Write the ideal law clerk resume with this quick guide
A resume guide for law clerks, explaining how to optimize and tailor each section for the job. Topics covered include resume summaries, formatting options, relevant skills, work experience, and education.
You’ve finally graduated law school and are ready to step into the world of legal proceedings – and what better way to do this than pursuing a position as a law clerk.
In this guide, we will take you through how to optimize each of the most important sections of your resume, providing writing advice, examples, and more.
Keep reading to learn how to:
- Use a hybrid resume to showcase both work experience & education
- Highlight your strengths as a law clerk in your resume summary
- Include both technical and interpersonal law clerk skills
- Prove your value as a law clerk in your work experience section
- List your education as a law clerk succinctly
1. Use a hybrid resume to showcase both work experience & education
When it comes to choosing a resume format for a law clerk resume, the correct choice is highly dependent on your experience level.
Law clerk applicants are commonly newly graduated from law school and seeking an entry-level position. For experienced law clerks, they may have spent many years in a former position, giving them the needed experience but not offering a diverse range of jobs to show off.
In these scenarios, your best format option is a hybrid resume.
Here is a quick break down on what a hybrid resume entails:
Hybrid resumes combine elements of the two main resume formats, reverse-chronological and functional. RC resumes focus primarily on work experience, while functional resumes focus on education and skills.
As a law clerk, you will likely want to spread the focus of your resume more evenly between each section, making the hybrid format the best choice in most scenarios.
2. Highlight your strengths as a law clerk in your resume summary
Though not always seen as a requirement on standard resumes, a resume summary is a powerful element and tool that can make the difference between an employer discarding your resume or contacting you for an interview.
Here is an example of a weak law clerk resume summary, followed by an explanation on how to correct it:
Incorrect law clerk resume summary example:
Law Clerk with over 5 years of experience in a judicial setting. Worked alongside the chief judge to conduct legal research and manage cases. Passionate about criminal justice law.
What's wrong with this example? While this example provides many good details, such as how many years of experience the applicant has, it still needs a higher level of specificity. When listing their passions, for instance, the applicant should use more direct, active language about how they are pursuing the passion by including any relevant specializations or accomplishments.
Corrected law clerk resume summary example:
Judicial Law Clerk with over 5 years of experience working under the Chief Judge in the state courtroom, with a specialization in Criminal Justice. Key responsibilities included completing due diligence and legal research and case management. Helped implement a new digital system to automate proofreading and organization tasks, reducing time spent on procedural requirements by 15%.
Why is this better? In this example, the applicant gives off a greater sense of confidence and professionalism. They include their specialization in Criminal Justice in the first sentence, emphasizing this as their passion. Along with including their key responsibilities, they also detail a major accomplishment in which they implemented new time-saving technology.
3. Include both technical and interpersonal law clerk skills
As a law clerk, your technical skills are extremely important, as you must handle legal documents and assist with courtroom proceedings according to precise legal requirements. This makes it overwhelmingly crucial to include your technical skills not only in a dedicated skills section but within your work experience and resume summary as well.
However, although technical skills are a massive factor on your law clerk resume, it is also key to include your interpersonal abilities. Interpersonal skills deal with your ability to work and coordinate well with others, which is critical when working in a courtroom or legal office.
Below we have outlined 10 technical skills and 10 interpersonal skills that look great on a law clerk resume:
- Due Diligence/Legal Research
- Drafting Orders & Opinions
- Verifying Citations
- Knowledge of Legal Terminology
- File & Document Organization
- Word Processing Software (Microsoft 365, Open Office, Google Docs, etc.)
- Electronic Case Filing & Discovery
- Document Management Systems
- Legal Office Machinery (Copying Machines, Scanners, etc.)
- Accounting & Administration
- Active Listening
- Thorough (This is a good skill to include in your work experience or resume summary sections. When describing your responsibilities, including “thorough” as an adjective can help create more compelling descriptions that accurately represent your work ethic.)
- Verbal & Written Communication
- Time Management
4. Prove your balue as a law clerk in your work experience section
As a law clerk, you deal with highly sensitive – and confidential legal documents and proceedings. From file organization to case management, law clerks have many major responsibilities that make them crucial members of any legal team.
When writing your work experience section, you want to focus particularly on your dependability, accuracy, and professionalism. By encompassing each of these in the descriptions of your work experience examples, you will greatly enhance your resume’s ability to stand out to employers.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a law clerk resume:
Law Clerk | B & C Law Office
Savannah, GA | January 2017 to March 2021
- Performed in-depth legal research to meet due diligence requirements and analyzed research to assist in drafting legal documents.
- Led the implementation of a digital file management system used to back-up critical client data in a highly secure and professionally developed platform.
- Interviewed prospective clients for B&C Law Office. Relayed relevant information to office attorneys regarding which clients were good fits based on the scope of their legal issues.
5. List your education as a law clerk succinctly
The law clerk position is most commonly given to recent law school graduates seeking to find entry into the legal industry. This means that your education section needs to be both succinct and apparent on your resume.
When writing your education section, make sure to include all the necessary details about your academic credentials, including:
- The name(s) of your degree(s)
- The university or institution you attended
- Your date of graduation
Additionally, if you have any significant academic achievements, you may make note of these in your education section as well. If you have many achievements, it may be best to create a separate “Academic Achievements” section.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a law clerk resume:
Juris Doctor | Duke University
- Summa Cum Laude
- Graduated 2021
B.A. in Business | University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
- Double major in Business and Political Science
- Graduated 2018
- Student Council President, 2016 to 2018