How to build a great resume for a legal counselor position
A legal counselor is a unique type of role within the legal industry. Unlike many lawyers and attorneys who have multiple clients, counsel works for a single client – typically a company or corporation.
As the name suggests, a counselor is responsible for providing the company with legal advice to ensure compliance. They’re also there to represent the client in any legal matters and protect its interests. In-house counselor is sometimes one individual, sometimes it’s comprised of an entire legal team.
Working as a counselor allows many legal professionals to land roles in their field with a company that they love. But how does writing a resume for a counsel role differ from other attorney and legal resumes?
To help you land an in-house legal role with your dream company, we’ve put together some essential tips on how to write the perfect legal counsel resume.
1. Start your legal counselor resume with an engaging summary
When reviewing a new resume, reviewers typically go straight to the objective and summary section. You want to make sure that this captures their attention and draws them in so they want to read more.
Keep it brief, focus on your strongest assets, and tailor it to why you want to work at the company you’re applying for.
Here is an example of an engaging objective and summary statement in a counselor resume
Skilled negotiator recognized by senior management, Corporate Law Specialist with 8 years of diversified experience providing expert counsel. Proven ability to facilitate corporate processes, trademark and patent licensing, and merger/acquisition agreements securing favorable company terms. Offering strong leadership skills, guiding both in-house and external teams through complex deals. Persuasive communicator with a favorable verdict track record.
2. Highlight your legal counsel results and impact
Your resume should specify more than the things you did. It should also highlight the things that you’ve achieved as a result. In other words, what have you accomplished for previous clients?
Focusing on your results can demonstrate to potential employers that you are an effective attorney who can help move the business in the right direction. The best way to highlight your impact is by using specific examples and quantifiable results.
Here are some examples of impact-driven phrases to include in your legal counsel resume
- Increased legal department operational efficiency by 15% through restructured contract request guidelines and workflows.
- Advised on the multi-million sale of Company X to Company Y for $23 million.
This method of outlining your experience helps prove that you have a track record of success. While including specific successes is important, make sure you’re taking care to not disclose any confidential client information.
3. Tailor your legal counsel experience and skills to the company
Unlike general attorney roles where you can have many clients, counsel roles are typically geared toward one client or company. It’s important that your resume communicates that you’re a great lawyer. But it should also make it clear why you’re a great lawyer for that specific company.
And don’t just say that you’re a great lawyer – prove it with specific examples.
For example, if you’re applying for a position at a tech company, highlight any experience you have with patent law or intellectual property law. If the position at a financial institution, highlight any success you’ve had with white collar crime or securities law.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the company
One way to stand out from other candidates is by demonstrating that you have a good understanding of the company.
You can do this by mentioning specific things about the company in your resume. For example, use phrases that echo their mission statement and company values. This will show that you’ve done your research and that you understand what they’re looking for in a candidate.
Another easy way to demonstrate your company fit is by identifying key skills within the job description. Using these keywords in the context of your legal experience where appropriate in your resume can help you leave a lasting impression.
5. Include relevant legal background or experience
Being counsel for a company means you need to be an expert in legal proceedings, but also in the specific product or service that the company offers. Recruiters and executives are looking for attorneys that will be a good fit to represent them in their specific area of business.
For example, if you’re applying for a role with a pharmaceutical company, an undergraduate degree in medicine or science could improve your success in the role. Recruiters will likely take notice of this because it means you’ll have an easier time grasping the product background. This can be particularly helpful if you don’t have direct legal experience in that field.
While having a background in the company product is not necessarily required in order to be successful as counsel, these details can often give you a leg up compared to other candidates.
Depending on the company, it may also be helpful to highlight other background or experience that is relevant to the role.
- Externships and clinic experience
- Legal courses specifically related to the field of work
- Successful cases in similar industries
- Continuing legal education related to the industry
Ready to write your winning resume? These legal counsel resume samples and templates are carefully curated to help you land your next role.