CSO Boot Camp
The KU Law CSO Boot Camp is a series of videos, instructional handouts and work samples designed to give students all the skills they need to launch the career they want.
The virtual training program covers the application process, interviewing, networking and more. Check back often for new videos and resources.
Boot Camp I: Application Materials
Review the materials below to complete Boot Camp I.
- How to Prepare a Legal Resume (YouTube video)
- How to Prepare a Cover Letter (YouTube video)
- How to Prepare References and Letters of Recommendation (YouTube video)
Tips for Drafting a Resume
Resumes and cover letters are the application documents most commonly requested by legal employers.
Both provide a chance for you to highlight your educational background, professional and volunteer experience, and any other relevant skills and qualifications that would make you a good fit for a particular firm, organization, or position.
Legal Resume Guidelines
The vast majority of legal resumes tend to follow a fairly specific format, outlined below. The goal of a resume is to highlight your most relevant experience in a visually pleasing, easily digestible way. Resumes are not narrative: they are a list of specific duties and accomplishments that demonstrate what you’re bringing to the table in an interview.
- Standard Formatting: 1 page, 1” margins, and 11- or 12-point font
- Should be skimmable – don’t try to fill every bit of white space on the page
- Main sections:
- Header (name, address, contact information)
- Should include law school experience and previous degrees in reverse chronological order (most recent/current first)
- Should also mention Awards, Scholarships, memberships, etc.
- Work Experience or Relevant Experience
- Should include legal and nonlegal work experience in reverse chronological order (most
- recent/current first)
- Can also include leadership experience with volunteer organizations – if you include this information in this section, you should title it something like “Relevant Experience” or “Work and Leadership Experience”
- Community Involvement, Skills, & Personal Interests
- Should include volunteer experience, any language skills or special certifications you have, and a bullet point that lists a few non-law school interests (get specific!)
Depending on your previous experience, a single page may seem like far too much or not nearly enough space to speak to your accomplishments. In the majority of cases, it’s just about right.
Exceptions to the Guidelines
If you are applying to government jobs, particularly via the USA Jobs website, you will need to prepare a long-form resume. Unlike a traditional legal resume, which will highlight only the most relevant information, a long-form resume will include every position you have held and a specific list of duties and accomplishments associated with it. Because many of these positions come with specific pay bands based on past work and/or educational history, every bit of prior experience can help boost you towards a higher pay band. The CSO can help you craft a long-form resume.
Legal Cover Letter Guidelines
Crafting a strong cover letter is often the most time-consuming part of the application process. It requires knowledge of the firm or organization and a real sense of why you’d be a fit there.
Cover letters are narratives: you are crafting a story about how your skills, interests, and qualifications make you a strong potential candidate for a specific organization. That story might focus on specific work experiences, educational background, passion for a cause, or why you originally came to law school; this is where you can expand the story of what you started in your resume.
While you don’t have to completely re-write your cover letter for each application, you should tailor the information you include to speak to that employer’s needs.
- Standard Formatting: 1 page, 1” margins, and 11- or 12-point font (same font/size as resume)
- Main sections:
- Header (name, address, contact information) – use the same one you used on your resume to create visual consistency
- Employer’s Contact Information & Salutation
- Introductory Paragraph
- Should emphasize your enthusiasm for the position, any specific ties to the geographic region, and any specific mutual contacts/acquaintances
- Keep this quick (2-3 sentences is usually enough)
- Body Paragraph(s)
- Should tell the narrative of why you’d be a good hire for the organization – usually, this is a single paragraph, but depending on your situation, two paragraphs might make sense
- For public interest employers, emphasizing dedication to a cause/belief in the importance of public service can be as important as hard skills
- For private firms, make sure to tie your interest in specific practice areas to the experience you’ve had in the past and your other hard skills
- For JD Advantage employers, always make sure you address why you’re interested in doing something other than “being a lawyer”
- Conclusory Paragraph
- Should briefly re-emphasize your desire to contribute your skills to the employer, invite them to contact you, and thank them for their time
- You do not need to physically sign documents you submit electronically (electronic signature is ok), but do physically sign anything you submit in hard copy
Boot Camp II: Networking Skills
Review the materials below to complete Boot Camp II.
Boot Camp III: Job Searches
Review the materials below to complete Boot Camp III.
- How to Conduct an Out-of-State Job Search (YouTube video)
- 1L Summer Legal Experiences: How to Find Them (YouTube video)
- 2L Summer Legal Experiences: How to Find Them (YouTube video)
- Behavioral and Situational Interviewing (YouTube video)
- Virtual Interview Tips (YouTube video)
- Tough Interview Questions (YouTube video)
- Sample Employer Evaluation Worksheet (.pdf)
Virtual Mock Interview Tips
Find tips for attorneys and students participating in virtual mock interviews in the accordions below.
Tips for Attorneys - Virtual Mock Interviews
- Set a time.
- Send a Zoom link.
- Ask the student what job they are hoping to interview for, so you can pick appropriate questions.
- Get a copy of the student’s resume ahead of time to help you develop questions.
- Have traditional and behavior-based questions ready.
- Note your first impression, including the background.
- Note any distractions you experience in communicating.
- Note the student’s attire.
- Ask questions and make notes about answers.
- Ask the student if they have questions for you and let them ask those questions, though you need not answer.
- Debrief by reviewing strong answers and how weaker answers could have impressed you more.
- Include feedback on the questions they had prepared for you, as well.
Tips for Students - Virtual Mock Interviews
- Dress like this is a real interview.
- Choose an appropriate background.
- Be sure you tell your mock interviewer what job you hope to interview for and send your resume in advance, so they can prepare appropriate questions.
- Try connecting via Zoom with someone else beforehand, so you can see whether or not you and your background look polished.
- Have your resume handy.
- Research the employer and interviewer. It is OK to make “crib notes” and place them out of view of the camera. Think about including employer stats or details on the employer’s background.
- Think through how you might answer hard questions about your grades or why you are interested in this employer or position.
- Log in right on time - not early.
- Take your time answering questions.
- Remember to prepare relevant, thoughtful questions. It is OK to have these on your “crib notes.”
- Record it so you can review your performance and feedback (be sure you ask permission before the mock interview).