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Careers in Law

The legal profession can be broadly divided into public/private, in-house/firm, boutique/mid-tier/top-tier.

Across all these divides, there are fundamental elements that make for a strong resume and job application for starting or progressing your career in law.

The legal profession

Whether you’re a graduate working toward admission, an undergrad looking for a vacation paralegal placement, a junior at a firm, a legal secretary, an associate or a partner, there are certain qualities that all hiring managers in law will look for.

These centre around your communication skills and attention to detail.

These seem like meaningless softer skills that everyone lists in their resume and cover letter – right?

Only to a certain extent. Listing these explicitly in a resume and cover letter often does very little for the strength of your application.

Your resume and cover letter need to be the first and perfect demonstration of these skills, so expect to be judged on them.  

Lawyer resumes

The legal profession is one that is predicated on the ability to communicate in a way that is both technically precise and logically persuasive.

Any lawyer worth his/her salt is therefore naturally going to be one that can make a convincing preliminary argument as to their candidacy for a position.

If you’re a budding or experienced lawyer therefore, your application rests on your ability to directly address the requirements and priorities of the role you’re applying for.

It goes without saying that strong presentation and absolutely correct language is mandatory.

In our work as professional resume writers, we find that this is rarely the issue with lawyers’ resumes. Often it’s the USP that’s missing from an application.

At some point, beyond a track record e.g. in litigation, and the prestige of the firms you’ve worked for, you need to put something across that is compelling to read. And lawyers, particularly at the more junior end are often loathe to talk themselves ‘up’ in a job application.

Let’s put it this way – if you don’t market yourself in your job application, you can assume another candidate will

Legal support resumes

Similar principles apply to legal support resumes. In any capacity of legal support the value you can demonstrate at the application stage is in your meticulous attention to detail, your consistency and your ability to present yourself well.

Mistakes in the legal profession can often have far greater consequences than in other fields, so even just the slightest grammatical error could cripple your application.

It seems pedantic, but the legal practitioners looking over your application have built their careers on being able to pick out even the most seemingly insignificant errors. After practicing law for a while, this becomes like second nature.

Make sure to keep this in mind when writing and checking (and re-checking) your resume and cover letter.


Written by Edward Grant, Director of Metro Resume Writers

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