At a time when so many high-quality, capable applicants are looking to join the workforce or find a new position, a well-crafted resume is more important than ever. With competition on your mind, you may find creating this document daunting. We’ll share free downloadable templates and a detailed writing guide to help you get started.
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This simple layout prioritizes your professional experience and is ideal for attorneys with over 10 years of practical legal experience.
This two-column approach features a prominent summary statement at the top of the page. This resume template is a perfect opportunity to highlight transferable skills and legal experience.
This functional resume features multiple skills- and results-driven sections. Use this resume if you’re a recent graduate: You can prominently highlight your legal lab experience and practical education while downplaying your moderate work history.
Lawyers often specialize in one or two legal specialties such as real estate, environmental, or criminal law. This functional resume allows you to list and rate your various specialties and skills.
This simple template follows a traditional format and allows your practical work history to speak for itself. Use this if you have more than 10 years of impressive legal experience.
This functional resume template prioritizes your summary statement and skills over any potential lack of courtroom experience. It’s ideal for recent graduates or career changers.
This practical, functional resume prioritizes your legal specialties and technical skills over your traditional work history. Use this if you’re a recent graduate with great internship and summer associate experience.
A legal resume should be simple, elegant, and focused on legal abilities over design aesthetics. This resume template is ideal for attorneys with over five years of legal experience.
This standard resume template prioritizes your education and skills over your scant professional experience to help illuminate your academic accomplishments and legal specialties.
For the sake of this writing guide, we’ll show you how to write a standard combination resume. However, feel free to adapt this format to fit your experience level. We’ll add suggestions on which resume you should use to summarize your legal expertise best.
Functional resume: We suggest this format for recent grads. A functional resume features two to four sections dedicated to your general and technical skills, making it perfect for a current lawyer with academic knowledge, mock trial experience, summer associate or internships, but little practical experience in a courtroom. You can learn more about this format, its strengths, and its related risks in our detailed guide.
Combination resume: The combination is an ideal choice for an attorney with three to five years of experience. You’ll have measurable experience that you can highlight under a work history section, but this format lets you lead with your skills first. You can learn more about this resume through our combination resume guide.
Chronological resume: You should use a chronological resume if you have over 10 years of experience. This format leads with your impressive work history and allows you to showcase ample legal expertise, many trial wins, and acquired legal specialties. You can learn more about this format in our writing guide.
Before you can start to write your resume, we strongly recommend that you compile a list of all of your soft, hard, and technical skills. You won’t feature all of these skills under a dedicated skills section. Still, you’ll be able to lend strength to your resume by showcasing additional skills throughout your summary statement, work history, and cover letter.
A combination resume only features six to eight skills under its dedicated skills section, so you’ll want to showcase your most impressive skills here. Ensure skills align with the requested requirements of the open job to which you’re applying.
For example, suppose a job ad specifies that you’ll provide legal counsel to the accounting department. In that case, you’ll want to showcase a legal specialty in finance law and not entertainment or employment law. You’ll need to tailor this information for each job posting to successfully pass applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS scan applications for matching keywords and relevant experience to eliminate approximately 50% of applications before reaching human eyes. Pay close attention to the skills you feature so you aren’t whittled out.
Here are the specialized skills that most lawyers should hold. You can find a detailed list of additional requested skills here.
Skills Section Example:
A summary statement sits near the top of your resume, just under your name and contact information. This is your opening statement — a chance to present how you alone can fill an open role based on your professional and academic background to a jury of hiring managers and HR representatives.
You make the case by using the evidence before you; the list of skills you prepared and culled from an open job posting, making sure that the skills align with the desired skills of the company or law firm. You can lend strength to your summary statement by weaving in a narrative and demonstrating how a past accomplishment or trial win reflects your ability to fill the needs of an open job.
Our summary statement pro tips:
Summary statement example:
The work history is your opportunity to feature your learned or earned legal skills. This section is designed to explain how you successfully apply your technical knowledge to practice law for your previous employers. This section should feature information about the type of cases you argue, the trial prep work you do, the number of billable hours you log, case success rates, client happiness or loyalty, number of clients you can bring with you, or anything that pertains to the requirements listed under the open job ad.
Both a combination or chronological resume’s work history will follow this standard format:
Job Title, Company nameLocation, MM/YYYY - MM/YYYY
However, if you’re a recent graduate writing a functional resume, your work history will be very brief and include only your job title, name of the company or firm, and general dates worked. For example, your work history section may look like this:
Job Title, Company Name
Work history example:
Your education section is the easiest and most straightforward section to fill. Regardless of what resume format you’re using, your education should always include the following information:
Name of UniversityYear of graduationDegree, Major and Minor
You can also include the following optional information, along with our recommendations of when to include this information:
Education section example:
A strategic and tailored resume can successfully summarize your skills and technical knowledge. Still, a cover letter can conceptualize your experience by detailing an accomplishment or skill with one or two specific examples of your practical experience.
Our Cover Letter Builder can help you create this important document with pre-written suggestions, pro writing tips, and multiple downloadable formats.
You should demonstrate quick thinking and improvisational skills as well as solid debate skills as an attorney. Here are some key skills that can help you find your next role.
You can find additional skills that most employers request on our detailed skills list.
Law firms will look for various skills and qualifications that depend on the role they’re looking to fill. However, they will look for the following education, experience, and skills:
You will put pro bono work under your Work Experience or your Summary of Qualifications, depending on which resume format you chose. You can portray your pro bono work under the following structures:
Chronological or combination resume example:
Legal Associate, The Forsythe Group
San Francisco, May 2019 - now
Functional resume example:
Summary of Qualifications
Pro Bono Work
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