Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: Sample Résumé Teardown

BulldozerIt’s easy to give general advice about how to make your law school résumé the best it can be. It’s harder to actually do it, right?

Instead of talking generally, I thought it would be helpful to do a résumé teardown for a sample (fictional) law school applicant, so you can see how a humdrum résumé can morph into something pretty impressive!

The Before

Let’s get started. Take a look at Jane Doe’s resume below. It’s not horrible, but it’s basically just a list of all the jobs she’s ever had, with some basic information about her education.

Jane Doe's starting resume

Jane’s starting resume

Before we move on, what would you change?

My Advice

Several things jump out at me:

  1. Her education is more relevant, and more impressive, than her work experience. Consequently, it should go first.
  2. I want to see more detail throughout. Jane mentions she wrote an honors thesis, for example, but doesn’t give the title or tell us what it’s about. Similarly, her job descriptions are weak and don’t provide information about what she specifically accomplished.
  3. She’s devoted way too much space to irrelevant jobs. While it’s nice that she’s had a part-time job in college, and that she worked several summers for the YMCA, this isn’t the most critical information to highlight. If it’s there at all, it needs to be consolidated dramatically.
  4. The formatting is dreadful. Jane’s résumé looks like what it is – a list of jobs. With a little creativity, it can look a lot more professional and will be easier to skim for highlights.
The After

Here’s Jane’s revised résumé.

Jane's revised resume

Jane’s revised resume

Without even clicking for the full-sized version, it’s apparent that this résumé looks more professional. It’s got clear hierarchy, and appears to be dense with information.

Why It’s Better

If you open it, you’ll see several changes:

  1. Jane’s education is now front-and-center, as it should be. She’s added more details about her honors thesis and academic achievements, and has fleshed out the descriptions of her extracurricular experiences. She’s expanded the section on her study abroad experience, adding law school-relevant coursework and information about the non-profit internship she did in London. Hopefully, by the time the reader reaches the end of the revised education section, he’ll be convinced that Jane is a credible law school candidate. Even if he only glances at the rest of her résumé, it’s done its job.
  2. Jane has beefed up her job descriptions, focusing on her specific accomplishments and giving the reader a sense of what she really worked on. She’s highlighted her leadership experience, noting where she supervised, organized, or taught other members of the organization.
  3. Jane consolidated all of her YMCA jobs into a single listing, and eliminated her barista and waitress jobs. With the space she saved, Jane highlighted a very significant volunteer project, which she founded and has worked on extensively for seven years. Initially, Jane didn’t think of this project as “employment” so she just mentioned it briefly under volunteer activities. This was a mistake! Non-paid employment is employment, and Jane’s involvement in the Prison Library Project is extensive, ongoing, and directly relevant to her law school application. It should be emphasized in her résumé.
  4. Jane reformatted everything, using bold, italics, caps, and underlining consistently to add emphasis. It’s easy to scan her new resume, because the layout is consistent.
  5. Finally, Jane expanded her personal interests section to be more specific and more interesting. She added specific places she’s traveled, and drilled down to make her hobbies appear more unique. This approach better highlights her personality, and makes her seem more well-rounded.

How to Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In

Find out how to make every component of your law school application the best it can be:

Return to Applying to Law School 101.

So, what do you think? Did Jane nail it, or are there still things that could be improved?

Image by Michal Zacharzewski, SXC via stock.xchng.


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  1. Thanks for the great info! What if you did not complete a thesis and was an “ordinary” student that worked 40+ hours a week and was in school full time? Is there a way to put this in your resume or should you explain in your personal statement??

    • I think you’d want to include it both places, since that’s a serious time commitment and shows initiative. The job itself can go on the resume (including the time commitment, so it’s clear it’s not just a 10-hour/week part time thing) and I’d probably include something about it in your essays. Maybe not in your personal statement if it’s not relevant to what you’re writing about, but certainly in an addendum.

  2. Danielle Promaroli says

    Do you recommend a specific resume template? I find it difficult to reorganize an existing template or to create a template from scratch. Resume templates that exist through websites and microsoft word do not follow an exact or even similar format as recommended for law school.

  3. Thanks for the info, however, I am still LOST. Although I was an A student in high school, I was a lousy student in college. I lost my way and was not able to manage my new reigns of FREEDOM for several years. Finally, I started realizing that if I wanted to ever make a decent living and have a real career I had to get my act together and graduate with my college degree. With all that said, I am trying to let you know that I DO NOT have an impressive GPA at all. It is only a 2.8 and I don’t have any work experience related to law. Therefore, my resume is very skimpy and unimpressive. I don’t know what to do and would greatly appreciate any advice or assistance you can render.


    • Truthfully, I’d study as much as you can for the LSAT and hope for the best. A great LSAT score can cure a myriad of ills in law school admissions.

      • Hi Alison, this information was so helpful but I do have a question similar to Monty’s above. Like Monty, I was a lousy student in college due to a bipolar diagnosis my freshman year. I also received a 2.8. However, since graduation I’ve been working in a law firm (1 year 3 months) and am getting extensive legal experience. I took the LSAT once and received a 148 and I’m taking it again in February. For the legal experience, It’s a family law firm and I do everything from drafting pleadings and reports to Judges, going to court, sitting in on client meetings and taking telephone conferences. So it’s very hands on. I’m also the executive director of a family law association. How can make my legal experience stand out above my university scores on my resume? Can I also have an editable version of this template? Thanks in advance!

        • Elizabeth Greiner says

          Hi Victoria,

          Thanks for reaching out. We will send you the template. As for your legal experience vs your GPA, I would just make sure they are the focus of your resume. There’s no need to be a GPA on a resume. If you had any extracurriculars, etc you can put those under your college information. But I’d just make sure you include all of the work you are doing and make sure to think of it in terms of how the experience has helped you to grow and develop skills that will be useful for law school and a legal career. There’s nothing you can do if there is a GPA cut-off and they will most likely see your grades at some point, but I’d make sure you are just putting your best foot forward and highlighting all of your great experience. Hope that helps!

  4. This is amazingly helpful. Thank you so much for this side by side comparison.

  5. Patricia Settle says

    Where can I find this resume template?

  6. Is it possible to receive a copy of an editable version of the revised resume? Thanks so much!

  7. Oladayo Olaniran says

    Can I have a sample of application for admission into a law school?

  8. Hi there. Is it possible to get a the resume template as well? It looks awesome! Thank you very much xx

  9. Hello,

    The resume template looks great! May I get a copy of the editable version?

  10. Hi I love this! Could I also get a copy of the editable version? Thank you so much!

  11. This resume template looks great! May I please have an editable copy as well? Thank you!

  12. Hello! Can I get this resume template? Looks great!

  13. This is incredibly helpful! I am trying to re-write my resume for law school applications, and this is the best example I’ve seen. It allows more in-depth explanation which is lacking in the bulleted list resume that I currently have.

    Would it be possible to get the template? That would save me lots of time in reformatting! 🙂

  14. Hi! This resume looks great! May I get an editable template as well?

  15. Hi! Can I please get an editable version?

  16. Ellen Binnion says

    Could I get an the editable version of the resume as well! Its extremely helpful!

  17. Hello, I love the email template and I was wondering if I could get an editable version of it? I would appreciate it.

  18. Catherine Richardson says

    May I have a copy of this resume in word as well? Thank you!

  19. Hi Elizabeth,

    Two questions:

    1) If you have extensive work experience (10+ years) does that need to go first or does the education portion still go first, regardless?

    2) This is a beautiful template. May I also have an editable version?

    Thank you!

  20. What font and size format should be used? And is it ok that it goes over a page? It looks like she fit a lot on just one page so not sure on the format.

    • Elizabeth Greiner says

      I’ll send you a copy. There isn’t a set rule really on font etc. I personally would not go over a page (until you have years and years of legal experience – not for a law school resume). I would say you can make the font smaller to accommodate, but I’d ask a few people who haven’t seen it to read it and make sure it is readable. Sometimes you just have to make some tough cuts to keep it to a page.

  21. Savannah Dungan says

    Can you please send me a copy so I can edit it as well?

  22. Hello Elizabeth, thank you for this post! I have been active duty in the US Navy for the last 10 years and although I am in my early 30s, I have NEVER had to create a resume! Now as I transition to a civilian life and work on my law school application, it has been a struggle trying to find advice or even a simple template that looks nice. I would be so grateful if you would email me the editable version of this document!

  23. Hallie Schechter says

    Any chance I can get an editable version? Thanks in advance!

  24. Thanks so much for the tips, Alison! Could I get a copy of the resume template please?

  25. Harleen Kaur says

    Hi- This post was amazing! Can I get an editable version of this resume?

    Thank you!

  26. Thank you so much for this info! Could I get an editable version of this resume template?

  27. Rebecca Punnoose says

    Thank you so much for this! Can you send me an editable copy of this resume?

  28. Hi there! These tips are fantastic. Could I please have an editable copy of this?

  29. Hi thank you so much for sharing! Could you please email me an editable copy of your template?

  30. This is possibly the single best student resume resource out there! May I humbly request an editable copy of this template as well?

  31. Ashley Travis says

    This is so helpful…thank you! Is there a template available?

  32. Can I get an editable copy of the resume template? Thank you!

  33. Hi,
    Could I possibly also get a copy of this resume template? It’s my favorite one I’ve seen online and I can’t find anything close to it.

  34. Alexandria Doty says

    I would also really appreciate an editable version, thank you!

  35. Hi!

    This resume looks great! Could I please have an editable version? I would very much appreciate it!

  36. Would it be possible to get the editable version? It looks amazing and I definitely need assistance crafting my resume.

  37. Hi,

    Would you mind sharing the edited template?

    Thank yoU!

  38. Natalie Resendiz says

    Could I also be sent this word edited template?

    Seems like this post is still such a hit! 10 years later.

  39. Hi there! This is really helpful insight! May I have a copy of this resume template emailed to me, too, please?

  40. This resume is amazing! Can I please get an editable template of it?

  41. Hi there, this is the best resume template I’ve seen so far! I would greatly appreciate if someone could email me the editable version. Thanks in advance!

  42. Hi Alison, hope you are well! May I please receive an editable template of the revised essay? Thank you!

  43. Hello! Would I be able to receive a template of the revised resume as well? Thank you so much for your help and this article!

  44. Robyn Quinn says

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Could you email me a copy of the template used for this resume?

    Thanks in advance!

  45. Hi! This resume is great! Would you mind emailing an editable version of this resume template?

  46. Ashlea Ayers says


    Could I get a copy of this resume as well? Thank you!

  47. Very helpful article! Would it be possible to be emailed an editable copy of the resume? Thanks so much!

  48. Gianna M. says

    Hi! Could you please email me a copy of this resume template? Thanks so much!

  49. Hello! Is there any way I could be emailed the editable copy of the resume?

  50. Hi! Is there any way I could access an editable version of this resume? It’s perfect!


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