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Law career outlook

Lawyer

Legal Assistant

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How to build your resume for an law career

Want to craft an impressive resume that highlights your best attributes? Use our professionally-designed law resume examples and tips for these popular legal professions.

Career Track: Law Firm

Law firm professionals provide legal advice and represent clients in cases and transactions. As per Statista, the industry offers employment to more than 350,000, with the top practice areas for legal services including government, trusts and worker’s compensation.

Paralegal $49,500 Median salary

Resume Format: Functional

As this is a junior-level position, look to use a functional format, which highlights your skills and training rather than your work experience.

Summary statement tip: Feature your writing, organizing and management skills, and any important experiences you have that show off your productivity and efficiency in an office environment. Highlight your research and negotiation skills to showcase your competitive advantage.

Skills to feature:

  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Negotiation skills
  • Research and analysis
  • Detail-oriented
  • Court transcription

Get to the next level:Continue to gain experience in skills such as negotiation and communication, as well as training and experience in the following areas:

  • Technical skills: Databases, spreadsheets, presentation software, e-filing.
  • Organization: Paralegal is a document-intensive job — learn how to better organize, sort, order, classify and categorize documents.
  • Multitasking: Give examples of projects where you showcased your prioritization abilities.

Lawyer $120,910 Median Salary

Resume Format: Combination

Feature both your legal experience and your best skills using the combination format, which allows you to highlight your most relevant work history and abilities.

Summary statement tip:Mention particular responsibilities that showcase your abilities and match the specific job you’re applying to, e.g., complying ILS policies, procedures and best practices, managing case documents or executing contracts with clients.

Skills to feature:

  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Arbitration and litigation
  • Client relations
  • Multitasking
  • Attention to detail
  • Case interpretation
  • Legal writing

Get to the next level:Consider getting additional training and certification in specialized areas to move up the ladder, such as the following:

  • Accredited Tax Preparer
  • Accredited Estate Planner, Estate Planning Law Specialist
  • Certification for Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Certified Commercial Contracts Manager

Law Partner $182,983 Median Salary

Resume Format: Chronological

For this experienced position, use the chronological format, which extensively highlights your work history and shows your career progression to this point.

Summary statement tip: Highlight your leadership skills, including managing junior members of the team, and an example or two of how you’ve successfully handled cases from beginning to end. You should also feature any details on how you’ve helped your firm grow.

Skills to feature:

  • Litigation management
  • Business understanding
  • Legal counseling
  • Team leadership and management
  • Superior research and writing skills
  • Collaborative approach

Get to the next level:To continue moving up the career ladder, gain more experience and examples of success in these areas:

  • Strategy development
  • Improving firm processes and coordination for better results
  • Examples of cases where you used mediation skills to facilitate activities inside and outside the firm

Career Track: Judiciary

Judicial employees are involved in interpretations of  law, determining legal constitutionality, and applying the law to a variety of cases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of hearing officers and judges in this field is expected to grow by 3% by 2028, which matches the average overall growth rate for all professions in the U.S.

Judicial Clerk $48,640 Median Salary

Resume Format: Functional

Use the functional format to showcase both your skills (e.g., handling queries and calls, drafting opinions and legal research) and your training (e.g., any coursework, degrees or training you’ve had in legal matters or office administration).

Summary statement tip: Feature your knowledge and expertise in areas such as litigation documentation, client communication, and reviews of court procedures. Also, highlight work experience that shows your proficiency, such as reviewing a large number of case files.

Skills to feature:

  • Knowledge of legal terminology
  • Preparation of statements
  • Court session management and documentation
  • Preparation of trial memorandum
  • Legal research
  • Brief and opinion writing

Get to the next level:To progress to a more senior job, gain expertise in the following areas:

  • Conducting a thorough and detailed legal research for smooth functioning
  • Optimizing the process of management and maintaining court records
  • Becoming proficient at preparing written materials
  • Acquiring skill in evaluating and analysing legal documents

Attorney $126,714 Median Salary

Resume Format: Combination

Use the combination format to highlight your skills and work experience equally, focusing on qualification and work achievements that match what the job is looking for (e.g., trial and prosecutorial experience, or experience with local ordinances and resolutions).

Summary statement tip: Highlight your particular speciality (e.g. family law) and provide a work experience highlight, such as “managed 40+ successful litigations” or “handled up to 100 personal injury pre-litigation cases.”

Skills to feature:

  • Arbitration and litigation
  • Discovery processes
  • Legal writing
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Case interpretation
  • Areas of specialization (e.g., trademark infringement, environmental laws and litigation, corporate transactions)

Get to the next level:To move up in your career, focus on the following areas:

  • Certifications and training in specific fields of law (e.g., corporate law, civil rights law, criminal law)
  • Showcasing your ability to conduct productive legal research in a variety of areas
  • Examples of your breadth and depth of casework

Judge$133,840 Median Salary

Resume Format: Chronological

As this position usually requires extensive judicial experience, use a chronological format, which places emphasis on your work history section. Show how you’ve developed and grown your skills in areas such as through your various work achievements.

Summary statement tip: Highlight work experience in key areas such as criminal law, and provide a highlight or two of past activities and judgements that have had major (e.g., overseeing and monitoring criminal court proceedings, or appellate practice).

Skills to feature:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to organize and manage staff
  • Ability to handle fast-paced, sometimes stressful situations
  • Commitment to ethical conduct
  • Precedential knowledge
  • Critical thinking and reasoning skills
  • Dispute resolution
  • Legal research

Get to the next level: To continue on to a more senior position, work on the following areas:

  • Expand your horizons by specializing in different fields of law
  • Continue developing your proficiency at writing and rendering a judgements
  • Continue demonstrating ethical principles (e.g., honesty and integrity, impartiality, judicial objectivity and independence)

Recommended law resume templates

Don’t spend valuable time hunting down the right resume template — these professionally-designed templates provide the right look for a law career, and allow you to showcase your qualifications in a crisp, concise manner.

Distinguished

This streamlined layout uses clean fonts and content indentations to make it easy to scan each section.

Whitespace

This template uses a dash of color in the header to grab hiring managers’ attention, while leaving plenty of flexibility for customizing each section.

Executive

This streamlined design utilizes clean dividing lines and colored fonts for section headings, highlighting the job applicant’s name and professional details.

For more designs you can use to stand out from the crowd, visit our resume templates page.

Law resume FAQ

1. How should you format your resume based on your career level?

If you’re looking for an entry-level job, choose the functional format as it focuses mainly on your skills. However, if you want to emphasize both your abilities and your work experience, go for the combination format. A chronological resume, which relies mainly on a detailed work history section, is best if you want to display a consistent career path, and establish your managerial capabilities.

2. What are the qualities and traits that employers look for in the field of law, and what should you emphasize?

Although different legal jobs will require different skill sets, you should feature these universal traits:

  • Legal research and writing
  • Critical thinking
  • Arbitration and litigation skills
  • Good general knowledge of legal processes and terminology
  • Strong work ethic
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Case interpretation
  • Negotiation skills

3. What other skills, certifications and training are required for this job category?

In addition to having solid knowledge of legal issues and proceedings, show you have a diverse knowledge of various fields in law (e.g., criminal law, corporate law, or civil rights law), as well as specializations in areas such as:

  • Accountancy and taxation
  • Estate planning
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Intellectual property
  • Sports and entertainment
  • Civil rights
  • Securities
  • Education

Depending on what the job calls for, emphasize any training (e.g. coursework or certifications) and experiences that fit the bill.

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