11 Legal Resume Examples for 2024

Creating a legal resume demands precision. This article guides through crafting resumes that appeal to law firms and legal departments. You'll see strong resume samples and get tips to showcase your experience and skills effectively. From paralegals to attorneys, learn to highlight your legal expertise and get the job you aim for.

  Compiled and approved by Marie-Caroline Pereira
  Last updated on See history of changes

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At a Glance

Here's what we see in top legal resumes.

  • Quantifying Impact With Numbers: Good legal resumes show clear results with numbers. This could be cases won, percentage of successful settlements, time saved through efficient processes, or cost reductions in legal operations.

  • Matching Skills To The Job Description: Include skills on your resume that you have and are in the job description. Include things like legal research, case management software, regulatory compliance, document drafting, and litigation support.

  • Highlighting Relevant Experience: Show your relevant legal work. Use phrases like drafted summary judgments or negotiated settlement agreements to describe your experience.

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Education section placement

In your legal career, where you place your education on your resume is important. If you've graduated recently, or you are a student, make sure to feature your education first. This will let employers quickly see your academic qualifications. This is especially true for positions in the legal field, where your academic background is often a primary focus for entry-level roles.

If you have been working in the legal area for a while, list your experience first. Your practical experience needs to be the first thing a hiring manager sees, as it's a critical factor in the decision-making process.

Certain skills for legal jobs

When looking to enter the legal sector, make sure your resume highlights critical thinking and attention to detail. These are skills highly valued in legal roles and showing experience or studies that have honed these abilities can set you apart.

Additionally, abilities in research and clear communication are fundamental in legal work, so include any relevant experience that demonstrates strong writing and investigative skills.

Ideal length of resume

For anyone applying to legal positions, keeping your resume to one page is good if you have less than 10 years of experience. This helps you stay precise and to the point, ensuring the hiring manager can quickly review your main achievements and qualifications.

If you're a senior-level professional with ample experience, however, a two-page resume can better showcase your long-term career development, provided every detail is relevant and contributes to your application.

Showcase legal-specific experience

In the legal field, any experience with case preparation, document drafting, or courtroom observation can be particularly persuasive. If you have such experiences, make sure they are front and center on your resume.

Mention any internships or volunteer work you've undertaken at law firms or court systems, as these can be compelling examples of hands-on experience in the legal environment.

Beat the resume screeners

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can be tough to get past, but you can do it. These systems scan your resume for keywords and phrases that match the job. As a legal professional, make sure you include terms like 'case management' and 'legal research' which are often looked for.

Your resume should also have a clean format. Use standard fonts and avoid images or graphics. These can confuse the ATS and cause your resume to be overlooked. Stick to text and make sure your headings are clear.

Remember these two things:

  • Include specific legal skills like 'document review' or 'contract negotiation' to show you fit the job.
  • Use simple bullet points to list your experience and qualifications.

Tailor your legal resume

When you tailor your resume, you show us you are right for legal work. You make your application specific to the job. Think about the skills and experiences we want. Use words from the job ad. This helps your resume stand out.

  • For legal tasks, list the cases or regulations you've worked on. Use names we know.
  • If you have experience leading, tell us how many people you managed. Use numbers, like 'Led a team of 5.'
  • If you are new to law, match your old job skills to this one. Say how you did something in your last role that is in the new job. Use clear examples.

Key skills for legal professionals

When crafting your legal resume, it's important to highlight the specific skills that show you're well-equipped for the role. Below is a list of skills that are relevant to legal positions. Choose those that match your experience and the job you're applying for.

  • Legal research
  • Case analysis
  • Contract drafting
  • Document review
  • Compliance
  • Intellectual property law
  • Litigation support
  • Legal writing
  • Due diligence
  • Client counseling

Include these skills in a dedicated section on your resume to help you pass the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which many firms use to filter candidates. Make sure the skills you list are backed up by your work experience or education. For example, if you list contract drafting, mention contracts you have drafted in your job descriptions.

Remember, you don't need to have all these skills. Pick those that best apply to the legal job you desire, whether it's a tax lawyer, a corporate counsel, or a paralegal. This focused approach helps you tailor your resume to the position you're targeting and demonstrates your suitability for the role.

Showcase leadership and growth

When you're applying for roles in the legal field, it's crucial to highlight leadership and any upward movement in your career. This shows potential employers that you're capable of taking on responsibility and advancing within an organization.

  • Detail any roles where you led a team or project, such as 'Headed a team of paralegals for a high-profile case' or 'Managed legal research for patent litigation.'
  • If you've been promoted, make sure to make this clear. For example, 'Promoted from associate to senior associate within two years due to strong performance in client management and case success.'

Think about the times you took the lead on initiatives or when your suggestions led to positive changes. Even if you're unsure, consider moments where you stepped in to guide others or when your expertise was recognized with more responsibility. Examples might include:

  • 'Oversaw junior staff's training on new case management software, improving process efficiency by 20%.'
  • 'Selected as the point-person for complex contract negotiations due to expertise in commercial law.'

Quantify your legal success

As someone who has reviewed countless resumes, I can tell you that numbers speak louder than words. You should highlight your impact by using metrics. In law, this might mean detailing how you increased efficiency in contract review or reduced litigation costs. Think about your past roles and how your work made a difference.

Here are ways to add numbers to your resume:

  • Demonstrate your ability to manage caseloads by stating the average number of cases you handled per month or year.
  • Show your negotiation skills by mentioning the percentage of cases settled before trial, which can imply time and cost savings.

Even if you're unsure of exact figures, you can estimate. For example, if you worked on a team that improved the client intake process, think about the time saved in hours per week. Or, if you implemented a new filing system, estimate the percent increase in document retrieval speed. Remember, precise figures help you stand out and show that you value results and efficiency in your legal work.

Big vs small firms

For large law firms like Baker McKenzie or Allen & Overy, emphasize your experience with high-profile cases and complex legal issues. Big firms value candidates who can handle a heavy workload and have strong attention to detail.

For smaller firms or startups, such as boutique law firms or new tech companies, highlight your ability to wear multiple hats. Show your flexibility and willingness to take on diverse tasks. Mention any experience with smaller, dynamic teams.

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