Introduction to Legal Resumes

Legal resumes for studentsare just a little different than those prepared for non-legal jobs, and most legal employers will expect to see this unique format when you apply for a job.

Legal resumes are brief.  For most students, they are one page—unless you have graduated and have begun to get substantial experience, and will begin with your educational background rather than work experience.  Still, the purpose of your legal resume is like any other—to get an interview.  Your chances of doing this improve if your resume suggests that you are professional, competent, and interesting (in a good way).  You show you are a professional by preparing a well-done resume which lacks typos; that you are competent by carefully showcasing your honors and experience; and that you are interesting by highlighting your background, interests and community involvement.   Other than that, this is not rocket science—and, when it comes to legal resumes, you do NOT want to reinvent the wheel.  At the end of this article are links to some PDO handouts, including resume examples.  You should also review your PDO Handbook on this subject (1L’s—you will get a Handbook this week if you attend your orientations).

Basic Resume Format

Limit your resume to one page.

If preparing a hard copy, use good quality, bond paper in white, ivory or gray.

Use an easy-to-read, professional looking font.  Common ones are Times, Bookman, Arial, Garamond (a  favorite), Cambria and Calibri .

Typically, list items in chronological order under each heading, going from most recent to least recent.

There should be no “Objective” statement, and no “References Available upon Request.”

Basic sections will be included in this order: 

Contact information: Name; address; phone; email.

Tip: Try googling your email address.  If the results aren’t good, use a different email address.

Education:

The name of your school is: University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Also list your other colleges (in general)

Include when you expect or obtained your degree, major, and any graduation honors

Include activities and honors, including:

Grades/class standing/awards based on grades such as Leary Scholars.

 Scholarships and Fellowships.

Clubs, if you are an officer or led an initiative or an event.

Pro bono work.

Journals/published papers.

Moot Court, other competitions.

Work experience

Employer Name, City and State

Your Title and Dates of Employment

Description of and Duties/Accomplishments.  Use active verbs, do not ramble:

Example:  DON’T: “Was asked by judge to research and draft bench memoranda which were to be used by judge on a weekly basis as oral argument was prepared for”

DO: “Researched and drafted weekly bench memoranda to assist judge in preparing for oral argument.”

Finally, as applicable: Community / Volunteer/ Interests /Skills/ Certifications/Language (indicate level of ability): Be concrete—will be more interested, real, and give you a possible hook for conversation.