Writing a strong resume is one of the most critical elements of job search. The hiring managers spend a few seconds glancing over the document and choosing between the prospective candidates and moving an application into the 'no' pile. This means you have very less time to make them review your background, highlight USP or make the employers understand your suitability for the position. A good legal resume is important if you want to make a name in the legal industry and want to be a renowned legal professional.
The different profiles in legal sector are attorneys, legal secretaries, litigation paralegals and support jobs like clerk, patent agent and others. Drafting a resume for a lawyer or a paralegal can sound tricky as this career is somewhat different from a regular corporate career. Whenever a candidate decides to start his legal career or plans to revise his resume, the first question that pops up in mind is what all components must be mentioned and the parts to be included or omitted from the document. The legal hiring mangers are just going to dump your application in the trash bin if it is too wordy and includes every detail of the case you have ever fought. With legal firms getting flooded with applications from hundreds of aspirants, follow these precautionary steps to make your resume stand out.
There are two prominent styles – functional and chronological. While a chronological resume focuses on putting a spotlight on your accomplishments and past experiences, a functional resume outlines the accomplishments by breaking experiences into different sections and clubbing all of them to highlight your key skills. This type of resume is written when there are many employment gaps. However, since a legal hiring manager wishes to see how you have advanced in career with minimum gaps, a chronological format is the best option. To know what layout is perfect for you, view the legal resume samples given below.
The top section of your document must provide contact details. Write your name, current residential address, mobile number and email address where you can be reached. If you are a temporary resident of another state or are willing to relocate for the job, mention your permanent address. Adding acronyms of the legal degree you have obtained is absolutely fine, and it would make the hiring manager understand what is to be expected in educational qualification section. However, this is not an essay writing. So, use a simple layout and keep it short but sweet.
Narrate career summary:
This is the section where you are trying to sell yourself and present your efficiency as a legal advisor. Instead of using vague words, write powerful action words like researched, analyzed, negotiated or solved in your career summary. If you were a part of a popular case that had the attention of the entire world and gave its key verdict, mention it at the top. Talk about your strong command in criminal law or family matters to make the right impact.
List proficient skills:
When you are going to mention the skills you possess and talk about what makes you the best in the job, do not forget to include all areas of expertise. Tell something which is uncommon and won't be found on a competitor's resume. In addition to the legal knowledge you possess, say something about the proficiency in multiple foreign languages or other technical skills such as a basic course in computer forensics. This will definitely make you stand out in the crowd and put you in the front position in the list of shortlisted candidates.
Whether the experience section comes on the first page or education depends on the number of years you are in the legal sector. If you have been in it for more than three years, it's best to list out remarkable feats from your career else start with the educational background. This section must be written in reverse chronological order with names of employer, designation and the tenure you were employed at the firm. The time period can be generic and not specifically a start or end date. It must talk about the different cases you have fought or won and must be packed with powerful action words.
While you could add accomplishments to the above section, narrating them in a separate section ensures you catch the hiring manager's attention for a few more seconds. Paying attention to the content on your resume could be a vital factor in deciding whether or not you get the interview call . For instance, a bullet point which states 'Supervised daily activities related to anti-trust cases' is more effective than 'Active involvement in taking day-to-day activities for anti-trust department of my firm.' Using strong action verbs can help you make the right impact and also score high in this section. However, be careful to include only honest points.
You can have additional sections that demonstrate your professional affiliations, community activities or publications where you might have published an article related to law. If the law school you attended was amongst the best in the world, you can start with the educational qualification section first or put it in the bottom part of your document. If you have an extensive legal career, don't hesitate to write a two page resume. Include white spaces instead of cramming everything into a single page. Keep frequently updating your resume and proofread it after every rewrite. Make use of the samples present on our site to write a perfectly stellar legal resume.
Checkout our sample legal resumes below: