Most decisions about what to include and how best to present information in your résumé are based on your personal assessment of your skills, strengths, and the positions you are seeking, your own taste and style, and your knowledge of how résumés in the legal profession traditionally look and read. To ensure you are obtaining up-to-date advice and information on how to write your legal résumé, contact your career counselor.
GPA, Grades, and Class Rank
Not all employers consider grades or law school rank in the same manner when evaluating applicants for interviews. Large law firms tend to use class rank more often as one criterion for inviting students to interview, and are more likely to utilize this information to inform their hiring decisions. However, public service, not-for-profit, some government agencies, businesses, smaller law firms, and solo practitioners may not rely as heavily on grades and rank, but rather experience and skills.
It’s advisable to include your class rank if you are in the top 30% of your class. If your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you are encouraged to include it on your résumé. You must round your GPA out to the hundredths decimal position. Ask your career counselor for advice on how to best highlight your academic profile and achievements. Any falsification or misrepresentation of your law school grades, records, recommendations, or other qualifications may result in your discontinued consideration by employers and may impact future participation in recruiting programs.
A legal résumé consists of a few basic sections: a letterhead (your name and contact information), an education section, an experience section, and potentially, a skill and interests section. Other sections may be added if needed. Following are some examples.
Name and Contact Information
Include your full name, address, city, state and zip code, along with your mobile phone number and email address. Adding preferred pronouns to your resume has become a more common practice. If you choose to add your preferred pronouns, add them in your letterhead. Use the same exact letterhead (font size, style, and layout) on all of the materials you create for your job search including cover letters, the writing sample cover page, and your list of references. Consistency across documents shows your attention to detail.
For current law students, it’s best to use your Albany Law email address. If you have a permanent address in or near the location you are applying, consider including this address in addition to, or in lieu of, your current address.
Reminder: Always include a comma between the city and state; do not include a comma between the state and zip code.
Your education section should be listed first on your résumé. List your educational credentials in reverse chronological order by the date your degree was awarded. When listing your law degree, you may write out Juris Doctor, or abbreviate it as J.D. or JD. But remember, your law degree is not a “Juris Doctorate”.
If you choose to abbreviate one degree (i.e., J.D.), be consistent and abbreviate all of your degrees (ex: B.A.). Always include your degree, major, and the month and year your degree was officially awarded (i.e., B.A., Political Science, May 2020). Under each institution, use sub-sections to list relevant honors, awards, and activities in that order of importance.
Pursuing a Joint Degree? Include details for both schools and degrees under your Education section.
Latin Honors? If you were awarded Latin honors at your college graduation, they should be italicized but not capitalized and inserted between your degree and major.
Pursuing a Two-Year Accelerated J.D.? If you were accepted into this two-year program at the time of your admission, add your program type and expected graduation date.
January Start J.D. Student? Add your GPA and indicate your start date by providing details.
All entries in the Experience section are listed in reverse chronological order; your current, or most recent, position should be listed first. If you have been accepted to an internship, field placement, or clinic for the upcoming term, include a placeholder for this new experience and list this as the first entry under your Experience section. Do not add a description until after you begin this new experience. You may use to “commence” for your anticipated start date.
If you have acquired significant work experience prior to attending law school, you may consider listing your legal (or relevant experience) and non-legal experience separately. In this case, label the new section, “Other Experience” add this section below your primary “Legal Experience” section. To save space, you may reduce or even eliminate position descriptions within this section. However, do not remove experiences if doing so will create large time gaps in your experience.
Interests and Language Skills
Adding one or two lines about your interests, hobbies, or travels can be invaluable for employers seeking to break the ice in an interview. Consider adding special skills and languages. Community service or volunteer activities can be included under the “Skills and Interests” section, however, you may want to create a separate section to highlight these experiences. Be specific.
- Bar Status/Bar Admission (for law graduates who have sat for and passed the bar exam)
- Community Service/Volunteer Activities
- Professional Associations
- Bar Association Memberships
- Professional Licenses/Certifications
To showcase law-related publications, including a Note or Comment for a journal, create a separate Publications section. Add this new section between Education and Experience.
Citations for legal pieces should generally follow the blue book format. Other publications may also be included— speak with your career counselor if you have questions.
Tip: If you choose to include publications on your résumé, you will likely be asked about them during an interview.
Always refresh your memory and review your publication(s) and writing sample(s) prior to interviewing.
Do not include on a legal résumé
- Objective or Summary
- High School Information (unless your high school has a specific network you would like to utilize)
- LSAT Scores
- Graphics, Tables, Photos, or Artwork
- List of References*
- Salary Requirements*
*NOTE: The only exception to this rule is if an employer specifically directs applicants to include this information on their résumés.