Law School Resume Tips

Posted by Ann Levine | August 7, 2007

In today’s posting, Brett of The Frugal Law Student gave one really great resume tip that applies to law school directed resumes, not just employment seeking resumes.

“Give figures and be specific. In your past job descriptions or volunteer section, give specific figures of what you accomplished while holding that position. For example, I used to train third party verifiers for gas and electric companies. Instead of just putting trainer, I put “Trained 15 new employees on how to perform third party verifications.” If your only job experience are part time jobs during college, put down how many hours you worked during a week while going to school full time. This shows employers that you know how to multi task and manage your time.”

And here’s my tip of the day on this subject: Put Education First. You’re applying for a position at an institute of higher education. List your degree(s), honors, activities, etc. from education before listing your employment. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general it applies to everyone who graduated from college within the last 10 years.

Categories: Law School Resume

41 Comments »


41 Responses to “Law School Resume Tips”

  1. R. N. says:

    First–I love reading your blog. Your advice is positive and constructive, which is so much better than what is written on law school discussion forms (don’t worry, I too your advice and stopped reading them).

    I am creating my resume and am wondering if I should include a cover letter. Is this needed? Also, I would like to have my contact info, education, and work experience only. Do you need hobbies, achievements, etc?

    Thank you for any help you are willing to give.

  2. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Thanks! I’m so happy to finally have a comment on this year-old post!
    No cover letter (only things called for in an application).
    If you have interesting hobbies and achievements, by all means add them in.

  3. R. N. says:

    Thank you so much for your help!

  4. Jill says:

    A couple questions on law school application resumes:
    If I am taking a year off between undergrad and law school, should I include my current employment (a year-long fellowship) before education/college stuff? Also, what sort of college stuff is important to include now that I am out of college? For example, I had a few part-time jobs (one was teaching an LSAT class), and a few internships. Also, I was very involved and held many leadership positions–are they still important?
    Thanks so much for your advice! Love the blog,
    JZ

  5. Maya says:

    Hi there. Thanks so much for your blog, the tips are really useful. I was wondering if you have any advice for a teacher’s resume for law school. I have 5 years experience but am not exactly sure what to put down. Thanks in advance for your reply!

  6. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Hi Maya, your teaching experience is very relevant and you can present it in the same format you would for any other job.

  7. Kim says:

    What is the best way to present your education if you are not at the top of your class or did not receive high honors? I received a 3.4gpa and graduated college in 3 years. Thanks for your help in advance.

  8. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Kim: Here are 3 ways-
    1. Faculty LORs
    2. Making it clear in your resume that you graduated in 3 years
    3. Mentioning it in your personal statement.
    Good luck!

  9. femmenoir says:

    hello anne,
    stumbled upon your blog by chance (and am thankful in that occurring) when researching how to approach the resume portion of the law school app…i am currently in grad school for film and am transitioning out to apply to law school. i attended uc berkeley with a gpa in the mid 3′s and have a graduate gpa at USC film school now close to a 4.0. i have several years of production experience on a tv show and in music videos, agency work, and most recently a music law firm. given that ive worked in the most recent years and produced personal projects in the entertainment realm, do you think i should approach the resume displaying more professional work experience / projects ive produced versus academic accomplishments since that is what i have been involved in more since graduating berkeley? just a little confused with this portion, any advice on a entertainment lawyer to be?…that is if she gets into her top law schools :) also my LSAT was in the low 140s and I feel iffy about how high i may score since im not the greatest standardized test take…do you think extensive work experience a solid GPA recs and personal statement could help me out? im in my late 20s and feel like im late in the game to approaching law school so any advice would be appreciated…and thanks for putting a blog like this out there in cyber land…its a huge relief to an overanalytical mind…

    All the best…

  10. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Hi Femmenoir,
    Your LSAT issue is more troubling than the resume issue. I would tell one of my clients to include everything on the resume (since high school graduation anyway) and to let me help decide what to condense, exclude, explain, etc.
    Feel free to give yourself credit for all of your college and career accomplishments.

  11. femmenoir says:

    ann, thank you very much for the prompt reply. my lsat score is troubling, i do know this and recently nerves got the best of me with a meltdown so i decided to chill out, leave work and take another 2 months to stay home and study for the dec test instead of rushing to take the oct one. im applying to columbia nyu ucla loyola usc hastings berkeley southwestern and pepperdine…are there any of this bunch that im applying to that may see factors outside the lsat score (like professional work experience, grad school grades, accomplishments on my films, a kick ass personal statement etc) as factors which may raise the bar on my chances of admittance? thank you again for your time and insight.

  12. Maya says:

    Thanks for your advice Ann! I’m almost done with my resume but was wondering two things:

    1) Is there a sample format that is preferred? I’ve seen so many online and am not sure if one is better than the other.

    2) What do you think about putting in Hobbies/Interests?

    Take care.

  13. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Hi Maya – no specific template is better than any other. The substance is more important than the form, but it should look professional.
    Hobbies and Interests are good if they are distinguishing, interesting, and/or significant.

  14. ranaeblackerby says:

    Thanks for the site!!! I have found some very helpful information. I am participating in an internship next semester but I am applying to law school this semester. How can I include a future internship in my resume? Thanks.

  15. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Hello Ranaeblackerby,
    You can either put “Anticipated” in the description or just update the law schools under separate correspondence when you’ve begun the internship. Good luck!
    Ann

  16. Ranae says:

    Thanks so much!!!!

  17. kickmeup says:

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you for your concise advice!

    I’m working on my resume now and have about 3 pages of employment, education and personal info. How much is too much? I have been out of school for 5 years, so I think I need to emphasize my employment history. I’ve read elsewhere that I should keep it at one page. What do you suggest?

    Thanks!

  18. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    Kickmeup: 3 pages seems excessive for only being out of school for 5 years. 2 pages would be reasonable. It might just be that your job descriptions are too wordy…..

  19. kickmeup says:

    Alright, thank you Ann!

    Should I eliminate information from during college unless it’s specifically requested?

  20. Ann K. Levine, Esq. says:

    YES!

  21. Courtenay says:

    Hi Ann,

    Under the Education heading in my resume, I have a place for Honors/Awards. Should scholarships earned during undergrad be mentioned?

  22. Ann Levine says:

    Courtenay – the answer is “yes”!

  23. Stephanie says:

    I really appreciate all your advice in reply to earlier comments. I have a few of my own:

    1) I was a semi-finalist and quarter-finalist for prestigious national merit scholarships. Do I include this on my resume, or does it send a negative message?

    2) I want to show law schools that I worked hard to support myself while holding my grades up, and participating in extra curriculars. Can I condense this to “Worked 10-20 hours per week during all four years of college. Positions include…”

    3) A college career counselor once told me to put “Self-financed XX% of educational expenses” at the foot of my resume in bold print. What do you think of this advice?

    4) I read your advice about putting leadership/extracurriculars before employment. I have only been out of school for 2 years, but my employment in this time is relevant to the work done in law school (analyzing legislative bills, working on political campaigns, writing legal research reports). Is it a bad idea to put this stuff above college extracurriculars?

    Any advice would be much appreciated :-)

  24. Should you include your highest LSAT score on your resume for law school admission?

    Should you include your permanent address, school address, or both on your resume?

  25. Rhomteen says:

    Hi, Ann, the advice you give is great and your book is helping me out a lot. Do you know where I can get the right template for creating my resume that you approve? Thanks

    • Ann Levine says:

      Rhomteen,
      I’m so glad the book is helping. I don’t have a particular template I recommend – so long as it’s the right substance, organized well, and consistent throughout then it’s fine.

  26. Jessica Alba Interview says:

    Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and in depth information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  27. Alana says:

    Hi Ann!

    I am currently applying to transfer and was wondering if I should put my blog in my resume. I have a blog about health and wellness that has been up for about 5 months. I know for professional resumes they say not to put personal blogs, but I thought that maybe this could show an interesting side to me that may appeal to law schools. You can check it out yourself by clicking my name to see if its law school appropriate. Thanks!
    Alana

    • Ann Levine says:

      Alana, Law schools will be interested IF the blog has some measure of success – a certain # of subscribers/hits/revenue, etc. A blog about something not related to your career/goals that is not a business venture is not incredibly persuasive. It really all depends on what your purpose is with the blog, the time you have put into it, etc.

  28. Gabriel says:

    Hello Ann,

    I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in political science. I’m starting my junior year this fall and was wondering how important work experience is to the law school admissions process, (I don’t have much.) I’ve been involved at my church and have began volunteering at several other places here in my area, but sometimes I feel I haven’t done enough.. I plan on joining a “Pre-Law” society at school next semester as well. My grades are good and I purchased the Logic, RC and Analytical Reasoning bibles from PowerScore. I’m not taking the LSAT until Oct 2013, but have touched on some studying as of late.

    Thank you!

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Gabriel,
      I think every candidate is different. No one has work experience and leadership and perfect grades. The important thing is to do well with the things that you do. Joining the Pre Law Society is good for exploring whether law is right for you and arming yourself for information, but try to find a niche for yourself – in the PreLaw group or elsewhere – where you can distinguish yourself in something that is meaningful to you.

  29. Courtney says:

    Hi Ann – thanks a bunch for your blog and books! A quick question on the resume: I have a strong academic record but I’ve been out of school for 8 years. During the first half of that time, I worked a bunch of random jobs, several in food service, one in inventory, and two in housekeeping – nothing that built a career. For the past 4 years, I’ve managed my own businesses, an eco-friendly cleaning business and a fledgling massage therapy business.

    Clearly, I’ll discuss these two businesses in detail. But is it necessary to list each of the service-oriented, menial jobs? Can I instead consolidate them into a couple of categories – food service and odd jobs (or some other heading)? Is this going to look like I’m trying to avoid discussing them or like a practical, space-saving, anti-redundancy technique? Also, any tips on what I should say about them?

    Thanks a bunch!

  30. jkim says:

    Hi Ann, thank you for numerous tips on the blog.
    I’ve read from another post by you that including high school experience on the resume is a bad idea.
    I’m graduating from college in 2.5years, and I do not have much, if any, work experience or extracurricular activities to put on the resume. I’m planning on explaining these on the personal statement.
    I was thinking of including my activities from high school to show that the holes in my resume does not represent who i am, but was a choice i had to make.
    Do you think it is still a bad idea to include those on the resume?
    Thank you!

    • Ann Levine says:

      JKim, My issue here is that it can come off looking like you underperformed in college. People who were Eagle Scouts and valedictorians in high school who don’t really do much during college can look like they don’t know how to push themselves and need their parents to push them. You know what I mean?

  31. Pepper says:

    Hi Ann,
    Is there a best way to demonstrate that education and work experience were concurrent? I realize the dates are written out, but I’m finding myself confused by conflicting advice. Some say it’s very important to show if you worked through school. Should I just leave the dates and assume the connection will be drawn correctly? Thanks!

  32. Jason says:

    Hi Ann,

    I am just wondering how I should list my gap-year program. I spent two years in this program before attending college, and that is where I got most of my traveling experience before college done.

    Currently, I have it posted in both education, chronologically under my College institution, as well as in the Work Experience section. Would it be OK for me to put a pre-college work experience section for me to elaborate more on the leadership positions I had in the program, or should I just add it to the education section and nowhere else?

    Thank you. Also, your book, The Law School Admission Game, as well as this blog, have been very helpful. I hope all is well.

    Jason

    • Ann Levine says:

      Hi Jason, you could put this in the Personal section of your resume. I don’t really understand the nature of the program you did, but it could go under a Travel section also.
      I am so happy that the book and blog have been helpful! (I always appreciate 5-star reviews on Amazon if you are so inclined).

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