A paralegal should be highly organized and able to work with firm deadlines. They should have excellent time management and research skills. Due to the serious nature of legal work, it's essential that a paralegal be trustworthy and possess excellent judgment.
How do you show that off in your resume?
Great question! Resume.io has the tools you need to make your case. Our guide plus the resume examples included with it will help you:
- Present yourself professionally with a clean, creative design
- Choose the best resume format for a paralegal
- Teach how to write a paralegal resume that resonates with hiring managers
- Get past Applicant Tracking Systems and into the hands of a person
- Elevate your employment history beyond the routine.
What does a paralegal do?
In your paralegal position, you may work for an attorney in corporations, government agencies, or nonprofits. In those environments, you may offer legal services limited by the laws in the state in which you work. Your job duties may also differ depending upon your place of work.
The American Bar Association lists the following tasks as typical of paralegal responsibilities:
- Keeping client files
- Drafting correspondence
- Conducting research
- Tracking deadlines
- Writing, investigating, and analyzing legal documents
- Gathering and managing data and documents
- Acting as a client contact.
The nature of work involved can vary depending on the specialty of the law firm. Paralegals perform substantive legal work and must possess considerable knowledge of the law in order to perform legal work.
Just as lawyers may specialize in one field of law, paralegals may also do so.
Areas of concentration include litigation, estate planning and probate, corporate law, employment and labor law, real estate and government.
Since most states do not have requirements for becoming a paralegal, you will either learn on the job or take courses that will qualify you in the eyes of your prospective employer. Our resume examples will show you how to best highlight your specialization.
Paralegal jobs outlook
You picked a growth career when you decided to become a paralegal! Your profession is expected to grow 14 percent in the decade from 2021-2031, U.S. labor statistics predict. That’s well higher than average.
Paralegals are in demand because they offer legal services at a much lower rate than attorneys, so many companies find them cost-effective. Anywhere the law is involved, paralegals are needed.
Of course, law offices employ many paralegals, but they are not the only places for you to work although the bulk of paralegals do work in the legal services industry. Some paralegals work in justice, public order, or safety. Most of the remainder work for insurance firms, administration of human resources programs, or in executive or legislative government offices.
The highest paid paralegals work in pharmacies and drugstores. The lowest paid, working in the administration of human resource programs, according to DataUSA.
How to write a paralegal resume
Your paralegal resume should follow a standard structure with the following sections:
- The resume header (the attention-grabbing design element)
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
Your job is to convince hiring managers that you are the right person for the job. Not only is your knowledge of the law in your field deep, but you have excellent people skills to work with clients and you are highly organized. Using strong descriptive language, without crossing the line into bragging territory will make your paralegal resume a convincing one.
For more samples of writing and useful tips in the sphere of law, see more of our related legal resume samples:
- Lawyer resume example
- Attorney resume sample
- Legal Assistant resume sample
- Claims Adjuster resume example
- Immigration Lawyer resume sample.
Getting past the Applicant Tracking System
ATS software is used by most companies to sort and scan resumes. In addition to inputting your data into the human resources system, the ATS ranks your resume by scanning for keywords and phrases pegged to the job.
There’s no absolute way to ensure you will rank high enough to beat the ATS, but you can increase your chances greatly by following a few simple steps.
First, analyze the job listing and note any skills and requirements. Second, cross-reference those words and phrases with our resume. Make sure any skills you have that are mentioned in the listing are also in your resume. Use the exact phrasing when possible. (Don’t force it. Recruiters can tell if you are trying to “stuff” your resume with keywords.) Third, use both acronyms and the full names of organization, certificates, etc., just to make sure the ATS catches them.
A final word of advice: Don’t leave important information for your cover letter (but do check out our cover letter templates and examples here). The ATS may not scan it or rank it as highly.
Choosing the best resume format for your paralegal
The legal profession is traditionally a conservative one and you want to choose a resume format to project that image. It would be a mistake to get flashy. Stick with classic fonts and try one of Resume.io’s professional templates.
Recruiters will scan for some key data first:
- Your contact information (including your LinkedIn profile if it is up-to-date)
- Your current job and title
- Your previous job and title.
Make sure these items stand out in your resume format. Use standard headings so recruiters don’t have to guess what each section is and leave plenty of white space to keep it legible.
In your precise profession, you can’t afford any formatting, spelling or grammatical errors, so have someone proofread your resume before you send it off. Alternatively, use a resume service that has a powerful spell-checker (and maybe even phrase/word suggestions based on analytics - they will help with the most appropriate and in-demand terms).
Resume summary example for a paralegal
Your profile gives you a chance to wow recruiters. Although it sits at the top of your resume, you can think of it as a summation: You are going to hit the highlights of your career and inject this mostly formatted document with a little personality that will leave the reader wanting more.
Gather your evidence and choose the work examples that are the best argument for why you are the person for the job. You have about four lines to convince a hiring manager. Add some personality by using strong descriptive language.
Tailor this paralegal resume sample text to your needs.
Experienced and dedicated paralegal, skilled in the organization and analysis of legal documentation. Adept in drafting documents, filing motions, interviewing clients, and preparing retainers. Able to effectively assist in preparations for trials, hearings, and closings. Bringing forth a hardworking attitude, eager to provide quality support in the next legal environment I join.
Employment history sample
The key to a successful paralegal resume employment history section is in the language. Use strong verbs and the STAR method to explain the Situation, your Task, the Action you took, and your Results.
Descriptive, factual language:
Analyzed and fact-checked all legal documents for real-estate firm of 30 attorneys and noted any discrepancies or errors.
Too short and nondescript:
Took care of all paperwork.
Employ reverse chronological order to list your previous jobs. If you are just starting out as a paralegal, consider what transferable skills you used in any job you had. If you are entering the job market for the first time, consider any volunteer work or unpaid positions of responsibility you have held.
Here’s a paralegal employment history section resume sample.
Paralegal at Gulf Law Practice, Boca Raton
August 2015 - Present
- Report directly to three attorneys with large scale duties that encompassed complex preparations.
- Prepare content specific files for pending cases in a timely manner.
- Maintain communication with attorneys and clients, resulting in smooth business transactions and experiences.
- Exercise utmost discretion when dealing with sensitive case topics.
Paralegal at Mason, Kohlnick, and Jans, Miami
September 2013 - August 2015
- Delivered exceptional administrative support to two attorneys on a daily basis.
- Maintained calendars and confidential information.
- Researched and analyzed law matters for specific cases to appear in court.
- Provided accurate and punctual processing of all work requests while maintaining a professional and pleasant demeanor.
Paralegal resume education example
While there are no requirements for paralegal education that are set in stone, there are many different educational paths to take. Many community colleges have paralegal certificate programs. Increasingly, employers seek paralegals for a four-year degree and some schools are offering master’s degrees in paralegal studies.
Regardless of the level of your education or your field of study, you should list all degrees and certifications here. Any honors or distinctions should be noted here as well.
Use the CV example text below to format your education section.
Bachelor of Communications, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
August 2009 - May 2013
- Vice president of the debate team.
- Head writer and reporter at The Owl.
High School Diploma, Millbrook High School, Millbrook
September 2005 - May 2009
Skills section example: bullet-point your best
Busy hiring managers don’t have a lot of time to read your resume, so they may skip straight to your skills section to see if you have what they are looking for. Make sure you do by matching the skills and attributes in the job listing to this section. Of course, you need to be honest and list only skills that you have, but make sure you don’t leave out anything that is important to your prospective employer.
Consider both hard skills, or the knowledge you have of the law in your field, and soft skills, or the organizational and communication abilities that make you a great employee.
Check out the paralegal resume sample text below to guide you.
- Interpersonal Communication
- Superior Organization
- Advanced Knowledge of Legal Terminology
- Excellent Work Ethic and Personal Integrity
- Time Management
- Paralegals are in demand, so take advantage!
- Use keywords and phrases strategically to beat the ATS
- Make your case with a strong profile
- Align your skills section with the job listing
- To get your job hunt going faster, take advantage of templates and our online resume builder.