Legal Resume v. Professional Bio: Is the Resume Dead?

Summertime is upon us, and for law students, that means it is time to start brushing up their resumes in preparation for fall recruitment. For most law students, properly revising and editing a legal resume can be an extremely time-consuming process. It has been proposed, however, that in the future, law students may not have to endure such painful exercises. LexisNexis Law School has suggested via Twitter that the resume is dead, and that instead, law students should be creating professional bios. Is this sound advice for those entering the legal profession?

Probably not.

For those who are unfamiliar with the professional bio, it is usually comprised of a short summary of a job applicant’s background in paragraph form. A bio is typically used to offer an employer a more personal view of the individual job applicant. Michael Margolis of Story University suggests that a job applicant’s bio should address who the applicant is, how the applicant can help the employer, what the applicant knows, why the employer can trust the applicant, and what the applicant has in common with the employer.

Why a Bio Doesn’t Work in the Legal Profession

Beyond a law firm’s website, the professional bio will likely not have a place in the grand scheme of legal employment. The legal profession is fact-based by its very nature. Legal employers expect to receive the facts before they will reach out to prospective candidates to begin the interview process. A resume will not only offer a detailed history of the applicant’s work experience, but will also provide insights as to the applicant’s educational background, including honors and activities.

So, while a professional bio may be a good tool to have on hand in the job search process, a fact-based resume will provide an employer with more than just the applicant’s personal highlights. This is why it is crucial for law students to polish their resumes in order to provide potential employers with all of the facts necessary to receive an interview for employment.

Tips for Improving a Legal Resume

Preparing a legal resume is a difficult process due in part to the document’s formal nature. When creating or editing a fact-based resume, it is sometimes hard for law students to decide how to word particular experiences. If you need assistance, services like RezScore are available to help law students with the writing of their resumes, but at a cost.

However, if you choose to go it alone, to avoid a major resume pitfall, it is best to word particular employment experiences in terms of successes and actual accomplishments. For example, if you assisted with the preparation of an amicus brief, that achievement should be specifically detailed on your resume, as opposed to stating that you assisted in the preparation of legal documents.

It is important to note, however, that law students should not be padding their resumes with clichéd buzzwords. For example, the LinkedIn Blog states that overused terms like “extensive experience,” “results-oriented,” and “team player” should be left on the cutting room floor as far as resumes are concerned.

What do you think about the use of the professional bio as opposed to the legal resume? In April, we wrote about the “death” of the business card. Is the legal resume on its way out, or is it here to stay? Please leave your thoughts on this issue in the comments section.



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  • Ella

    I do not understand how a “professional bio” is much different than a cover letter. You need both a resume and the information that the article states comprises a “professional bio.” Why you wouldn’t put that “bio” information in a cover letter and send both is beyond me.