Law School Résumé Tips: How to Format the Thing

Now that we know some keys to a great law school résumé, let’s take a look at the formatting and structure.

First off, the header. Your full name (no nicknames, Slick Rick), cell phone, e-mail address, and home address should be featured. Make sure your e-mail address is something professional – if you’re still QTluva69, it’s time to get a new Gmail address.

After that, it’s time for your academic information. This is, after all, an academic résumé, so this information should be listed first. The only exception is if you have 5+ years of impressive work experience. Even then, though, I’d still recommend putting the academic information up top.

Here, you should have your school, dates of attendance, degree granted, and GPA. Include a section for any honors you were awarded (including Dean’s List). Then, put any extracurriculars in which you had some type of leadership position. If this section is sparse, don’t worry too much. However, you do want to fill up a page, so think of anything you can add to make that happen.

Now, on to work experience. List any jobs you had, starting with the most recent and most impressive. These should include the name of the company, your position, and the dates of employment, along with a short description of the position and any accomplishments as bulleted points. If you need room, cut explanations for certain positions — I don’t need to know that, as a waiter, you were tasked with customer service and crisis management. That’s what a waiter does. If you still need to cut, remove summer jobs, less impressive positions (like camp counselor, not missionary), and the jobs from which you are furthest removed.

Finally, I always like to add an interests section. You never know when your love of B-movies from the ‘80s is going to align with someone reading your law school application and result in a cheerleader on the admission committee. Most of my interview for HLS consisted of talking about a favorite sci-fi novelist of mine who happened to be a favorite of the interviewer. Don’t take up too much space — one or two lines, max. And don’t list anything too strange. But anything that makes you seem like more of a person will strengthen your law school résumé.

8 Responses

  1. Rebeka Smithson says:

    I did Running Start, a program that allows Juniors and Seniors in high School the opportunity to take college classes, and graduated High School with my AA. Due to this should I include information about my high school activities during those years?

    • Matt Shinners says:

      Nope – they’re still high school activities. They want to see that you continued to contribute in college (or, if you didn’t contribute to your HS, that you started to in college).

  2. Hope Shelton says:

    Should I include references on the resume?

    • Greg Nix says:

      No need. You’ll be including your Letters of Rec, plus all the other application materials. Their not going to call your boss from Piggly Wiggly to check in on you.

  3. April says:

    Hey Matt, thanks for the help. I have found your tips to be very useful. I do have a quick question though. During college I was a member of a faith based org and I spent several months overseas, in the middle east, doing missions work. I hesitate to include this on the law school resume bc I have gotten flack before for including it on resumes for internships in the past. What do you think?

    • Greg Nix says:

      Hey April,
      If you feel the work you did would contribute to a law school’s overall understanding of your work history and career ambitions, you should include it, especially if you’re just coming out of undergrad and don’t have much other experience. If you already have an extensive resume and this was only a couple months in the somewhat distant past, it probably doesn’t do either of those things and you might consider leaving it off.

      Either way, I’m not sure why a law school would give you flack for volunteer work, faith-based or otherwise, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

  4. Shawn says:

    Sorry man, I gotta know: which sci-fi author? Was it Dick? Gene Wolfe? I promise I’m not going to copy it for my resumé, just intensely curious.

  5. lucy says:

    I attended two schools for undergrad, but the first one was just for a semester and it was a dance conservatory program so there was no relevant coursework for law school… do I have to include this on my CV?

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