can also rename/alter these sections as you see fit.
Alyson Suter Alber, Associate Dean for Enrollment Planning and Strategic Initiatives at Case Western Reserve School of Law, said, “In the admissions process we are looking for experiences and activities that showcase skills an applicant will need in law school such as research, writing and analytical thinking.”
So, highlight activities that emphasize these skills on your resume! That way, you can show admissions committees that you’re a worthy law school candidate. Take a look at some examples of law resumes down below to see how they’ve done it.
If you’re wondering how to improve your resume for law school, look no further than these nine expert tips.
The first law school resume tip is crucial to follow: remember its purpose. When you formulate a resume to find work, you may write an objective at the top expressing your goals. You don’t need to include this element in a law school application resume.
In the words of Quinnipiac University Law, “Objectives are not necessary, and sometimes highlight your desire to do something other than attend law school.” You don’t want to take the focus off your resume’s ultimate goal: helping you get accepted to your dream law school.
To that end, you won’t include any references either. Your recommendation letters serve as the “reference” portion of your application.
While this sounds obvious, applicants tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves when they write law school application resumes. For example, don’t stretch the time frames of your commitments to make it look like you spent more time on your activities than you did. If you’re taking a gap year before law school, don’t try and fudge the numbers.
Remember, integrity is a quality found in great lawyers; you don’t want to potentially get caught in an inconsistency during the application process or law school interview because you wanted to make something sound more impressive. You can always add an addendum to your application to explain something unsightly on your resume.
Also, it’s okay if you don’t have much experience with legal work. Admissions committees don’t expect you to have a mountain of experience as a law school applicant.
Your law school resume should be two pages at maximum. You need to write concisely if you have a lot of ground to cover to effectively summarize your experiences. Don’t use long, elaborate sentences or pull words from a thesaurus.
Writing plainly includes limiting industry jargon. While admissions committee members may understand what you’re writing about, you want to write in a way that someone from any field would understand your resume. For example:
“Aggregated with clients in order to contrive understanding and transferable knowledge and solutions for exponential economic growth.”
This sentence is unclear and unnecessarily wordy. A better sentence would read: “Met with clients to share information to increase profits.” This sentence is much clearer, and your reader doesn’t have to do mental backflips to understand you.
Bullet points underneath major experiences/subheadings communicate a lot of information in less space. You can make your points uniform and more impactful by:
Ensure you watch your tenses while you write; it’s easy to slip up and use the wrong one.
Although you should focus on transferable skills and tasks related to law school, don’t omit any experiences that aren’t necessarily law-related. You don’t want to leave chronological gaps in your resume: that’s a red flag for admissions committees.
UChicago Law states that your resume should absolutely not contain only legal experiences. The school states that it wants “to see all of your work experience and activities to gain a more holistic picture of you.” Avoid these gaps and be honest about your work experience.
Leadership experience and capability are what every law school seeks in applicants. If you have relevant leadership experiences in employment or activities, ensure they’re in your resume.
You’ve likely discussed your professional and career goals in your application. Your resume can complement your other application materials and narratives. For example, if you want to teach law, don’t bury your experience as a teaching assistant or tutor.
Think about your personal mission and which experiences have contributed to helping you get one step closer to reaching your goals.
Some schools may or may not have law school resume instructions. You should always double-check the application requirements of the schools you want to apply to. For example, UChicago Law asks, “Please include the number of hours per week spent on each employment experience or activity.”
While you may have thought to do this on your resume anyway, it’s important not to miss any elements schools ask for.
You probably already have a resume you can work off of, but it’ll take a lot of editing and reconstructing to tailor it to your law school application. Even if you’re starting from scratch, ensure you edit your resume.
Does everything you wrote make sense? Is your language clear and concise? Are there spelling or grammar mistakes? It’s okay if it takes a few drafts to get to the finished product. You want your law school resume to make a stellar impression, so give yourself enough time to revise and refine.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to look at examples of what other people have done to get inspired. Below, you’ll find some resume templates for your law school applications to help you get started.
It’s important to use strategic wording to get your point across. In the following example, the applicant reframed their extracurricular/volunteer work section to reference leadership and service. Your goal is to use the right language to accurately summarize your story in a way that reflects you best.
Take a look at this sample law school resume provided by the University at Buffalo School of Law:
Although this applicant has no work experience, they’ve still put together a solid resume emphasizing their scholastic achievements and involvement in academic leadership. The experiences they’ve chosen to include demonstrate many skills relevant to studying law!
Take a look at this resume from Yale Law School. This applicant was careful to focus on their work related to academics and scholastic experience.
This is a great example of how you can pick and choose various work and volunteer activities to highlight the skills that law school admissions committees are looking for.
Source: Yale Law School
Here’s an example resume from a student who was accepted into Harvard Law. This resume emphasizes relevant skills like technical writing and marketing. The inclusion of the “Presentations” and “Affiliations” sections demonstrates the applicant’s interests in a unique and relevant way.
Source: U.S. News
In this law application example, the applicant has focused on her accomplishments, both academic and work-related, and gives strong examples of where she demonstrated leadership skills. She also includes interesting personal information that could serve as a great conversation starter during an interview.
Do you still have questions about building or improving your law school resume? Read on to learn more!
Law schools like to see your real-world work experience and academic qualifications. Although your resume may not be the focal point of your application, law schools will still read it.
You can put whatever skills or interests you think the admissions committee should know about that you haven’t already discussed. Think about the things that make you unique and jot them down before you decide which points should go on your resume.
It depends on what the law school asks for, but you typically don’t have to. Law schools will see your LSAT scores and GPA through your CAS report.
Your resume should be one to two pages long and shouldn’t exceed this length.
All law school resumes should include your contact/personal information, education, work experience, and activities. If you haven’t participated in many activities, you can include them in your education section instead.
Building the perfect law school resume helps admissions committees easily digest your experiences and qualifications. Using these expert law school resume tips, you can craft a stellar, attention-grabbing resume.