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Legal/Law Resume: Template, Writing Guide & 20+ Examples

Legal/Law Resume: Template, Writing Guide & 20+ Examples

In the legal profession, you need to win your case and give the best advice to your clients. So we’re giving you the best advice to win your case for job applications every time.

Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Career Expert

The evidence is clear—

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more law students graduate each year than there are jobs available.

 

In 2018 there were 1.34 million lawyers slugging it out for 824,000 jobs. 

 

There’ll always be that hungry pack chasing you from behind. To get a legal job in today’s market you need to make a powerful case to succeed.

 

Heck, with that much competition you need to be a veritable Clarence Darrow.

 

Follow our brief though and you’ll have a winning law resume template in no time.

 

This guide will show you:

  • A lawyer resume sample better than 9 out of 10 other resumes.
  • How to build a resume that lands you more interviews.
  • Tips and examples of how to put skills and achievements on a lawyer resume.
  • How to describe your experience for law jobs to get hired forthwith.

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 

legal resume templates

Sample resume made with our builder—See more templates and create your resume here.

 

Looking for guides for specific legal roles? See our guides:

 

Legal Resume Sample

 

Contact Info

 

Ila Cousteau Esq.

Attorney

513-554-3278

ilacousteau@teleworm.us

linkedin.com/ilcousteau_zety

twitter.com/ilcousteau_zety

 

Professional Summary

 

Environmental lawyer with 10+ years experience representing environmental advocacy groups in citizen suit claims seeking damages and injunctive relief under the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Specialist in facilitating aggressive enforcement of environmental protection statutes and assisting plaintiffs to seek maximum recovery for personal injury, property damage, and medical monitoring based on exposure to hazardous substances. Member of Environmental Law Institute and have obtained advantageous settlements in 90%+ of cases. Looking to leverage my expertise as environmental attorney with Debevoise & Plimpton. 

 

Law License

 

Bar Association

Member in good standing of the Kentucky Bar Association

 

Professional Experience

 

Attorney

Grotefeld & Denenberg LLC, Louisville, KY

Aug 2012–Present

  • Defended high profile corporate client against alleged breach of Kentucky Clean Air Regulations, achieving successful outcome in highly publicized trial. Won settlement for client in subsequent civil action.
  • Achieved advantageous pre-trial settlement in 95% of class action toxic tort cases where plaintiffs sought recovery for personal injury.
  • Mean client net promoter score of 9.
  • Maintained annual average of 2000 billable hours.

 

Junior Attorney

Convertino & Assoc, Owensboro, KY

Nov 2008–Aug 2012

  • Assisted senior attorneys with pre-trial research for corporate clients defending against enforcement actions relating to violations of discharge permits. Contributed to successful outcome in +90% of cases
  • Developed strategies specific to not-for-profit organizations, increasing mean client net promoter score from 6.5 to 8.
  • Interpreted laws, rulings and regulations regarding environmental quality
  • Maintained annual average of 2100 billable hours

 

Education

 

Juris Doctor

University of Kentucky, 2005–2008

  • Pursued a concentration in environmental law
  • Winning team, Earle E. Zehmer Moot Court Competition 2007
  • Published faculty/student paper in conjunction with Professor Agnes Acopio in Environmental Law Review ‘Geopolitical Consequences of Environmental Regulation’

 

Bachelor of Science

University of Kentucky, 2002–2004

  • Major in Economics
  • Minor in French

 

Key Skills

 

  • Ability to craft winning arguments for court—achieved successful outcome in 90% of contested cases.
  • Adaptable to change—led on training in implementation and practice of new state and federal environmental legislation and regulations
  • Knowledge of key environmental protection legislation—subject matter expert in CERCLA, RCRA, mini-Superfund statute, chemical handling, and registration laws.
  • French—Fluent

 

Journals

 

  • Environmental Justice: A Growing Union 124 Tennessee L. Rev. 1001, 1011 (2013)

 

Conferences

 

  • Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference—Spoke on panel about waste water discharge regulations 2017
  • Southeastern Environmental Law & Regulation Conference, keynote speaker 2014-2018

 

Community Work

 

  • Volunteer lecturer for Kentucky Association for Environmental Education
  • Board member Kentucky Conservation Committee
  • Pro bono work for Bluegrass Land Conservancy

1

What’s the Best Format for a Lawyer Resume?

 

Hiring managers at top legal firms are swamped with applications. Like we said, in this market supply exceeds demand.

 

Your hiring manager might even be a law graduate themselves.

 

Submitting a poor application will get you rejected faster than a judge overruling a frivolous objection.

 

And you’ve only got 7 seconds to stop this from happening.

 

So— 

 

Max out every moment with the right legal resume format. The best structure is the reverse chronological resume.

 

Like a well-crafted complaint, it will set out your career history with a clear structure. Recruiters will get what they want upfront: your most recent experience listed above the fold..

 

Here’s a recommended legal resume template to follow:

 

Legal Resume Template

 

  1. Contact Information
  2. Resume Summary or Objective
  3. Law License
  4. Work Experience
  5. Education
  6. Skills
  7. Additional Sections

 

When writing a law resume for yourself, frame it with ample use of white space, readable resume fonts, and clear headings.

 

Want to learn more about law resume formatting? Check out our primary authority: Resume Format.

 

2

Legal Resume Summary or Resume Objective?

 

Your resume for law jobs should start with a resume profile. This is a brief one to four sentences long statement of your skills and qualifications for the job you’re applying for.

 

It generally comes in two forms: a resume summary or resume objective. Think of it as an opening statement for your entire law resume that follows.

 

So which one to use?

 

If you’re a well seasoned legal eagle then opt for a resume summary. It neatly sets out your experience and achievements.

 

Applying for entry-level legal jobs? Go for a resume objective. In the absence of experience, it highlights your professional goals and enthusiasm for this law job.

 

Let’s look at some legal resume samples.

 

Lawyer Resume Sample—Summary

 

RIGHT
Environmental lawyer with 10+ years experience representing environmental advocacy groups in citizen suit claims seeking damages and injunctive relief under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Specialist in facilitating aggressive enforcement of environmental protection statutes and assisting plaintiffs to seek maximum recovery for personal injury, property damage, and medical monitoring based on exposure to hazardous substances. Member of Environmental Law Institute and have obtained advantageous settlements in 90%+ of cases. Looking to leverage my expertise as environmental attorney with Debevoise & Plimpton.
WRONG
Highly experienced environmental lawyer seeking challenging new role. Expert knowledge of Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Client focussed and diligent in pursuit of litigation.

 

The first example? Case closed.

 

It outlines the highly specialized knowledge needed for the job you apply for. Then it seals the deal by highlighting membership of a premier specialist law group and measurable career success. You’ve landed that interview.

 

The second? Nice statements but no proof. Application rejected.

 

Now time for an entry-level lawyer resume objective sample.

 

Lawyer Resume Sample—Objective

 

RIGHT
Dedicated junior attorney with a passion for transactional practice and contract law. Experienced in conducting pro bono client interviewing and legal research for legal aid agencies. Assisted with pro bono transactional legal assistance for community-based non-profit organizations. Seeking to build on my experience as a junior attorney at Allan Berger & Associates.
WRONG
Recent law graduate seeking entry-level position with Allan Berger & Associates. Looking to gain new skills in transactional practice.

 

Doing it right means thinking outside the box. This applicant has cleverly made use of their volunteer work at college and they already look like an experienced hire. 

 

The second?

 

We’ll give you a hint. 22% of the class of 2018 still don’t have a job 10 months after graduation. They’re one of them. Still begging for their first relevant law job and offering nothing in return.

 

Want more resume objective examples? We’ve got a guide for that:50+ Resume Objective Examples: Career Objectives for All Jobs

 

Is it more summary statements you’re after? There’s a guide for that too: Resume Summary Examples (30+ Professional Summary Statements)

 

3

How to Show Bar Admission on a Lawyer Resume

 

If you practice law by providing legal representation you have to be admitted to the bar.

 

And though it might seem obvious:

 

You have to highlight bar admission on your legal resume.

 

Let the hiring manager know from the outset. Don’t leave it as an afterthought because they’ll conclude you’re not licensed.

 

How to list your bar admission on a lawyer resume?

 

First, according to the American Bar Association recommendation, put ‘Esq.’ after your name. Then, add a small section titled ‘Law License’ immediately after your resume summary like so:

 

How to Show Bar Admission on a Legal Resume Example

 

Bar Association

 

Member in good standing of the XYZ State Bar.

 

If your membership is pending, do this:

 

Bar Association

 

XYZ State Bar (awaiting results) 

 

Bar admission is the most common type of professional certification held by lawyers. But it’s by no means the only one.

 

See our guide for more tips on putting professional certifications on a resume: How to List Certifications on a Resume: Guide (+20 Examples)

 

4

How to Describe Your Experience on a Lawyer Resume

 

The law is a highly specialized profession requiring forensic attention to detail. 

 

Nobody knows this more than the hiring manager. They want your legal resume to prove you’ve got the experience to excel.

 

How to do it? 

 

Frame your legal experience to march in lockstep with the job opening you’re applying for. This is called tailoring your resume to the job ad.

 

Then make your case watertight with an expert witness in the form of performance metrics, i.e. your professional achievements for a resume.

 

See these legal resume samples:

 

Experienced Lawyer Resume Samples—Work History

 

RIGHT

Boult Cummings Conner & Berry

Attorney

January 2013–Present

  • Defended high profile client against vicarious liability action, achieving successful outcome in highly publicized trial.
  • Achieved advantageous pre-trial settlement in 95% of cases.
  • Mean client net promoter score of 9.
  • Maintained annual average of 2000 billable hours.

 

This example has the power of a mandatory injunction to get the hiring manager’s attention. It’s packed with attention-grabbing achievement measures.

 

WRONG

Condominium Law Group

Attorney

January 2013–Present

  • Negotiated with opposing parties to avoid litigation and achieve resolution.
  • Drafted and reviewed contracts in line with legislation and regulations.
  • Conducted research and investigation for litigation.

 

This reads more like a laundry list of duties. It says nothing about your successes. Instead, it actually testifies to the lack of thereof.

 

But what if you don’t have relevant experience or achievements as a lawyer?

 

There’s a way around it.

(And it doesn’t mean we want you to lie on your resume.) 

 

So, how can your legal resume have a work experience section without you having the experience?

 

If you scroll back up to the part with our legal resume objective samples, you’ll notice a smart law student can still show off some valuable legal experience. Even if it comes from entry-level legal jobs only.

 

If this scenario applies to you too, in the job description section of your resume make sure to list your:

  • Summer associate jobs
  • Temp or casual work as a paralegal
  • Work for local legal aid agencies
  • Internships
  • Externships 

 

What are externships? These are programs provided by many law schools to help students gain their first relevant experience. They earn credit by working under the supervision of an attorney on projects typically undertaken by entry-level attorneys.

 

Here’s an example:

 

Lawyer Resume Sample—Entry-Level

 

RIGHT

Attorney Experience

2015–2018

  • Helped clients navigate legal process at neighborhood legal aid clinic
  • Conducted legal research for trial attorneys during externship at Daniel R Strann Law Offices
  • Summer associate assisting with trial strategy at Claylaird & Associates

 

And there you have it. A law resume work experience section without experience.

 

Your lawyer job description on a resume shouldn’t read like a handbook for Civil Procedure. Make it easy to digest with this guide: How to Describe Work Experience in a Resume

 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

 

5

Is Your Education Section Making Them Reject Your Law Resume?

Experience on a legal resume is crucial but your education will also be scrutinized closely. Especially early in your career as a lawyer.

 

Let’s be realistic, you can’t make a Tier 4 school degree have the same impact as one from Stanford. 

 

But—

 

You can maximize the impact of your law resume education section regardless of your alma mater.

 

How to do it? Don’t neglect the basics: always include your college name and location, years in school, and degree. If you have a Juris Doctor then add your Bachelor’s degree too.

 

Then add some more legal power to it by listing your relevant coursework, student honors, or publications.

 

Think of this lawyer resume section as your ratio decidendi but you’ve got to add some obiter dicta to really set a precedent. Three or four extra bullet points will do the trick.

 

Legal Resume Education Section Examples

 

RIGHT

Juris Doctor

Boston University, 2012–2015

  • Pursued a concentration in intellectual property & information law
  • Winning team, Homer Albers Prize Moot Court Competition 2015
  • Published faculty/student paper in conjunction with Professor Leon Lam in Administrative Law Review ‘Fairness and Efficiency in Patent and Trademark Office Proceedings

 

That’s a unanimous verdict to be called for an interview.

 

WRONG

Juris Doctor

William and Mary Law School, 2012-2015, GPA 2.8

 

This will land your application in the trash. You do not want to add a GPA like this on your resume. Only note it if it’s 3.5 or above. 

Pro Tip: If you’ve had more than 3 years of experience in a law job, don’t list your GPA on a resume at all. The hiring manager won’t care.

Still not sure how to make your legal education shine? Find out more with our expert guide: How to Put Your Education on a Resume [Tips & Examples] 

6

How to Put Skills on a Lawyer Resume

 

Your skills section on a resume for law jobs needs the snappy, attention grabbing power of a Johnnie Cochran one liner.

 

Describe them wisely and make them a powerful testimony in favor of your job application.

 

Legal skills are highly specialized. A simple bullet point list of skills isn’t the best approach.

 

Think of a specific skill then back it up with a description of your legal expertise and/or achievements in that area.

 

Look at these examples:

 

Legal Resume Samples—Skills

 

RIGHT
  • Ability to craft winning arguments for court—achieved successful outcome in 90% of contested cases.
  • Adaptable to change—led on training in implementation and practice in 2019 data protection regulatory regime.
  • Knowledge of key environmental protection legislation—subject matter expert in CERCLA, RCRA, mini-Superfund statute, chemical handling and registration laws.

 

This candidate has read the job description. Selected the skills mentioned. Then matched them to their skills, and backed them up with incontrovertible evidence.

 

Be specific, never generic.

 

WRONG
Oral communication skills, written communication skills, advocacy skills, client service, legal research, organization, knowledge of substantive law and procedure, negotiation, drafting contracts.

 

Your legal resume skills section shouldn’t read like the table of contents of the U.S. Code. It isn’t a brainstorming exercise where you mindlessly list every skill you can think of.

 

Need more inspiration? Get started with these examples, but remember to add that testimony and evidence to make the skill specific to the law job you’re applying.

 

Skills for Legal Resume

 

Legal Skills

 

  • Tort Law
  • Contract Law
  • Corporate Law and Governance
  • Probate 
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Property Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Transactional Practice

Hard Skills

 

Soft Skills

 

 

We’ve got more expert advice on resume skills in our guide: 99 Key Skills for a Resume (Best List of Examples for All Jobs)

 

7

Add Other Sections for a Job-Winning Legal Resume

 

We’ll say it again. The legal job market is super competitive. 

 

You’ve got to go the extra mile to catch the recruiter’s eye and lock in that interview.

 

Do that by adding other sections to your law resume. Go for things that show off your professional skills and dedication, like these:

 

Awards and Honors on a Law Resume

This is a perfect section to add awards you’ve achieved in your academic and professional career. For example, Dean’s Honors List if you’re a new graduate, or awards from the American Bar Association for more experienced candidates.

 

Publications on a Legal Resume

Add journal publications you’ve written in your area of specialty.

 

Volunteering on a Law Resume

A perfect way to add pro bono and community work to your resume.

 

Conferences on a Legal Resume

If you’re a true legal eagle in your field then chances are you attend or even speak at conferences and symposia. Include this as an additional resume section to show your passion and expertise for your area of specialty. 

 

See the sample legal resume below:

 

Legal Resume Samples—Other Sections

 

Journals

The Structural Constitution: Unitary Executive, Plural Judiciary, 119 W. Virginia L. Rev. 1089, 1099 (2014)

 

Conferences

  • Aviation Law Symposium—Spoke on panel about drone related criminal offences 2017
  • Prevailing Wage Law Conference

 

If the hiring manager isn’t sold already, they will be now.

 

See more examples of other sections to add to your legal resume template in our guide: Resume Sections to Include on Your Resume.

 

8

Write a Lawyer Cover Letter to Nail Your Closing Argument

 

Whether to include a cover letter or not is something of a split decision. Some employers ask for them and some don’t.

 

We advise you to write one. It’s another way of making your legal resume stand out.

 

Here’s how:

  • That Johnnie Cochran one-liner? Use one to start your cover letter. It has to be attention-grabbing.
  • Make a case for you being the best candidate for this job. 
  • Set out your commitment, passion, enthusiasm, and eagerness to grow within the role and the company.
  • Convince the hiring manager that you want to be part of the team and tell them the added value that you’ll bring.
  • End your cover letter with a powerful closing argument. Refocus attention and cement your case for employment!

 

You’re lucky—we actually have a ready sample for you right here: Legal Cover Letter Sample & Guide

 

Want to know more lawyer cover letter tricks? See these articles: 35+ Best Cover Letter Tips, Advice & Guidelines and How to Write a Job-Winning Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps

 

Key Takeaway

 

Court adjourned. Now your lawyer resume is more convincing than Johnnie Cochran in his prime.

 

Here are some case notes to jog your memory when writing a job-winning legal resume:

  • Outline your case on your legal resume with the reverse-chronological format for ease of reading.
  • Open proceedings on your lawyer resume with a resume summary or objective to introduce your skills and qualifications.
  • Don’t neglect your resume education section. Your degrees, certification and added details are all essential on any legal resume template.
  • Show evidence of your ability to excel with a well-crafted job history section. Make it relevant and don’t just list responsibilities.
  • Include your skills on your legal resume, backed up with further evidence. You’re in a specialist career so a list of bullet-pointed single words won’t cut it.
  • Add some additional sections to your lawyer resume. These will make you look like Perry Mason next to Lionel Hutz.
  • Include a cover letter. They’re still necessary and a job-winning addition to your law resume.
  • When you’re done, proofread and check your lawyer resume for errors. Don’t let your case be lost on a technicality.

 

And that’s it. You’ve just written the Marbury v. Madison of resumes!

 

Got questions on how to write a lawyer resume? Ask away in the comments section. We’ll be sure to reply. Thanks for reading!

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Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Jacques is a career expert committed to delivering top-notch job hunting advice. His guides will empower you to craft winning resumes and cover letters.

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