As a law school student or new graduate looking for work, one of your most valuable tools before the interview is your resume. There are certain features your employer will look for within the resume to help them first decide whether to interview you and potentially whether to offer you a position. So, I’m going to help you craft the best legal resume.
This article will discuss some of the features employers look for including style, employment history, and everything between. Additionally, I’ll share my legal resume that I used when preparing for On Campus Interviews (OCIs). Finally, I’ll provide my legal resume template that you can use in your preparation.
Style and Formatting
The more simple your design, the better. There are a lot of resumes out there that want to be cute and bubbly in addition to the professional aspect (claiming it shows personality). That’s not helpful. Instead, those designs can be quite distracting. The purpose of the resume is to draw the employers attention to the details that matter, and an engaging heading could pull eyes away from those particular details.
Let’s start with the top of the resume. Your name should be the first thing the employer sees, centered. Directly under your name should be your contact information.
I like to divide each section with a section divider. A thin line stretching across the page to signal a new section.
Within each section, your important information (such as education or employment history) will appear on the left of the page while the dates of those activities will appear on the right.
Keep the standard 1 inch margins. In other words, do not adjust the page margins to fit more information. Adjusting the margins cause the page content to appear too crowded. Finally, keep your content all on one page (trust me, that’s the hardest part). This means that you have to be picky about what content appears in your resume.
What to include
Your educational history should include your law school and your undergraduate university. If you attended more than one university during your undergraduate, only list the one that you attended. You should also list the city and state location, graduating dates, GPA, class rank (if available), and any honors.
As a young professional, it is quite possible that you have had many employment opportunities. There is no need to list every job you ever had. What I like to do is create a master resume. A master resume lists every piece of experience I have had. Depending on the type of job I am applying for, then I can remove certain experiences from that resume. For instance, I was a lifeguard in high school. When I am applying for a Summer Associate position at a law firm, that lifeguard experience does very little to share my legal experience when compared with other positions I have had.
It is also important to note that employers look for employees who are less likely to have a high turnover rate. As such, it is important to have long-term positions. If you are employed for only a short amount of time, then there should be a good reason for that short term (internships are good examples of short term employment).
Using this information, you should list your experiences with your most recent job at the top and least recent job at the bottom. If you are currently working two jobs, list the job that you have been at longer as the first position on that list.
Volunteer and Leadership Experience
In addition to showcasing your interests, volunteer and leadership experiences informs the employer about your capacity to work well with others. Once again though, you will want to choose which volunteer and leadership positions are important to share.
Achievements and Other Interests
This section is likely the most simple part of your entire resume. The section comprises of two very straightforward lists. First, what awards/achievements have you earned. Second, what are some of your hobbies. You hobbies should be interesting and show your personality, but may also be utilized to demonstrate how you may be a valuable asset to the firm.
There has been a lot of information shared. However, some of the best ways to visualize the description is through an actual example. Attached is a copy of my resume that I have used for OCIs. I have found it to be a helpful and successful tool in finding employment opportunities. Enjoy!
Download My 2L Legal Resume
Here is a word template of a legal resume that you can follow as you prepare for OCIs.
Download the Legal Resume Template