Saturday, February 2, 2019

Building Your Law School Resume


Hey, friends! Anyone who has been following along on my law school journey has probably ready by now that I recently went through my post-grad job search and ended up getting a judicial clerkship! One thing that I included in that blog post was that I was never too worried about my prospects, because I had built a pretty impressive resume (in my humble opinion). One of my readers asked me to expand more on how I built a good resume in law school, and I thought that was an excellent idea - so I decided to make a whole post about it! In fact, I'm kind of shocked I haven't written this post before now.

So let's dive in!


Overall, I would say that there are two different ways to make your resume great - your format, and your content. So, I'll split this post into two sections to address those.

Format

Before anyone reads your resume, they are going to have a first impression based on the look of the resume itself. Therefore, you want to make sure that your resume looks impressive before they read a single word. 

The biggest thing you want to do is make sure your resume looks clean. Not too cluttered, a simple and easy-to-read serif font (you really cannot go wrong with Times New Roman), all on one page, readable font size, and black and white. Basically, a legal resume should be low-key boring. Also, I said it once, but I will say it again - KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE. Nobody wants to flip through pages of a resume. Truthfully, they don't care that much. 

Your law school career services office probably has resume templates that you can utilize, and will absolutely review your resume for you. Use those services! However, on the off chance that they don't provide you with a template, I have created one for you to use! Check out the link below. This template is pretty similar to my resume that I use. Feel free to tweak it and make it work for you, but this is a good start for formatting.

RESUME TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD


Content

Now that you've figured out what your resume should look like, it's time to put some meat on the bones and figure out the content. This can be pretty hard, because it is obviously very important. And as I mentioned above, you want to keep things simple - so you have very little space to convey the information you want. So here's a list of things you absolutely want to include:

  • Your law schoool information (duh)
    • Put your law school, expected graduation date, GPA, class rank (if impressive), and activities
  • Your undergrad information
    • Yes, it's over and you obviously have a Bachelor's degree - but they still want to see where you got it, what you majored in, and how you did overall
  • Any legal work experience!
    • If you are a 1L, you might not have any legal work experience. But if you do - put it!
    • Put your position, what you did, where you did it, and any other imporatnt things you learned that you would want an employer to know.
  • Your basic contact information
    • This seems simple, but often overlooked. I've had people tell me that they hate it when they have to go search for someone's email address because they don't just simply list in on their resume.
    • Put your name, address, phone number, and email address. 
Those are the absolute, must include things that you should have on your resume. But chances are, there are more things that you should (and probably want to) include on there if you can. Here's a list of other good things to put on your resume:
  • Other work experience/internships
    • Did you have a job or internship in college? Put it down! Sometimes this grabs the attention of the interviewer, other times it just shows that you're a well-rounded person.
      • Story time: I did the Disney College Program in college, meaning that I spent a semester cleaning up trash at Disney World. It was technically an internship, but not really academic and definitely not related to law. But I put that on my resume EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Why? Because interviewers and recruiters love to talk about it. It stands out. It's fun. Disney is a fantastic company that everyone loves. No, sweeping streets at Disney World did not help me learn how to write a memo or research the law. But it helps interviewers notice me.
    • Law firms and other legal jobs love when you have customer service experience. They like seeing that you have work ethic and people skills.
    • Jobs, internships, etc. tend to show personal interests and tell the interviewer something about your personality
  • A personal interests section
    • I highly recommend having this! In mine, I include that I like the Toronto Maple Leafs and listening to podcasts. It shows that I have a personality. In fact, my old HR manager emailed me on my first day of work to tell me that he was so excited to have another Leafs fan in the office. People eat this stuff up.
    • Make it one line with two or three interest. 
  • Your LinkedIn URL
    • This is the technological age, they are going to look you up. Why not make it easier?
    • But if your LinkedIn sucks - don't put it. That's just embarrassing.
  • Anything else you want people to know!
    • Any cool awards? Let them know!
    • Special skills. Especially if you know other languages or other potentially useful skills.
Those are my main tips as far as content goes. I included a link above to a resume template I made for you guys to use. However, I also have one linked below you can look at with some helpful comments as far as content goes, to use as a reference while you are making your resume.

RESUME TEMPLATE WITH COMMENTS

There are a couple of other things to consider when making your resume. First, you have to live or die by what you choose to put in there. If you have something that might be slightly controversial or could be interpreted badly, think about whether you are prepared to not get a job because of that line. For example, I know some people who have interned with activist groups for specific causes that would be considered controversial. It might be important to them, but if an employer feels otherwise, it could end up costing them a job. So be sure to consider that.

Second, if you're like me, you might have a lot of things you could include on your resume. I had two internships and three jobs in college. I include my Disney internship because it's always a great conversastion started, and my full-time customer service job because it shows off my work ethic. This allows me to include some of my experience in college, but leave enough room for the legal stuff. Just pick the items that you think will yield the best results.

Lastly, remember that your resume is likely going to be accompanied by a cover letter and transcript. Yeah, your resume might be simple, but some things can be expanded upon in a cover letter, or explained better through a transcript. The resume is just the cover sheet for it all.

Overall, a resume is a pretty important thing, so take the time to make it good. Any questions? Leave 'em in the comments below and I'd be happy to answer. 








Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Difference: 1L and 2L - Guest Post!


Hey everyone, Bailey here! Below is a guest post by my colleague Paul at Law School Study Guide! I'm sure many of you have checked out Law School Study Guide before - it's a great resource on all things law school. I wrote a guest post for him too, so make sure to go look at that once you're done with Paul's post here. Without further ado - enjoy!



Maybe you just finished your first year of law school and are wondering if you should drop out.  Don’t give up so fast! You are through the hardest part of law school, with one exception: taking the bar!  The first year of law school is difficult, for multiple reasons. The second year is much better, mainly because you know what to expect.  Let’s take a deeper look at the similarities and differences between 1L and 2L year:

1. A New Place


As with starting any new class or job, or moving to a new location, starting 1L year can cause anxiety.  Don’t worry. Everyone else probably feels exactly the same way you do even though some are able to hide their anxiety better than others.  Having some anxiety is completely normal! After all, you are most likely in an entire new building and being taught by professors of whom you have never met.  Additionally, the first year of law school can cause anxiety because it is held out to be the most important year in law school.
So you may wonder, does 2L year get any better?  The answer is, yes! Your first year in law school is very important, but don’t overlook your second year.  Your second year of law school can help boost your GPA and may just get you your dream job. When you start your 2L year of law school, you will likely have some of the same professors and know how to take a law school exam.  Because law school is entirely new to you as a 1L, your second year naturally seems easier.

TIP:  If your school offers a summer course before your 1L year, this can help you ease into law school and it is a good way to get rid of the anxiety ahead of time that many other students will face during their first semester of law school. 

2. Expectations


One of the biggest differences between 1L and 2L year is the level of expectation of the professors.  Your first year, you may feel as though you are back in kindergarten with someone holding your hand along the way.  Once 2L year comes along, most professors have heightened expectations and assume you know how to write a legal paper, how to respond in class when cold called, etc..
Remember that, in 1L year, everyone in your class is new to law school.  The professors don’t expect you to always have the right answer when they cold call on you . . . at least most don’t.  Additionally, your professors don’t expect you to know how to draft a legal memorandum. During your 1L year of law school, your professors may ask you to brief a case, or write a memo, with no direction.  This is simply a “test” to see how you react under pressure. After all, most partners at a law firm are not going to tell you exactly what they are looking for when you have an assignment to complete. While you may not be given much direction, it is always okay to ask the professor for more detailed instructions.  The worst that can happen is that the professor says, “I don’t have any other instructions.”
Your second year in law school will get better, however, the expectations of your professors will rise.  During your second year of law school, you will have more work to complete, you will be expected to know how to brief cases, and you will be expected to know how to apply the law to facts the professor provides to you in hypotheticals.  You will likely see the amount of reading increase for your second year of law school, but you will also know how to complete readings in a shorter amount of time. While expectations may increase during your second year of law school, just remember that you made it through the hardest year of law school.


3. Activities/Experience 


Many students come to law school asking about what clubs they can join, where they can find jobs on campus, and what activities are open to 1L students.  You will quickly learn that in law school, activities are not tailored towards 1L students. In fact, many organizations require that you are at least in your second semester of law school before getting involved.  You may ask, why don’t law schools let 1L students participate in activities? This is a valid question. The reason most law schools don’t allow or don’t encourage students to participate in extra-curricular activities during their first year of law school is because the law school wants you to focus on doing well in class and getting good grades.  Because your first year grades are incredibly important to obtain summer associate positions, most law schools strongly encourage students not to work during their first year of law school. While there are few events and organizations that permit 1L students to participate, it is recommended to not get too involved. The important of your 1L year grades cannot be stressed enough!
So you start your second year, and now you are bombarded with organizations looking for members, in addition to having stacks of books to read for class.  What should you do? While class should always comes first (I know I sound like your mother), employers like to see that you have legal experience and are involved in some organization(s) on campus.  Employers often look for whether their job applicants have law review and/or journal experience. Additionally, employers like to see that you have some legal experience. Therefore, during your second year of law school, you may choose to work as a law clerk at a law firm.  Law firms are often willing to hire law school students to do their legal research at a cheap rate!

While your 2L year of law school can be just as stressful as your first year due to the amount of work and experience you are expected to do, just remember that you are over one-third of the way through law school and will be a lawyer before you know it!

 
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