Résumé Formats

Your résumé's appearance will vary according to the amount of information and what you want to highlight.  

At its most basic, a résumé is an orderly summary of schools, honors, activities, and law- or law-school-related skills.   Sample #1 is a perfectly fine example of a basic résumé . It's only 40 lines long and 165 words, so you may want to use a 12 point font, to keep the paper from looking too empty.

More typically, an applicant has several schools, awards, or jobs, and is more concerned with fitting it onto one page without looking cluttered.  You can put information on the same lines as the headings, saving 8 or 10 lines -- 2 per heading.  As you can see, Sample #2 looks perfectly fine.  It fits 210 words into the same 40 lines, using an 11 point font.  

For the older or more active applicant (why does that sound like an ad for vitamins -- or worse?) the issue usually is how to fit all those years onto one page.  Sample #3 holds 340 words -- a full hundred more than sample #2 -- in almost the same space.  It uses 45 lines instead of 40, still in 11 point font.  How did she do that?    Note that she saved five lines at the top.  She only used one line for all personal info, and she didn't even bother to put a line for the word "Education," assuming correctly that people don't need that help to see what this section is.  She saved 4 more lines in the middle -- two (the line skipped and the line typed on) by combining Honors and Activities into a single section with a single header, and two by using horizontal lines instead of double spaces between sections.  The lines create the illusion of space without actually using it.  

Too much to say is far worse than too little, as Sample #4 points out.  This résumé holds 60 lines (650 words) of dense 10 point type, without even bothering to include her name or other identifying information.  Its author told me she didn't know what to drop, so she just kept squeezing in more.  

Sample #5 shows the same résumé after I finished editing it.  It's only 387 words (which is indeed a lot, but is 250 words shorter than it was) and 48 lines, and is once again in 11 point font.  Notice that the edited résumé contains exactly the same number of items!  The professional affiliation was dropped, but the job after graduation was added.  Pay careful attention to what I left out -- all the details that are relevant within your field, but serve no informative purpose outside of it.  Titles of papers, courses taken, places of field research, are in general not important to a legal career.  

Enough.   If I gave anything more away for free, there'd be nothing more to save for the paying customers.  What more can there possibly be to know? The right level of detail, the most interesting spin, and which admissions officer loves track!


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