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Lawyer Resume: Examples and Tips

The position of lawyer requires excellence in communication skills, and full knowledge of law and legal proceedings. A degree in law, with an aptitude for details, research and  analysis is also a must.

To stand out from other applicants, use our resume examples and tips to present your qualifications best.

Top 4 Characteristics of a Best in Class Lawyer Resume

  1. Summary Highlight your core skills, work history and accomplishments in a few sentences, answering the key question: What makes you the right fit for this particular job? Make sure to mention must-have abilities, such as communication and negotiation skills, or a deep understanding of law and legal proceedings. For example: “Driven and detail-oriented lawyer with expertise in leveraging research to avoid or win litigation cases.”
  2. Skills Scan the job posting to pick up on specific required skills (e.g., “exceptional problem-solving abilities” or “drafting legal texts”), and feature your own abilities that match those skills here. Consider creating subcategories for this section (“hard skills” and “soft skills”).
  3. Work history Place emphasis on achievements instead of day-to-day responsibilities, and use metrics to illustrate your effectiveness. For example, stating “Performed research and drafted thorough briefings to assist attorneys in trial preparation for 200+ court cases” is more effective than stating “Assisted attorneys in trial preparation.”
  4. Education Include any academic degrees or training you’ve had in law or related fields. Also, include certifications you’ve picked up that showcase your expertise in particular fields of law, such as “Accredited Estate Planner Estate Planning Law Specialist.”

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

Find the Right Template for Your Resume

These three professionally-designed templates will help you project the right image for a lawyer position.

Managerial

This popular layout presents your credentials in clean and crisp fashion, topped with a unique monogram header design.

Distinguished

This streamlined design uses a colorful header along with bold fonts to display your name and section headings, while leaving plenty of flexibility for customization.

Acclaimed

This template arranges section headings in the left margins, making for easy navigation. The job seeker’s name gets an elegant graphic treatment.

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

Do’s and Don’ts for Creating Your Resume

  • DO indicate your areas of expertise. Different firms will require lawyers to have different areas of expertise. Make sure to highlight your best abilities and experiences in your resume, based on your areas of specialization. For example, in your work history section you could write, “Managed 50+ cases related to child welfare and more than 20 involving other family laws.”
  • DO include certifications that are relevant to the position. Certifications in the legal industry can give you an edge over other candidates. If you have a number of certifications, list them under a “Certifications” section, including the name of the professional body where you received training or certification For example: “Accredited Estate Planner, National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.”
  • DO use active verbs to describe your achievements. “Was responsible for” or “assisted” are examples of passive phrases — avoid them when describing your accomplishments. Instead, use strong verbs. For example: “Litigated a $500 million case successfully” puts you at the center of your own achievements, rather than stating “Was tasked with litigating a $500 million case.”
  • DON’T make a generic resume. One of the most common resume mistakes is to create a one-size-fits-all resume. A customized resume for each specific job opening gives you a better chance of landing the job. Analyze the job description, figure out key requirements for the position and address them in your resume. For instance, while applying to a firm that is looking for a criminal lawyer, your resume should be geared to spotlight skills and experiences that relate to criminal law.
  • DON’T just copy and paste keywords into your resume. It seems easy to simply copy and paste details from the job description right into your resume, but just regurgitating key phrases won’t make your resume stand out. Prove you have the right stuff by mentioning core abilities such as communication and negotiation skills, and backing them up by showing how you’ve applied them in your work experience. The goal is not to list random terms, but present a story of how you’ve used your abilities successfully.
  • DON’T add irrelevant information to your resume.Recruiters take a scant few seconds to read a resume — don’t put them off by including details that don’t apply to the job. That means avoid including details such as personal activities or political interests. Stick to the facts, and highlight skills that are beneficial for the job role.

Lawyer Resume FAQs

1. What are the skills you should emphasize for the role of a lawyer?

Emphasize your specializations in law, as well as useful skills like these:

  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Negotiation skills
  • Research skills
  • Document filing
  • Case analysis
  • Legal writing
  • Dispute arbitration
  • Collaboration
  • Detail-oriented

2. What are some examples of training and certifications that fit a lawyer resume?

In addition to showing your expertise in a particular field of law, consider training or certifications like the following to enhance your resume:

  • Accredited Tax Preparer, Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation
  • Professional Paralegal, NALS the Association for Legal Professionals
  • Accredited Estate Planner, National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
  • Certification for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Professionals, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research

3. How should you format your resume?

Since a lawyer is a mid-level position, you should have in-depth knowledge of your field and a few years of work experience under your belt. Your best option is therefore 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, you should consider a combination format, in which you can feature the skills most relevant to the job of a lawyer. If you lack experience, go for a functional format, which emphasizes your training and skills.

4. How do I incorporate keywords in my resume?

Employers and applicant tracking systems (ATS) will be looking for key words and phrases in your resume that indicate you fit the position. To get the right keywords into your resume, take a thorough look at the job description and pinpoint the phrases that define the job’s requirements (e.g., “drafting or negotiating commercial agreements” or “experience in juvenile dependency law”). Then feature skills and work experiences that show you can handle these requirements. For example, in your work history section, you could write: “Managed 5 juvenile dependency cases per day, including case assessments and communications with social workers and other providers”).

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

To move up 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 more diverse experiences in legal proceedings and client management.
  • 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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