Preparing Your Legal Resume

Legal résumésare just a little different than those prepared for non-legal jobs.  They are shorter (one page), and will typically begin with your educational background rather than work experience.  Still, the purpose of your legal résuméis like any other—to get an interview.  Your chances of doing this improve if your résumésuggests that you are professional, competent, and interesting (in a good way).  You show you are a professional by preparing a well-done résuméwhich 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 résumés, you do NOT want to reinvent the wheel.  This article will explain the basics of the widely-accepted format for a legal résumé.  At the end are links to helpful PDO handouts, including résumé examples.  You should also review your PDO Handbook on this subject and plan to attend the Résumés and Cover Letters workshop, Tuesday, November 10, at 11:00 a.m. in Room 107.

Basic Résumé 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 (my favorite), 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.


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

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

Include activities and honors:

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.