Bigfoot and the One-Page Legal Resume

Bigfoot and the myth of the one-page legal resumeThe Earth is flat, Bigfoot’s in the forest and an attorney’s resume should be limited to one page in all circumstances.  Some myths and urban legends are easier to debunk than others.  Unfortunately, only two of these three myths seem laughable to attorneys.

There are instances when your resume should be limited to one page, but in some cases, limiting yourself to one page either shortchanges your experience or makes your resume unreadable because the font is too small.

Instead, we propose the following “rule”:

A legal resume should be one page when there is only one page worth of relevant content, or you are a new lawyer with no prior career.

The corollary to the rule is:

The most important information should ALWAYS appear on the first page.

New Lawyers.  If this is your first career, it’s safe to assume that anything beyond the first page will get little or no attention from a potential employer.  Try to limit yourself to one page.

Experienced Lawyers. Depending on the amount of experience you have, you may need additional pages.  That said, be sure to have your current employer on the front page and, if relevant, your academic information should be on this page, too.

How Long is Too Long? If you have to ask this, it’s probably too long.  Remember that our “rule” says that the content has to be relevant.  This is not the time for a laundry list of your work, but a recitation of immediately relevant information for the potential employer.  And since your resume should be tailored for each time you send it, what is relevant may change.  Some people have two pages of very relevant experience.  Maybe some people have three.  If you have more than that, you might want to ask someone else to help you edit your resume.

Think about the reader of the resume and know that they are most likely going to read the first page and skim anything else.  With that in mind, get the most important information on the first page and if you have more experience that you believe will help you land a job, then keep it in the resume and let it bleed into a second page.


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