Looking for a new job? The first step to landing a dream job in law is creating a solid resume. The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" doesn't work during the hiring process, and the resume is the first document that presents you.
This trend means that lawyers need to work more on their resumes to make them shine. What makes hiring managers read your lawyer resume? Why are expressions like "a top-notch lawyer" better to avoid? Which hard and soft skills are essential to include in 2024? Read on to discover some lawyer resume tips.
One of the trickiest things about attorney resumes is that you have just a few lines at the beginning to impress your readers. Don't waste the chance. Showing you are an all-around professional from the first lines is a powerful motivator for the employer to continue reading the resume attorneys send them.
"What is your main idea? What do you want an employer to remember about you after reading your personal statement? An opening hook that is truly "personal" — after all, it is a personal statement. Start with a powerful statement, and you will stand out in the candidate pool."
Kevin Kornegay, Senior Attorney & VP of Operations, Chad Jones Law
To catch recruiters' eyes, you need to show that you have the strengths required to function at the intersection of law, technology, and business. Let hiring managers know that you are ready to meet the market's demands and deliver the high-quality legal services clients expect.
Are you applying for a law firm, small nonprofit organization, or large government agency? Create a targeted resume for attorneys by adding keywords –– words or short phrases related to particular requirements for a job offer you apply for. Take a profound look at the job description, and don't forget to research the area of law of the target firm.
"Every law firm is known for a specific set of specialized skills in a particular area of law, so when a lawyer submits their resume to a law firm, it makes sense to present one that speaks as much as
possible about your expertise in this particular specialization. This way, your resume will highlight specific skills, knowledge, and experience directly relevant to the law firm's area of work, making it easy for them to choose your resume as notable."
Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
To stand out from a competitive legal market, make sure you emphasize those aspects of your experience that the employer is seeking. Stay yourself, but present your individuality most effectively. After all, it's always better to send five highly tailored CVs than a hundred generic copies to get to the desired destination.
Although this statement is self-explanatory, you still need to remember that your experience in law is one of the most critical sections. Make it impeccable and add clear examples of your achievements and responsibilities. Hiring managers examine this section to find specific characteristics and keywords applicable to the role you're applying for, especially reviewing your recent workplaces.
Highlight your educational background, which can become a true game changer if you are new in law. Think about your student research projects, internships, volunteer work, or any other activities related to the legal industry. Also, include any cross-sectional courses and certifications introducing your genuine interest in starting your career path in law.
Finally, people are an evergreen source of opportunities and inspiration for both skillful professionals and newbies in law. What if a meeting by accident at a conference or during your internship will lead you to a dream job?
"Candidates with little work experience but relevant education can stand out by highlighting their transferable skills and academic achievements, demonstrating a strong understanding of the industry and legal practice, and showcasing their passion and enthusiasm for the field. They can also network with professionals in the industry, gain additional experience through internships or volunteering, and seek out mentorship opportunities to enhance their chances of success."
Allen Tittle, Founder & Attorney, Tittle & Perlmuter
Let's move on to the soft and hard skills section.
Public speaking is key for the legal market in high-stress environments, especially in courts. You need to be comfortable presenting your case and speaking confidently. Beyond this, lawyers must communicate well at smaller meetings with clients and other attorneys. Andrew Pickett, a trial attorney, highlights the following valuable skills that lawyers should possess in 2024.
"In 2024, the most sought-after qualifications for legal professionals will include strong communication and problem-solving abilities and knowledge of relevant laws, regulations, policies, and procedures."
Andrew Pickett, Trial Attorney at Andrew Pickett Law, PLLC
Make hiring managers know that your presentation abilities can benefit a law firm by including information about how effectively you articulate your client's intentions to other parties and attorneys.
Soft skill assets can only exist with hard skills and vice versa. Show your true personality, but don't show off your academic or work achievements. Try to tell a true story about your experience, but don't overload your resume for lawyers with it. Real-life examples can help you become notable for recruiters so that they remember the real person, not another candidate who wants to be selected to fill the position.
"When reading the resumes lawyers send us, we look for situations that require a person to put the team over self (one of our core values), where the person infuses compassion for others in their non-work life, a history of being hungry to advance and learn, and a history of accomplishing difficult goals throughout their life."
John L. (Lin) McCraw, Trial Attorney, Owner of McCraw Law Group
We have covered the primary components of modern lawyer resumes. Now, before you send out one CV sample, take a look at its length and visual appeal.
Did you know that, on average, hiring managers spend just 7.4 seconds skimming through an attorney CV? The chances of being noticed, especially in big and reputable law firms, are meager — no point in writing pages about how brilliant you are. Set yourself a length limit and stick to it.
Remember that your resume is a document that should be impeccable, with no mistakes and irrelevant data. While the quality of a contract determines whether it is valid, your resume defines whether your candidacy is worth considering.
Now, you're ready to create resumes for attorneys that are more likely to bring you a job interview in 2024. With a sounding personal statement, solid work and education sections, and brilliant style and structure, your resume will show that you're just a perfect suit for a company or law firm.
Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.