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Career Services

 

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Contact Us

Law Office of Professional Development

Office Address:

Law Center
1825 W. Rocket Dr., Ste. 1030
Mailing Address:
2801 W. Bancroft, MS 507
Toledo, OH 43606
419.530.2851

OPD@utoledo.edu

Legal Resumes

Your legal resume is your personal marketing tool. It provides the highlights of your professional and educational experiences. Carefully design your resume to weave your background into a document that showcases your accomplishments. Remember too, that it provides a sample work product that must be error-free, pleasing to the eye, and concise.

 

Sample Resumes

Sample resumes are available at the links below. Please use as guides only.

1L Resume

1L Resume

2L Resume

2L Resume

2L Resume

3L-4L Resume

3L-4L Resume

Graduate Resume (recently admitted to bar)

Graduate Resume (with post-bar experience)

Tips

  • Resumes are often skimmed by an employer in about 30 seconds.
  • One-page resumes are strongly preferred by most legal employers. If you have a substantial amount of experience from a prior career, or are applying to some government or public interest employers, you might consider a longer resume. If you have questions about whether your resume should run longer than one page, please contact OPD staff.
  • Use at least 1.5 to 1 inch margins on all sides.
  • Use tabs to line up entries.
  • Focus your resume on the position for which you are applying.
  • Pay attention to the tense of verbs used; present tense for activities you are still involved in and past tense for previous experiences.
  • Bold, capitals, or any combination should be used to highlight important information. Underline and italics sometimes do not scan well.
  • Be consistent with your format. If you bold your job title once, continue to bold each job title.
  • Spell out acronyms. Do not use abbreviations, except with the state address.
  • Save resume as a PDF before you send it so you are sure how it will look to employers.
  • Because you will have changes in grades and additional experiences throughout the academic year, you should be prepared to revise and update your resume after each semester and after the summer.

 

Guidelines

Audience:The legal community is conservative and legal employers expect to see a traditional legal resume. An eye-catching resume you prepared to market yourself in the advertising field would be ineffective when sent to a legal employer. It may be desirable to create more than one legal resume depending upon the types of employment you are seeking. This will allow you to change how the descriptions of your experience are phrased to match what might interest that type of employer. Additionally the experiences you include might vary from employer to employer. For example, the resume you submit to a public interest law organization might include additional volunteer experiences important to that employer.

Length: The traditional view is that a law student resume should be restricted to one page, unless the law student’s relevant experiences and past professional accomplishments warrant continuation onto a second page. More is not always better. Often, there are ways to use creative editing to fit a resume onto one page, while not eliminating much of the content.

Look for unnecessary words in descriptions to take them down to one line where possible. You may be able to shrink the font size of white spaces between sections of the resume to condense it down (for example, if the text is an 11 point font, the spaces between sections might be an 8 point font). Of course, balance is necessary and you do not want your resume to appear cramped or difficult to read. If in doubt, seek the counsel of OPD staff.

Font: Select an easy-to-read typeface. Avoid using a font that looks like you typed your resume on a typewriter (like Courier), script, ornate, decorative styles, or multiple fonts. Use black font color only. Be sure to remove any hyperlinks that are blue. Use capital letters, large and small caps, bold or italicized typefaces for sections, your name, schools, and employers to add interest and enhance readability.

Style: Be consistent within categories and abbreviations: if one position title is in bold caps, put all position titles in bold caps or if you use JD instead of Juris Doctor (Do NOT use “Juris Doctorate”), use BA, MBA or Ph.D. Italics are used for degree designations, such as magna cum laude.

 

Resume Content

Identity and Contact Information: If you have concerns about your name being difficult to pronounce or you are just ready to relinquish “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” because you detest being called “Jonathan”, consider your options like, J. Livingston Seagull or J.L. Seagull. The key is to be consistent in all correspondence and transactions.

On your resume, include your name, current address, e-mail, and a telephone number where an employer may reach you or leave a message. Be sure your e-mail address is appropriate and that the message on your voicemail is conservative and professional. If your voicemail message only restates your phone number and does not identify you, now is the time to record a professional voicemail message which includes your name. A permanent address may be included along with your current address if you wish to show ties to the geographic area of an employer with whom you are applying.

Centering your name and contact information at the top of the page is the standard format for your heading:

Centering your name and contact information 

There are several other space saving options that you may choose, for example:

 Other space saving options

Objective: This section should be omitted for nearly all law students. An “objective” is recommended on a legal resume only when the individual is pursuing a non-traditional career or the individual has advanced degrees in totally unrelated fields. In those instances, it may be appropriate to include the section to help the potential employer make the connection between the two areas.

Education: The law school resume typically begins with the education section, whereas the resume of an alumnus often begins with the experience section. Both styles include law school, graduate, and undergraduate schools in reverse chronological order. High schools should almost always be removed. If you are considering adding your high school for a strategic reason, contact OPD staff to discuss. For each, list school, location, and degree (date anticipated or received).

Transfer students and joint degree students may list their education as indicated in samples. Transfer students may wish to remove the school from which they transferred once a GPA has been established at Toledo Law. If you have questions, please contact OPD staff.

Academic Performance: Law school grades can be central hiring criteria for many legal employers. The presumption is that your GPA is less than a 3.0 unless it appears on your resume. If your GPA is slightly under a 3.0, you may want to consider including it so an employer will not speculate that it is lower than what it really is. If you have questions, please contact OPD staff.

Class Rank may provide a better picture of your academic achievement. You may choose to list both your GPA and Class Rank. Class rank may be listed as a percentage (Top 25%) and/or rank number (30/123). Ultimately, whether you provide your class rank, standing, or GPA is your decision. Just be honest and not misleading in any statements you make or it could lead to honor code violations.

Your class rank will be posted on the bulletin board outside of the Law Registrar’s office on the second floor of the law school and also is listed on the Law Tab at myUT (log-in required).

Honors & Activities: List honors and activities under the school to which they relate. For example, all law school honors should appear under The University of Toledo College of Law heading. Honors include academic achievements, such as graduating cum laude, scholarships, awards, moot court, trial team, and scholarly publication participation. The activities section demonstrates your interest, leadership potential, and shows that you are a well-rounded candidate.

We generally advise against having a separate general “Activities” or “Honors” section, as that will make the employer guess at which institution you were involved in the activity or earned the honor.

Examples of how you might format your education include the following:

 Formatting your education

Experience: Regardless of whether you acquired experience relevant to legal employers in a paid position, for credit, or as a volunteer, any skills you have developed should be included in this section. Include the employer, city and state, your title, dates of involvement, and a brief description of your experience. The information should appear in reverse chronological order. Depending on your experience or prior career, you might have multiple experience sections. Common headers include: Legal Experience, Professional Experience, Business Experience, Military Service, etc.

Highlight information which relates to the position you are seeking, demonstrates your responsibilities, shows time commitment, and displays your level of achievement. This should be done in concrete, quantifiable terms (where possible). For example, “Increased revenues by 35 percent, administered a $500,000 budget, supervised staff of 15.”

Identify transferable skills that highlight "lawyerly" experiences and responsibilities, such as analysis, research, writing, negotiating, and advising.

Avoid the first person pronoun.

Current employment is described in the present tense whereas past employment is listed using the past tense.

Skills: Include skills that may be of interest to a potential employer, such as technical writing, proficiency in languages, specialized computer skills (not word processing skills or legal databases such as Westlaw or Lexis unless you have tested for and received advanced certification), accounting, etc. If language is particularly important or is the only skill listed, a separate category titled “Language”may be best. If you list a language be specific about your proficiency such as fluent in Spanish, conversant in French, read and write Portuguese, translate Chinese.

Interests: This section enables candidates to demonstrate that they are well-rounded and have interests valued by an employer. They can be perceived as assets in networking or business development as well as good conversation starter (such as golf, science fiction novels, Cajun cooking, backpacked through seven European countries for the summer, traveled extensively throughout South America, running marathons, etc.) when included on your resume.

Be aware that employers have varying views on whether an interests section should be included. For some employers, it is one of the first things they look for on a resume. Others believe that an interests section should never be used on a resume. If you decide to include this section, you should be sure that it is noteworthy.  

Community Involvement: Demonstrated commitment to public service is very important to public interest employers and a plus to many others. Extensive volunteer work that demonstrates transferable skills may be described under “Experience”or in its own section.

Licenses: List professional licenses and certificates, such as RN, Certified Financial Planner, Professional Engineer, CPA, or Real Estate Broker. **Note: In most circumstances, a graduate’s bar licenses would be listed first on the resume in the Licenses section, before “Experience” and “Education.”

Military Service: Some government employers give preference to veterans, so listing service involvement may be a plus. **Note: If military experience includes transferable skills, such as research, journalism, or management, it would most likely appear under “Experience.”

Personal: Not recommended. Employment-related personal information such as availability, date, and geographical preference, if requested by the employer, may be listed but no other information (e.g., number of children, political affiliation, race, age, etc.) should be listed as they bear no relation to real employment qualifications.

References: It is an ineffective use of valuable space to include the phrase, "References available upon request.” Do not include it on the resume. It is a given that you will provide a list of references if asked. Unless otherwise requested by an employer, you should provide your references on a separate sheet of paper that has the same heading as your resume.

White Space: Once you have included all content on your resume, take a second look at the layout on the page. You may need to adjust margins or font sizes to achieve a pleasing look to the document. Be sure to eliminate white space which at a quick glance can give the unintended illusion that you do not have much on your page. The goal is to balance the information to fill the page.

 

Be prepared to discuss everything on your resume with clarity and enthusiasm.
 
Double-proof your resume. OPD will be happy to review your resume as well.

 

 

Examples of Functional Descriptions for your Resume

Research Examples:

“Performed research in family law, products liability, and medical malpractice cases.”

“Researched employment discrimination issues involving federal and state laws.”

 

Writing Examples:

“Drafted legal memoranda, initial case assessments, and motions for summary judgment for insurance defense firm.”

“Drafted pleadings, motions, complaints, and answers for divorce and criminal matters.”            

“Prepared questions for, attended, and summarized five depositions in wrongful death cases.”

“Drafted client correspondence and edited firm newsletter.”

“Researched precedent and wrote three draft domestic relations judicial opinions.”

 

Trial Preparation & Participation Examples:

“Assisted in preparation of trial notebooks and evidentiary motions.”

“Attended three trials and prepared summaries of testimony.”

“Handled discovery and document production in personal injury cases.”

“Argued motions to suppress, engaged in plea negotiations, and cross-examined witnesses under the supervision of prosecutors.”

 

Analytical Skills Examples:

“Analyzed case files, summarized evidence, and prepared initial case evaluations in personal injury cases.”

“Analyzed and researched evidentiary issues and prepared a comprehensive memorandum recommending course of action.”

 

Case Management Examples:

“Briefed clients on status of eviction cases.”

“Handled four cases from initial interview through settlement negotiations.”

“Interviewed clients to identify facts supporting legal arguments in divorce and custody cases.”

 

Advising Examples:

“Made reports and recommendations to the court for use in judicial opinions.”

“Briefed attorneys on evidentiary matters as issues arose during trial.”

“Interviewed 5 - 15 potential witnesses weekly to make recommendations to the prosecutor regarding whether plea negotiations may be appropriate.”

 

 

Examples of Results-Oriented Descriptions for your Resume

If you can quantify or show results in the experience descriptions in your resume, it will help to paint a more engaging picture of your skills and experiences. You may not be able to do this for every description due to space constraints or because you will not always have information about outcomes, but where possible, you might consider doing the following:

  • Specify outcome through dollar value or percentage
  • Write the outcome from the client perspective
  • Show the change or victory resulting from your work
  • Show any positive impact on a program or organization

Compare the following examples:

Before: “Conducted daily client interviews to assist with plea negotiations.”

After: “Assisted with 13 plea negotiations, resulting in ten clients being able to engage in drug treatment and report to work instead of being incarcerated.”

 

Before: “Presented arguments in landlord-tenant proceedings.”

After: “Represented clients in two housing matters, which resulted in court ordering landlords to immediately begin mold remediation so clients and their families could return home.”

 

Before: “Drafted briefs in contracts case for manufacturing company.”

After: “Wrote briefs arguing provisions of business contract on behalf of manufacturing company, resulting in arbitration award ordering payment of all requested damages.”

 

Before: “Worked on community outreach project about medical-legal partnership.”

After: “Organized new community outreach and education program about medical-legal partnership services that increased client traffic by 25% over a six month period.”

 

Action Words*

Accelerated

Accepted

Acquitted

Addressed

Advocated

Allocated

Amended

Analyzed

Applied

Arbitrated

Argued

Arranged

Assembled

Assisted

Attracted

Authored

Backed

Brought

Budgeted

Built

Chaired

Challenged

Charted

Collected

Compiled

Completed

Conceived

Conducted

Constructed

Contracted

Contributed

Controlled

Convicted

Corrected

Coordinated

Counseled

Created

Cross Examined

Defended

Demonstrated

Designed

Determined

Developed

Devised

Devoted

Directed

Disseminated

Documented

Donated

Drafted

Edited

Effected

Enforced

Engaged

Enhanced

Enlarged

Entered

Established

Executed

Exercised

Expanded

Expedited

Explored

Exposed

Facilitated

Filed

Formulated

Fought

Handled

Implemented

Improved

Increased

Initiated

Innovated

Inquired

Instituted

Instructed

Interviewed

Introduced

Investigated

Litigated

Managed

Maximized

Mobilized

Motivated

Negotiated

Noted

Obtained

Operated

Organized

Originated

Persuaded

Planned

Pledged

Predicted

Prepared

Presented

Produced

Proposed

Prosecuted

Protected

Provided

Pursued

Recommended

Recruited

Refined

Represented

Renewed

Reorganized

Reported

Researched

Resolved

Restructured

Revealed

Revised

Revitalized

Served

Settled

Simplified

Solved

Sponsored

Started

Stimulated

Strengthened

Studied

Suggested

Summarized

Supervised

Trained

Transacted

Tried

Upgraded

Won

Wrote

 

 

*From “The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer,” Gary A. Munneke, pages 282-283.

 

Curriculum Vitae

The vitae and resume are two distinct documents that are used in different ways, even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

The resume summarizes educational preparation and any experiences that are relevant to your career objective. A resume is a personal advertisement you send to employers for the purpose of securing an interview. Typically, businesses, service and government agencies, and public and private schools want a resume.

The vita concentrates on academic pursuits in addition to employment experience, and it generally is a comprehensive biographical statement (of three-plus pages) emphasizing professional qualifications and accomplishments. Colleges, universities, and research institutions expect a vita. This document is appropriate for individuals pursuing advanced degrees who are interested in teaching, school administration, or research positions. Many international employers will also request a CV. The length of a CV is not set in stone; the content determines its length. The vita should be designed around your strengths and achievements.

Like a resume, your CV should include your name, contact information, education, skills, and experience. In addition to the basics, a CV includes research and teaching experience, publications, grants and fellowships, professional associations and licenses, awards, and other information relevant to the position you are applying for. Start by making a list of all your background information, and then organize it into categories. Make sure you include dates on all the publications you include.

CV headings may include the following:

  • Personal Information
  • Education
  • Dissertation
  • Honors/Awards
  • Professional Employment
  • Teaching Experience
  • Languages
  • Performance or Exhibit Experience
  • Teaching and Research Interests
  • Publications
  • Professional Activities/Affiliations
  • Presentations
  • References
Last Updated: 3/23/15