Craft a Law School Application That Gets You In: Perfect Your Résumé

TargetAlthough not dissimilar from the résumé you’d prepare for a job search, your law school application résumé should highlight the experiences you’ve had that are most relevant to success in law school and the legal profession. Specifically, focus on leadership, public speaking, and your reading, writing, and analytical skills.

If your college major is in an area where you wouldn’t generally be expected to do a lot of writing, it’s particularly critical to quell any doubts about your ability to handle the close reading and writing workload in law school. Including examples of lengthy, non-technical papers you’ve written can help, as can highlighting coursework that included a heavy reading load.

A Pretty Résumé is an Effective Résumé

Keep in mind that your résumé is an indication of your writing ability. It goes without saying that it needs to be technically perfect. Misspelling and grammatical errors must be avoided. Also think about how it looks. Is the alignment perfect? Have you used bold, underlining, or italics consistently?

Your goal should be to have a résumé that pops when someone glances at it.

Make the most important information leap off the page, using the layout and fonts to highlight the most important elements.

One useful technique for seeing what the reader is going to notice first is to print the résumé and tape it to a wall across the room. Start far enough back that you can’t read anything and slowly walk forward until the writing becomes legible. What do you see first? Is that what you want the admissions committee to focus on? If not, revise the formatting until the most important elements are highlighted.

A Concise Résumé is an Effective Résumé

Unless the school requests otherwise, it’s not necessary to include every single job you’ve ever had. Feel free to drop your summer lifeguard job when you were sixteen. That being said, including some fairly menial jobs isn’t the worst idea, as it shows that you’ve had a good work ethic from an early age and demonstrates that you’re able to balance competing demands on your time. Just don’t waste a ton of space detailing your responsibilities for these early jobs. Focus on what’s most important.

Don’t Lie

In case you’re considering embellishing your background, don’t. It’s bad karma, and it might come back to bite you if the bar examiners find out you lied on your law school application and refuse to admit you to practice.

One Surefire Way to Improve Your Résumé

When you think your résumé is finished, print it out and go through it line by line to make sure it’s perfect. Then give it to at least two people you trust, and ask how you could improve it.

Repeat this cycle until you’re all convinced it’s as persuasive as it can possibly be. Then wait 24 hours, read it again, and make sure there’s nothing else that should be changed. At that point, you’re finished!

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:

How could your résumé be better? Check out this sample résumé teardown to see improvement in action!

Return to Applying to Law School 101.

Have specific questions or concerns on your law school résumé? Leave them in the comments!

Image by digitalemu via stock.xchng.


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  1. marche kromah says

    Hey My name is Marche kromah I’m 15 years old and i want to be a lawyer
    I will like for you to tell me more about lawyer and what i need to know about then i will never give up for what i want.

  2. Chelsea Khan says

    I’m currently putting together my resume for law school. I have several resumes that I tweak depending on what its for and I’ve always used the same format using a bright orange color for some of the ascents. I like hoe it looks and it makes the page pop. Is this appropriate for a law school resume or should I change it to be just black and white? Every sample resume I look at is plain black and white, but it just doesn’t seem to pop to me. Please let me know your advice!

    • I’d definitely leave off the orange! Sadly, this isn’t the place to get super creative with formatting, as the legal profession is still quite conservative in these respects. Maybe underline or bold?


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