Dear 1L: 1L Resume Advice

by Amanda Haverstick

This article originally appeared here on


Dear 1L, I’ve seen 100s of 1L resumes over the years. I typically see them after an office-of-career-services (OCS) review, and after you think the resume is “final.” Here’s the problem:

I still catch nits & formatting errors.

Here’s the TL;dr Recap:

1: Set right-facing tabs in Word, so text is aligned evenly at the margin.

2: Remove needless articles like “the” & “a/an” from bullets.

3: Check for consistency in punctuation-mark formatting.

4: Make your resume easy on your Reader’s eyes.


PLEASE, before sending to any prospective employer, run these 4 tests:

🔷 1: Take a ruler to your right margin.

The date & location should be perfectly aligned at the edge.

✏️ If you don’t know how to align the text, I encourage you to learn. I promise you’ll thank me you did—each and every time you update your resume in your life going forward.

Here’s a quick guide:

-ᴘᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴄᴜʀꜱᴏʀ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ʙᴇꜰᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴇxᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴍᴀʀɢɪɴ.
-ɢᴏ ᴛᴏ > ꜰᴏʀᴍᴀᴛ > ᴛᴀʙ > ꜱᴇʟᴇᴄᴛ ᴄʟᴇᴀʀ ᴀʟʟ ᴛᴀʙꜱ
-ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱᴀᴍᴇ ꜱᴄʀᴇᴇɴ, ɢᴏ ᴛᴏ > ꜱᴇᴛ ᴛᴀʙ > ꜱᴇʟᴇᴄᴛ ɪᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʏᴘᴇ ɪɴ 6.5 (ꜰᴏʀ ꜱᴛᴀɴᴅᴀʀᴅ ᴍᴀʀɢɪɴꜱ); ᴀʟɪɢɴᴍᴇɴᴛ: ʀɪɢʜᴛ; ɴᴏ ʟᴇᴀᴅᴇʀ
-ʜɪᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴀʙ ʙᴜᴛᴛᴏɴ

⭐️ The last letter of your date should be perfectly aligned with the last letter of your date for each experience.

🔷 2: Search for needless articles (i.e., “the,” “a” & “an”).


In a resume entry—much like in the parentheticals you write to describe court decisions—you typically don’t need to use words like “the” and “a/an.”

In general, you want your entries as tight and crisp as possible.

Remove each article, provided it’s not needed for clarity, and find ways to express yourself in fewer words.


{*I’m not saying these examples are perfect. I’m merely trying to illustrate a point.}

🚫 “Supervised the team of paralegals to conduct a research project in regards to a motion for summary judgment for the manager’s presentation to the agency’s Board of Directors.”

✅ “Supervised paralegal team to research summary judgment standards for presentation to agency Board.”


✅ “Led paralegals in researching summary judgment law for manager’s report to agency Board.”

🔷 3. Check the formatting of your punctuation marks. 🔹


If you have commas, semicolons, or periods at the end of bolded, underlined titles, is the punctuation also bolded & underlined? Should it be?

—> I prefer that it not be not, but whatever you do, be consistent throughout.


If you place a period at the end of one bullet in an entry, make sure you end all other bullets that way.


If you want to use curly quotes instead of straight quotes—which I recommend—make sure they’re consistent. I regularly see resume-writers switch back and forth.

{—There are countless other examples of little punctuation things like these. Try to proofread your resume backwards, aloud, or presented in a different-color font if you’re having trouble picking up on little mistakes.}

🔷 4.  Hold your resume up to light. 🔹

—Does it require a magnifying glass to decipher?

—Does it look like a big wall of text?

—Is it taxing to keep track of what line you’re on?

—Is there any white space, where weary Readers’ eyes can rest?

You likely won’t understand this yet, but most of us get far-sighted past 42.

Even with glasses on, reviewing a densely-packed, 10-pt font resume can be daunting and frustrating.

The last thing you want your reviewer to feel is daunted or frustrated!

⭐️ Use a bigger font & cut more useless words!!

💌 Amanda

Amanda Haverstick

Amanda is the author of the popular #Dear1L blog, founder of Writing Law Tutors, and legal writing coach for lawyers and law students.  

Amanda previously spent 20 years as a Labor & Employment lawyer in BigLaw and as an in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company. She has also served as a career services consultant assisting law students at one of the nation’s top law schools.


Dear 1L,

I aspire to simplify and improve the quality of your law school journey and to promote your greatest possible success.


Join Amanda’s growing list of 15,000+ followers on LinkedIn to make it through law school with flying colors.