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Landing a position as an attorney might seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you’re fresh out of college and don’t have any firsthand experience in the courtroom yet.Your resume provides you with the best chance to sell yourself to employers, but there is no one way to write an attorney resume. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take a look at a few of the attorney resume samples on this site to gain an idea of what type of information to include on your own resume, as well as what type of format to use. Perusing attorney resume samples can also give you some indication of general mistakes to avoid and best practices for writing your resume.
Attorney Resume Samples
What to Include in an Attorney Resume
What you need to include in your resume will depend upon what type of attorney position you’re applying for, the previous experience that you have, your education, and so on. For instance, applicants applying for junior attorney positions will have very different resumes than those applying for senior or partner attorney positions. Although there isn’t a perfect formula for crafting this type of resume, as you can see from the attorney resume samples provided, there are a few basic categories that should be included in all resumes, and they consist of the following:
- Summary Statement
- Work Experience
How to Write the Attorney Resume Summary Statement
The best resume summary statements both draw in hiring managers and indicate the value you can add to their company. Since attorneys should generally be persuasive, this is a perfect opportunity for you to showcase your skills of persuasion by convincing the employee to hire you.Start the summary statement by indicating the job position you’re applying for and mentioning the most important skills you possess that qualify you for the position. Address the employer’s need by rereading the hiring description. Make note of what the employer’s looking for in an applicant, and be sure to mention how you have those qualities.The following summary statements are prime examples of content you’ll find in ideal attorney resume samples:
- Highly accomplished attorney who has 5 years of securities law experience in the areas of litigation and regulation. Seasoned manager and effective team member; able to respond quickly and accurately to evolving securities laws and regulations.
- Financial attorney experienced in the arts of debate, negotiation, and persuasion. Thorough knowledge of bond offerings, credit facilities, credit agreements, hedging, and other financial instruments. Ability to draft and negotiate securities and finance-related provisions for complex domestic and international business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions.
- Experienced defense attorney with more than 10 years of experience providing legal representation for individuals accused of committing criminal offenses. Skilled researcher with excellent communication and negotiation skills. DUI and fraud defense are areas of specialty.
How to Write the Attorney Education Section
While many professions do not put a large emphasis on educational requirements, the legal field is quite the opposite. To become an attorney, a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is needed from a certified law school, and it’s necessary to have passed the bar exam in the relevant jurisdiction.With this in mind, start the education section by listing your highest level of education first. For instance, list the law school you attended, the degree you received, and the dates you received it. Don’t list high school information on your resume once you’ve completed a college degree since that information is implied. Most notably, be sure to note the bar associations that you’re a member of. Although the specific requirements for attorneys vary from state to state, most states use the Multistate Bar Examination as part of their exam process along with an exam specific to its state laws.Additionally, if you have any specific certifications that qualify you as an expert in certain law fields, list them in this section as well. Only create a separate section for certifications and licenses if you have several to list, and they warrant another section.
How to Write the Attorney Work Experience Section
If you’re using the chronological format, start the work experience section with your most recent employers listed first. If you’re using the functional format, then start the section with the jobs that contributed the most to your skills.No matter whether you’re utilizing the chronological or functional format, though, make sure that you don’t simply list job duties when describing your previous positions. Instead, give descriptions of your job duties that also include how your duties benefited the firm or company, as good attorney resume samples do.If you’re fresh out of college and don’t have any on-the-job experience yet, list any relevant internships or volunteer work you completed throughout college. If you have any job experience that isn’t necessarily related to the law field, list it only if you can communicate that the skills you gained from those experiences that will help you in the position you’re seeking. For instance, if you were a cashier, highlight how you gained interpersonal and customer service skills on the job that you can apply to a career as an attorney.
Action Verbs to Include in Your Attorney Work Experience Section
Not only do action verbs help portray confidence in your resume, but they also demonstrate that you have a grasp of legal lingo. Some of the action verbs you’ll likely find in good attorney resume samples include the following:
How to Write the Attorney Skills Section
No matter whether you’re using the chronological or functional resume format, list skills by order of significance. Ideally, list hard skills first, followed by soft ones. Examples of hard skills that attorneys need include experience with specific legal databases, knowledge of legal citation, and familiarity with legal research. Soft skills include more general skills like negotiation skills, mediation skills, and so on. Look to the hiring description to find any specific skills that the employer’s looking for, and be sure to include them if you possess them.
Should I Include References in my Attorney Resume?
Usually, you shouldn’t include references in your resume. Although this is a highly debated issue, the general consensus in the industry is that references are unnecessary unless they are well-known industry experts or the hiring instructions explicitly ask for you to include them. Examples of appropriate references for an attorney resume would be partners at any notable law firms you’ve worked with or well-known clients you’ve represented. Of course, make sure you obtain your reference’s permission before listing him or her, though.
Attorney Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
A few of the mistakes to ensure you never make when writing a resume include the following:
- Creating a gaudy, distracting layout. It’s important to make sure that your resume stands out in employers’ minds, but you want to make sure that it does so for the right reasons. Don’t utilize gaudy fonts, colors, graphics, and other formatting options that will detract from the professionalism and readability of your resume. It’s generally a good idea to select from common fonts like Times New Roman or Arial and stick to 10- or 12-point font sizes.
- Making your resume too long. Resumes are generally supposed to be short, one- to two-page documents that tell employers the most important information about you quickly. Employers don’t have time to read your entire history. They want something they can quickly scan to get an idea of who’s the best applicant.
- Providing incorrect contact information. Your contact information is arguably the most important information on your resume. Without it, employers can’t contact you. Be sure to check your contact information for accuracy. The simple transposing of numbers in your phone number could prevent employers from being able to get in touch with you.
- Submitting a one-size-fits-all resume. It’s okay to have a general resume template that you like to follow but avoid submitting a one-size-fits-all resume to numerous employers. Employers can tell when you’ve tailored your resume specifically to them and when you haven’t. Be sure to tweak each resume to identify with each employer’s specific needs to let them know why you are the best applicant for their company or firm.
- Giving personal information. Personal information, like links to your personal website or social networking profiles, are unnecessary. The only time it’s permissible to include links to these platforms is when the websites are solely dedicated to your profession and highlight your career in a professional manner, which is why you typically won’t see this type of information on attorney resume samples.
- Falsifying information. While you might not purposefully falsify information on your resume, you could unintentionally do so if you attempt to write down employment dates and aren’t exactly sure of the dates. If you’re not 100% sure of a date, don’t write it down on your resume. Instead, write down what you do know, such as the month and year of employment, rather than putting down something that could be confirmed to be false later on and would discredit your word.
Job Prospects in the Attorney
- It’s projected that attorney employment will grow by 10% from 2012 to 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. With the rising population, it makes sense that more people will need legal representation.
- Specifically, with a rising population comes a rise in crime, so the job outlook for criminal defense attorneys is projected to be high.
- The prospects for some other legal areas, such as estate planning and other discretionary legal services, are typically affected by the cyclical swings of the economy. For instance, during recession periods, the demand for such legal services usually decreases, while it tends to increase during economic booms.
- It’s projected that competition for attorneys will remain strong, though, since more law students are graduating than there are positions. As a result, some recent law school graduates are turning to temporary staffing agencies because they’ve been unable to secure permanent positions in law firms and other entities.