What do law schools look for on a resume?


By Hillary Mantis

Q: I am in the pre-law stage: taken the LSAT, work as a paralegal. I am working on my resume for law school applications. What type of info does the admissions committee look for? How do I arrange it so the committee can see that it is a strong point?

Dear S.:

That’s a great question. Many law schools now request a resume. It can really make a difference in your application. Like your personal statement, it gives you a chance to tell the admissions committee about what you have done that makes you stand out from the pack. Your resume will be similar to one you would use for job applications — but there are some differences. There are no absolute rules for resumes, but there are some guidelines.

 The admissions committees read tons of resumes at this time of year. Make it easy for them. Use good spacing, a standard font (such as Times Roman) and make it concise and easy to read (preferably one page).

You do not need an Objective on a resume for law school. Start with your Education section (or Experience section if you have been working for several years.) Remember to focus on college, not high school. If you did study abroad, you can include that in your Education section. If you include your GPA, double check your transcript to make sure it’s accurate.

Your Experience section is the place to expand upon jobs, internships, and activities in a way that might not fit into the space on your applications. You can include both paid and unpaid work. Use bullet points to describe your experience, and start each sentence with a verb. If you have held several legal positions, you may want to split your Experience into two sections, “Legal Experience”, and “Additional Experience” (or “Business Experience”, or whatever heading best summarizes your other experience.) This is a way to highlight your legal experience.

Towards the bottom of the page you can create sections for anything else that you want the admissions office to know. For example, community service, honors, awards, and activities outside of school in which you excelled, or showed achievement, such as sports, volunteer work, or publications. Since space is limited, try to avoid including information that is not relevant to law school, such as computer programs, unless they are legally related.

If you are not still not sure about your resume, or have never had it critiqued, contact your undergraduate career services office. They generally work with both students and alumni. Like the rest of your application, make sure it is perfect before sending it in. Read it word for word out loud to yourself in addition to having others critique it, and don’t just rely on spell check.

Good luck!

Hillary Mantis


Hillary works with pre-law students, law students, and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University, and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. For more information, you can write to Hillary at altcareer