Legal Resumes

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A resume is a promotional piece. It should pique the employer’s interest in you. Most
importantly, it should answer the employer’s question, “What can this person do for me?”


Resumes should generally be organized into three or four sections.
1) Name, address, telephone, email
2) Education
3) Experience
4) Other categories, such as Volunteer, Community, Personal, Special Skills, Interests

Organize your resume chronologically, starting with the most recent school or employer.

Special note for students with extensive pre-law school work experience

For students who spent a number of years in the workforce before coming to law school, a
skills-based resume may be more useful in attracting the attention of a legal employer than a
traditional resume, as described here. An example of a skills-based resume is included at the
end of the packet.


Your education information should always come first, as your law school information is
what will draw a legal employer’s attention.

State when you are expecting your J.D. in month, year format. Include your GPA and class
rank if you are in the upper third of the class. If you are below the top third of the class, you
have options:
     Show an upward trend in grades
            o Examples: 2nd year GPA: 3.5/4.0, 20th out of 250
                      1st year GPA: 2.5/4.0, 170 th out of 250
                      Cumulative GPA 3.1/4.0,90 th out of 250
     Include grades for courses you’ve excelled in, if relevant to the employer
            o Example: For a position in the D.A.’s Office, “Criminal Procedure A”

List awards, honors, scholarships and activities associated with school. Include
     Anything dealing with academics
     Scholarships
     Any activity you’ve taken part in during law school, such as SBA, BLSA, Moot
       Court, or Mock Trial
     Anything showing excellent writing ability
     Anything showing responsibility or leadership abilities
        Examples:
           o Financed 100% of law school expenses through summer and part-time
           o Organized First Annual Halloween Blood Drive for Law School

Start work on this section by listing all of your experience on a piece of paper. On the left,
list the name of the organization or company that employed you, your location, your title,
and your duties and responsibilities. On the right, list your accomplishments – how well you
did that job, and what made you better in that job than someone else. Your goal is to convey
these accomplishments and the skills you gained to a potential employer.

Consider listing legal, non-legal, and volunteer experience. Don’t discount volunteer and
community activities. These can show commitment, skills, and networking ability.

Be sure to highlight activities and experiences where you have been accomplished or shown
leadership. Also, highlight legal skills and skills that are transferable to the law.

The order in which information for each job appears on your resume is important. The
following is a ranking of the type of information you want to include for each job, with
accomplishments being the first item you want to list. For each job or volunteer activity,
start with the “accomplishments” category, then proceed to the next category until you have
something to list about each one.


This section shows what you did in your job. Example:
    “Developed new chemical process which received patent.”
    “Began as a volunteer; hired on basis of performance.”

A date range may help show an accomplishment. Examples:
    “Employed up to 30 hours per week on third shift while attending school full time.
        On Dean’s List six of eight semesters.”
    “Upon withdrawal of college, founded software company. Within 10 years, created
        multibillion dollar fortune.”

Skills and abilities

If you don’t feel you have any accomplishments to state, you can show the skills you’ve
gained or the abilities you’ve improved through your employment.

Shop Foreman, Widget Co., Fort Worth, TX
    Worked in a union environment and developed ability to vary communication style
      to suit audience, from chemists to assembly workers.
    Received formal training in grievance procedures, negotiation techniques, and anger

Journalist, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, TX
    Developed quick, concise writing style under strict time constraints.
    Approach emphasized fact-gathering and distillation, multiple angles in stories
      ranging from public health crisis to international stock market trends.

Duties and responsibilities
List your duties and responsibilities using active verbs. Example:

General Litigation Paralegal, Joe Blow LLP, Fort Worth, TX
    Performed legal research.
    Drafted briefs which were largely accepted with little revision.
    Drafted traditional and no-evidence motions for summary judgment, pleas in
      abatement, and answered discovery requests in insurance defense cases.

Other Categories

This can be a catch-all. Include any information you think an employer may find relevant,
interesting, or that would make you stand out. Examples are professional licenses,
certifications, athletic accomplishments, activities and hobbies. If you speak a foreign
language, include that here, but be sure to be honest about your skills. Don’t say you’re
fluent in a language if you’re not – you never know when you may have an interviewer who
is fluent and will test you on your knowledge!


      When describing your qualifications and achievements, use active verbs. A list of
       active verbs is included at the end of the handout.

      To emphasize accomplishments, start sentences with the results of your efforts. For
       example, “Reduced overtime by 23% while increasing productivity by cross-training
       all staff” instead of “Cross-trained all staff, which resulted in increased productivity
       and reduced overtime.”

      Quantify the things you have done as much as you can. Don’t just say “Drafted
       pleadings.” Instead, say “Drafted Motion for Summary Judgment; Motion to
       Compel Documents; and five Requests for Production of Documents in complex
       medical malpractice case.”

      Be honest. Make your accomplishments sound as impressive as possible while still
       being truthful.

      Highlight accomplishments and skills that are useful in the legal profession. Any
       time you researched, negotiated, drafted, wrote, managed clients, or learned laws in a
       certain field, be sure to mention that in your job description.

      Play around with the format until your resume is easy to read. Make sure your
       format is consistent.

      If you are unhappy with your grades, find some other accomplishment to talk about.
        If employers won’t hire you for pay, then volunteer. Play an important role in a law
       student organization. Those things look good on a resume.


      Steer away from mentioning potentially controversial topics, such as religion,
       politics, fraternities/sororities, gay/lesbian activities, beauty pageants, or gun issues
       on your resume if the value of the experience is less important than the potential
       downside for the specific employer. If you’ve researched your employer, you may
       know if the issue would be a liability or an asset.

      Don’t use an objective section or a personal statement.

      Don’t be too general.

      Don’t forget to proofread.

      Don’t lie or mislead.

      Don’t be cute.

      Don’t leave off valuable information.

      Don’t include personal information that could hurt you.

      Don’t use avant-garde visuals.

      Don’t obsess over minutiae.


The standard length of a legal resume is one page. If you have a great deal of work
experience, your resume may stretch to two pages.

If your resume is too long, try the following:
     Delete the least important information.
     Condense information from several lines to one line.
     Adjust the margins, change fonts, or change font size (no smaller than 11 point).
     Change the space between tabs.

If your resume is too short, try
     Playing with the format
     Adding white space by increasing margins or adding more space between sections
     Changing font size.

                                 SAMPLE RESUMES

                                ALAN A. APPLICANT
444 Atlas Dr.                                                            (817) 555-2300
Dallas, Texas 75090                                           

     Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
     J. D. expected May 2006 – sitting for Texas Bar July 2006
           Top 25% of the class
           Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity, Treasurer 2004-2005
           Wesleyan Republicans, Vice President 2003-2004
           Earned 50% of law school expenses
           Tarrant County Bar Association, Active on Committee on Lawyers In Need

       Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas
       B.A. in Geography 1998
             Awarded Fort Worth Rotary Club Honor Scholarship

    Anna Appleby, Attorney at Law, Fort Worth, Texas
    Legal Intern, 2004-present
         Research and write legal documents for filing
         Prepare materials and organize trial notebook, including research materials
         Draft trial motions
         Interview and establish on-going communication with clients

    Barnes and Noble, Fort Worth, Texas
    Sales Associate, 2001– present
          Promote and sell books to parents of small children
          Developed extensive knowledge of children’s books

       Pulidos, Fort Worth, Texas
       Server and Wait Staff Trainer, 1998 – 2001
             Managed daily restaurant operations

       TCU Department of Alcohol and Drug Education, Fort Worth, Texas
       Research Assistant for Dr. Allen Angelina, 1996 – 1998
            Administered Substance Abuse Inventories to clients
            Introduced and Maintained a Campus-Wide Substance Abuse Inventory database

       Panelist for Children’s Literature Festival 1999
       Red Ribbon Week keynote speaker Paschal High School 1998
       Authored book and education video, ABC Productions, 1998

Judge John Allen Jones, 12th District Court, Dallas, Texas 221 N. Main, Dallas, TX 214-333-4823
Joyce C. Jeans, Attorney at Law, 205 Newton Drive, Fort Worth, TX 817-222-3868
Prof. Frank Smithson, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, 1515 Commerce, Fort Worth, TX 817-222-
Veronica Mars
112 Neptune Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76102
(817) 555-9284

EDUCATION        Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
                 J.D. expected May 2006
                 GPA: 3.3; Highest class grade in Criminal Law course

                 Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
                 B.S. with honors in Photography and Criminal Justice, May 2003
                     Presidential Scholarship recipient

LEGAL            Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, Fort Worth, Texas
EXPERIENCE       Intern, Summer 2005
                 Assist the investigative staff assigned to specific cases. Duties include
                 gathering information, data entry, paperwork, file tracking, phone
                 contact and follow up work, and assistance with trial preparation.

                 Echolls Law Firm, Fort Worth, Texas
                 Law Clerk, September 2004 – May 2005
                 Assisted solo practitioner with all aspects of criminal defense
                 practice, including researching statutes and case law, document
                 review, and answering phone calls from clients.

OTHER            Mars Investigations, Huntsville, Texas
EXPERIENCE       Administrative Assistant, 1997-1999
                 Maintained confidential client files, performed background checks
                 using the Internet and public records, composed business letters and
                 answered telephones for a private investigation firm.

ACTIVITIES       The Houstonian - student newspaper photographer, 2001-2003
                 Golden Key International Honor Society
                 Habitat for Humanity

SKILLS           Read and write Spanish; proficient in HTML and Javascript Web
                 programming languages.

INTERESTS        Photography, mystery novels, dog training.
                                   Julian L. Sark
                         4747 Covenant Avenue NE, Apt. #800
                                Fort Worth, TX 76102
                        (817) 555-1112 (h)/ (817) 555-3869 (c)


Texas Wesleyan University School of Law                                Fort Worth, Texas
Juris Doctor expected May 2005, sitting for Texas Bar July 2005
GPA: 3.7, top 5% of class
Honors/Activities: Texas Wesleyan Law Review
                      Highest class grades in Criminal Appellate Procedure and
                      International Business Transactions

Abrams University                                                  Bristow, Virginia
Bachelor of Science, Management Information Systems, magna cum laude, June 2003
GPA: 3.25
Honors/Activities: Phi Alpha Delta pre-law society
                      Project Christmas Merit Scholarship


Mediation Practicum                                                    Fort Worth, Texas
Student Attorney, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law      January-May 2005
    Learned techniques of mediation through lecture and role play
    Mediated community disputes
    Received mediation certification after successful completion of coursework

Dixon Law Firm                                                          Dallas, Texas
Law Clerk                                                              Summer 2004
    Conduct legal research and draft motions and memoranda involving civil litigation
    Draft and file pleadings
    Conduct discovery
    Regularly communicate with clients


Fluent in French and Russian.
Use Lexis, Westlaw, Windows, Word, and WordPerfect.
Interests include travel and collecting fine wines.
                                     Jack Harkness
                                   1121 Bad Wolf Way
                                 Fort Worth, Texas 76102
                                      (817) 555-1288


Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
J.D. expected 2007
     Dean’s List, Spring 2005
     Academic scholarship recipient

American Institute of Banking, Cleveland, Ohio
Certificate of Completion, 1994

The University of Texas, Austin, Texas
B.S., Economics, 1989

Business Development

Managed assets of $3 billion corporation. Increased company growth by 12% over a two-
year period. Negotiated contracts with suppliers, both domestic and foreign. Participated in
litigation, including giving depositions and testifying in court.

Administration & Management

Directly managed staff of nine people, achieving zero employee turnover through two
mergers within a 3-year period. Cut hours of part-time staff by 33% through efficient
scheduling without reducing hours or customer service.


Exceeded budgeted goals every year, consistently above the average increases of other
departments in the company. Kept non-interest income on target while keeping non-interest
expense below budget during same period.


Vice President, TARDIS Corporation, Austin, Texas (1997 – 2005)
Assistant Vice President, TARDIS Corporation, Austin, Texas (1991 – 1997)
Manager, Time Agency, Austin, Texas (1989 – 1991)

Other Skills and Interests

Fluent in French and Spanish.
Proficient in numerous computer programs and programming languages.
Interests include aviation, skydiving, and collecting World War II memorabilia.

  Achieved               Evaluated       Originated
Administered             Examined        Organized
 Analyzed                Executed        Overcame
 Approved                Expanded        Performed
 Arbitrated             Experienced       Planned
  Arranged                Formed         Presented
    Built               Formulated        Prepared
 Catalogued              Founded          Presided
  Clarified              Generated       Promoted
 Conceived               Governed         Provided
 Conducted               Grouped         Recruited
Constructed               Guided         Researched
 Consulted               Improved         Reduced
 Contracted             Implemented       Rectified
 Controlled              Increased      Reorganized
 Converted                Indexed        Reviewed
Coordinated              Innovated        Revised
 Correlated               Initiated      Scheduled
 Counseled                Inspired       Simplified
  Created                Installed           Solved
 Delegated               Integrated          Sorted
Demonstrated            Interviewed       Sparked
  Designed               Invented       Straightened
  Detailed              Investigated     Structured
 Developed                Justified      Succeeded
  Devised                Keynoted        Supervised
  Directed                  Led         Systematized
 Discovered              Litigated        Tailored
 Distributed             Managed          Trained
  Drafted               Maintained      Transformed
   Earned                Mediated        Translated
  Effected              Moderated         Unified
  Enlarged               Motivated        Verified
 Engineered             Negotiated           Wrote
 Established             Operated

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