As a lawyer, you need to understand legal matters and be able to communicate with other people effectively. This much is true. However, what if you need to write down your legal qualifications and skills on your law cv?
People pursuing legal careers might not know how to write effective legal resumes while applying for jobs. Fortunately, that’s nothing to worry about.
We’re here to help guide you through writing the most effective legal resume using our legal resume examples.
How to Write a Legal Resume for a Law Firm
Whether you’re a professional lawyer or an entry-level paralegal who’s just beginning a career in the legal field, in both cases, you’ll be needing an effective resume. A strong law cv will get you, and your skills noticed and chosen for the new job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of lawyers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Competition for legal jobs over the next ten years is expected to be strong because more students graduate from law school each year than available jobs.
It is safe to say that many other job seekers will be gunning for the same jobs you’re applying to. You need to demonstrate your strengths and potential to beat the competition in the legal job market.
Your resume must be as strong as it can be. After all, your resume is the only way you can communicate your qualifications, skills, and relevant experiences to the recruiter.
A successful legal resume should be well structured and formatted. It should also include information about your previous work history that shows the law firm how you can benefit their firm in the future.
We’ll be going step-by-step through every section of what a legal resume example should look like and guide you to success in your job search.
It is important to note that hiring managers at most law firms and corporate legal departments don’t read through the numerous resumes they receive daily. Instead, they skim through the resumes they find interesting.
A good way to engage the hiring manager and build interest right away is by including a professional summary in your legal resume.
A professional summary should only be a few sentences long. This section serves as a brief introduction to your legal career, relevant work experience, skills, and accomplishments.
Imagine that this is your sales pitch to the legal employers as to why they should hire you; you’re making a statement about how you can benefit the firm through your skills and expertise.
A professional summary section can also be written out using bullet points. Each bullet point would describe a past accomplishment in the legal field and depict your skills.
Legal Profession Example
This is an example of an effective legal professionals summary section:
This summary, on the other, is NOT the way you present your legal skills:
This summary example is too short; it doesn’t say anything of value. It is too vague.
Education and Certifications
Now that you’ve written your professional summary, a successful legal resume template dictates that you start working on the education section of your resume.
This section gives you the chance to show off your educational background as well as honors, degrees, and certifications. An effectively written education section can set you aside from your competitors.
Highlight important information about your honors and degrees by using bullet points. This resume format makes the information you provide more visible and understandable
On top of listing the name of your school, degree, and honors you’ve received, be sure to add additional certifications.
Certifications will help you get noticed and move up the career ladder faster. Here’s a list of certifications we think are useful for a career in the legal field:
- Accredited Tax Preparer
- Accredited Estate Planner
- Estate Planning Law Specialist Certification for Institutional Review Board (IRB)
- Certified Commercial Contracts Manager
Law Resume Examples
This is an example of an effective legal professionals education section:
Now that we’ve gone through the education and professional summary sections, it’s time to focus on the most important part of your resume – the work experience.
The work experience section can make or break your legal resume. To write an effective work history, you need to consider 3 factors:
The Resume Format – giving the sections proper resume format is essential. The format dictates the layout and flow of your resume. It is recommended to use reverse chronological formatting.
Use of Action Verbs and Keywords – Be sure to include action verbs that accurately describe your responsibilities and give your resume a bigger punch. Pair action verbs like Analyzed, Organized, Recorded with industry-related keywords to gain the recruiter’s attention.
Providing Clear and Useful Information – Don’t overload your resume with legal terminology and run-on sentences; always make sure that the content remains clear. You can also enhance your resumes’ work history by adding in numeric information such as how many cases you took on per week.
Here’s some advice, if you’ve worked in the legal industry for over 3 years, then place your education section below your work experience section. If you don’t have 3 years’ worth of legal experience, then it is best to include the education section before your work experience.
No matter which section you start with, use reverse chronological style when describing your career progression: Put your most recent education or experience first.
In some cases, through the course of your professional career, you’ll find yourself working in an unpaid position. They call this pro bono or volunteer work in the legal field.
Adding volunteer work experience to your job description section can be quite beneficial. This kind of work shows the recruiter that you have done extracurricular work with no reimbursement in order to further your expertise. Showing the reader, this will gain the cover letter further interest.
Volunteer work is usually done by law students, and it goes a long way in providing employment in the future. You can help provide much-needed assistance to legal aid and public interest law organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
Pro Bono work includes the following:
- Interviewing clients at a local legal aid hotline or clinic;
- Researching legal issues;
- Drafting legal motions, memoranda, or briefs;
- Assisting in trial or administrative preparations;
- Assisting with pro bono transactional legal tasks, which can include work in areas such as corporate, tax, intellectual property, and real estate work, to low-income small business entrepreneurs or community-based nonprofit organizations involved with community economic development issues;
- Assisting clients to navigate the complex legal process at court-based centers or advice desks, or neighborhood clinics;
- Making presentations and/or developing community legal education materials on legal issues of interest to persons of limited means.
Just like paid work experiences, our advice is to provide necessary information when you describe volunteer experiences. Follow our job description guide when writing about the volunteer experience.
Emphasize Your Professional Skills
The legal field is varied and therefore requires you to be have a wide range of skills and information. A successful professional legal resume must show strong communication skills and a profound knowledge of the law.
Now that you’ve written the job description and gave it the correct format, you can now start your skills section.
The section should consist of legal skills but also soft skills to display you have all the skills to succeed and thrive in your new job. Try to highlight a few keywords from the job description into your skills section.
Here is a list of common technical and soft legal professionals’ skills that you can include in your resume:
- Arbitration and litigation
- Discovery processes
- Legal writing
- Outstanding verbal and written communication
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Case interpretation
- Knowledge of legal terminology
- Preparation of statements
- Court session management of legal documents
- Preparation of trial memorandum
- Legal research
- Leadership skills
- Brief and opinion writing
- Decision-making skills
- Ability to organize and manage staff
- Ability to handle fast-paced, sometimes stressful situations
- Commitment to ethical conduct
- Precedential knowledge
- Critical thinking and reasoning skills
- Dispute resolution
- Negotiation skills
You can also include areas of expertise into the skills section, such as:
- Trademark infringement
- Environmental laws and litigation
- Corporate transactions
- Corporate law
- Family law
- Civil rights law
- Criminal law
Tips and Tricks for Writing Legal Resume
A crucial factor in making a successful legal resume is understanding how recruiters go through the application filtering process. Due to the high amount of resumes legal firms receive, recruiters usually don’t read applications at all.
Indeed, hiring managers will use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan and filter through resumes and pick the ones the program finds most favorable.
To make your cover letter stand out, make sure your legal resume contains a healthy balance of regular words and industry jargon. Mention skills and terminology in your summary and work experience sections that are closely related to the job posting, but don’t go overboard.
Additionally, you should add keywords and action verbs when describing your responsibilities in your work history. Use strong verbs that describe exactly what actions you took, like researched, analyzed, solved, or negotiated.
Remember, it is essential that your summary and work history sections remain clear and readable to the recruiter.
What is the best length and formatting for a legal resume?
It’s recommended to keep the resume one page in length. Use a standard font such as Times New Roman and a font size of 11 points with bold on the job title.
Do I need to display all legal jobs that I have worked in the legal resume?
Including every job you have worked at isn’t necessary. Try to include your work history that is the most relevant to the job posting as well as your most recent relevant position.
Entry-level job seekers won’t have this problem as their experience pool isn’t large enough.
How to write document review projects and legal research on a resume?
Include this in your job description under a firm you’ve done review projects for. Use bullet points to describe your accomplishments and duties.
How to write a legal resume with no experience?
If you’re starting off as an entry-level paralegal and don’t know what to write in your resume, don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Try to include past relevant work experiences from outside of the legal field, as well as include volunteer work you’ve done that resembles the duties stated on the job posting.
Make sure your professional summary talks about your career objective as well: what kind of job you’re working for and how you can benefit the firm as well as yourself.