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How to List CALI Award on Your Resume — Like a Pro

How to List CALI Award on Your Resume — Like a Pro

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Being awarded the coveted CALI Award means that you were the top student in a particular class in law school.

Acing classes such as international law, property law, or legal writing may be noteworthy to a law firm, but should you be listing this award on a resume?


Should You Include a CALI Award on a Resume?

A CALI Award should be included on a resume only for those who are still in school, or who have recently graduated. Working professionals may include it for a few years after graduation if the class is very relevant to the job they seek, but it is unusual to list it after acquiring work experience.

Fresh graduates need to format their resumes in a very particular way because they often lack professional experience in the working world.

Because of this, there is often a lot of space to be filled on a resume.

Academic achievements are a good way for recent graduates to fill out their resumes and help themselves stand out amongst their peers.

Achievements such as having a double major, being on the Dean’s List, having a good GPA, and other achievements are typical of these types of resumes. 


For how long should you list a CALI Award on a resume?

CALI Awards should only be listed on a resume until one has gained a few years of working experience in the legal field.

Much like how SAT scores expire after three years, scholarly awards also have unspoken and unofficial “expiration dates”. 

The legal field is a constantly changing one, and thus information quickly becomes outdated.

Having aced a class years ago is less impressive as time goes on, as much of the information one may have studied may now be inaccurate. 

Employers also tend to disregard academic achievements compared to professional experiences, because academic ones tend to be theoretical.

Writing essays about court cases is a much different experience than being in a courtroom for real, and employers prefer seeing the actual experience on a resume. 


How to List a CALI Award on a Resume

A CALI Award is most typically placed in the education section on a resume. This is because a CALI Award is an educational achievement and not a work-related one. If you have many scholarly awards that may clutter the education section, you may put it in an awards/achievements section. 

The education section on a resume of a new graduate tends to be much longer and detailed than that of a working professional.

This gives new graduates some leeway when it comes to adding additional information, which is usually discouraged on a resume.

 Take advantage of the blank space on your resume, and fill it with many details of your academic achievements while in law school! 


How to list a CALI Award in the education section

The education section should be formatted as usual: listing the school name, the dates of education, and the degree. For new graduates, an honors subsection may be added in this section, which will include the CALI Award. 

List the CALI Award as its own bullet point and specify which class it was awarded for.

It is not necessary to include the date of this award, but you should if you are listing dates for other achievements in this section.

You want to remain consistent with listing dates in any section. If you choose to include dates for educational honors, list only the year beside the CALI Award.

When formatted correctly, this will look like the following:


Harfield School of Law (2018-2021)

Juris Doctor

     GPA: 3.7


  • CALI Award for International Law 
  • Dean’s List (five semesters)


While most law firms will understand the CALI Award distinction without context, there is still the possibility that one will not.

Including abbreviations or titles that are not understood without researching the meaning is a blunder on a resume, so some choose to add a small description like in the following example:


Harfield School of Law (2018-2021)

Juris Doctor

     GPA: 3.7


  • CALI Excellence for the Future Award® (highest grade in the class) for International Law 
  • Dean’s List (five semesters)


The CALI website itself recommends this formatting, including the use of the registered trademark symbol. You can read more about their recommendations here in their FAQ. 


How to list a CALI Award in the awards section

When listing a CALI Award in the awards section, include the name of the class for which it was awarded, and the date.

You may include the phrase “highest grade in the class” if you believe the employer may not understand the meaning of the award. List your awards in reverse chronological order. 

Make sure that when including a CALI Award in the awards section, the award in question is relevant to the job which you are seeking.

In order to separate a CALI Award from the education section, it must be able to stand strong as its own achievement. 

If the class it was awarded for matches the job exactly, then it is relevant and therefore belongs.

However, in the case of a CALI Award for international law when applying to a domestic criminal law firm, it doesn’t make you seem any more fit for the job. 

When properly formatted in the awards section, a CALI Award will look like the following:


  • CALI Award for Criminal Law (2020)
  • Lanhurst Legal Scholarship (2019)


How to include a CALI VirtualAward on a resume

Every CALI Award certificate comes with a unique number printed in the bottom right-hand corner.

This number is a URL that will permanently link to your CALI Award.

When submitting resumes online, you can include this URL as a click-through hyperlink by right-clicking the text and selecting “link”. 

Paste this link into your resume, and any potential employers will be able to view your certificate online.

If you have completed these steps correctly, the text will turn blue. Always make sure to test your links to make sure they are linked to the proper page!