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Attorney Resume: Examples and Tips

Attorneys offer legal advice to clients and represent them in criminal or civil litigations. This position requires expertise in negotiations, communication, and research skills, and a full understanding of laws and legal processes, with most employers preferring a few years of legal representation experience.

To stand out from other applicants for this job, use our resume examples and tips as a guide when building your own resume.

Top 4 Characteristics of a Best in Class Attorney Resume

  1. Summary In a few short statements, showcase the abilities that make you most suitable for the position, and then tie them in with your work accomplishments thus far. For example: your diverse knowledge, negotiation skills and ability to develop strategies. Then add to this a job title that encapsulates your career up to now: “Tech-focused Attorney, with 5 years’ experience in intellectual property portfolios and negotiation strategies. Has an aptitude for teamwork and a fascination with the minutiae of complex legal concepts.”
  2. Skills Scan the description for the attorney position you’re interested in, and use key phrases from that description that match your own strengths, such as the ability to work independently, or preparing responses to subpoenas and requests for public information. Be sure to also include intangible skills that are also crucial for the job, such as superior analytical and logical reasoning, and oral and written communication.
  3. Work history When describing previous roles, focus on your accomplishments (and how you took a leading role in generating them) rather than laundry-listing standard tasks. Provide numbers to demonstrate your impact whenever possible. For example, “Negotiated a $20 million lawsuit down to settlement found satisfactory by all parties” is more effective than stating “Was part of successful negotiation process.”
  4. Education Include your JD and state bar license information, along with any other specialized training in your particular field of law, such as accreditation as an Estate Planner Estate Planning Law Specialist.

See Why My Perfect Resume is a 5-Star Resume Builder

Find the Right Template for Your Resume

Don’t waste time fussing over the right “look” for your resume. Here’s three professionally-designed templates that fit the attorney position and help you project the right image.

Strong

One of our most popular templates, this layout uses crisp colors and borders to organize each section, while leaving plenty of flexibility to customize your information.

Esteemed 

The bold fonts and dot-graphic layout of this design makes it easy to navigate. The large type for the job applicant’s name stands out.

Bold

This straightforward template arranges section headings in the left margin, making navigation a breeze. The mix of black and color fonts for the job seeker’s name gives it extra pop.

For even more templates, pick from MyPerfectResume’s full selection.

Do’s and Don’ts for Creating Your Resume

  • DO present both hard and soft skills in your resume. Legal skills such as In-depth knowledge of law and legal proceedings, the ability to develop strategies and arguments, and competency in document preparation are a must. But don’t neglect soft skills that are just as important, such as excellent verbal and written communication, team management and leadership skills, and conflict-resolution abilities.
  • DO complement your work history with skills to present a compelling story of your career. The main goal of your resume is to present a rounded portrait of yourself as an employee. The best way to do it is to show how you’ve deployed your skills in previous roles. If you list “developing and implementing legal compliance initiatives” as a skill, provide an example from your work history that shows your success in this area.
  • DO check your resume for typos and other mistakes. You won’t get your foot in the door if you’re tripping over your feet — and the majority of recruiters will toss your resume if it contains even one glaring typo. Make sure that your spelling and grammar are ship-shape by reviewing your resume a few times. You should also take time to ensure all of your information is 100 percent accurate — even if it’s unintentional, false information in your resume can be interpreted as a deliberate lie.
  • DON’T make your resume too long. Most recruiters take an average of 7.4 seconds to read a resume, so the longer your resume, the greater the chance a recruiter skips over an important detail about your career or skills. Aim for a one-page resume, and limit your work experience section to the last ten years. Instead of listing out every responsibility you’ve ever had, focus on accomplishments that speak directly to what the new job needs.
  • DON’T use the same resume for all your job applications. Even for a specific job like attorney, every job opening will have different requirements. One job might highlight negotiating skills, while another might focus on some specific field of law. Customize your resume for each job based on keywords from the job description, as well as your own research about what the company is looking for, making sure to update your summary, skills and work history sections.
  • DON’T forget to list any relevant activities or certifications.
    It’s not just about your work history or education. Extracurricular activities that utilize tasks or soft skills that relate to legal work (for example, volunteering to help educate students about basic law concepts) should find room on your resume in an “Activities” section. You should also feature relevant certifications, such as training as a Certified Legal Manager (CLM), in your education section.

Attorney Resume FAQs

1. What are the skills you should emphasize for an attorney role?

  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Analytical skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Research skills
  • Document filing
  • Case analysis
  • Legal writing
  • Dispute arbitration
  • Collaboration
  • Sound judgment
  • Strong work ethic
  • Detail-oriented
  • Commitment to integrity and customer service

2. What are some examples of training and certifications that fit the resume of an attorney?

Look to gain training in specific fields of law that you can add to your resume. For example:

  • Certified Legal Manager (CLM), Association of Legal Managers (ALA)
  • Certificate in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law
  • Certificate in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
  • Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property

3. How should you format your resume?

Look to use a chronological format, which focuses on your work history, and demonstrates how you’ve progressed in your career. If you’re switching from a different industry to the legal field, or have less experience, consider a combination format, in which you can feature both relevant work experiences and skills.

4. How do I incorporate keywords in my resume?

Take the time to review the posting for the position you’re interested in, and take note of job requirements, such as “conducting legal research” or “reviewing and making recommendations on ordinances and resolutions.” These words are often used by applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers utilize to scan resumes, so make sure they’re addressed in your resume. Look to add skills (e.g., “Legal research”) and work history entries (e.g., “Prepared and formulated recommendations on state ordinances and resolutions, in compliance with City regulations”).

5. How should you craft your resume if you’re looking to take the next step forward in your career?

To move on to a more senior position such as Partner or Managing Partner in a law firm, keep these areas in mind as you build your resume:

  • Look to gain a wide range of experiences involving a variety of legal proceedings, demonstrating the ability to communicate well with clients and successfully manage cases.
  • If you have not attained any certificate in a specific field of law, you should look to do so — this will increase your credibility in the field and showcase your expertise.
  • These positions call for the leadership of numerous employees and teams, so build on your experiences working with your own teams, and leading others to positive outcomes.
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