Lawyer Resume Example & Writing Guide

Create an interview-landing lawyer resume using our step-by-step guide and real resume example. Learn what to include and how to format your resume to showcase your legal skills and experience. Plus, get tips for writing compelling resume sections that will make hiring managers take notice. By the end, you'll have a polished resume ready to impress employers and advance your legal career.

Writing a strong resume is essential for lawyers looking to advance their careers. A well-crafted resume can open doors to new opportunities and help you stand out from other candidates. However, putting together a lawyer resume that effectively showcases your skills, experience, and accomplishments can be a challenge.

In this article, you'll find a comprehensive guide on how to create a compelling lawyer resume. We'll walk you through the key sections to include, share tips on highlighting your legal expertise, and provide examples to inspire you. Whether you're a seasoned attorney or just starting out, this guide will help you build a resume that grabs the attention of potential employers and sets you up for success.

By following the advice in this article and studying the provided examples, you'll be well on your way to creating a standout lawyer resume that helps you secure your next career opportunity. Let's dive in and start crafting your winning resume.

Common Responsibilities Listed on Lawyer Resumes

  • Representing clients in court proceedings and legal disputes
  • Conducting legal research and analysis on relevant laws and regulations
  • Drafting and reviewing legal documents such as contracts, agreements, and pleadings
  • Providing legal advice and counsel to clients on various legal matters
  • Negotiating settlements and alternative dispute resolutions
  • Preparing and filing legal documents with the court or relevant authorities
  • Interviewing clients, witnesses, and experts to gather relevant information
  • Staying updated on changes in laws, regulations, and legal precedents

How to write a Resume Summary

Writing an effective summary or objective for your resume is essentially distilling your skills, experiences, and goals into a succinct pitch that introduces you to potential employers. As a lawyer, your summary section should articulate your expertise within the legal sphere, your specialization, and ultimately, what value you can offer. The language employed should not be overly complex, and it should avoid any jargon that could occlude your message. It is important to ensure simplicity of your summary without sacrificing key details.

Depth and Brevity go hand in hand when it comes to resume summaries. Your description can be a concise yet comprehensive snapshot of your professional life. While your detailed experience will be covered in the body of the resume, the summary is the entry point that hooks the viewer's attention.

Expertise and Specialization fields are what distinguishes you from the realm of general law. Whether it's corporate law, criminal law, patent law or family law, your specialization should be stated clearly. Clarity and precision are key here. This statement is essentially your professional identity, so choose language that aptly reflects your area of legal practice.

Your Value proposition is centred on what you offer to potential employers. This extends beyond just expertise and can include your ability to navigate complex legal situations, develop innovative solutions, or maintain high standards of client service. This emphasizes your ability to add value, rather than just fulfil the role's requirements.

Keep in mind that a resume summary is more effective when tailored to each specific job role. Refer to the job description, and match the language and required skills. Each posted role will have unique aspects, so adjust the tone and highlighted skills accordingly.

Lastly, maintain honesty and transparency. Never over-promise or adorn facts - inflated descriptions or embellished initiatives do more harm than good. Your summary should provide an accurate, succinct representation of what you offer and aim to accomplish.

Your resume summary is the first impression you make with a potential employer. If done correctly, it can strategically assert your value, highlight your skills, and express your career objectives. Invest in its thought and creation—be clear, concise, and reflective of your professional identity.

Strong Summaries

  • Accomplished Attorney with broad legal knowledge, notable negotiation expertise, and a track record of successful outcomes for clients. Specialities include family law, criminal defense, and commercial litigation. Well-versed in trial preparation, research, and contract drafting.
  • Experienced Attorney with a demonstrated history in the legal services industry. Skilled in litigation, corporate law, and providing expert legal counsel. Exceptional attention to detail and a passion for achieving positive results for clients.
  • Eminent Lawyer with over a decade of experience providing in-house counsel to leading corporations. Notable expertise in contract negotiation, intellectual property law, and regulatory compliance. A dynamic problem solver with a record for reducing corporate risk.
  • Detail-oriented Attorney best known for sound advice in complex litigation cases. Offering extensive experience in corporate law, specializing in contract negotiation, mergers & acquisitions, and employee rights law, with a proven track record in providing outstanding client service.

Why these are strong?

These examples are good because they clearly showcase the attorney's areas of expertise and their professional accomplishments. Each statement is succinct, focused, and uses strong action words such as 'accomplished', 'experienced', 'eminent' and 'detail-oriented'. They also specify areas of law the attorney is skilled in, such as family law, corporate law, or commercial litigation, which can attract the attention of employers looking for those specialties. Mainly, these summaries exhibit the attorney's value through their track record and key skills.

Weak Summaries

  • As a frequently aggressive lawyer with an astute and incendiary courtroom presence, my primary goal is to bruise egos, intimidate opponents, and win at all costs.
  • I wake up and think about how I can make more money. Being a lawyer is just a means to an end for me, I'm just doing this until my music career takes off.
  • A competent lawyer who's reasonably decent at law things. Also, I have a guilty secret... I haven't seen a single episode of Suits or Law and Order!
  • Been a lawyer for 10 years and I quit my last two jobs due to philosophical differences... they thought I should show up on time, and I disagreed.

Why these are weak?

The above examples are deemed as bad practices especially for a professional summary section of a Lawyer's resume mainly because they project an inappropriate and unprofessional image of the applicant. For instance, the first example reflects an overly aggressive personality which is not conducive to fostering a favorable, professional work environment. The second example communicates disinterest in the field of law and gives an impression of lack of commitment. Similarly, the third and fourth examples showcase a lack of seriousness and unprofessionalism. Not only do these summaries not highlight any skills, achievements, or future goals related to the profession of law, but they also convey a negative image that can be off-putting to potential employers.

Showcase your Work Experience

The Significance of a Robust Work Experience Section

When creating any resume, one of the most important sections is the Work Experience Section. If you consider your resume as a remote stranger who's introducing you in your absence, you can see the 'Work Experience' section as a storyteller that vividly narrates your professional journey. This section reflects the wealth of your practical skills, proving you've tested your theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. Consequently, emphasizing this section's importance is parallel to saying that real-life experience in law, your field, can effectively draw a line between an adequate lawyer and an exceptional one.

Key Components of a Law Work Experience Section

What makes an extraordinary work experience section? Let's traverse this journey together.

Clear and Relevant Positions

Firstly, make sure to list all the legal positions you've held in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Be clear, concrete, and brief. Legal roles usually resonate clearly within the industry, limiting any potential confusion.

Expert Tip

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

Evidence of Skills and Achievements

This section isn't just about the 'what'; it's equally about the 'how.' While indicating the legal roles you've been in is important, outlining specific accomplishments and skills developed in each role gets the spotlight. This means going beyond stating tasks you carried out. Instead, disclose how those tasks added value to your teams or clients. Did you aid in high profile cases? Did you assist in creating legal frameworks that helped your firm win cases?

Familiar tools to document these facts are action verbs. They portray a dynamic individual that's always in pursuit of growth and victory. Stick to uncomplicated words that everyone can understand. After all, your resume may be read by non-legal professionals.

Quantify Where Possible

Lawyers often deal with time-sensitive tasks, company-sensitive content, or money centric issues. Hence if you can, quantify your activities and outputs. It could be the monetary value of a deal or the number of cases you won. These numbers provide undeniable proof of your ability, giving you an edge.

Tailor According to Role and Organisation

Lastly, tailor your work experience to match the specific role and organization you are applying to. Although this could supplement additional work, it boosts the chances of your resume resonating with the potential employer. It shows you can fit comfortably into their team and deliver what's expected without requiring lengthy periods of training or adjustment.

In conclusion, the 'Work Experience' section brings your value and potential to light, hence sculpt it with care. But remember, always be truthful and as clear as possible. An embellished resume can occasionally land you a job, but truthfulness nurtures a long-lasting career.

Strong Experiences

  • Conduct or participated in high-stakes corporate litigation, delivering favorable outcomes in over 90% of cases.
  • Managed and negotiated more than 50 commercial contracts with clients, vendors, and partners.
  • Successfully mitigated risk in contract negotiations, limiting company exposure to potential liability.
  • Worked with cross-functional teams to develop company-wide policies and procedures to enforce legal regulations and internal ethical guidelines.
  • Led a team of paralegals and junior lawyers, fostering professional development and productivity.
  • Effective legal consulting for various startup businesses, leading to increased profitability and legal stability.
  • Conducted over 300 legal research projects and produced comprehensive reports.

Why these are strong?

The above examples are good because they are specific, measurable, and highlight not only the candidate's skills but also their achievements and contributions to their previous companies. These bullet points tell prospective employers what the candidate did, how they did it, and what the result was. Importantly, they do not merely list duties but instead provide evidence of the applicant's abilities and experience. Using such bullet points would undoubtedly strengthen a lawyer's resume.

Weak Experiences

  • Deal with various legal cases.
  • Got clients
  • Learned about law
  • Helped people.
  • Worked on some important cases

Why these are weak?

All of the provided examples are vague and do not provide a clear indication of what the individual's role and responsibilities were in their position. This is a bad practice as it doesn't give prospective employers a good understanding of your capabilities and skills. Good examples should include specific details about what you accomplished or contributed in your role. For example, instead of 'Deal with various legal cases', a better approach would be 'Represented and won 20+ personal injury cases resulting in $15M settlements'. The later gives a quantifiable achievement, clear work detail, and shows value proposition which could be beneficial to the potential employer.

Skills, Keywords & ATS Tips

In every career, having the right skills is key, and law is no exception. But it's not only about the skills themselves. It's also about how you present these skills in your resume. We're going to discuss hard and soft skills for lawyers, and how keywords and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are connected to your skills presentation.

The Role of Hard and Soft Skills

Hard skills are the tangible, teachable abilities you acquire through training and education. For a lawyer, hard skills include knowledge of the law, legal research, negotiation, and drafting legal documents. Showing these skills in your resume tells employers you have the technical knowledge to handle the job.

On the other hand, soft skills refer to the intangible, less teachable qualities you might have. Lawyers with good communication skills, ethical judgment, analytical thinking, and a knack for problem-solving are often more successful. Employers unquestionably value these skills. Even though they are less tangible, they are essential for effective practice.

Keywords and ATS Connection

One factor often overlooked in creating a resume is the use of keywords. These are specific words and phrases that employers look for in potential candidates. Their function is to help employers ascertain if the applicant's skills match the job requirements.

Consequently, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) come in. ATS systems help employers filter through numerous applications to find the most suitable candidates. Using certain keywords increases the chances of your resume getting through an ATS.

Therefore, when writing the skills section of your resume, it's critical to include both hard and soft skills. However, it's just as important to use relevant keywords to match the job requirements. This increases your chances of passing through the ATS and catching an employer's attention.

Top Hard & Soft Skills for Full Stack Developers

Hard Skills

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

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

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

  • Argued
  • Negotiated
  • Drafted
  • Analyzed
  • Researched
  • Litigated
  • Advised
  • Interpreted
  • Reviewed
  • Presented
  • Defended
  • Settled
  • Documented
  • Consulted
  • Interviewed
  • Mediated
  • Prepared
  • Investigated
  • Advocated
  • Complied
  • Counseled
  • Drafted
  • Filed
  • Negotiated
  • Reviewed
  • Served
  • Represented
  • Conducted
  • Evaluated
  • Collaborated
  • Communicated
  • Analyzed
  • Resolved
  • Drafted
  • Advised
  • Litigated
  • Negotiated
  • Education

    For a lawyer to add education and certificates to a resume, the first step is to create a dedicated "Education" section. This should be placed after the professional experience area, if you have been working for a while. For fresher, place it just after your objective statement. In this section, list your degrees in reverse chronological order. For each entry, mention the degree, such as Juris Doctorate, the university's name, and the years of attendance. If you possess other specific legal certifications, note them down, highlighting any that directly correlate with your job target. It's that straightforward process. No need for course-level details unless it's highly relevant to the job you're applying for. Always ensure the information is accurate, easy to understand, and professionally presented to leave a positive impression on a potential employer. Remember, every detail contributes to presenting you as the ideal candidate for the role.

    Resume FAQs for Lawyers


    What is the ideal length for a lawyer resume?


    The ideal length for a lawyer resume is typically one page. However, if you have extensive experience or accomplishments, it can be up to two pages.


    What is the best resume format for lawyers?


    The reverse-chronological format is generally recommended for lawyer resumes. This format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job first.


    How should I organize my lawyer resume?


    A well-organized lawyer resume should include sections for contact information, a professional summary or objective, work experience, education, bar admissions, and any relevant skills or certifications.


    Should I include my GPA on my lawyer resume?


    It is generally recommended to include your GPA on your lawyer resume if it is above a 3.5 or if you are a recent graduate. For experienced lawyers, the GPA may not be as relevant.


    How can I make my lawyer resume stand out?


    To make your lawyer resume stand out, highlight your relevant legal experience, quantify your achievements, use strong action verbs, and tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for.


    Should I include references on my lawyer resume?


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

    Lawyer Resume Example

    Lawyers advise clients on legal matters and represent them in court proceedings. They research laws, draft documents and negotiate settlements. For a lawyer resume, highlight your law degree, bar admission and class rank. Detail courtroom experience, showcasing notable wins. Emphasize skills like legal research, writing and client advocacy. Include publications, pro bono work and professional memberships.

    Arnold Butler
    (881) 277-3405

    Accomplished lawyer with a proven track record of success in high-stakes litigation and complex negotiations. Exceptional analytical skills and a keen eye for detail, combined with a passion for justice and a commitment to client advocacy. Adept at managing multiple cases simultaneously while maintaining a strategic focus on long-term goals.

    Work Experience
    Senior Associate
    01/2019 - Present
    Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
    • Represented major financial institutions in complex securities litigation, achieving favorable settlements and dismissals.
    • Conducted extensive legal research and drafted persuasive briefs and motions in high-profile cases.
    • Collaborated with senior partners to develop and execute effective litigation strategies.
    • Mentored and supervised junior associates, fostering a supportive and productive team environment.
    • Recognized as a rising star within the firm for exceptional work ethic and legal acumen.
    09/2016 - 12/2018
    Ropes & Gray LLP
    • Represented clients in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, and private equity.
    • Conducted due diligence for major corporate transactions, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
    • Drafted and negotiated complex commercial contracts, including licensing agreements and joint ventures.
    • Provided pro bono legal services to underserved communities, demonstrating a strong commitment to social justice.
    • Received the firm's Pro Bono Award for outstanding dedication and service.
    Judicial Law Clerk
    08/2015 - 08/2016
    United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • Clerked for the Honorable Jane E. Smith, assisting with legal research, drafting opinions, and managing the court's docket.
    • Analyzed complex legal issues and provided recommendations to the judge on a wide range of civil and criminal matters.
    • Demonstrated exceptional writing skills and attention to detail in drafting clear and concise judicial opinions.
    • Collaborated with other law clerks to ensure the smooth operation of chambers and the timely resolution of cases.
    • Gained valuable insight into the inner workings of the federal judiciary and the decision-making process of a respected judge.
  • Litigation
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Oral advocacy
  • Negotiation
  • Mediation
  • Contract drafting
  • Due diligence
  • Project management
  • Appellate practice
  • Client counseling
  • E-discovery
  • Legal ethics
  • Pro bono
  • Mentoring
  • Education
    Juris Doctor, cum laude
    09/2012 - 05/2015
    Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
    Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude
    09/2008 - 05/2012
    Yale University, New Haven, CT