Legal CV Examples & Guide for 2024

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Legal CV

Your legal CV must prominently feature your education credentials, including your law degree and any relevant certifications. Ensure this information is current and accurately reflects your qualifications. It is also essential to highlight your practical experience, detailing your roles and the legal matters you've handled. Tailor this section to the job you are applying for, demonstrating your suitability for the position.

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Keeping your CV relevant and impactful can be a significant challenge in the competitive legal sector, where distinguishing yourself is crucial. Our guide offers tailored strategies to enhance your CV's effectiveness, ensuring you showcase your qualifications and experience in a manner that resonates with leading law firms.

Learn how to create your next legal CV by:

  • Applying the simplest CV design, so that recruiters can easily understand your expertise, skills, and professional background;
  • Ensuring you stand out with your header, summary or objective statement, and a designated skills section;
  • Creating your CV experience section - no matter how much expertise you have;
  • Using real life professional CV examples to enhance the structure and outline of your profile.

If you still have no muse to write your professional CV, find some more industry-leading examples.

Staring at the blank page for hours on end, you still have no idea how you should start your professional legal CV. Should you include more colours, two columns, and which sections? What you should remember about your CV format is this - ensure it's minimalistic and doesn't go over the top with fancy fonts and many colours. Instead, focus on writing consistent content that actually answers the job requirements. But, how about the design itself :

  • Use the reverse chronological order to showcase your experience, starting with your most recent role;
  • Include your contact details (email address, phone number, and location) - and potentially your professional photo - in the header;
  • Must-have CV sections include summary or objective, experience, education, and skills: curate the ones that fit your profile;
  • Your professional legal CV should be between one-to-two pages long: select the longer format if you have more experience.

A little bit more about your actual CV design, ensure you're using:

When submitting your CV, are you still not sure what format it should be? Despite the myth that has been circling around, most modern ATS systems are perfectly capable of reading PDFs. This format is an excellent choice as it keeps all of your information intact.

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PRO TIP

Use bold or italics sparingly to draw attention to key points, such as job titles, company names, or significant achievements. Overusing these formatting options can dilute their impact.

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The top sections on a legal CV

  • Contact Information to quickly reach the candidate.
  • Professional Summary showcasing legal expertise.
  • Education and Qualifications for academic credentials.
  • Legal Experience for pertinent work history.
  • Key Legal Skills to highlight specific abilities.
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What recruiters value on your CV:
  • Emphasise relevant legal experience by detailing your roles in previous positions and showcasing any high-stakes cases or transactions you've worked on to display your expertise and capability within the legal sector.
  • Highlight your qualifications, ensuring that you include your degree in law, any legal practice courses or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) that you have completed, as well as your solicitor or barrister accreditation status.
  • Showcase your specialisation by mentioning specific areas of law you have experience in, such as commercial, property, or family law, to demonstrate your expertise and niche within the legal industry.
  • Include legal-specific skills such as proficiency in legal research platforms, familiarity with case management software, and the ability to draft and review legal documentation, indicating your preparedness for the technical aspects of legal work.
  • Provide examples of your ability to handle sensitive and confidential information with discretion, as this is crucial in the practice of law and will reassure employers of your professional integrity and trustworthiness.

Right at the very top of your legal CV is where you'd find the header section or the space for your contact details, headline, and professional photo. Wondering how to present your the name of the city you live in and the country abbreviation as your address;

  • Integrate a link to your professional portfolio or LinkedIn profile to further showcase your work;
  • Upload your professional photo only if you're applying for jobs outside the UK or US.
  • Finally, we've reached the most difficult aspect of the CV header - it's your headline or the first sentence that is used to grab recruiters' attention. The most effective legal CV headlines:

    • are tailored to the role you're applying for by integrating key job skills and requirements;
    • showcase what your unique value is, most often in the form of your most noteworthy accomplishment;
    • select your relevant qualifications, skills, or current role to pass the Applicant Tracker System (ATS) assessment.
    • Still not sure how to write your CV headline? Our examples below showcase best practices on creating effective headlines:
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    Examples of good CV headlines for legal:

    1. Barrister-at-Law | Civil Litigation Specialist | LL.M in International Law | 10+ Years at the Bar

    2. Legal Counsel | Corporate Compliance Expert | Corporate Governance & Ethics | Qualified Solicitor | 7 Years Experience

    3. Associate Solicitor | Commercial Property Law Focus | Lease Negotiation Pro | LPC Certified | 5 Years PQE

    4. Senior Legal Advisor | Employment Law Authority | Dispute Resolution | Member of Law Society | 15+ Years Experience

    5. Junior Lawyer | Criminal Defence Enthusiast | BPTC Holder | Motivated by Justice | 2 Years of Practice

    6. Partner - IP Law Practice | Trademark & Patent Strategist | Dual Qualified in UK/US Law | 20 Years Seniority

    Why should it matter to you?

    • Your legal CV summary is a showcasing your career ambitions and your unique value. Use the objective to answer why your potential employers should hire you based on goals and ambitions. The objective is the ideal choice for candidates who happen to have less professional experience, but still meet some of the job requirements.

    Before you select which one will be more relevant to your experience, have a look at some industry-leading CV summaries and objectives.

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    CV summaries for a legal job:

    • Seasoned barrister with over 15 years of experience in the UK legal system, specialising in commercial litigation. Proven track record of successful case outcomes including a landmark intellectual property dispute victory. Possess extensive knowledge in contract law, strong analytical skills, and a persuasive court presence.
    • Dynamic solicitor with a decade's tenure at a top-tier London law firm, adept in financial regulations and compliance. Instrumental in navigating complex mergers, recognised for exceptional negotiation acumen and securing favourable terms in high-stakes transactions. Keen expertise in EU law and bilingual proficiency in English and French.
    • Former senior business analyst seeking to leverage 8 years of experience in data-driven strategy and comprehensive market analysis into a fulfilling career in corporate law. Acknowledged for profound analytical capabilities and a meticulous approach to problem-solving, aspiring to apply these talents in legal case preparation and strategic planning.
    • Accomplished engineer with 12 years in the aerospace industry turning to public interest law. Seek to support justice and advocacy through my strong background in regulatory compliance, ethical leadership, and technological innovation. Adept at managing complex projects and possess a clear, logical mind with a practical approach to problem-solving.
    • A recent law graduate with robust theoretical knowledge in civil and criminal law eager to apply vigorous analytical reasoning and detailed research skills within a legal practice. Committed to continuous learning and seeking opportunities to contribute to case successes while honing litigation and negotiation techniques
    • Aspiring legal professional with a strong academic background in international law, aiming to utilise robust research skills and a commitment to uphold justice. Looking to develop practical experience through hands-on involvement in legal proceedings and by contributing positively to the success of client representations.

    Perhaps you've heard it time and time again, but, how you present your experience is what matters the most. Your CV experience section - that details your work history alongside your accomplishments - is the space to spotlight your unqiue expertise and talents. So, avoid solely listing your responsibilities, but instead:

    Before you start writing your legal CV experience section, dive into some industry-leading examples on how to structure your bullets.

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    Best practices for your CV's work experience section
    • Detail your roles and responsibilities in former legal positions, highlighting specific cases or projects you contributed to and the outcome of those cases.
    • Use action verbs to describe your experience, such as "advised," "drafted," "negotiated," to convey your direct involvement in legal tasks.
    • Explain any specialised areas of law you have worked in, such as intellectual property or commercial litigation, to showcase your niche expertise.
    • Include any high-profile clients or cases you have worked with or on, ensuring confidentiality is maintained as appropriate.
    • Mention your involvement in any substantial transactions or deals, specifying your role and the, when possible, the value of the deal.
    • Provide examples of complex legal documents you have prepared or contributed to, such as contracts, wills, or patent applications.
    • Include any secondments or placements you have completed, particularly those that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
    • Highlight your ability to work collaboratively on legal cases, especially if you have experience working in larger teams or across different departments.
    • Stress any legal research you have conducted and how it has impacted the cases you worked on, underlining your attention to detail and analytical skills.
    Work Experience
    Senior Legal Counsel
    Pearson PLC
    03/2018-Ongoing
    • Spearheaded a compliance project for GDPR, leading an interdepartmental team and achieving 100% compliance across the company's data handling processes.
    • Negotiated and drafted over 200 commercial contracts with international partners, improving contractual terms in favour of the company by 30% on average.
    • Conducted legal due diligence for a major merger, scrutinising over 1,000 documents to identify potential legal risks and contributed to a successful, dispute-free acquisition.
    Work Experience
    Legal Compliance Officer
    HSBC Holdings plc
    06/2015-12/2017
    • Implemented a company-wide training program on intellectual property rights, increasing staff compliance with IP laws by 50% within one year.
    • Played a pivotal role in litigation cases, curbing potential losses by 40% through diligent evidence gathering and strategy formulation.
    • Reviewed and advised on over 100 policy drafts and procedural documents to ensure legal conformity and mitigate risks preemptively.
    Work Experience
    Commercial Legal Advisor
    Savills plc
    01/2013-05/2015
    • Directed the legal aspects of a high-stakes commercial real estate deal worth £10 million, ensuring smooth transaction and transfer of ownership.
    • Reduced operational legal expenditure by 25% through the introduction of streamlined processes and vendor negotiations.
    • Advised on employment law matters affecting over 2,000 employees, reducing litigation risk and fostering a compliant workplace environment.
    Work Experience
    Legal Technology Specialist
    BT Group plc
    11/2011-12/2012
    • Facilitated a partnership with legal software developers to customise a document management system, boosting department productivity by 35%.
    • Conducted comprehensive risk assessments for new business lines, presenting findings to the board which led to informed decision-making processes.
    • Oversaw the intellectual property registration for 10 new products, fortifying the company's portfolio and competitive edge in the market.
    Work Experience
    Corporate Legal Officer
    Tesco PLC
    04/2009-10/2011
    • Led a contract renegotiation initiative that resulted in an annual saving of £500,000 and improved service levels from suppliers.
    • Managed the legal aspects of the company's e-commerce platform, ensuring full compliance with online retail regulations, which boosted customer trust.
    • Executed effective strategies for debt recovery, recovering debts amounting to over £1 million and improving the company's financial standing.
    Work Experience
    International Legal Associate
    Unilever PLC
    08/2016-12/2019
    • Coordinated with international legal teams on cross-border transactions, ensuring alignment with diverse legal frameworks and cultural business practices.
    • Developed and enforced the company's data protection policies, achieving full adherence to new cybersecurity laws and reducing data breach incidents by 60%.
    • Provided regular legal guidance to the marketing team on promotions and adverts, leading to zero legal claims or disputes over misleading content.
    Work Experience
    Legal Affairs Manager
    Sainsbury's PLC
    02/2014-07/2018
    • Orchestrated the legal groundwork for a start-up acquisition worth £3 million, ensuring due diligence and a seamless integration process.
    • Mediated employee disputes and managed arbitration processes, achieving a 90% case resolution rate without escalation to litigation.
    • Authored and implemented a corporate policy handbook that was adopted by over 500 employees, promoting legal best practices within the company.
    Work Experience
    Legal Regulatory Specialist
    GlaxoSmithKline plc
    05/2012-03/2016
    • Crafted and launched a risk management protocol for new product lines, slashing potential legal ramifications by identifying issues early in the development cycle.
    • Liaised with the finance department to optimise taxation strategies, resulting in a 20% reduction of the company's tax liabilities.
    • Represented the company in regulatory affairs, effectively communicating with agencies and preventing sanctions on several occasions.

    Writing your CV without professional experience for your first job or when switching industries

    There comes a day, when applying for a job, you happen to have no relevant experience, whatsoever. Yet, you're keen on putting your name in the hat. What should you do? Candidates who part-time experience , internships, and volunteer work.

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    If applicable, briefly mention a situation where things didn’t go as planned and what you learned from it, demonstrating your ability to learn and adapt.

    Your skill set play an equally valid role as your experience to your application. That is because recruiters are looking for both:

    Are you wondering how you should include both hard and soft skills across your legal CV? Use the:

    • skills section to list between ten and twelve technologies that are part of the job requirement (and that you're capable to use);
    • strengths and achievements section to detail how you've used particular hard and soft skills that led to great results for you at work;
    • summary or objective to spotlight up to three skills that are crucial for the role and how they've helped you optimise your work processes.

    One final note - when writing about the skills you have, make sure to match them exactly as they are written in the job ad. Take this precautionary measure to ensure your CV passes the Applicant Tracker System (ATS) assessment.

    Top skills for your legal CV:
    HARD SKILLS

    Legal Research

    Legal Writing

    Litigation

    Contract Drafting

    Corporate Law

    Compliance Regulations

    Intellectual Property

    Legal Document Review

    Negotiation

    Client Counselling

    SOFT SKILLS

    Analytical Thinking

    Problem-Solving

    Attention to Detail

    Communication

    Ethical Judgement

    Teamwork

    Time Management

    Resilience

    Adaptability

    Leadership

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    If you have received professional endorsements or recommendations for certain skills, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, mention these to add credibility.

    If you want to showcase to recruiters that you're further qualified for the role, ensure you've included your relevant university diplomas. Within your education section:

    • Describe your degree with your university name(-s) and start-graduation dates;
    • List any awards you've received, if you deem they would be impressive or are relevant to the industry;
    • Include your projects and publications, if you need to further showcase how you've used your technical know-how;
    • Avoid listing your A-level marks, as your potential employers care to learn more about your university background.

    Apart from your higher education, ensure that you've curated your relevant certificates or courses by listing the:

    • name of the certificate or course;
    • name of the institution within which you received your training;
    • the date(-s) when you obtained your accreditation.

    In the next section, discover some of the most relevant certificates for your legal CV:

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    Order your skills based on the relevance to the role you're applying for, ensuring the most pertinent skills catch the employer's attention first.

    Key takeaways

    Here are five things you need to remember about writing your legal CV for success:

    • Sort your experience based on the reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent career items, to showcase how you've grown your career;
    • Include within your CV header your relevant contact details, a headline that could spotlight your unique value, and a photo - if you're applying for roles outside the UK or US;
    • Decide to use the CV summary, if you happen to have more professional experience, and an objective, if you want to showcase your career goals;
    • Within the experience section, write your bullets using action verbs, skills, and success, instead of just merely listing your on-the-job responsibilities;
    • Prove your technical skills, using your education and certificates, and your soft skills, with your achievements and strengths sections.

    Looking to build your own Legal CV?

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    Author image
    Volen Vulkov
    Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Legal CVs

    Here are some common questions people have about creating a Legal CV:

    How long should my CV be?

    Your CV should be no longer than two pages.

    How long should my CV be?

    Your CV should be no longer than two pages.

    Should I include a photo on my CV?

    No, it's not necessary to include a photo on your CV unless the employer specifically asks for one.

    What's the best way to format my Legal CV?

    Use a clear, easy-to-read font, and ensure that your CV is well-structured with clear headings and bullet points.