How Should I Prepare My Resume If I’m Getting Ready for a Law Firm Job Search? |

How Should I Prepare My Resume If I’m Getting Ready for a Law Firm Job Search?


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Question: I am revising my resume to get ready for a law firm job search. Can you provide some basic guidance as to how I should prepare my resume?
How should I prepare my resume if I’m getting ready for a law firm job search?

Answer: The following are some well-established basic rules for preparing resumes in the legal industry.

First, keep it short and sweet. You want your resume to be just one page – two at the absolute most. Shorter is generally better. It is said that you will only have 30 seconds to persuade someone with your resume that you are a serious candidate for the job. Your resume must look great both at a glance and on close inspection. This means you need plenty of “white space.” In an effort to keep resumes short, many candidates use small type to squeeze in as many “accomplishments” as possible. The result is too often an unreadable mess. You must have a resume that “grabs the eye,” not repels it.

Second, keep it simple with only the most necessary, relevant and impressive information. Remember, your goal is to get the job. So focus on those things that are most relevant and most important with respect to that goal. Of course, you have to put down your academic and employment history. Beyond that, the information added is largely discretionary. Use your discretion to add the most relevant and valuable information available, such as your skill set that matches the job’s requirements.
Inserting your college GPA may make sense if it is truly excellent (over 3.5), but not if it is more ordinary. Additional information that is less relevant should only be added if it is simple to understand and clearly impressive and helpful. For example, winning a Nobel Peace Prize would be worth mentioning. But writing at length about your undergraduate thesis on the eating habits of tadpoles or even just mentioning that you were president of your college drinking club may even hurt you by distracting or boring the reader.

Third, organize your information in an effective fashion. For younger candidates, academic history usually comes first before work history. For more senior candidates, work history should be placed first when experience starts to become more important, usually around 10 years. You may wish to make exceptions to this order if you went to Harvard or worked for a top-flight firm. The key is to get the most relevant and most powerful information at the top where it will be seen first.

Fourth, once you have more experience, you can consider adding a short “addendum” to the resume that summarizes key deals, cases, patents, etc. It is a separate document with additional information that is better kept outside the 1-2 page limit of the resume. Of course, you should only do this if the additional information is relevant and valuable to your goal of getting the job.

Fifth, you must proofread it very carefully. Even minor mistakes and typos can be fatal.

Sixth, do NOT do any of the following: Include an “objective,” a salary requirement (unless asked), any personal information or the phrase “references available on request.” Your only “objective” is to get the job. Writing something else can only hurt you. No one cares about your family or hobbies. Revealing such information may also hurt you. And lastly, the “references” phrase is both obvious and outdated.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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