The ultimate guide to writing a resume as a lawyer
A resume guide for lawyers that provides writing tips, examples, and more. Topics covered include choosing a resume format, writing a resume summary, key lawyer skills, work experience, and education.
The road to becoming a lawyer is paved with hard work and years of dedication to the field. When applying for jobs as a lawyer, emphasizing this experience is a major factor that can help you to stand apart from competing applicants.
In this guide, we will take you through 5 steps to improve your lawyer resume to land the job of your dreams.
Keep reading to learn how to:
- Pick a resume format that emphasizes experience
- Showcase your experience and specializations in your resume summary
- Highlight your diverse skill sets as a lawyer
- Prioritize your strengths and accomplishments as a lawyer in your work experience section
- Accurately and succinctly list your educational credentials as a lawyer
1. Pick a resume format that emphasizes experience
When choosing a resume format as a lawyer, you want to select the format that will best emphasize your experience in the field. In this case, your two best options are the reverse-chronological resume or the Curriculum Vitae (CV).
The reverse-chronological resume puts the primary focus on work experience, listing your most recent position first and working backward from there. This is the most common resume format and allows you to prioritize your key responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments that you gained from past experiences.
The CV is a long-form resume that consists of multiple pages. This format is most commonly used within academic or scientific fields. However, for lawyers with 10+ years of experience, the CV gives you the best opportunity to list your extensive background and work history to the fullest extent.
Typically, an employer will indicate in a job posting whether or not they expect to see a multi-page CV. Always pay attention to these details and make sure to include the proper documents and materials within your application.
2. Showcase your experience and specializations in your resume summary
Your resume summary is an essential component of your resume, as it helps to introduce you as a professional to employers.
When writing your resume summary, you should keep in mind what impression the summary will leave on the reader. This is your best opportunity to make yourself stand out from your competitors with your skills and areas of expertise.
To illustrate this, here is an example of a weak resume summary, followed by a corrected example:
Incorrect lawyer resume summary example:
Experienced Lawyer seeking an attorney position with an established law firm. Skilled in client relationship management and developing winning case strategies. Exceptional negotiation abilities and experienced in corporate law.
What's wrong with this example? In this example, the applicant provides very few details that offer specific insights into their professional career. To improve this summary, the applicant needs to offer more quantifiable examples regarding their experience and focus more on their specializations.
Corrected lawyer resume summary example:
Detail-Oriented Lawyer with over 7 years of experience working in corporate law. Specialized in corporate taxes and financial planning, with deep knowledge of evolving government regulations. Highly competent in successful negotiations of substantial corporate contracts.
Why is this better? This corrected example offers a much higher level of specificity and detail. The applicant establishes their years of experience as well as their specialization in corporate business and affairs. They go on to highlight their negotiation strengths, giving the summary a nice finishing touch that will compel employers to read on.
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3. Highlight your diverse skill sets as a lawyer
Working as a lawyer requires you to have many different kinds of skills, from general abilities such as legal research to more complex and specialized areas of expertise.
Here are 10 examples of technical skills and 10 examples of interpersonal skills that are key to include on a lawyer’s resume:
- Case Analysis and Research
- Legal Due Diligence
- Data Analytics
- Client Advising and Consultation
- Extensive Written and Verbal Communication
- Preparation of Legal Documents
- File Organization and Management
- Law Interpretation
- Court and Trial Proceedings
- Industry Specializations (Environmental Law, Tax Law, etc.)
- Active Listening
- Empathy and Compassion
- Time Management
4. Prioritize your strengths and accomplishments as a lawyer in your work experience section
Your work experience section is highly important as a lawyer. This is the section where you will showcase your greatest strengths, key responsibilities, and major accomplishments within previous positions. As such, your work experience section should prioritize each of these to the fullest.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a lawyer resume:
Lawyer | M&J Law Associates
New Orleans, LA | June 2015 to January 2020
- Managed more than 25 corporate lawsuits per year, representing clients on cases such as fraud schemes and criminal cases.
- Assisted in raising firm’s success rate from 89.7% to 93.9% by implementing new case management strategies.
- Supervised a team of 10 legal assistant interns, delegating necessary word-processing and organization tasks to them.
5. Accurately and succinctly list your educational credentials as a lawyer
As a lawyer, you are required to have earned a degree through a law school program and pass the bar examination in your state of residence. These credentials are extremely important to include accurately in your resume’s education section.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a lawyer resume:
Juris Doctor | Stanford University
- Graduated Cum Laude in 2020
B.A. in Business Administration | Johns Hopkins University
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2017
- President of the Environmental Law Society 2015-2017