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Written by Susan ShorSusan Shor

Legal resume example & writing guide

A proven job specific resume example + writing guide for landing your next job in 2024. You can edit this Legal resume example to get a quick start and easily build a perfect resume in just a few minutes. Just fill in your details, download your new resume & start your job application today!
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Legal resume example & writing guide
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A great legal resume settles the case for your employment quickly and efficiently. It shows off the best of your skills and leaves hiring managers with a simple verdict: Interview this candidate! 

In your line of work, the letter of the law backed up by strong evidence and detail-orientation are your guides. Let Resume.io fill the same role when it comes to writing your resume. Our resume examples for 300+ professions, backed up by an easy-to-use resume builder are designed to help you fast-track your application.

This writing guide, along with the corresponding legal resume example will cover the following topics:

  • What does a legal professional do?
  • How to write a legal resume (tips and tricks)
  • The best format for a legal resume
  • Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
  • Professional resume layout and design hints.

Let’s take a look at your profession and all the sections of your legal resume.

Legal professionals advise clients on matters of the law. They may work for corporations, individuals, non-profits or governmental agencies.

The job of legal professionals is to protect the interest of their clients and to ensure that they follow all laws and legal requirements. They may be lawyers, paralegal, legal assistants or court reporters.

There are dozens of areas of specialization for attorneys as well as other legal professionals. Attorneys may work for law firms, open practices on their owner act as inside counsel for corporations and organizations. 

Expert tip

What’s the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?

Paralegals help attorneys by drafting documents, briefs and memos. They may perform initial interviews and correspond with clients, conduct research and investigations, keep the calendar and summarize documents and transcripts, the NALA, the Paralegal Association, describes.

Legal assistants perform more office administration tasks such as scheduling appointments and answering phones.

In some states, a paralegal must have experience as a legal assistant and/or earn a certification. Paralegals are more directly involved in the tasks that lawyers perform, according to the Lawyer Portal.

While the pandemic temporarily depressed the number of jobs for attorneys, the future looks brighter. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 9% growth in demand by 2030. 

Statistical insight

Here are the top 10 in-demand legal specialties of 2021* (median salaries are in parentheses):

  1. Intellectual property ($242,400)
  2. Real estate ($152,863)
  3. Labor and employment ($128,364)
  4. Commercial litigation ($111,739, for a general commercial attorney)
  5. Mergers and acquisitions ($204,526)
  6. Insurance ($95,000)
  7. Securities litigation ($228,907)
  8. Corporate litigation ($142,660, for a corporate attorney)
  9. Trust and estates ($76,534)
  10. Environmental ($121, 523)

*Source: LinkedIn

Paralegal and legal assistant demand also will be high, jumping 10% from 2019-29, the BLS predicts. The median salary for these professions was $52,920 in 2020.

A resume is a formatted document composed of specific sections. Before you get started, you should know what they are. Your resume should contain the following elements:

  • The resume header
  • The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
  • The employment history section
  • The resume skills section
  • The education section

Each of these sections should be tailored to the specific job you seek. That means researching the firm or organization in which you want to work, finding out about its client base, the attorneys who work there and its philosophy. With this information, you will be better equipped to use the correct tone and insure your message hits home. 

If you can, learn the name of the hiring manager and the person who will be your boss. Then, do a little research on them. Perhaps you went to the same school or worked at the same organization. Any personal connection can give you an edge and will give your interviewer something to discuss further when you talk.

A powerful resume will get you on the hiring docket. Follow these guidelines:

  • Choose your words carefully to address each employer’s needs.
  • Make a great first visual impression with a resume template and design that shows off your professionalism.
  • If you are applying online, target each job with keywords and phrases from the listing to help you pass through the ATS screening software.
Expert tip

Avoid the ATS filter

Applicant Tracking Systems use algorithms to rank your resume against other candidates, so no matter how great your prose is, if you don’t get past this software, you won’t be seen by a hiring manager. There’s no definitive guide to beating them, but if you take these steps, you will greatly improve your chances of being seen by a recruiter.

  1. Analyze the job listing and compare it to your resume.
  2. Make sure you use the exact wording that you find in the listing
  3. Add any skills you have that are mentioned
  4. Use standard section headings.

In most cases, a reverse chronological order resume format is your best bet. Employers want to see your most recent experience first when they peruse your employment history section. There are cases, however, where you may want to use a different style.

If you have worked on complicated technical cases or have very detailed knowledge in a niche field, a hybrid resume may work better to showcase your skills. This style offers an expanded skills section where you can explain your deep proficiency or highlight your cases, followed by a shorter employment history section.

Bottom line is, unless you have a compelling reason not to, stick with the reverse chronological format which is preferred by hiring managers and the ATS alike.

Resume summary example: plead your case

Many legal professionals are also wordsmiths and your summary section is your chance to show off this talent. It’s no coincidence that this part of your legal resume is also called a profile. Within these 3-4 lines, you have the opportunity to make the case for your employment by extolling your biggest achievements and letting your prospective employer know why you want to work for them.

Expert tip

Looking for more resume samples to get your creative juices flowing? For attorney specialties, try our immigration lawyer resume example or for more general practices, we have a lawyer resume sample and an attorney resume sample. If you are in another legal field, take a look at our paralegal resume example or the legal assistant resume sample.

You can find a resume example for your summary section below.

Summary section resume example

Highly motivated and dedicated Legal Administrative Assistant seeking to utilize my skills for the advancement of the next legal team I have the pleasure of joining. Adept in effectively managing a wide array of administrative responsibilities to support the success of a law office. 


Employment history sample: power of experience

The work experience section of your legal resume tells the story of your career progress. Each bullet item should begin with a strong action word that illustrates what you did. But more than simply listing your responsibilities, employers want to see what you accomplished, so follow that strong word with a phrase that tells what you achieved and how you did it. 

As a legal professional, you know that evidence and precedent make your case, so use data and details to show that you are already doing the job your prospective employer wants to fill.

Below you will find an adaptable employment history resume sample.

Employment history resume sample

Highly motivated and dedicated Legal Administrative Assistant seeking to utilize my skills for the advancement of the next legal team I have the pleasure of joining. Adept in effectively managing a wide array of administrative responsibilities to support the success of a law office. 


Resume skills example: career in brief

Give recruiters a quick way to assess whether you have what they want in the skills section of your legal profession resume. Choose wisely and base your choices on the job listing. (This will also help you avoid the ATS filter).

Legal professionals need a combination of deep knowledge of their area of the law and an understanding of human nature. Develop a list in this resume section that takes into account both hard and soft skills.

Below you will find a skills section resume example.

Skills section resume example
  • Effective Time Management
  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Administrative Skills
  • Advanced Knowledge of Legal Terminology
  • Project Management

Education is important in the legal profession, so although this section is just a listing of your degrees, you may want to consider moving it up past your employment history section if you are just starting out and have a great academic record.

Do include your GPA if it is 3.5 or above. Add in any accolades you earned. If you were on the law review or an active member of other organizations, you may want to create a separate section called Awards and Affiliations, especially if you are fresh out of school.

Below you will find an education section resume example as a formatting guide.

Education section resume example
  • Paralegal Studies, Boston University
  • Jun, 2012 - Dec, 2012
  • Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Hunter College
  • Sep, 2008 - May, 2012

Resume layout and design: visual evidence

Once you get past the ATS, your next hurdle is making a great first impression with your layout and design.

What image do you want to project? Legal professionals need to be detail-oriented and professional at all times. You need to convey that in your resume design. That means that you need neat lines and avoid any errors in formatting, grammar or spelling.

While you want to be remembered, err or the side of conservatism here. Keep it reader-friendly by sticking to legible fonts, leaving one-inch margins and creating contact information that stands out.

Expert tip

A professionally-designed resume template can take the guesswork out of formatting. With an attractive header already made for you, all that’s left to do is customize with your own information.

  • Use your powers of persuasion to make your case for employment throughout your legal professions resume.
  • The job market for legal professionals is looking up after taking a pandemic hit.
  • Each law firm, organization or governmental body is different, so make sure you tailor your resume to send a direct message.
  • Check out our legal resume sample for more formatting and design ideas.
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