11 Attorney Resume Examples for 2024

Aspiring lawyers, drafting your resume is key to getting hired. This guide provides examples and expert tips to help you showcase your legal skills effectively. Learn how to highlight your qualifications, experience, and education in a way that speaks to law firms and legal departments. Our advice is tailored to the specifics of the legal industry, ensuring your resume addresses the right points for your next legal job.

  Compiled and approved by Diana Price
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At a Glance

Here's what we see in the strongest attorney resumes.

  • Show Impact With Numbers: You should show your impact with numbers. Use case win rates, amounts recovered, contracts reviewed, and legal issues resolved to show your success.

  • Match Skills To The Job Description: Include skills on your resume that you have and are also in the job description. Some key ones are legal research, case management software, trial preparation, litigation strategy, and regulatory compliance.

  • Highlight Legal Specializations: If you specialize, show this clearly. Use phrases like environmental law expertise or intellectual property cases to display your focus area.

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Position your education wisely

As an attorney, put your legal education near the top of your resume if you are fresh out of law school or have gone through recent significant legal education, like an L.L.M. Your J.D. or other comparable degree should be one of the first things employers see if you're new to the field. It shows your most relevant training.

If you have been practicing law for a while, your work experience should come first. Show your practical experience in the field before listing your education background. This way, the reader sees your hands-on expertise right away.

Highlight relevant case experience

In the legal field, specific case experience can set you apart. Highlight key cases you have worked on that show your legal skills. Mention any cases that had significant outcomes or that relate closely to the position you seek now.

Also, list any specialized legal areas you have experience in, like environmental law or intellectual property. This gives employers a clear view of where your strengths lie as a legal professional.

Ideal resume length

As an attorney, you want to make sure you show your best skills and experiences quickly. If you have worked for less than 10 years, aim to fit your resume on one page. This helps you focus on the most relevant information. For those with more experience, a second page can be used to detail significant cases or roles that highlight your expertise.

Make your first page count. Put your strong achievements and skills up front. This is what hiring managers see first. Only include less recent roles or details if they add real value to your application. Remember, a good resume is not about length but about how well it shows you are right for the job. Think about what matters in your field – cases won, client work, or roles in prestigious firms - and include these on the first page.

Include professional affiliations

Membership in legal associations or groups shows your commitment to the field. List any bar admissions or professional bodies you belong to at the end of your resume. This shows you are active and respected within the legal community.

Also, note any publications or speaking engagements in the legal realm. This demonstrates your depth of knowledge and your ability to share and discuss complex legal matters, which is valuable in this industry.

Beat the resume screener

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scan resumes before they reach a hiring manager. Your resume must be ATS-friendly to ensure it's seen. Here are tips to help your resume pass the screeners:

  • Use standard job titles like 'attorney' instead of creative ones. ATS may not recognize titles like 'legal guru'.
  • Include keywords from the job description, such as 'litigation' or 'corporate law', to match what the ATS is programmed to look for.

Remember to format your resume with clear headings and use a simple layout. Complex designs can confuse the ATS and cause your resume to be overlooked.

Tailor your resume to your law experience

You should shape your resume to show you are a good fit for a lawyer role. Focus on examples from your past work that match what a legal job asks for. Talk about the law areas you know, the cases you have worked on, and how you work with others.

  • List key cases you've worked on, use terms like civil litigation or criminal defense as it fits your experience.
  • Show off your leadership by listing any legal teams or projects you've led with phrases such as managed a team of paralegals or oversaw a high-profile corporate merger.
  • If you are moving into a legal role from a different job, match your skills to what lawyering needs. If you've made deals or handled tough talks, say something like negotiated contracts or resolved client disputes.

Essential skills for attorneys

As an attorney, your resume should show a strong command over certain skills. These are the tools and techniques that will help you stand out to hiring managers. Below is a list of key skills to consider, but remember, the skills you include should reflect your specialization and the job you're aiming for.

  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Litigation
  • Contract negotiation
  • Case management
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Intellectual property law
  • Corporate law
  • Family law
  • Criminal law

You do not need to include all these skills, just the ones that match your experience and the job you want. Make sure to place these skills in a dedicated section so they are easy to find. This is important because many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan resumes for the right skills. If you have worked on significant cases or projects, consider listing these skills under your achievements to show how you've applied them in your work.

Always tailor your resume to the job description you are applying for. This means if the job focuses on environmental law, highlight your experience with environmental regulations and sustainability compliance. By focusing on the skills that are most relevant to the job, you can show hiring managers that you are the right fit for the role.

Show promotions and leadership

It's important to show evidence of leadership or promotions in your resume. This helps employers see your growth and potential. In the legal field, this can be shown in several ways:

  • List any promotions you received, such as moving from associate to senior associate, or to partner.
  • Describe leadership roles you’ve had, like leading a team on a case, chairing a committee, or mentoring junior attorneys.

Think about your experience and ask yourself if you’ve taken on more responsibility over time. If you have, include that in your resume. For example, you could say “Led a team of 5 associates in a high-stakes litigation case” or “Promoted to senior associate after demonstrating strong case management skills.”

Highlight impact with numbers

When you show your impact with numbers on your resume, it helps hiring managers see the value you can bring to their team. Numbers can make your achievements stand out and be more memorable. As an attorney, you can use metrics to demonstrate your effectiveness and efficiency. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Include the number of cases you have handled to show your experience.
  • List the percentage of cases won to display your success rate.
  • Mention the amount of money saved or earned for clients through settlements or favorable verdicts.
  • State the number of pro bono hours you have contributed to showcase your commitment to service.

Think about the tasks you do daily and how you can quantify them. If you are unsure of exact numbers, estimate them. For example:

  • Calculate the average time you take to prepare legal documents and how this reduces turnaround time for clients.
  • Assess how your negotiation skills have increased settlement amounts or reduced litigation costs.

Use these numbers to show how you make a real difference. This can help you stand out and prove that you are a good fit for the job.

Showcase leadership and growth

As an attorney, demonstrating your climb up the ranks and your capacity to lead is key. You might worry that your leadership roles aren't clear-cut, but there are ways to show them on your resume.

  • Include any roles where you led a team, such as 'Senior Associate Attorney leading a group of junior associates on complex cases.'
  • Mention if you trained new staff or interns, which shows you are trusted to guide others.

Remember to also note any promotions you've received. Even if they don't seem big, they count. For example, going from an 'Associate' to a 'Senior Associate' shows progress. Detail this in your work experience section like so:

  • 'Promoted from Associate to Senior Associate within two years due to strong performance in trial preparation and success in case management.'
  • If you've taken on more complex cases over time or increased your client base, include this as it reflects your growing responsibility and leadership in the field.
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