Law school applications: Resumes

Every law school accepts and most require a resume as part of the application package. You should always submit one—it’s one more way to tell your story.

There are any number of resources available to help you create a persuasive resume, including the UMass SBS Pathways resume pages, the central UMass Career Services website, the IConnect (Isenberg’s Virtual Career Center), and the other college-based career advisors. You should take advantage of these resources. As you choose among the many formats available for your resume, there are only a couple of specific tips to remember for law schools:

First, law school resumes may depart from the traditional one-page limit recommended for most entry-level resumes, unless a law school explicitly limits you to one page. If the combination of your education, work experience, community/volunteer service, and extra-curricular activities genuinely exceeds one page, then let it roll over to two pages. Better that than tiny fonts or skimpy margins. If you are an alum and have built up substantial work experience, you probably started breaking the one-page rule already.

Second, omit the extraneous “Objective” section still found on many resume templates (the reader already knows your objective is to go to law school), as well as any “Skills” section that only lists familiarity with normal office software applications (which most readers will assume you have). The Skills section may include less common software and other skills, however.

Third, don’t omit the less glamorous non-office work experience you’ve been doing to pay the bills. Your work in retail, food service, construction, landscaping, or childcare (to name the most common examples) demonstrates something about your work ethic and about what you’ve been spending time on while you’ve been earning that enviable GPA—important context for evaluating the rest of your application. There are also many more transferable skills than you’d imagine from that work into law world. Certainly, you can safely omit bullet points describing what a cashier does, but don’t omit the job entirely.

Fourth, remember that the legal profession as a whole, including law professors, are professionally (not necessarily politically) conservative by nature. Don’t indulge in any fancy fonts or artsy presentations. Choose a straightforward format and a basic, easily readable font.

Finally, even though you are submitting a resume, do not fill in any part of your electronic application with “Please see attached resume.”  You must both fill in the blanks exactly as each law school requests, and submit the same (or similar) information in the format you choose for your resume.

More about Statements, essays, resume, and addenda

See an overview of the entire application process