Law Resume Example & Writing Guide

Law Resume Example & Writing Guide Create a winning legal resume with our step-by-step writing guide and resume sample. Learn what to include and how to structure your resume to stand out as a law job candidate. A well-written resume is essential for getting your foot in the door at top law firms. Our tips will help you showcase your qualifications and get more interviews.

A strong resume is essential for success in the legal field. It's the first thing potential employers see, and it can make or break your chances of landing an interview. But writing a law resume isn't always easy. There are many things to consider, like what to include, how to format it, and what skills to highlight.

That's where this guide comes in. It will walk you through the process of creating a resume that showcases your qualifications, experience, and achievements in the best possible light. You'll learn what sections to include, what keywords to use, and how to tailor your resume to specific job openings.

This article also includes a law resume example that you can use as a starting point. It shows you what a well-written resume looks like and how to structure your own. By following the tips and advice in this guide, you'll be able to create a resume that sets you apart from other candidates and increases your chances of getting hired.

So, whether you're a recent law school graduate or an experienced attorney looking to make a career move, keep reading. By the end of this article, you'll have all the tools you need to write a winning law resume.

Common Responsibilities Listed on Law Resumes

  • Providing legal advice and counsel to clients
  • Drafting and reviewing legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, and policies
  • Conducting legal research and analysis on relevant laws, regulations, and precedents
  • Representing clients in court proceedings, including trials, hearings, and negotiations
  • Preparing and filing legal documents with courts and regulatory agencies
  • Interpreting and applying laws and regulations to client situations
  • Staying up-to-date with changes in relevant laws and legal developments
  • Managing and overseeing legal cases and processes from start to finish
  • Communicating effectively with clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality and adhering to ethical and professional standards

How to write a Resume Summary

The summary or objective sector of your resume is often considered as your initial handshake with a potential employer. This pivotal component potentially lays down the tone for the rest of your resume, or, in layman's terms, sets the stage for your professional storytelling. But, how do you go about it, especially coming from a legal background?

Understanding the Objective/Summary

Doing this well begins with understanding what a resume summary/objective is. It is a brief overview of your career accomplishments and skills, emphasizing what you can bring to a company. Capturing these in a succinct, punchy manner increases the probability of your resume capturing the gaze of a hiring manager about to make tricky decisions in a crowded talent pool.

Knowing the Difference

Primarily, distinguish an objective from a summary. While both serve to give a snapshot of who you are professionally, they target different audiences with a separate focus. A summary is Shenobyline a well-experienced candidate and highlights what makes you qualified for the role. The objective, on the other hand, is more suited for early-career individuals, conveying your career goals and how the job aligns with them.

Essentials of Summary / Objective Writing

In essence, a resume objective or summary needs high relevance and sharpness. The essential cornerstone lies in conceptualizing the section as a brief “elevator pitch” about yourself. Have you ever tried to sell an idea in the time it takes for an elevator to reach its destination? That's the spirit behind a compelling resume summary/objective.

Here are crucial points to consider:

  1. Be Precise: Make sure your summary/objective has a clear, concise point. An employer doesn't need to view your life story; they need to know what you offer professionally.

  2. Use strong, specific words: To generate an impactful representation, make use of energy words, also recognized as action verbs. While crafting, avoid overused buzzwords, opt for clear and powerful expressions to encapsulate your capabilities.

  3. Show, don't just tell: A casual reader might be aware of this old storytelling tactic. Apropos of resume writing, it speaks for utilizing concrete evidence to reinforce your skills or experience. Hence, don't just mention skills; illustrate their application and results.

  4. Be consistent: Aim at echoing the central theme of your resume - your unique personal brand or value proposition. The summary/objective should encapsulate that theme.

Above all remember, your resume is the ticket to your next career opportunity. Impress with your objective/summary, lure them into the intricate detailing of your experience, skills, and achievements, and there stands a good chance your next big break might just be around the corner.

Strong Summaries

  • Detail-oriented Lawyer with 10 years of experience in commercial litigation. Possess a proven record of providing professional legal advice & representing clients in court competently.
  • Accomplished Attorney acknowledged for high ethical standard and professional demeanor. Specialist in Intellectual Property law with hands-on expertise in trademark and copyright infringement cases.
  • High-performing Law Practitioner with 8 years expertise in family law. Skilled in case analysis, strategic negotiation & persuasive communication. Demonstrated successful track record in complex divorce settlement.
  • Veteran legal professional with over 20 years in corporate law and strong knowledge of business operations and management principles. Experience managing a diverse client portfolio with remarkable success rate.
  • Dynamic & resourceful Lawyer with 5 years of experience in criminal law. Proven skills in managing high-stress situations, preparing legal documents, and negotiating plea agreements. Admitted to the New York State Bar.

Why these are strong?

These examples are good because they clearly and concisely illustrate the attorneys' areas of expertise, years of experience, and key professional strengths. They use specific, quantifiable achievements to back up their claims and give potential employers clear insights into their capability. Professional summaries like these are an excellent practice as they provide necessary information upfront, benefiting both the job seeker and potential employer. These summaries also demonstrate a solid understanding of law areas that the attorneys specialize in, further impressing the performance-driven legal industry.

Weak Summaries

  • To secure a job at a prestigious law firm where I can utilize my skills and gain more knowledge.
  • I just completed law school and I am extremely enthusiastic about starting my career in law. My goal is to work in a reputable company where I can offer my services and also grow as a professional.
  • As a newly graduated law student, I wish to apply for the position in your company to start my law career. I am excited to learn and deliver my services.

Why these are weak?

These examples are considered bad for a Professional Summary in a Law resume for several reasons. Firstly, they are all too generic and lack specificity which could make them interchangeable between different resumes. They don't highlight any specific skills, achievements or traits that make the candidate stand out. Secondly, they all focus on what the candidate wants (like 'secure a job', 'start my career') rather than detailing what the candidate can offer to a potential employer. These examples also lack any quantifiable or verifiable facts or figures that can support the candidate's claims. Lastly, there's no mention of the type of law they wish to specialize in or any details about their education, creating a vague and unimpressive summary.

Showcase your Work Experience

Your resume is more than just a summary of your academic qualifications or a list of the places you have worked at. It is a narrative, a story if you may, of your journey as a professional. It is within the story woven around your work experience that prospective employers and recruiters are given a glimpse into your capabilities, skills, and professional growth. So, the narrative that you present in your Work Experience section is vital.

Formulating Your Narrative

When penning down your narrative, start from a place of honesty. Remember, the aim is not to impress but to accurately depict what you have achieved so far. Here are three important aspects you may need to consider:

  1. Identify key roles and responsibilities: Start by making a list of all the tasks you were responsible for in each of your job roles. This list does not have to be a mere collection - strive to make it comprehensive and balanced.

  2. Highlight achievements and skills: Your potential employers also need to see the value you brought to your previous jobs. This includes key achievements, projects that were completed successfully, and skills honed.

  3. Include any professional growth: Future employers are looking for a clear progression in your career trajectory. Show this progression by highlighting any promotions, increase in responsibilities, or breadth of roles held.

Expert Tip

Quantify your achievements and impact using concrete numbers, metrics, and percentages to demonstrate the value you brought to your previous roles.

Writing Style

Also, how you say it matters just as much as what you say.

  1. Be Precise: Choose your words carefully and be as clear as you can. Remember, your goal is to communicate, not to impress.

  2. Use Active Voice: The use of active voice makes your writing more direct, lively and crisp. This helps engage the reader and keeps them interested in your narrative.

  3. Quantify where possible: Numbers never lie. They give a clearer, more tangible picture of your work track record. Did you increase a company's efficiency by a certain percentage? Include that.

When crafting the Work Experience section of your legal career resume, remember this: The picture you paint about yourself needs to resonate with the reader's perception of the ideal candidate for the position they are looking to fill. Understand the expectations and create a personalized narrative that showcases you as the right fit. Happy writing!

Strong Experiences

  • Represented clients in complex commercial litigation and class actions
  • Provided in-depth legal advice to clients on corporate transactions and regulatory compliance matters
  • Experience in drafting and negotiating various contracts such as employment agreements and non-disclosure agreements
  • Conducted detailed legal research and analysis for complex legal issues
  • Worked with diverse teams to manage and coordinate large-scale discovery efforts
  • Review, advise and negotiate various corporate transactions and governance issues

Why these are strong?

These examples are good practices as they detail the applicant's specific experiences in the law field. Each bullet point illustrates a distinct skill-set or accomplishment, such as representing clients, providing legal advice, or conducting research. The use of action verbs like 'represented', 'advised', 'drafted', 'conducted' makes the statements more dynamic. Additionally, specifying situations such as 'complex commercial litigation' or 'corporate transactions' highlights the complexity and breadth of the tasks undertaken, which can enhance the applicant's perceived competence and expertise. Details like 'non-disclosure agreements' showcase specialized knowledge. Moreover, mentioning collaboration within diverse teams can demonstrate teamwork abilities, which is a valuable trait in any field.

Weak Experiences

  • • I have dealt with legal stuff.
  • • Good at suing people.
  • • Solved many legal problems.
  • • Lots of experience in court.
  • • Familiar with all those laws.
  • • Legal expert, trust me.

Why these are weak?

Such examples lack specificity and are not professionally formulated. They are too vague to convey meaningful information. Statements like 'Good at suing people' or 'Lots of experience in court' could come across as dismissive or even arrogant. Moreover, phrases like 'Legal expert, trust me' or 'Familiar with all those laws' may sound overly casual and unprofessional. In a legal resume, it is crucial to include specific information about one's skills, achievements, and experiences to effectively demonstrate competence. Relevant laws or regulations, case names, or specific legal skills should be mentioned instead of general, unspecific statements.

Skills, Keywords & ATS Tips

Striking the right balance between hard and soft skills in your law resume can be a game-changer. This not just improves your chance of landing an interview, but also helps you step your foot in the door. Along with this, understanding the role of keywords in beating the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is equally crucial. Here's an explanation that can help you understand it better.

Hard and Soft Skills in a Law Resume

In simple terms, hard skills are your professional knowledge and abilities; for example, legal jargon, litigation, contract law etc. These are specific, teachable, and often measurable. On the other hand, soft skills are the traits that make you a good professional; examples include communication, problem-solving, stress management etc.

For a law resume, both these skills hold immense value. Hard skills prove that you have what it takes to do the job. They show your technical mastery and capability in handling legal cases. Soft skills, although seemingly less 'legal', are equally, if not more, important. They demonstrate your ability to work well with clients and colleagues, handle pressure, and solve problems on your feet.

Always remember to clearly list these skills in their respective categories on your resume. This helps employers easily spot your capabilities and strengths.

The Connection Between Keywords, ATS and Matching Skills

Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, are software used by companies to manage applications and cut down the initial work of going through numerous resumes. These systems 'read' the words in your resume to find a match with the job description.

This is where keywords come in. If the ATS doesn't pick up keywords from your resume that match the job description, it's less likely your application will be moved forward.

So, in your law resume, if the job description requests skills in "contract drafting" and "client communication", ensure those exact phrases appear in your hard and soft skills list.

Keywords can be found in the duties and responsibilities section of job descriptions. They are usually the skills, qualifications, and job specific terms.

By blending hard and soft skills with relevant keywords, you make your resume stand out, not just for the ATS but for the hiring managers too. They get a clear, concise view of your capabilities that match the job, making you a strong candidate worth considering.

Remember, suggesting your professional value and exemplifying your competence through an appropriate mix of hard and soft skills, while utilizing accurate keywords, can craft a law resume that stands the test of ATS and impresses employers.

Top Hard & Soft Skills for Full Stack Developers

Hard Skills

  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Litigation
  • Case analysis
  • Contract drafting
  • Legal analysis
  • Trial preparation
  • Legal documentation
  • Legal compliance
  • Legal interpretation
  • Legal negotiation
  • Legal strategy development
  • Legal advocacy
  • Legal drafting
  • Legal counseling
  • Soft Skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ethical judgment
  • Empathy
  • Professionalism
  • Confidentiality
  • Stress management
  • Top Action Verbs

    Use action verbs to highlight achievements and responsibilities on your resume.

  • Argued
  • Analyzed
  • Drafted
  • Negotiated
  • Litigated
  • Researched
  • Advised
  • Interpreted
  • Reviewed
  • Prepared
  • Evaluated
  • Presented
  • Defended
  • Settled
  • Documented
  • Investigated
  • Counseled
  • Drafted
  • Filed
  • Examined
  • Conducted
  • Mediated
  • Drafted
  • Negotiated
  • Litigated
  • Researched
  • Advised
  • Interpreted
  • Reviewed
  • Prepared
  • Evaluated
  • Presented
  • Defended
  • Settled
  • Documented
  • Investigated
  • Counseled
  • Education

    Including your education and certifications in your resume is crucial to showcasing your qualifications and academic prowess. Start by inserting a section titled "Education" or "Qualifications". Here, document your educational history in reverse chronological order, mentioning the institution's name, your degree, and year of graduation. If there's any coursework or projects directly relevant to the job, don't hesitate to include that. For certifications, add a "Certifications" or "Professional training" section and follow a similar format. Consider noting the awarding body, certification name, and date received. Always remember to keep it concise and relevant to maximize impact.

    Resume FAQs for Laws


    What is the ideal length for a law resume?


    The ideal length for a law resume is typically one page. However, if you have extensive relevant experience or publications, it can be acceptable to have a two-page resume.


    What is the best format for a law resume?


    The most common and recommended format for a law resume is the reverse-chronological format. This format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position first.


    Should I include references on my law resume?


    It is generally not necessary to include references on your law resume. Instead, you can simply state 'References available upon request' at the bottom of your resume.


    How should I list my law school activities and honors on my resume?


    You should have a separate section for 'Activities and Honors' on your law resume. List any relevant law school activities, such as moot court, law review, or student organizations, as well as any academic honors or awards you received.

    Law Resume Example

    Lawyers interpret laws, advise clients, research cases, and represent them in court proceedings. When drafting a law resume, highlight academic excellence, relevant coursework, internships, and legal writing skills. Tailor each application, using clear language to demonstrate your unique qualifications and fit for the role.

    Jane Sanchez
    (920) 437-1337

    Dedicated and driven law professional with a proven track record of providing exceptional legal services to clients. Skilled in legal research, case management, and client advocacy. Committed to upholding the highest ethical standards while delivering outstanding results.

    Work Experience
    Associate Attorney
    06/2019 - Present
    Wilson & Associates
    • Represented clients in complex civil litigation cases, consistently achieving favorable outcomes
    • Conducted extensive legal research and drafted persuasive legal briefs and motions
    • Collaborated with senior attorneys to develop effective case strategies and negotiate settlements
    • Managed a diverse caseload, ensuring timely and efficient resolution of legal matters
    • Provided pro bono legal services to underserved communities, demonstrating a strong commitment to social justice
    Judicial Law Clerk
    08/2017 - 05/2019
    United States District Court
    • Conducted legal research and drafted memoranda on a wide range of federal legal issues
    • Assisted judges in preparing for hearings, trials, and conferences
    • Analyzed complex legal arguments and provided recommendations to judges
    • Demonstrated exceptional attention to detail and ability to manage multiple priorities in a fast-paced environment
    • Gained valuable insight into the inner workings of the federal judiciary
    Summer Associate
    05/2016 - 08/2016
    Kirkland & Ellis LLP
    • Conducted legal research and drafted memoranda on various corporate and securities law matters
    • Assisted in due diligence review for mergers and acquisitions transactions
    • Participated in client meetings and negotiations, gaining exposure to high-stakes legal matters
    • Collaborated with attorneys across practice areas to deliver comprehensive legal solutions
    • Received positive feedback from supervising attorneys for strong work ethic and attention to detail
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Litigation
  • Contract negotiation
  • Client advocacy
  • Case management
  • Legal analysis
  • Oral arguments
  • Mediation
  • Due diligence
  • Corporate law
  • Securities law
  • Intellectual property
  • Employment law
  • Pro bono
  • Education
    Juris Doctor
    08/2014 - 05/2017
    Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
    Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
    08/2010 - 05/2014
    Stanford University, Stanford, CA