Written Supplements to the Law School
Application: Resumes and Addenda
Law school applications ask for a lot of information, but
sometimes – in order to tell your whole story or to clarify an item on
your record – you need to provide additional written supplements. Often
these supplements take the form of a resume or an addendum.
Be cautious when including supplemental information, however, as
admissions committees have many applications to get through each year,
and you don’t want to overwhelm them with huge numbers of pages they
didn’t expressly ask for. You should only include a supplement if it is
necessary to clarify some aspect of your application or to fully
describe your skills and experiences. Any supplement you provide should
be clear, concise and compelling.
The Law School Resume
Schools Want Resumes?
The number of law schools requiring or suggesting that students submit a
resume with their applications is growing. The following information
will help you decide if you should submit a resume with your
application, and how to create the law school resume.
I Submit a Resume?
Read the instructions carefully. Include a resume if it is requested
(and follow any instructions provided for form, length and content);
likewise, do not include a resume if the application expressly says not
to. If no instructions are provided or the instructions indicate that
students may attach a resume, consider including one if it could help
you provide relevant information that is not addressed elsewhere in the
application. A resume may be especially helpful for a student who has
had a great deal of work experience, student organization and/or
leadership involvement, or community/volunteer experience. While most
law school applications will ask you to list your jobs, organizational
and community involvements and you can certainly discuss these
activities in your personal statement, using a resume will allow you to
describe your involvements in greater detail and free up room in your
personal statement for a more focused essay.
Format Should I Use?
Writing a resume for law school applications follows the same general
principles of writing a resume for a job. (See instructions for job
However, there are a few differences. First, you can omit the
“Objectives” portion of the traditional resume and not waste space by
stating the obvious. Also, in the “Education” section of the resume you
can emphasize a strong major GPA (especially if your overall GPA is
lower), list and describe college/academic honors you’ve received,
discuss papers you’ve presented or had published, and you can emphasize
classes you’ve taken that show a background in law, or have developed
your writing/analytical thinking, or other skills. If the applicability
of a class is not obvious based on the course name, consider including a
Can I Use the Resume to Highlight My Experience?
Most importantly, though, you can tailor your resume’s “Experience”
section for law school by highlighting relevant experiences, including
jobs, internships, community service, activities, and research projects,
that demonstrate your skills, such as writing, public speaking,
analytical thinking, leadership, etc. Instead of just listing the
experience you’ve gained (which you will have already done in the
application itself), consider adding a short descriptive narrative about
your work while at that job, organization, or experience, or use bullet
points to highlight your accomplishments or skill development therein.
Unless you have other relevant skills that are not addressed in this
“Experience” section, no separate “Skills” section is necessary. (For
students early in their college career: consider creating a Career
Portfolio now to keep track of all of your involvements as you
With a law school resume, space constraints are not as critical as they
are with a traditional professional resume. If you have enough
experience to justify using two pages, use two pages. However, you
should not include irrelevant material just to fill space, and,
conversely, don’t drown the admissions committee in too much information
– be concise but complete. The information included should showcase your
skills and experiences which are applicable to gaining acceptance in to
law school. Finally, as you should throughout your application,
pay attention to spelling and grammar and use a format that can be
easily read and searched.
Why An Addendum?
You may have a weakness or an inconsistency on your application that
needs clarification such as a low grade or a quarter of low grades, a
disciplinary action, or a hole in your record. You can use an addendum
to address these anomalies. You could also address a weakness in your
personal statement, but, by using an addendum, you can provide some
additional information and leave the focus of your personal statement on
other, more positive topics.
An addendum is nothing more than an extra sheet of paper with a heading
such as “Explanation of Disciplinary Action” or “Addendum Regarding
Spring Quarter 2009.” If the application explicitly asks for
explanations of special circumstances, reference the corresponding
application question number in your heading.
The addendum should be brief, consisting of a short paragraph or two,
and should not exceed one page. It should be typewritten. It should
clearly state the circumstances of the situation you’re explaining
without making excuses. You should take responsibility for your actions,
and show that you learned from the experience and did not repeat the
problem again. For example, if your grades fell significantly one
quarter because you over-extended yourself with a full class load, a
part-time job and multiple extracurricular activities, you should first
explain the situation, then acknowledge that you were over-extended, and
that you have since acquired better time-management skills, or scaled
back on your extracurricular activities to concentrate on academics.
Finally, you should point out that your grades since then have improved.
Likewise, if you had a disciplinary action on your record, describe the
situation without excuses, what steps you took to answer for that action
with the school or community, if applicable, and assure the application
committee (with examples, if possible) that it will not happen again.
The addendum is your opportunity to ease the potential concern an
admissions committee might have when looking at your record. Be honest,
straightforward, and unemotional. By all means, DON’T WHINE! If your
explanation is reasonable and the facts are consistent with the rest of
your record, the committee will consider it when reviewing your