Some general resume formatting advice:
Keep it as spare as possible. A hiring partner will probably only spend 30 seconds reading your resume. Use bullets and indentation to make it easy for readers to find what they want. For some examples, see the last bullet under patent specific advice.
Be consistent with abbreviations. If you spell out Texas in your address, you should spell out state names in your job locations. The rule applies to street abbreviations and any other abbreviations that appear in your resume. Pick one style and stick with it.
We attend The University of Texas School of Law, written exactly like that. We are the School of Law of The University of Texas system, not just the UT Austin campus.
If an attorney cannot easily determine your gender from your name, include Mr., Ms., or Mrs. as a signal.
Write out the month. March 2003 is preferable to 3-03 or 3-2003 or 3/2003.
Journal names should be in small caps.
List your degrees in descending order (e.g., Ph.D., M.S., B.S.)
Separate your degree from your major with a comma if you do not use any words in between. For example, B.S. in Computer Science and B.S., Computer Science are both acceptable, but you should not write B.S., in Computer Science.
Don't forget to put "Prepared <date>" in the footer. You will generate many versions of your resume over time. Including the date makes it easier for firms to know which version is most current.
Only put down your permanent address if you are trying to hint to a law firm that you are from the area (e.g., a Houston address if you're applying to a Houston firm.)
You are selling yourself to a law firm—each detail should convey something that a law firm will value. This includes your Interests section, which has two purposes: give the firm some insight into your personality and provide conversation fodder during interviews. Try to cast your interests in an unusual light. For example:
Interested in historic home restoration: pick any number of traits that might lead one to this interest; notice how it prompts a discussion.
Enjoys making espresso: it's an intricate process that inspires great passion and also suggests cultured taste, though if you think Starbucks is wonderful I wouldn't put this down. Notice how it also prompts a discussion.
Operates ham radios: a hiring partner at one firm was an avid ham radio operator, which led to a great interview chat.
Interested in automotive design: this is a much better lead-in than, "I like cars."
Many people also list various sports, which are also great.
If you send resumes to firms via e-mail, send the document as a PDF. If you have no other way to create a PDF, upload your resume to Documents in Symplicity, wait for it to finish converting, then view it by clicking on the little Acrobat icon in the View column and save the PDF. If you're willing to install a print driver, PDF 995 works quite well.
Some patent specific advice:
Your resume should always be one page. Attorneys will rarely ever read more than that, even if you have an extensive technical background. If you worked previously and have a list of publications or other such notable achievements, you can go ahead and create a longer resume, but you should still create a condensed one-page resume so that when you contact firms you can include both to suit their preference.
If you really cannot cut anymore, it is okay to go down to point size 11 font.
Depending on your background, it is somewhat unlikely that the person reading your resume will be familiar with your field in any great technical detail. Thus, do keep some buzz words and salient technical details to grab the attention of readers who are versed in your background, but keep it short—there's no need to overdo it. Your goal is to convince every reader that your technical background is valuable to their firm, not recount the nuances of your thesis. Bear in mind that further explanation is what interviews are for—your resume is designed to pique enough interest to land that interview.
Along the same lines, the CSO will often remove important technical jargon from your resume during the editing process to create space. Do not be shy about putting it back in. The interviewing lawyer reading the resume may not necessarily understand it, but, when appropriately done, technical detail conveys a sense of competence. In other words, convey your technical experience with some precision, but do not go into exhaustive detail.
Debugged FastC2D, which generates 2D atomic semiconductors images from SCM, and collaborated to create new sample preparation protocols.
Evaluated software developed by NIST to convert raw SCM data into 2D and 3D dopant concentration profiles. Collaborated with NIST to debug program and improve usability. Developed computational techniques to improve the accuracy of SCM data to dopant profile conversion.
The first version conveys enough detail so that
a hiring lawyer will know that I'm serious without going into lengthy
detail. The point here is to concisely convey a general feel
for your technical abilities in a way that is as understandable
as possible to a person that is not versed in your field.
Research quantifying effects of Keratinocyte Growth Factor on lung cell populations for use in reducing the toxicity of radio- and chemotherapy.
Conducted translational research attempting to modulate radio- and chemotoxicity by boosting alveolar cell population prior to treatment. Performed 20-day quantitative time course studying the resolution of Keratinocyte Growth Factor induced hyperplasia in a C3H murine lung model system, with particular attention to the rate of apoptosis as measured by florescent microscopy with TdT-mediated dUTP Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) assay.
Conciseness is the key. The first version
conveys that I worked with growth factors and what I used them for,
and demonstrates competence without being too complex. The
second version is more technically correct, but may be too complex
for a non-technical reader.
It's also worth considering your draftsmanship. For example, the original version of the above example used the slightly more jargon-ish "modulate radio- and chemotoxicity." A reasonably intelligent lay reader can guess the meaning of the phrase, but within the sentence it's devoid of context. It would be better to rewrite it as "reducing the toxicity of radio- and chemotherapy." Everyone knows what chemotherapy is, and reducing its toxicity is a much easier goal to immediately and intuitively grasp. Remember that the reader is skimming your resume, so make it as easy as possible to comprehend while still sounding intelligent. I encourage you to play with adjectives and think of different ways to use them to make them more accessible.
Here are some sample resumes to give you an idea
of what a legal resume targeted for a practice in IP law should look
Technical Background (What I need to convey in the resume)
The point of these three is to show you how I chose to cut down and recast my technical background for a legal audience. I hope you find this useful. You should not regard the versions as year specific. Feel free to copy the general formatting if you want. The second version is actually more space efficient despite moving the section titles into the margins.
Word oriented resume (Word)
Work oriented resume (PDF)
For those whose background is work-oriented, Stephanie's is more instructive.