When you apply to law school, the admissions deans will be taking a close look at your resume to see how you spent your time as an undergrad. Law schools aren’t looking for hundreds of cookie cutter applicants who all do exactly the same thing–you should feel free to explore your interests and passions while building your pre-law resume. Here are some tips on building a pre-law resume that will allow you to explore your interests while impressing a law school admissions dean.
1. Go somewhere.
What it is: Illinois now has tons of study abroad opportunities over summer, winter break, and semester or yearlong programs all around the world worth checking out. Or consider Illinois in Washington to gain federal government/political contacts.
How it helps your law school resume: Like every industry, law is increasingly global in its reach. Law schools and legal employers like to see candidates with exposure to international cultures and issues, along with language skills. It shows not only an awareness of the global scale of local issues but a willingness to work with a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds and an interest in other cultures. Language skills are a big plus to a multinational legal entity. If your goal is to work in federal government or politics domestically, getting those contacts and experiences early will be a huge plus in the competitive world of federal government work.
2. Do something meaningful with your time.
What it is: Illinois has literally hundreds of student organizations (called RSOs) about every imaginable topic. Whether your passion is music, art, volunteering, kids, the environment, or sports, something exists for everyone. Don’t see an RSO about your passion? Start one!
How it helps your law school resume: Law and legal issues are part of nearly every facet of life, so it is possible to link almost any passion to a career in law. First, law schools like to see people with passion, and they want to see applicants that actually spend time working on their passions rather than just reading about them. Second, law schools like to see applicants who demonstrate effective time management outside of the classroom. Third, law schools and the board of admission to the bar want to see people join the profession who understand community/social issues and the importance of giving back through pro bono (volunteer) work…in many states it is required of licensed lawyers.
3. Gain transferrable skills.
What they are: Transferrable skills refer to skills you can learn on the job or in an internship that carry over to other areas–in this case, the legal field. Take a look at employers’ top 10 attributes they want in a candidate. You don’t have to work in a law office to learn the transferrable skills necessary to be an effective lawyer: ability to work in a team, communication skills, problem solving, strong work ethic, technical/computer skills, in addition to working with clients, giving presentations, marketing, managing people, working with budgets/handling money, resolving conflict…all of these are necessary skills that law school does not teach you.
How it helps your law school resume: Law schools and legal employers want candidates who understand how a business functions and who possess the professional skills mentioned above. Importantly, work experience also allows you to explore different jobs and work environments to begin to identify what your priorities are in a career. Do you want a fast-paced work environment with lots of deadlines or do you prefer open time to prioritize yourself? Do you like working closely with clients or do you prefer a less people-oriented environment? Are you looking for a job with lots of independence or do you like being part of a team? These are all elements of the work experience that can help you identify your career priorities moving forward. Now is the time to explore!
For more information on pre-law resumes:
If you’re in the early stages of drafting a resume, explore the Career Center’s workshops and resume review offerings.
Attend a Perfecting Your Personal Statement and Resume workshop this fall. Follow the link for our workshop calendar and register there.
Check out our online resume resources on our website here.