Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Consulting CPD is a Capital Idea, Old Chap!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas, OCI prep time!

CPD fields a lot of questions about grammar issues that frequently pop up in legal resumes and cover letters this time of year. In particular, we get quite a few questions about capitalization.

When grappling with resume and cover letter questions, capitalization related or otherwise, please come to us. We’re here to help you figure these things out; the right answers aren’t always intuitive. Meanwhile, here’s a quick capitalization refresher as you fine tune your OCI applications.

Capitalization FAQs:

Do I capitalize a job title when referring to it in my cover letter?
When it’s a specific honorary, go ahead and capitalize:
          Morgan Green is the Sandra Day O’Connor Professor of Law at Anystate School of Law.

Or when it comes immediately before or after a person’s name:

          I was Professor Lee Brown’s research assistant.
          Last summer I worked as a research assistant to Lee Brown, Professor of Law.

Otherwise, don’t capitalize:

          Casey White was a professor at Anystate School of Law for years.

Put them all together:

I worked for several professors at Anystate School of Law, including Professor Casey White. Although I didn’t work for Morgan Green or Lee Brown, professors at Anystate, I heard that Green was named Sandra Day O’Connor Professor of Law and that Professor Brown is currently on sabbatical.

When referring to documents generally, don’t capitalize:

          I drafted numerous motions to dismiss over the course of my summer internship.
          I have attached a copy of a memorandum as a writing sample.

But capitalize if the doc is a proper noun:
          Memo I is due on Thursday.

Do I capitalize law school subjects?

When it’s the specific name of the course, a proper noun, capitalize:
          I’m registered for Contracts II.
          I wrote a great memo in Legal Writing I.

Otherwise, lowercase:

          I plan to study contracts this fall.
          I learned how to write objective memos in my legal writing class.

When do I capitalize the name of a department?
When it’s the official name:
          Sidney Gray works in the Center for Professional Development.

Otherwise, lowercase:
          Sidney Gray works in the law school’s professional development center.

Do I capitalize degrees? 

When using the specific title, capitalize:

          Blake Rose earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Anystate.


          Blake got a master’s degree at Anystate.

University of Colorado-Boulder has some other great tips on capitalization, and please don’t hesitate to bring your questions to CPD.

We wish you the best of luck with OCI!