Resume Tips for Pre-Law Students & Alumni

Are you an undergrad student applying to legal jobs and internships? Or getting ready to graduate and applying to full-time legal jobs before law school? Either way, here are tips for prepping your resume.

Keep updating your resume. You should be ready to apply for positions as soon as they are posted–the earlier, the better. So your resume should be updated, polished, and ready to go at any time.

Accurately describe your degree.

        • If you are in LAS, your degree isn’t in “history” or “English”–it’s a Bachelor of Arts (or possibly science) in Liberal Arts & Sciences with a major of history or English. (Not sure what exact degree you’re getting? Click on your major in the Academic Catalog to find out which degree you’re getting.)
        • A double major is not two degrees when the two majors are in the same college. It’s one degree consisting of two majors. For example: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences. Majors: Communication and Political Science.
        • A double degree–two majors from two separate colleges–IS two different degrees and should be indicated as such. For example: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Major: History
          Bachelor of Science. Major: Advertising
        • If you have not yet graduated, then your resume should indicate “Expected Graduation: May 2020” or whenever you expect to graduate. If you have graduated, then the date should be Month Year.

Start and update a master resume. You may have multiple versions of your resume. At some point, you will gather so many work and internship experiences that you can pick and choose which to include depending on the job for which you’re applying. Having a master resume with every one of your jobs and internships, along with the primary duties of each, will let you develop job-specific resumes over time. (Also: When you apply to sit for the bar exam, you must provide a list of every job you’ve held and when, so this is a great document to have for the future.)

Be concise. Lawyers are very busy. Keep it to one page unless you have several years of post-college work experience.

Use action verbs. Drafted, presented, created, researched: these are all action verbs. Use this list of action verbs if you need ideas.

Watch your verb tenses. Is the job over? Then your verbs should be in the past tense. Are you still working there? Then it should be in the present tense.

Keep the format simple and clean. This is not an industry that enjoys creative fonts, colors, pictures, fun formats, etc.

Be specific. Go beyond the title you had to describe what, exactly, you did. Over what period of time? How many people were involved? What was the budget? What was the end product or deliverable?

Edit to perfection. Legal professionals must be DETAIL ORIENTED, and mistakes will be noticed. The resume should be 100% error free, meaning:

ABSOLUTELY NO: typos, grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation, or incorrect use of words like “there” and “their”

No need to include the following in your resume for law school or for a legal job:

      • Professional goal. Law schools/legal positions aren’t looking for this.
      • Skills overview. They will determine or infer what skills you have based on what you present elsewhere in the resume.
      • A list of specific courses you took. If they want to know that, they will request and review your transcript.
      • High school information or activities. By the time you are a junior/senior in college, this is no longer recent or relevant.

Want to know more or see examples? Visit our Pre-Law Handbook for more details on law school/legal job resumes. (Click on the Applying to Law School tab, and then on the Law School Resumes sub-tab.)

Take it to the career center and/or make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to have it reviewed. Not sure whether to include something? Talk to us and we will help you decide what is the best use of your resume space.