How to write a legal CV (with steps, tips and examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 January 2023

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Your CV is typically the first thing your potential recruiter may come across before meeting you. It often explains your personality and summarises your professional skills. Whether you are a law school graduate or an experienced lawyer looking for opportunities in a law firm, it is useful to know how to write a legal CV. In this article, we discuss the steps you can take to write your legal CV and highlight your knowledge and skills.

How to write a legal CV

If considering a career in law, you may be interested to know 'How to write a legal CV'. As a legal professional applying for a lawyer's role, you probably want your CV to impress the recruitment manager and make them want to know more about you. The following steps can help you write a legal CV and move to the next round of the recruitment process:

1. Choose correct formatting

Proper formatting ensures the effective delivery of the message. Recruitment managers are more likely to go through CVs that convey a clear and concise message. Currently, reverse chronological order is the most commonly used CV format. It puts your experience, education and skills in a reverse-chronological way, so the recruitment managers know about your skills, latest experience and any other accomplishment.

This formatting starts with your introduction. In the second part, you mention your professional statement, followed by listing your professional title and experiences and then your education. You close the CV by explaining your skills and mentioning other qualities you think may be helpful.

Related: How to write a legal assistant cover letter (plus example)

2. Introduce yourself clearly

Before reading your CV, the hiring managers may want to know who you are and how to contact you. The header portion of your CV conveys that information. It includes your name, phone number, email address and professional title. The title you mention could be the name of your present position or the highest level position you've held. If you're a fresh graduate with no experience, you can mention your most significant credential or the name of the role you're pursuing.

Introduction sections are most effective when clear, direct and focused on the information the reader expects, providing an insight into your professional life. Nowadays, since people usually apply for jobs online, it's advisable to include clickable links.

Related: How to include personal details on a CV

3. Include a professional statement

Readers like to understand your personality. This is the purpose of the personal profile section which can be used to summarise your skills and professional attitude. Create this section just below the header information, then include a section summarising your career objectives or aspirations. You could also briefly demonstrate your legal knowledge and the challenges you are willing to face in this career. Make it clear, compelling, brief and no more than one paragraph.

4. Mention relevant experience clearly

The next and one of the most important sections of any CV is usually the experience section. List your most recent job and one or two previous relevant work experiences in this section. Your work title, employer's name and dates of employment are essential facts to mention here.

Present your experience in reverse chronological order so the recruiter knows about your latest work and current employer. To make the section easily understandable, you could include a brief bullet-point overview of your primary duties or accomplishments.

Related: Writing a CV with no experience

5. List all your education and credentials

Your education and qualifications section comes right after the list of your relevant work experiences. This section includes a list of degrees, licences and certificates you have acquired. It usually ensures readers that your education backs up your experiences and can make you a suitable candidate for the role of a lawyer. Writing this section in reverse chronological order allows the reader to discover your highest level of schooling first.

6. Describe your skills and abilities

After listing your qualifications, add your technical capabilities, interpersonal ability and professional attributes at the bottom of your CV. Using bullet points and short, actionable sentences can make this section effective. Apart from education and professional knowledge, recruiters often look for specific qualities, such as knowledge of laws and court case precedents. Similarly, they may also look for data analysis skills, organisational skills, commitment to ethics, debate and persuasion skills and written communication skills.

Related: The differences between skills and abilities

7. Conclude by mentioning additional qualities

Mentioning additional qualities in the final section of your CV can give it greater appeal. This section may include a list of volunteer works, meaningful life experiences, research projects, accolades and publication history. Additionally, you can also consider including a section that highlights judges or counsel members you've worked under when applying for a position in law. Including a section like this in your CV usually makes it more memorable.

Related: What is arbitration? (Dispute resolution explained)

What to consider while writing a legal CV

Consider the following points while writing your legal CV:

Use different CVs

Candidates often use the same CV for all recruiters. To increase your chances of selection, try to gather knowledge about the law firm, institution, government agency or private practice where you're applying. Visit corporate websites, social media pages, public forums and job boards to learn more about the potential employer and customise your CV accordingly.

Recruiters usually prefer customised CVs and candidates who share a common goal and understand their company values. When you adapt your CV to showcase the credentials and competencies that match the requirements of a specific job description, your chances of success fare better.

Focus on clarity

A clear, direct and understandable CV often attracts recruiters' attention. Consider using bold text or a different typeface to separate each segment and avoid using fancy typefaces. Make your CV compatible with the types of CV scanning software recruitment managers often use. Check to see if your formatting and alignment are consistent throughout the document. Consider the following suggestions to make your CV:

  • focus on readability

  • use simpler words

  • keep the language direct

  • use shorter sentences

Edit your CV

Proofread and edit your CV multiple times to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors. It is essential that hiring managers and recruiters can clearly see your career path, experience and abilities. Any grammar, spelling or content error may cause the recruiter to think you are not serious or lack written communication skills. Before sending your CV, you might want to use editing software to review it, or share it with a trusted colleague.

Legal CV example

Here is an example of a legal CV:

Sarah Bailey

Employment barrister

sarahbailey@email.co.uk

Personal profile

I am a confident, diligent and charismatic employment barrister with excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to reason logically and coherently. I have a thorough understanding of the law and aim to provide the finest legal advice to my clients. I work with domestic and international human rights legislation, practice and policy in my current position. I love to understand my clients while maintaining corporate relations. It has helped me successfully maintain professional and ethical determination during all my legal contributions.

Professional experience

Employment barrister

Tomason Law Practice (May 2015 - current)

Responsible for:

  • providing solicitors and clients with counsel, assistance and support, conducting legal research and preparing legal documents

  • advising clients

  • regularly communicating with clients about the status of their cases

  • negotiating customer and third-party settlements

  • representing clients in court

Paralegal

Smith & Smith solicitors (August 2013 - April 2015)

Responsible for:

  • organising and archiving case-related records for both completed and ongoing cases

  • drafting reports for barristers and summarising cases

  • keeping track of changes in the legal framework and communicating these changes on time

  • conducting research, gathering information and preparing legal arguments

  • preparing and filing court documents

Education

The University of Law, August 2012 - May 2014

LLM, International Human Rights

University of London, August 2007 - May 2011

Bachelor of Law

Skills and abilities

  • excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • strong research and analytical skills

  • excellent knowledge of the law, corporate procedures and government regulations

  • capable of working in high-pressure situations while being calm and professional at all times

  • ability to collaborate with people from various walks of life

  • superb knowledge of law and case precedent

  • excellent time management and resource allocation

Publication history

  • Weak spots of the UK immigration law, New Law Journal, August 2020

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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