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WHAT IS A LEGAL RESUME?
Because Attorney Resume works solely with legal resumes, many people assume that there is a drastic difference between a "legal resume" and a resume for a different profession. While there are no such things as a "legal format," a "legal font," or a "legal heading," there are a few basic rules that apply:

1) Legal employers place significant emphasis on education.
The caliber of law school you attended and how well you did there are important to legal employers, particularly if you are a law student or a recent graduate. Therefore, you should be sure to make the Education section of your resume clear and prominent. Sure, if you went to a low-ranked law school, you might not want a neon sign pointing it out, but be aware that employers will be looking for your educational background and won't want to have to dig to find it. You should also flesh out your Education section by describing honors and activities, moot court participation, journal or law review membership, and anything else that will add to your candidacy for a legal position.

2) Legal employers want to see your legal work history in a reverse chronological format.
There are various options for your resume format. (See our article on The Format of Your Legal Resume [link] for more details.) While the resume doesn't need to be 100% chronological, there must be a list of where you've worked and when. Legal employers don't want to play guessing games while trying to analyze your work history. Plus, not listing your positions in order sends up a red flag. If you have hopped jobs or worked in some non-impressive positions, there are better ways to compensate for this than to get creative with the order of your positions.

3) Legal employers most likely will not be impressed by over-the-top creativity.
We've all heard stories of some really crazy technique that landed someone a job. But for the purposes of a legal job search, you want to keep creativity to a minimum. Nix the frilly fonts, colloquial language, or pet photos. Unless you know for sure that the firm you're applying to is extremely informal, you want professionalism to reign supreme. This doesn't mean that your materials need to be dry and boring. A catchy, attention-grabbing sentence or two is a good thing. But starting your cover letter with "I love patent law so, so much!" will probably ensure that it ends up tacked to an amused attorney's wall for the rest of the office to laugh at.

4) Legal resumes typically have a "Bar Admissions" or "Bar Status" section.
Because you have to be admitted to the bar to practice law, it is a good idea to have a separate Bar Admissions section on a legal resume. This section merely lists any states and courts in which you are admitted to practice, followed by the dates you were admitted. If you have taken the bar and are awaiting results, or if you have passed the bar, but are not fully admitted, this can also be indicated in the Bar Admissions section of your resume. This section is especially necessary if you are a recent graduate; one of the main things employers will want to know is whether or not you're already licensed.

5) Legal resumes of more experienced attorneys often contain an addendum listing representative cases or transactions.
Including a list of your most impressive or relevant transactions or cases can be a great way to show employers the breadth and depth of what you've done. This should typically be structured as an addendum to the resume so that the resume can remain concise. If you have just a few cases that you want to highlight, however, they can be included in your job description or in a section of their own.

6) Legal resumes often list professional affiliations.
While being a member of a certain bar association isn't a huge selling point, it is worthwhile to list your professional affiliations on your resume. Also, if you are involved with a board of directors, volunteer your services with a certain community group, or provide pro bono counsel to an organization, this section can be used to showcase those activities.




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