HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE RESUME
Portions reprinted with permission from: The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer
I. DO YOUR CAREER PLANNING HOMEWORK
1. Who will you be interviewing?
2. Who does the interviewer represent?
3. What information will the interviewer want to know about you?
4. What personal characteristics and aptitudes do you possess that would be most attractive to an employer?
5. What accomplishments should you stress in applying for this kind of employment?
II. LIST YOUR QUALIFICATIONS
1. Start with the present (law school) and move backwards to college. Include all honors, activities, and publications,
as well as your class rank and GPA knowing that there are times when you do not need to list your GPA if you
believe it would hurt your application. It is important to know the culture of the employer to whom you are sending
your information as to if they would expect to see a class rank and GPA listed on your resume.
2. Summarize in outline form your entire work history, including names of employers, dates, and general statements of
the most important duties for each job. Make a note of significant skills developed on each job.
3. List everything you can remember.
III. EDIT OR EXPAND YOUR LIST
A. Edit ruthlessly.
B. If you are a first year law student hoping for a school, summer or part-time clerkship, your problem may lie in not
having enough on your resume to make much of an impression. In this case expand your list.
1. Include college activities and important papers and projects.
2. Include titles of law school courses taken or in progress to show that you have some familiarity with the work you
will be doing.
3. Describe work experiences that show you to be hard working and dependable.
4. Add any references that would mean something to the employer.
5. List names and titles of references (suggest 2 to 3, with at least one being a law professor, you will need to talk with
your references and secure permission to use them, and then make sure to follow up by sending them a thank you and
copy of your resume and possibly your transcript if the reference is a law professor)
IV. SHAPE AND ARRANGE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS
A. Look at examples and follow the one you think presents your case the best. Make sure to utilize the formatting
functions contained in the word processor you utilize. If you need assistance contact the LCSO for help.
V. LAY IT OUT, TYPE IT, AND REVIEW IT – AND HAVE A COUPLE OTHER PEOPLE REVIEW IT
VI. HAVE IT PRINTED
VII. DISTRIBUTE IT
VIII. REVISE IT AS YOUR SITUATION OR STRATEGY CHANGES, THIS TYPICALLY HAPPENS AT LEAST ONCE PER
SEMESTER AS NEW GRADES COME OUT.
IX. ASSEMBLE ADDITIONAL MATERIALS AND PLAN FOLLOW-UP
A. Transcripts – Order at the beginning of each semester (DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST DAY TO ORDER
THESE, THEY NEED 24 HOURS NOTICE) from the OCU LAW Student Services Office and make photocopies,
do not send the original transcript unless specifically requested! Also, send only your law transcripts, NOT your
undergraduate transcripts (unless specifically requested).
B. Writing Samples (see Cover Letter Checklist for help in determining the sample)
C. Application Forms
E. Follow-Up – make contact with prospective employer as you indicated in cover letter, send thank you letter to
references and other helpers
This is a list of options ONLY. This is NOT a suggested format for your resume. The Law Career Services Office has examples of
resume formats that you are welcome to view. Depending on each person’s experience, the arrangement of the following items will be
Address (list both school and permanent if applicable)
City State Zip
Legal (list all institutions attended)
Oklahoma City University School of Law - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
J.D. (or Juris Doctorate) expected Month 20XX
Class Rank (Standing) Use % or #'s (use number of students that sat for finals in the preceding semester) &
G.P.A. X out of X (an A = X points) – Be prepared to discuss how OCU LAW’s 12 point system works.
Honors (an award or distinction e.g. scholarship or book award for the high A, that you've earned)
Activities (a project, competition, or group with which you have been involved, limit to legal-related organizations – unless
you have something outstanding in your undergraduate career to note).
If you list a competition, make sure you indicate your specific involvement and whether you just participated or won, i.e.
intra-school vs. regional or national competition.
Law Review is a hybrid of an honor or activity depending on your particular situation. You should list Law Review as an
honor ONLY if you have been invited in your second year. Do not list write-on status on your resume unless you have been
published. It is appropriate, however, to indicate in a cover letter that you will be submitting a piece for consideration.
2L students - whether invitee or write-on, should not indicate Law Review unless Junior Staff status has been conferred.
Make sure to list dates.
3L & 4L students - board members should indicate position. Those attempting to write should not indicate Law Review until
Senior Staff status has been conferred. Make sure to list dates.
Undergraduate (list all institutions attended)
College or University, Location
Degree - Major, Date degree conferred
G.P.A. (there are times when it doesn’t make sense to list this, see the LCSO for guidance)
Honors (an award or distinction that you've earned)
Activities (a project or group with which you've been involved)
SPECIAL INTERESTS/COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES/VOLUNTEERISM
Some students have unique interests that help “paint the picture” of who they are.
Description of Position Description of Position
Date(s) of Employment Date(s) of Employment
Most employers now presume students have basic, functional skills with respect to computers and various software packages,
e.g. Microsoft Office, WordPerfect, Lexis, Westlaw, and the Internet. You should list only those software programs that are
unique and for which it would not be expected for the average law student to know. Also list any foreign language(s) and
indicate your level of proficiency.
If you do not include them on your resume, prepare a separate enclosure listing your references to include with your resume.
You should have at least three references including one law professor. Include their name, title, place of employment, city,
state, zip, email address and phone number. DO NOT use: References Available Upon Request.
(list information such as this only if you know this information will be received positively – most resumes do not include this type of
Personal: Age, Marital Status, Children, Political or Religious Affiliation, etc.
COVER LETTER CHECKLIST & HELPFUL HINTS
Follow an accepted business letter format (date, inside address, salutation, closing, enclosures). Create a “letterhead” for yourself.
Keep to one or two pages. If you use a two-page resume, include a “header” on the resume that indicates your name and page number.
This serves the purpose of identifying the second page if it gets separated from the first page.
Write to a specific person. You may have to call the firm or company to find out who to write to. DO NOT use To Whom It Concerns
or Dear Sirs/Madam/Mmes./Mesdames/Messrs/Partners
Organize your letter using the following suggested structure (this is flexible and will depend on your particular situation and the
information you will convey).
Paragraph 1 Tell the reader why you are writing. There's no magic to this paragraph, just the facts.
Paragraphs 2 & 3 Demonstrate your knowledge of the firm, their requirements and how you see yourself fitting into the
situation. Try to be as specific as possible. Being able to cite something you have found out about the firm
or individual through researching cases or newspaper articles (use Lexis, Westlaw and the Internet) can be
very powerful and persuasive. It also demonstrates that you have the ability and willingness to go the extra
Paragraph 4 Close the letter by thanking them for their time. Indicate that you would like to arrange an interview. At
this point you can go two ways: 1) I look forward to hearing from you soon, or 2) I will call you (indicate a
time frame) to discuss a possible interview time. The first option leaves you no control over the situation
and if you haven't heard back from them, you might feel uneasy about calling.
Use Sincerely (not Yours Truly) for your closing.
LAW TRANSCRIPTS ORDER AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH SEMESTER! Available through the Student Services Office
(make sure you give 24 hours notice when requesting a transcript, since during peak times, issuance of your
transcript could be delayed). Unofficial transcripts (which are okay to use for job search purposes) are also
available through the University’s website. Do not send undergraduate transcripts, unless specifically
DO NOT SEND OFFICIAL/ORIGINAL transcript unless it is requested.
MAKE PHOTOCOPIES of the original.
WRITING SAMPLES 1st-year law students can use their appellate advocacy brief or long memo. Keep the sample between three
to five pages in length.
2nd and 3rd-year law students can use their appellate advocacy brief, long memo, or something from a
summer internship position. If using the latter, make sure permission is granted (in writing) from the
employer to use.
For long writing samples, i.e. more than 20 pages, you may elect to use an excerpt.
DO NOT use law review articles. This type of writing sample is not a sole reflection of your efforts
because of the significant editing by others.
Regardless of the type of writing sample you elect to use, it is suggested that you attached a short executive
summary memo indicating why you chose this sample, especially if you elected to use an excerpt from a
larger writing sample.
THANK YOU’S Do not forget to thank prospective employers for their time or assistance (this includes references or others
who have agreed to help you). A letter is preferable, but email is acceptable. Your letter should be genuine
and sent promptly after the interview. Telephone calls can be awkward and should be used carefully.
GETTING UNSTUCK Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know how to go about planning a career strategy and implementing a
job search. Y o u c a n ’ t b e h e l p e d i f y o u d o n o t A S K !