Thursday, January 29, 2009

Law Student Resumes and Ethical Issues

Resumes, cover letters, and writing samples are a staple of law student recruiting and employment applications--but drafting them in an unethical manner can get law students and recent grads in big trouble.

On its website, the Association for Legal Career Professionals provides the following tips for staying ethical while drafting your resume and cover letter:

"First impressions count - and in legal recruiting, your resume, cover letter, transcript and writing samples are your tools for being counted.

* All information provided in your resume and cover letter must be accurate. Distortion, misrepresentation, exaggeration, or intention to include inaccurate information in your resume or cover letter is unethical and inexcusable. You should be willing and able to discuss everything listed on your resume.

* Represent your grades and/or class rank accurately. You should not "round up" your grades (from a 2.5 to a 3.0, for example), or round down your class rank (from top 22% to top 20%).

* Include bar status on your resume once you have taken the bar examination. Be sure to include the date you sat for the examination, the state in which you took it, and when the results are expected. Upon passing the examination, indicate the month and year of your admission.

* You should supply employers with the most current transcript available. If you have received grades that the law school registrar has not recorded, you may attach a separate listing of the courses taken and grades received.

* Writing samples should be your own unedited work. If the writing sample has been edited, state this fact clearly. You may also explain the extent of the editing by others. If your writing sample was prepared for a previous employer, you must obtain permission from that employer and take any necessary steps to protect the confidentiality of the client." (excerpted from the NALP website.)

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