Résumé Writing for Law School Applications

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The résumé you submit with your law school applications can make or break your chances of getting in. If you submit a one-page résumé meant for employers that fails to account for how you've spent your time outside of the working world, then you're doing yourself a disservice. This is no place for "Objectives" or a "Summary of Qualifications." Your résumé should highlight financial self-reliance, language proficiencies, exposure to different cultures, community service activities, professional responsibilities, and even hobbies that require dedication and commitment. By explaining all of your accomplishments, interests and skills on your résumé, you're given the freedom to use the personal statement to really add something new and interesting to your application.

But how to attack this? First, make a list of everything you've done that fits into one of these five headings:

- Education

- Honors

- Activities

- Employment

- Skills 

You may not need all of these headings, and you may even need more headings depending on how long you've been out of school and how many different things you've done, but this is a good starting point. 

Within each of these five headings, list each item in reverse chronological order.

Education: For schools attended, list the degree received, the name of the school, the city and state of its location, and the date of graduation. Include your major areas of study and your GPA (and, if higher, your major GPA). Study abroad institutions can be listed here as well. 

Honors, Activities, and Employment: List your title (Member, Vice President, Intern, Marketing Assistant, etc...), the name of the employer, the city and state of its location, and the dates you worked. If it was a significant time commitment during school, state the number of hours you worked per week. Then, add bullet points of accomplishments and duties for each, and quantify your successes when possible. 

Skills: section can include language proficiencies, games, athletics, significant computer programming skills, and musical and artistic pursuits. 

Now, look over everything and check for the following:

1. Are all of these significant activities? If you only volunteered for Habitat for Humanity for one weekend, take it off your résumé.

2. Are any of these items from high school? If so, remove them.

3. Did you refer to yourself in the first person when writing descriptions? If so, adjust wording choices accordingly.

4. Did you use past tense to describe things you did in the past, and present tense to describe things you're currently doing? If not, make sure to do that.

5. Did you format everything consistently? Same kind of bullet points in each section? Same tabs? Did you present all information in the same order (title, institution, city, state, dates)? Do you end each description with a period or not?

If you describe each of your endeavors well on the résumé, you won't have to bore the reader with your personal statement's retelling of how you recruited more members to the club or the number of meetings you held with your sorority standards board. If you worked while in school (and/or since) the law schools should have a clear idea about your time commitments, ability to multi-task, and financial responsibility simply because you did a thorough job on your résumé. 

The résumé is the most often overlooked opportunity within the application packet. By following these guidelines for getting started on your résumé, you will be more likely to remember the many things you've accomplished, which will heighten your chance of getting in.

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