This article has some tips on how to write an attorney's resume and what format is best for this type of document.
What Is a Legal Resume and Why Do I Need One?
A law resume is a marketing document that prospective legal employers can use to get an idea of your work experience, qualifications, and what you are looking for in terms of position. It's important because it allows them to see how well-versed or experienced someone may be with specific tasks required by the job opening, they're applying for.
Different Ways to Formulate an Attorney Resume
There are many different approaches that you can take when preparing your resume. However, depending on the type of position you're looking for, following these three simple steps may help get you closer to applying for jobs.
Keep It Simple and Concise
A prospective employer will not have all day to read your resume. They want to save time and focus on certain key points that tell them whether they're a good fit for the position. Make their task more manageable by keeping your resume concise, minimum to one page, and make sure to cut out any unnecessary information related to previous positions or education. ?Therefore, make sure that you can get all your points across in one or two pages, and use bullet points wherever possible.
Have a Well Formatted Resume
If it isn't clear what is on the page, no one will bother reading it. This means making good use of headers, white space, and fonts.
Make Sure It's Accurate
Most resumes are checked before being submitted to employers, so you mustn't have anything on there that isn't true or could be seen as misleading in any way.
Ways to Prepare an Attorney Resume
The process of preparing an attorney's resume is not as complex and time-consuming as you may think. To do so, first identify which areas of law are most relevant for the position being applied to by doing legal research on employers' websites or through networking groups such as local bar associations where possible employment opportunities exist within your field(s)of expertise.
Next, look for any specific requirements listed by the employer. If none exist, make sure to include as many of your skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you're applying for.
Finally, use a professional resume writing service or online legal resume template to format it in a way that will catch an employer's attention quickly and easily.
How a Legal Resume Differs
When writing resumes for any other legal profession, you can use the same general format that lawyers do; name and contact details on top followed by work experience in reverse chronological order with most recent positions at the beginning of each section. However, there are some key differences between legal resumes and those of other professionals.
Use the Right Format
The main difference between lawyer resumes and those in other professions is that they follow a different format. For example, if you are writing an attorney resume for employment at a law firm, your work experience should be organized under the following headings:
- Legal skills
- Litigation history (in reverse chronological order), and skills & achievements.
Be sure to include employers that an attorney would be interested in, such as law firms, government agencies, or large corporations, rather than ones that you may have worked at for a short period before deciding it wasn't the right fit after all.
If your work experience is based at a law firm, you can include your position title with the number of years you held it. However, if this does not apply to what you write, use "lawyer" or just your last name instead of including any other professional titles.
If you are applying to a more prominent law firm, include your experience in-house. This is especially important for solo attorneys who have previously worked at firms but are now looking to work outside of them or even open their practices. Instead of using "law firm," list the name of the company that employed you and how long you were there.
Formatting Tips for Attorney Resumes
Resumes for attorneys are often very detailed and technical. The information you include should be easy to read, well organized with appropriate fonts size, colors used in headings, etc., because they're looking at your resume while deciding if it would match their needs as an employer under normal circumstances.
When writing a great resume, it is also essential to use the same formatting as other resumes. Make sure that all your headings and sub-headings are clear and easy to read. This not only ensures that employers will be able to find what they need quickly, but it can even help them determine whether it is worth reading the rest of your resume.
Next, use a consistent format throughout all your content, along with plenty of whitespaces to make it as easy as possible for hiring managers to read through. And find what they need quickly without having their eyes glaze over at page after page full of information that looks like gibberish to them.
Short paragraphs that do not have any extra information
Employers receive a lot of resumes. They may only read the first line or two before choosing to discard it in favor of someone else's application with more concise content or move on from there. If you include a short, well-organized paragraph, employers are more likely to give your resume a chance instead of immediately throwing it away.
When you are trying to get a job, employers want to know that you know what is expected of them and will do whatever it takes. So, they consider your application carefully, rather than disregarding it because the content does not sound professional or thorough enough. Therefore, your tone and what you are trying to say will come through loud and clear by writing with direct language in your resume.
DO NOT USE:
Use headings to break up your content instead of bulleted points or numbered lists, which are difficult for employers to read through and make it more likely that they will miss something important in favor of what sounds like a more manageable task at hand.
If you use headings, avoid using numbers because they can be interpreted as bullet points.
Keep your content concise without too much information so that employers do not feel like you are trying to hide something or write them off with big words and legal jargon. A resume is meant to highlight the most critical parts of an applicant's career and work history to help them stand out from the rest of the pack.
Avoid using shading anywhere on your resume because it can be distracting and is not always easy for employers to read through stacks to determine what they are looking at, primarily if you use dark colors or black ink. It also makes resumes more challenging to read through when too much ink or shading is used in one place.
Suppose you are applying for a job at a law firm. In that case, it may be necessary to include some legal jargon so that your resume stands out from the rest of them because of its technical knowledge and understanding of what employers are looking for. However, if you are applying to work at a smaller company or organization that does not require the legal expertise of its employees, then avoid jargon altogether. It will only make your resume appear less professional and can even deter hiring managers who do not want anyone working for them who has extensive technical language skills but may lack what they need in terms of emotional intelligence.
If you include legal jargon in your resume, there are likely some inconsistencies between what has been written and what employers might need. So be sure not to include any extraneous details, especially those that do not pertain directly to the job you are applying for.
When writing your attorney resume, avoid using vague or generic statements because they are not clear and will only confuse prospective employers who think you lack what it takes to stand out from the rest of the pack when applying for a job. Instead, make sure that all of your claims can be backed up with specific examples, so there is no question why you deserve the position.
Legal advice or information
If your resume includes legal advice, there are likely some inconsistencies between what has been written and what employers might need. So be sure not to include any extraneous details, mainly if they do not pertain directly to the job you are applying for.
What Needs to Be Included in Your Attorney Resume?
There are a lot of things that you might think about including when making your resume. First, however, you need to determine precisely what is most important to make it stand out from the rest. Your resume should include your name, contact information, email, and phone number. Also have work history beginning with education, ending with the current job you are applying for, and finally any other relevant information including languages spoken or technical skills. Your resume should also include:
- Your legal education background.
- Moot court participation.
- Awards received in the past (if applicable).
- Certificates achieved (again if it is appropriate to do so).
- Additional training programs are completed throughout your professional career.
Write a lawyer resume summary only if you have three years and above of work experience. A few years of experience in a law firm is not enough to justify writing a resume summary. If you have worked for less than three years, write an attorney resume objective instead.
Legal education background or law school accomplishments
The education section of your resume does not have to be too comprehensive. You can keep it simple and to the point by including your name, city of study, institution, degree obtained (including any honors or awards received), bar admission, major(s) studied while in school, and a brief description of what each entail.
More legal job experience is always better than less on an attorney resume. If you have no work, you may also include your volunteer work or internships in the legal field.
Many graduates from law schools struggle with their resumes because they do not know how to format them or what information should be included in them. The most important thing you need to remember is that since your resume will likely only be looked at for a few seconds, make sure you include the right keywords so legal hiring managers can easily find what they are looking for.
What Should Not Be Included in Legal Resumes?
Although there are many things that you might consider including on your resume, many things should be left off it. For example, your attorney resume should not include the following:
Unless it is relevant to the job you are applying for, personal information such as marital status or children will help employers determine whether they want someone with a family in their office environment.
You should not include a list of references on your attorney resume. If you have been fired from the last job for poor performance, this could be seen as one more reason someone might think poorly about hiring an experienced lawyer with these kinds of problems before they even begin working together.
Personal opinions or editorializing about a topic
Remember that you are trying to convince employers why they should choose you, not the other way around, so be sure not to include any fluff in your resume. Anything too flowery may seem insincere or just come off as an attempt at humor which is unlikely to impress potential employers.
Anything too flowery
Including personal opinions or editorializing about a topic, you are trying to convince employers of why they should choose you, not the other way around. So be sure not to include any fluff in your resume as it may seem insincere and just come off as an attempt at humor which is unlikely to impress potential employers.
Technical skills or language fluency that does not apply to the job
Including technical skills or language fluency that is not relevant to the job you are applying for will only distract from your professional information and experience. This might look like a lot of information, but you must include only the most relevant things to your career. For example, suppose you have no previous legal experience. In that case, there's not much reason for including your education unless it was particularly impressive or will help convince employers of why they should choose you over someone else who has this type of background.
You may include skills that are not related to the job if they are impressive enough to convince employers of why you should be chosen over someone who has a background in this area, but this is not necessary for most applicants. For example, you may include your self discipline, soft skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, negotiation skills, and many more.
Your skills can be written on a separate document or to your cover letter and attached to your resume so that the employer can see them if they are interested. However, it is unnecessary, and you should avoid including skills such as "Microsoft Office" or "Google Analytics."
Unless it was particularly impressive or relevant to what you want employers to see about why they should choose you over someone else who does have this type of background. Remember that when writing an attorney resume, employers are looking for someone who can do the job that is being advertised. Therefore, you should only include information on your resume that will help you to convince them of why they should choose you over any other candidate with similar experience or qualifications.
Personal interests and hobbies
Including personal interests and hobbies may distract from the professional information on your resume, which is why you should leave these things off.
Resume Tips for Your Legal Job Search
- The first thing you should do when looking for a new legal job is to update your resume
- When updating your resume, make sure it reflects your current skills and experience
- Try not to bore the reader with too much information - keep it relevant and effective by using action verbs that show what you have accomplished when listing your previous work.
- A lawyer resume can be considered the pass for you to reach out to recruiters looking for the best eligible applicant for any targeted job profile. Almost every recruiter relies on the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to go through hundreds and thousands of legal resumes.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread! Remember that one typo can cost you an interview
How To See If Your Resume Corresponds to A Job Description
- Check the skills that are required for the job to see if you have them.
- Look at the responsibilities and duties of the position to make sure it matches your interests
- Read through their blog post or some reviews on websites to see what people or other lawyers say about working there
- Contact a recruiter from the company and ask them what they would like in an applicant
- Search for any other employers or jobs that may be similar so you can figure out which one is best suited for you
Lawyer Resume Examples
Below is a link where you may find different attorney resume examples. These are videos where legal recruiter Harrison Barnes reviews from entry-level attorney resume to experienced attorney resume samples and provides insightful feedback on improving their law resume, which could land them an interview with a legal recruiter or a hiring manager. In addition, he discusses the best practices in writing resumes and what to do to match the job description.
Attorney Resume Review Videos
Other helpful resources:
- What is the Best Way to Get My Resume and Cover Letter Noticed?
- Your Resume as a First Impression
- Action Verbs for Effective Resumes
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.