If you are applying to study at law school, or are in law school and want to apply for an internship, you’re going to need a well-written law school resume.
Even if you want to volunteer during your gap year, before you start law school, a compelling resume will help you stand out from all the other applicants who have the same idea as you!
We are going to help you tailor your resume to meet the needs of a law school resume.
Resume objective for law school
Law school resumes are similar to those you will use in future years to get a job as an attorney. However, they should be more academic-focused because your audience is different.
Traditionally, a resume starts with an objective that states, in a nutshell, why you are applying for a job.
An objective is no longer considered essential on resumes. But, if you want to include a short statement at the top of the document, highlight your skills and accomplishments, including leadership and academic achievements. Keep it short and don’t include unnecessary fluff.
Presuming you are applying to law school to study for a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, your audience will be the admissions committee. So, it’s important to match your skills, qualifications, and abilities with those the school is looking for.
The University at Buffalo School of Law advises against including objectives and summaries of qualifications on resumes.
They do, however, like the idea of a separate personal statement that tells a short story and shows who you are. In fact, they state that some law schools now request a resume and a personal statement.
Many law schools provide guidelines for resumes. Be guided by what the law school you’re applying to asks for.
Dedicated legal student with a BS in Criminal Justice, determined to study for a JD degree.
Resume skills for law school
Lawyers help clients to resolve issues. They need to win their clients’ trust and respect so that they will share personal information that is related to their case.
As a lawyer, you will need to be able to research and write and communicate with clients and the legal team. You will also need to be able to present your cases clearly and eloquently.
For this reason, as the BLS points out, lawyers – and therefore those planning to study law – need analytical, interpersonal, problem-solving, research, speaking, and writing skills.
The American Bar Association (ABA) focuses attention more directly on law students, stating that they should pursue undergraduate programs that give them the opportunity to develop core skills in various areas:
- Critical analysis
- Critical reading (and understanding)
- Project management
- Time management
- Listening comprehension
You can see that these are closely related to the skills the BLS highlights. You will also see that these skills share common traits that are relied upon by lawyers in all legal fields.
Once they get to law school, students will learn how to think like lawyers.
Thinking and reading are vital for judgment and evaluation. And because the ultimate goal of legal practice is to win court cases, these skills are critical for developing and presenting persuasive arguments in a court of law.
Research | Analysis | Problem-solving | Critical reading and writing | Persuasive public speaking | Project management | Communication and interpersonal skills
Law school work experience
Many students take a gap year after graduating with a bachelor’s degree and starting at law school.
Apart from providing a welcome break from intense study, it provides a perfect opportunity to get in some valuable work experience that you can add to your resume when you apply to law school or for an internship.
InGenius Prep, an organization formed in 2013 by former admissions officers who worked at Yale University, suggests a number of possibilities, all of which will help to build your resume.
Since you have a bachelor’s degree, you could work as a paralegal or legal assistant. If you have administrative skills, you could apply to work as a legal secretary.
Alternatively, you could work in the legal department of a business or volunteer to work for a senator or another government official. You might even get a job managing a campaign that would also help to develop your organizational skills.
If you have other interests besides law, they say, it’s a good time to try other fields that you are keen to learn more about. It will also help you ensure that law really is the career path you want to follow.
Sample Work Experience
Legal Assistant, Securities, 2020
Provided legal support for the company’s Corporate and Securities Legal group. I have a bachelor’s degree and considerable administrative experience.
- Provided support for Section 16 reporting and day-to-day insider trading matters.
- Provided administrative support for public company corporate, securities, and governance matters.
- Undertook drafting of internal and external communications.
- Maintained critical process compliance including calendaring, filing, and task tracking in support of functions relating to reporting of securities.
King County, WA
Victim Advocate, 2019
Undertook complex legal work that required specialist knowledge in the areas of victim advocacy, criminal justice, and domestic abuse. Provided advocacy on domestic violence cases.
- Provided immediate crisis intervention to domestic crisis victims.
- Assessed victims’ needs and provided support, assistance, and information throughout the procedure process.
- Initiated hundreds of contacts with victims after receiving police reports and charging documents. Kept victims informed.
- Prepared victims for interviews and court proceedings that were almost always exceedingly stressful.
National Security Division, WA DC
Law Student Volunteer, 2018
Unpaid internship that involved compelling research and writing tasks. Addressed criminal law and litigation in relation to U.S. national security.
- Researched security issues and wrote 15 papers for the record.
- Drafted memoranda and other documents that required substantial legal and policy analysis.
- Assisted with weekly presentations and provided quality supporting materials for these.
- Attended a course on intelligence law and attained an A+ result.
Law school education
According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), a Juris Doctor degree is the “first degree” in law.
JD degrees are offered by numerous law schools, many of which (but not all) are approved by the ABA. Full-time programs take three years to complete.
In the U.S., admission to JD programs requires a bachelor’s degree and applicants have to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
When you prepare your law school resume, you will need to show the education you have had so far. Ironically, there may not be any evidence of legal studies to show.
This is because, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points out in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, relatively few colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies.
The ABA doesn’t recommend undergraduate majors to help students prepare for a legal education, and they acknowledge that those admitted to law schools in the US come from a wide variety of academic disciplines.
If anything, the ABA recommends that prior to law school, students pursue undergraduate programs that are broad in content and give them the opportunity to develop the important core skills mentioned above.
Law schools will examine student’s grades and their overall GPA, as well as scores from the compulsory LSAT.
Georgia State University
Bachelor of Science, 2015 – 2018
- Criminal Justice program
New York University
Bachelor of Arts, 2014 – 2017
- Major in Philosophy
Bachelor of Arts, 2012 – 2015
- Major in Economics
You’ve already been studying for four years, and you’ve got another three years ahead of you, so doing extra courses might not be what you have in mind. But, depending on the degree you have, you may not have any legal-type training and may want to familiarize yourself before you go to law school.
There are lots of online courses for aspiring legal assistants, and if you are planning a gap year before you go to law school, taking one or more of these might help you get an interim job.
If you are planning to earn a professional certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) their preparation course is a good course to start with, though you will need to have worked as a legal assistant to qualify to write the exam.
Other worthwhile courses include legal research and writing, civil litigation or family law courses, and courses that teach you about professional and ethical responsibility.
- NALA Exam Preparation Course
- Law Office Procedures
- Civil Litigation
Even though all lawyers must be licensed before they can practice law, as the ABA points out, certification in the legal field is voluntary. But certification will make you stand out. It is also a means to increase your knowledge.
You are applying to law school, which means you have a bachelor’s degree. If you have worked as a legal assistant for a year, you are eligible to sit for the NALA exams.
They offer two options, Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and Certified Paralegal (CP).
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) also offers certification, and their Paralegal CORE Competency Exam indicates that you have the education to work as a paralegal. The certification is the Registered Paralegal (RP).
A certification on your resume will show those in charge of admissions that you are serious about your legal studies. But, remember, it is 100% voluntary, so it’s your choice.
- CLA (NALA)
- CP (NALA)
- RP (NFPA)
Complete law school resume sample
Applying to law school is not the same as applying for a full-time job or even an internship.
For this sample resume, we looked at the Seattle University’s School of Law Access Admission Program that specifies certain documents that should be supplied together with a law school resume.
Unlike a job posting that often specifies all the requirements applicants should fulfill, an application via an access admissions program will always require validation of an LSAT and GRE score.
We mentioned the LSAT test earlier. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized admission test that many schools in the US and Canada ask for.
When you apply to law school, you will need to supply all the documents and information the law school asks for along with your all-important resume.
Of course, the law school isn’t going to tell you what to say in your resume. That’s up to you! But many schools, including Seattle, do offer important advice.
Determined graduate with an LSJ major seeks admission to the Seattle School of Law. Scores of 170 for LSAT and GREs.
Research | Writing | Communication | Analysis | Public speaking | Listening comprehension | Time management
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates, WA
Legal Practice Assistant, 2020
Provided diversified administrative, clerical, administrative, and case/deal support. Had significant contact with attorneys, members of the department, and other professional staff working for the company.
- Assisted with the preparation and court filing of pleadings and many other court papers.
- Assisted with preparation for interviews, depositions, hearings, trials, and client meetings. Many of these were carried out via Zoom because of COVID-19.
- Organized and managed electronic and paper files and ensured that they were all maintained in terms of department-approved protocols and case management systems.
- Performed substantial non-legal research using a range of research tools including the Internet, PACER, LexisNexis, and Westlaw to find information relating to case law issues, statutes, articles, and books
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), WA
Legal Intern, 2019 (spring vac)
Assisted the Division of Enforcement and Investigations in the PCAOB’s Washington DC headquarters. Helped with legal research and writing and contributed towards investigative strategies, and collected and analyzed other information.
- Responsibilities involved helping with investigations that resulted in bringing cases against registered accounting firms and their associated persons.
- Conducted legal and other research using public sources as well as subscription database services.
- Prepared reports for attorneys and accountants that were based on the review of investigative materials.
- Collected and analyzed financial and non-financial information.
U.S. Department of Justice, WA
Legal Assistant, Office Automation, 2015
Supported the Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) and provided a wide variety of legal assistance and office support services. Received invaluable on-the-job training.
- Examined, prepared, and processed numerous technical legal documents including complaints, motions, orders, pleadings, libels, and subpoenas.
- Assisted attorneys in trial preparation.
- Assembled exhibits, affidavits, and other legal documents.
- Produced more than 200 written documents and other materials using a diverse range of office software applications.
- CLA (NALA)
University of Washington
Bachelor of Science, 2016 – 2019
- Major: Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ)
- NALA Exam Preparation Course (2020)
A law school resume is needed when you apply to any U.S. law school after you have graduated with a more general bachelor’s degree. You will also need a compelling resume if you apply for an internship either before or after acceptance at law school, and even if you decide to volunteer.
- When you write a law school resume you are appealing to a different audience to the one you will address once you have qualified as a lawyer.
- Some schools of law advise against including an objective in a law school resume, largely because it takes up space. If you keep it very short and highlight your passion to become a law student, it could add impact to your resume.
- You may or may not have experience working in legal fields. If you don’t, it is unlikely to have a negative effect on your application. However, if you take a gap year after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, a legal-orientated job will help you make sure this is the direction you want your career to follow.
Tips from Experts
“Resumes should be concise, accurate, error-free, well organized, clear, easy to read, and visually pleasing. Keep in mind that the reader of your resume will probably spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing it. To be effective, it must be brief while still offering enough information to interest the employer. Most law student resumes should be one page in length. Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, and a font size of 11 point.” – Yale Law School
“A resume is a crucial element to your law school application process. It’s not something that is always required, but if it is, you’ll want to take some time creating it. You won’t want to throw it together the night before it’s due.” – University at Buffalo, School of Law
“Your goal in constructing your resume is to create an effective marketing tool. It should be a fluid document which changes as you earn degrees, gain professional experience and acquire new interests and career directions. Employers often spend less than a minute looking at each resume when they first receive it – so a well-organized, informative document is critical to your job search.” – Harvard Law School
Writing a resume for entry to law school can be a challenge. If you follow a logical process and focus on your skills and aspirations, as well as experience, if you have any, the admissions committee will likely view your application in a positive light.
Be aware that many law schools in the US advise prospective students to list their college education at the top of the resume, under the heading and your contact details. It stands to reason that they want to be sure you qualify for entry to the Juris Doctor degree program.
For this reason, it is essential to check their requirements carefully. Many schools have career centers and online information that details how you should approach a law school resume. Be sure to follow it.