Legal resumes include those for attorneys, legal secretaries and paralegals. Although attorneys may find some of the tips below helpful, this page is mainly for those seeking legal support kinds of jobs.
Before you begin writing your legal resume, make sure that you really want to do this on your own. There are many professional resume writers and resume services you may want to hire to help you. Sometimes their expertise makes all the difference between getting and not getting that first interview.
If you decide to write your own resume, the best place to start is to analyze resume examples that utilize common resume formats. This will give you a good idea of the resume templates being used successfully today to land legal jobs.
Next, look at legal and criminal justice-related web sites and publications to help you choose the key words you need to emphasize in your resume. This is so that scanning software used to identify strong job candidates won’t pass you by.
Your first step while preparing a resume for a legal job should be research. Try to figure out what type of legal employee recruitment managers are really looking for by understanding their services, goals, mission and corporate culture and begin constructing your resume based on this information.
Most law firms require that a candidate has some experience before they will consider you as a candidate. However, research skills, good grades, strong writing and excellent computer skills can often get you in the door without experience.
If you decide to include an objective, make it clear-cut and precise. Do not give any descriptive statements. Examples of good objective statements for a legal job would be, "Highly experienced health care paralegal with a BS from Emory University seeks a position in a growth-oriented law firm which offers diverse job responsibility."
Experience / Qualifications:
This section must highlight those specific aspects of your experience that relate to the position you are currently seeking. Here’s an excerpt from a good example:
- Currently enrolled in M.S. program in human resources
- Assisting law professor at University of Chicago with research on articles relating to employment law
- Summer intern at a well-respected Chicago labor & employment law firm
- Authored Employment Law Seminar paper
While discussing your work experience, do not forget to include accomplishments that will impress the reader and make you legal job resume stand out. Employers want proven achievers, and the only way to bill yourself as a proven achiever is to display your accomplishments in your resume. Refer to this example:
- Received numerous individual performance awards, commendations, and bonuses in previous jobs. (Then cite some specifics here)
- Helped attorneys execute litigation strategies that consistently produced optimal results for clients
- Assisted in research that led to successfully argument of case in Indiana Supreme Court, establishing a new tort in Indiana for violations of state constitutional rights.
Skills / Areas of Expertise:
Take care to list and highlight all your knowledge related to law. You should also include research and computer skills. For a legal secretary position, include your typing speed.might want to use some of these examples while listing your areas of expertise in your resume for a legal job.
In addition to these important guidelines for constructing your resume for a legal job, there are many sample resumes and simple resume formats to follow that will help you compose a great CV. Some of the more important rules are as follows:
- Never write more than two pages.
- Use a format that makes the resume inviting and easy-to-read.
- Think about your accomplishments and make them the focus of the resume
- Tell the truth.
- Use buzzwords and keywords.
- If possible, tailor your resume for a specific legal job or firm, not just law firms in general.
- Include computer proficiency levels for almost all jobs.
- Ensure all dates link up and leave no suspicious gaps if you are using a chronological format.
- If there are gaps in your work history, use a functional resume format.
- Make sure your cover letter is as good as your resume.
- Practice your job interview skills.
- Don’t forget to follow-up with a thank-you note.