A Resume Must Tell the Whole Story | BCGSearch.com

A Resume Must Tell the Whole Story


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We all know how important it is for a resume to tell all there is to know about our qualifications. When it comes to attorney resumes, it goes one step further.
A Resume Must Tell the Whole Story

I think it's instinct--we all know how important it is for a resume to tell all there is to know about our qualifications. When it comes to attorney resumes, it goes one step further. Not only must we adequately summarize our qualifications; we must also include certain pieces of information that law firms will undoubtedly want to know. The following are just a few examples of special information that is appropriate to include on attorney resumes:

  • Practice Description: In addition to a description of your day-to-day responsibilities and maybe some highlights from specific cases/deals; it is crucial for the person reviewing your resume to immediately spot the substantive areas in which you have experience. Thus, the first line under each position you have held should include this information. Example: "Primary areas of focus include real estate, land use, and environmental." Keeping in mind the number of resumes law firms receive for a single opening and the fact that the person doing the initial screen is not always an attorney, including such basic information in an easy-to-spot manner can make a dramatic difference.

  • Firm Description: When moving from one geographic region to another, it is often helpful to include a short description of your current firm. This especially applies when you work at a firm that is well-regarded or highly ranked in your particular region but may not be as well known in the region of your job search. Examples: "XYZ's litigation practice is routinely ranked as a top practice by ______." or "ABC Firm is one of the largest firms in Small City and is known for its corporate and finance practices."

  • Reason for a Move: When a candidate leaves Firm A to join Firm B with a partner or group, it is common practice to list the two firms as separate and distinct entries on the resume. Now consider the fact that one of the most common reasons firms have for passing on a candidate is "too many moves." Having said this, moving because a partner recruited you or because your entire practice group moved is quite distinct from making a move for any number of other reasons. Thus, in such situations, it is proper (and helpful) to note that the move occurred under special circumstances. Examples: "Moved to Firm B with partner from Firm A" or "Practice group left Firm A to start the Big City office of Firm B."

  • Bar Admissions: Most attorneys know to include their bar admissions on their resume. However, if you are moving to a different region and have definite plans to sit for that state's bar exam or, you are eligible to waive into the bar, you must let the firm know. Example: "Admitted in Massachusetts and New York; Sitting for February 2008 California Bar Exam."

  • Summer Associate Offers: If you summered at a firm and received an offer but did not elect to accept the offer, it must be clear that you did receive the offer. Many times, attorneys will include the summer position in their work history but will not indicate whether or not an offer was extended. This likely leads the firm to believe that an offer was NOT extended. If that is the case, fine. You can't go back and change that. However, it is absolutely crucial to indicate if that was NOT the case. Example: ABC Firm, Summer Associate (offer extended).
Applying for a lateral position at a law firm is a unique experience because law firms place a huge emphasis on very specific aspects of your career history and qualifications. These are just a few examples of information that can make a difference in the consideration you receive from a law firm. A good legal recruiter should always go over your resume with you and be ready to advise on whether these and other modifications are appropriate given your particular circumstances.
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, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, 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 www.BCGSearch.com.

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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