Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Resumes for New Lawyers

by Lynne Rhys, JD, ResumeEdge.com Editor, CPRW

If you’re a second- or third-year law student, you may already be applying for clerkships or permanent jobs following law school. Graduation from law school is no small feat – it takes dedication and stamina (and maybe slight masochistic tendencies) to withstand the brutal rigors of this three-year rite of passage. If you’re proud of yourself for pulling it off, you should be!

Still, graduation from law school is not the ticket to financial freedom it used to be. According to
American Bar Association statistics, over 43,000 people received law degrees during the 2006-2007 academic year. That’s a lot of lawyers. If you want to stand out from that very large crowd of smart people, a good resume isn’t going to be enough. You’ll need a great one! But how, exactly, do you write one?

First of all, think about what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis: Drafting. Negotiating. Collaborating. Advocating. Managing. Researching. Now, think about how those verbs apply to all the jobs you’ve had in the past. Chances are, you did many of the things lawyers do. Make sure the reader knows that.

Second, be absolutely honest. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use strong language. After all, a resume is a document of advocacy. However, stretching the truth is a bad idea. You have stringent ethical requirements to uphold (both in letter and in spirit) and besides, you can’t be sure the employer won’t check your facts.

Third, leverage your law school and volunteer experience. For example, if you co-founded a student organization or nonprofit corporation, say so – and don’t forget to add that you drafted the bylaws and maneuvered your way through bureaucratic red tape to get the job done.

Finally, be conservative. It may be boring, but lawyers are a notoriously stuffy bunch of people, and they don’t like interesting colors or designs. It makes them nervous. You do have what it takes to stand out, even if you don’t have a single day of legal work experience. To make sure others see your talent, advocate for yourself – or hire an expert to do it for you.

Lynne Rhys-Jones is a Certified Professional Resume Writer who specializes in legal, entertainment, and management resumes. A freelance writer and musician, she holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard School, a Master of Science in Information Studies from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy from the University of New Mexico. Request Lynne for your ResumeEdge.com product by keying in her last name only, no caps (rhys) in the 'request your editor' field of the ResumeEdge.com online form. http://www.resumeedge.com/

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