The Ultimate Guide to Legal Resume Examples for 2019 [Expert samples from over 100,000 users]

Top 6 tactics to create the best legal resume:

As a legal professional, you’re dealing with a tough job market, plenty of competition, and contradictory advice on how you should apply for jobs. By using a combination of our own years of experience as resume specialists and big data analysis of tens of thousands of job offers and resumes, we’re put together a comprehensive guide to legal resume tactics that work.
Taken together these tactics boil down to one thing: take the time to do it right. Considering how important your resume is to getting a job, trying to throw one together in a few minutes means you’re not going to get good results. Creating tailored resumes which are the right length, use the right language, and don’t have any mistakes, on the other hand, will increase the likelihood you get the job you really want.

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Best Legal resume examples by users who got hired

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How to write a legal resume

Begin with the job description

Every great legal resumes starts with the job description itself. That’s because your resume shouldn’t be written to apply to any job, it should be written to apply to a very specific job. So if the job descriptions mentions particular legal skills or experience, make sure those things are emphasized (if possible).
Remember, your ultimate goal is for the person reading your resume to think to themselves “this person seems perfect.” A generic resume written to be used for dozens of different jobs isn’t going to do that. So read the job description carefully and keep coming back to it when you’re polishing your resume.

Don’t make it too long

One of the most common questions connected with legal resumes is how long they should be. Plenty of articles will share hard rules, proclaiming that legal resumes should never be longer than 2 pages or should always be 1 page. The reality is more complicated. Once again, your resume needs to be tailor for the job you’re applying for. So if you know that 100s will be sending in resumes, you’re probably not doing yourself a favor by submitting a 4 page resume.
But beyond thinking about the overall length, there’s a principle any legal resume should use. Carefully go through every line and ask yourself whether it makes your resume better. If it doesn’t remove it. Whether it’s 1 or 4 pages, if every bit of information on your resume is well-polished and adds valuable information, it’s likely to be successful.

Be specific

If you list a job and simply state that you “Did legal research,” that’s not going to be effective. Sadly, legal resumes are often full of this kind of vague language focusing on responsibilities instead of impact. Contrast that with “Prepared an average of 3 legal briefs a week” or “won 87% of cases in 2017”. The more specific you are about the impact you had in a particular role, the greater impact that information will have on the person reading your resume.

Be unique by being yourself

This doesn’t necessarily mean that any random detail about you is going to add to your resume. However, most of us have experience which wouldn’t normally go on a legal resume but which is relevant for the job. So consider what experiences or interests you have which might demonstrate that you match what a job description is looking for. This could be showing your grit by mentioning a difficult obstacle you overcame. The point is, as long as it helps show you’re right for the position, showing personality in your resume can really help you stand out to a recruiter or hiring professional.

What 10 sections recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a legal resume

Though it’s certainly not necessary to include all 10 of these sections (which risks overwhelming the reader), all of them should be considered for a legal resume.
1. Bio
2. Strengths
3. Experience
4. Interests
5. Languages
6. Most Proud Of
7. Philosophy
8. Books
9. Social
10. Education

1. Your bio

This is your chance to quickly define yourself in a recruiter’s mind. Right under your name, these few words make a statement about who you are and what you want. This contextualizes the rest of your resume, making all of your other resume sections that much more effective.

Legal resume bio section

2. Your strengths

This section should be a very direct response to the job description. Look at what traits the employer is expecting from you and try to include them here. However, this is also the time to use the “show don’t tell” methodology. Be sure to back up the strengths you’re claiming if you can. This could be a story or some metrics, but including something to back it up will always make your strengths section more impactful.

3. Your experience

Every legal resume includes an experience section, so how can you use yours to stand out? Start with structuring it the right way. Then, be sure you don’t overwhelm the reader with too many positions or unnecessary detail. Consider what information they need and provide it in the most efficient way possible.
But beyond the basics, the first key element is in how you describe your experience. Focus on your impact instead of just your responsibilities and use concrete numbers when possible. Below, you can see how Christopher Curran’s legal resume showcases his experience as an immigration attorney with a focus on impact.

Legal resume experience section

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4. What makes you unique

Law firms and companies don’t just hire a resume, they hire a person. That’s why it makes sense to devote a portion of your legal resume to showing what makes you unique as a person. This is also a good place to include information relevant to the position you’re applying to but which doesn’t naturally fit into other sections. One of our favorite ways to do this is using Enhancv’s “my time” section as Aronas has done here.

Legal resume my time section

5. Your languages

Whether or not your particular legal work environment is multilingual, showing that you speak multiple languages increases the likelihood you’ll get hired. Why? It shows dedication, intellectual ability, and curiosity. In other words, it demonstrates that you have traits which employers are likely to be looking for.

Legal resume language section

6. What you’re most proud of

You may be asking what this section has to do with your legal career. But in reality, showing what you’re proud of does several crucial things for a legal resume. First, it’s another place to include valuable information which demonstrates that you have the qualities an employer is looking for but which don’t fit into any other section. It’s also a fantastic place to include some personality, demonstrate culture fit, and make yourself more memorable to recruiters.

Legal resume most proud of

7. Your philosophy

Much like your bio section, including a brief philosophy can add powerful context to the rest of your resume. If you have a core belief that guides how you approach the law, this is the place to include it. It can be as general or specific as you need, just be sure it speaks to who you are and relates to the job description if possible.

Legal resume philosophy

8. Your favorite legal books

Is there a book which inspired you to study law? Are there legal books which define how you approach your job? This is the place to include them. Rather than just including any books you love, this section does best when you use it to highlight important influences and inspirations which impact how you do your job every day.

9. Your contact information

There’s a good chance you’re rolling your eyes and thinking this is obvious, but stick with us for a moment. Plenty of applicants actually get this section wrong, making it one of the spots recruiters can look to quickly disqualify an applicant. So consider how you’d like to be contacted, whether your email is professional enough, and how easy you’re making it for the recruiter to get in touch.

10. Your education

Obviously your legal education is essential to include on your resume. But consider what details you’d like to include alongside the basics. Do you want to include your GPA? What about details about work you did while studying? Carefully consider the job description and what information will help show you’re the right candidate.

Legal resume education section

How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the Legal role you want

In most cases, the most effective thing you can do to improve your chances of getting hired is to get referred to a position. Referred employees are hired 60% of the time compared to everyone else who make it to an interview just 2% of the time. Needless to say, investing in the kind of personal connections and networks you need to get such a referral is invaluable.
So before you start applying, be sure to check your 1st and 2nd degree contacts in both LinkedIn and in any other relevant groups you may belong to. If you don’t have strong connections in the industry you’re looking to establish yourself in, start making them now!

Check out our guide on getting referrals for any job you’re applying for.

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