How to get a job in a law firm – top ten CV tips

You wouldn’t read a boring book. So why put yourself through the misery of reading a rambling CV littered with poor grammar and spelling mistakes?

Truth is, you wouldn’t and so it’s crucial your resumé grabs the attention of prospective employers before it’s thrown into the dark abyss of the dustbin. Here are ten ways to help you secure that all-important interview:

  • Clear introduction – make it clear who you are, what you specialise in and where you are hoping to work.
  • Stick out – applicants often have similar qualifications, says Faciendum’s Timothy Doody. You should highlight your legal experience right at the start to show firms you can “assist them in the real world of law”.
  • Detail – explain the legal issues you’ve been involved in when describing previous transactions and cases. Andrew Ellaby, managing consultant at Hays Legal, claims applicants don’t always go into enough detail about their work.
  • Bullet-pointed lists – short snappy sentences can help break up large slabs of text. Anyone with several years’ post-qualified experience (PQE) should aim for ten bullet points per job, according to guidance from Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment.
  • Quantifiable data – recruiters will be impressed with any large fees generated for your previous company – this is particularly important for fee earners who should include specific figures to describe their caseloads.
  • Pay attention to the job description – every application should be specifically tailored to your preferred firm. Generic CVs should be avoided, warns Simon Phillips at Laws Global, as you want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for that particular role.
  • Relevance – employers want well-rounded people that can fit into any workplace, so highlight non-legal experience, such as high university marks or voluntary activities. However, only do this if you can relate your interests to the position in question, warns Christian Geuter, director of Legge Geuter.
  • Presentation – choose a clear font such as Arial and delete sections if you’ve gone over three pages. Ian Marshall, consultant at G2 Legal, says CVs should be pleasing to the eye with lots of white space, headings and short paragraphs.
  • Checking – showing attention to detail is a major part of being a lawyer, so read through your CV the day after you’ve finished to help catch those errors. Remember to get a second opinion too.

 And finally...

  •  Forward-thinking – prove you really want an interview by preparing a business plan beforehand (according to guidance from BCL Legal) – if you are a senior lawyer, this will demonstrate your ability to maintain and develop clients.

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