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5 Keys to Great Law School Resumes

  • by Matt Shinners
  • Aug 07, 2013
  • Admissions

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Writing your law school personal statement is a daunting task. But at least you can quickly realize that you don’t have to boil your entire life down into two pages – you can tell a single story that had a profound impact on you.

The résumé, on the other hand…

You have one page to tell me what you’ve done with your life. Go.

A lot of people view the law school résumé as superfluous. While it doesn’t carry the weight of other elements, it does represent a whole lot more. You’ll be showing the law school what type of student you are, what you spent your time doing, and what accomplishments you can list. It sets the tone of your life, and if it doesn’t create a good impression, admissions officers will be going through your law school application with a sour taste in their mouths.

So how can you make a great résumé?

Key #1 to a Great Law School Résumé: Cut anything from high school

You were captain of your school’s baseball team and drove a sweet Camaro. Good for you. Now cut that stuff from your law school résumé.

If you have high school achievements on your law school résumé, schools will think you peaked in high school (which is just sad). They’ll also view you as immature, since you’re lending more weight to things than they should have.

Unless it’s an Olympic medal, it’s gone.

Key #2 to a Great Law School Résumé: One page. Seriously

I’ve edited hundreds of résumé going to law schools. Two of them have warranted a second page.

Two.

One person had spent a decade doing missionary work overseas. The other was a decorated military veteran. If you aren’t either of these people, get it down to one page.

I don’t need a description of your job as an administrative assistant. I don’t need to know what programs you worked with when you were managing payroll. Let me know what you spent your time doing, and leave it at that.

Key #3 to a Great Law School Résumé: This is an academic résumé

What’s this mean? Your academic achievements should be highlighted. Education information up top, cut work achievements to fit in academic ones, and include relevant coursework/papers if you need to fill in some space.

Key #4 to a Great Law School Résumé: I don’t care that you’re good at MS Word

Throwing a section in the bottom letting me know that you’re proficient in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint is a waste of space. Including an Objective section is a waste of space. I assume you’re proficient in Word at a level that law school work requires because you’re submitting an essay written in Word. I know your objective in applying to law school – to get into law school.

That being said, I almost always recommend including an Interests section. You never know who’s going to share your love of crafting homemade butter churns and become a cheerleader for you during the process.

Key #5 to a Great Law School Résumé: Add depth to your other elements

A résumé should create depth to the rest of your law school application package.

Talk about your desire to go into public interest? I better see something on your résumé to back this up. Want to use your degree to go into some type of corporate law? (*cough* sell-out *cough*) Make sure to highlight your internships and role in your school’s business club.

Whatever you talk about in your personal statement should be backed up in the résumé.

Check in next week for some law school résumé formatting tips!

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